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Metro Transit: Lake Street and I-35W Station Opens

By JOHN CHARLES WILSON It’s finally happening! The new bus station in the middle of I-35W at Lake Street is opening Monday, 18 October 2021. (This means it’s already open by the time this issue is published. Such is the lag time inherent in a monthly newspaper.) As I’m sure everyone who’s read my column knows, it’s for the new Orange Line to Burnsville, which begins 4 December. In the meantime, Metro Transit Routes 535, 553, 578, 597, and Southwest Transit Routes 600 and 695 will be using it, joined by various MVTA express routes as of 20 November. Local Metro Transit Routes 21 and 27 will provide connections on Lake Street, just below the station. Speaking of Lake Street, planning for the B Line, a Bus Rapid Transit line to open on Lake Street in 2024, is chugging right along. Presently, Route 21 is the slowest and second busiest route in the whole Metro Transit bus system. Anyone who’s had to ride a 21 during a rush-hour traffic jam knows it’s not a good experience. The B Line will have all-door boarding; you will buy your ticket or scan your card before getting on, like the light rail. This will save a lot of time. There won’t be as many stops, which will speed service but be hard on people who can’t walk far. For those of us who need it, the 21 will still run once every half hour, while the B Line will run every 10 minutes. The B Line may also get its own dedicated lane. If that happens, even more of a time savings will be had by all. I’ve used the similar A Line on Snelling Avenue, and it really is great!

Transit Waves of the Future

METRO TRANSIT by JOHN CHARLES WILSON With the COVID emergency drawing to a close, and all the new transit coming to the Twin Cities in the near future, I decided it”™s time to write about exciting new concepts in transit that may benefit you someday. Bus Rapid Transit is making headway (pun intended for you transit insiders*) in South Minneapolis and the southern suburbs. The Orange Line is almost ready to start rolling down I-35W,  the D Line is coming to Chicago Avenue next year, and the B Line is supposed to come to Lake Street in 2024, and may even have a dedicated bus lane. Another exciting new development for outer suburbs and small towns is called “microtransit”. Microtransit is a modernized version of dial-a-ride service; however, instead of having to call a day in advance, you now only need to use a smartphone app to order your custom ride, often only minutes before you need it. This will make the concept appealing to more people. In the Twin Cities, the Minnesota Valley Transit Authority has a service called MVTA Connect; Southwest Transit operates SW Prime; Plymouth Metrolink has the Dial-a-Ride service that was recently converted to a smartphone app; and Maple Grove Transit operates a microtransit system called My Ride. Only the Met Council”™s Transit Link, which serves parts of the seven counties that are not near fixed-route transit, still requires a phone call at least two hours in advance. However, the march of technology will probably soon put this into an app as well.  ___ *In the transit industry, a “headway” is the time between vehicles on a route. For example, a 10 minute headway means the bus or train comes every 10 minutes.