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Friday February 21st 2020

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Make a bee-line to the B Line

Transit

By JOHN CHARLES WILSON

In a few years, Lake Street bus riders will have an alternative to the super-slow Route 21. It’s going to be called the B Line and will operate on the same principle as the already existing A Line on Snelling Avenue in Saint Paul, and C Line on Penn Avenue in North Minneapolis. (The reason for the disordered sequence is that originally the letter B was assigned to a project on West 7th Street in Saint Paul, which was cancelled and upgraded to a proposed streetcar line.)

The B Line will go farther west than current Route 21, terminating at the junction with the Southwest Light Rail, which is now under construction. This is near the Whole Foods (a.k.a. “Whole Paycheck”) Market west of Bde Maka Ska. On the east end, it will terminate at Saint Paul’s Union Depot, just like the current 21A. The original plan was for the east terminal to be near Midway Shopping Center at Snelling and University, but public input caused Metro Transit to decide to extend the route all the way to Union Depot. (This is why I advocate speaking up on transit issues!) The B Line won’t stop at every bus stop like the 21; instead, it will stop only at specially-built stations about half a mile apart.

Route 21 will still continue to exist between Uptown Transit Center and Minnehaha Avenue, probably turning around by Wendy’s where the 21E turns around now. Route 21 will run every half hour and stop at every bus stop, enabling people who can’t walk to or from a B Line station to still use the bus to get around. The B Line will run every 10 minutes and will be 20 percent faster than the current 21. If the situation on Snelling Avenue is any indication, the “slow” 21 will probably run faster too, because most riders will be taking the B Line.

It is possible that a local bus that stops every block will also be provided in Saint Paul between Selby Avenue and Midway Shopping Center, but this has not been decided upon yet.

All B Line buses will be large articulated buses, the kind which look like two buses connected by an accordion-like section. This should also reduce the horrific overcrowding Lake Street bus riders are all too familiar with.

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