The Quarterly Transit Report – December 2014

Unofficial park-riders (hide and ride) in the Target Store lot next to the Hamline Avenue Green Line Station.

Unofficial park-riders (hide and ride) in the Target Store lot next to the Hamline Avenue Green Line Station.

Green Line Hide and Ride

Because there are no official park and ride lots along the Green Line, it was expected that impromptu park-riding (dubbed “hide and ride”) would happen, just as it did along the Blue Line in Minneapolis. On December 3, John DeWitt and I drove the line after the morning rush hour to see how many hide and riders we could spot. They’re the cars clustered on streets and in commercial parking lots near the stations where a cluster of cars looks out of place. Identifying them is harder than along the Blue Line, because of so many nearby employers. Even so, I think our count is pretty accurate.

We found about 200 of them scattered from the Prospect Park Station to the Western Avenue Station. The most obvious concentration of 63 cars was next to the Hamline Avenue Station, mostly in the Target and other commercial parking lots on the south side of University Avenue nearest the station. Thirty cars that didn’t seem to belong to local employers were found near the Raymond Avenue Station.

Within St. Paul, quite a few streets near the stations have been signed for 2-hour daytime parking to head off hide and ride. We didn’t count cars on those streets, although a number of cars certainly looked like hide and riders who decided to risk a ticket. The table shows the breakdown by station.

Green Line Hide and Rides

Prospect Park5
Raymond Avenue30
Fairview Avenue10
Snelling Avenue12
Hamline Avenue63
Lexington Parkway35
Victoria Street12
Dale Street7
Western Avenue18
Rice Street0

When Metro Transit ran the license plates of the Blue Line hide and riders, it turned out that almost all of them lived in Minneapolis a mile or two from the stations. They weren’t suburbanites. I expect that will be true along the Green Line as well.

Small Service Increases

Metro Transit’s December 13 service changes are pretty minor, but there are still a few worth noting.

Incremental improvements continue to appear in North Minneapolis.

– Route 32 Lowry Crosstown will see Saturday service for the first time.
– Route 19 Penn Avenue frequency on Sunday evenings will improve from every 20 minutes to every 15 minutes until 7:15 p.m., then from every 30 minutes to every 20 minutes until 10 p.m.
– On weekday mornings before 9:30 AM all Route 30 Broadway Crosstown trips will be extended from Golden Valley Road & Knox Avenue to Golden Valley Road & Xerxes Ave.

Meanwhile in south Minneapolis, Route 23 38th Street Crosstown will improve from every 30 minutes to every 20 minutes on Saturday afternoons.

Green Line Feeder Changes

It’s normal to put out a generous feeder bus package for a new light rail line, then trim the poor performers. That process has started.

  • Route 63 Grand Avenue weekday rush hours on Grand Ave. will be reduced from every 10 minutes to every 20 minutes.
  • Sunday service on Routes 65 Dale Street, 67 West Minnehaha-East Franklin, and 87 Rosedale-Raymond-Cleveland Crosstown will change from every 20 minutes to every 30 minutes. There is a small silver lining to this cloud, however. Route 67 Sunday service on East Franklin Avenue will improve from every 60 minutes to every 30 minutes.

The eastern terminus of Route 30 Broadway Crosstown has been shifted from the Raymond Station to the Westgate Station. This shortens the route slightly. Route 30 also shares a new layover location with Route 63, which now also ends at Westgate, although it continues to serve Raymond.

Rush Line Makeover

The Rush Line is the I-35E corridor from downtown St. Paul to Forest Lake. Until now it was divided into two separate express routes. Route 275 (3 daily round trips) served the inner portion, including Lino Lakes, Centerville, White Bear Township and the western edge of White Bear Lake. Route 285 (also 3 daily round trips) served the outer portion, Columbus and Forest Lake. Both routes carry similar loads, 180 per day on 275 and 160 per day on 285.

Route 275’s ridership was concentrated at three park-ride lots; a church in Centerville, a movie theater in White Bear Township and a cramped grocery store lot at County Road 96. These have been replaced by two larger and more accessible lots at I-35E & Co. Rd. 14 in Centerville and at County Road E in Vadnais Heights. Note that this is the first ever bus service to the east half of Vadnais Heights. Growing the ridership requires more frequency, so Routes 275 and 285 are being combined, which will double the service to the new park-rides to six daily round trips. It should be noted that bus-only shoulders on I-35E will give these expresses a real time advantage over automobiles, especially when the construction is done inside St. Paul.

Three morning and three afternoon trips will continue north of I-35E & Co. Rd. 14 Park & Ride to serve Running Aces Park & Ride in Columbus and the Forest Lake Transit Center.

New Park and Rides opened

Since the last quarterly report, four new or expanded park and ride lots have opened:

On december 14 Metro Transit will open this new 290-space park-ride lot at I-35E and County Road 14 in Centerville.

On December 15 Metro Transit will open this new 290-space park-ride lot at I-35E and County Road 14 in Lino Lakes.

A 344 space parking ramp at the Anoka Northstar station, and a pedestrian bridge over the tracks.

A 290 space lot at I-35E and County Road 14 in Lino Lakes and a larger lot at I-35E and County Road E in Vadnais Heights, to serve the revised Route 275 noted above.

A new 150 space lot has opened in Newport, served by Route 364. It’s officially part of the future Red Rock BRT, but it has a bit of a history. When Highway 61 still had stoplights in Newport, there was a small park and ride lot just south of I-494 that usually had about 20 cars. Passengers would park, walk across Highway 61 at the light and board the Minneapolis and St. Paul expresses that originated in Cottage Grove.

When MnDOT replaced the signalized intersections with an interchange, serving the park-ride required a 5-minute detour off the highway, too much delay for the great majority of riders who board in Cottage Grove. The decision was made for the Cottage Grove buses to bypass Newport altogether, requiring park-riders to board a couple of miles north at the Highway 61 and Lower Afton Road lot. That lot filled up, was expanded and has filled up again. A separate express to St. Paul, Route 364, was created to serve Newport and St. Paul Park. There are only three daily round trips because the route has had to rely on walkup ridership, seldom a successful strategy in the suburbs. Now Route 364 has a park-ride lot with a very nice waiting station, which should help ridership somewhat.

The recently opened Newport Station park-ride lot next to I-494 and Highway 61. This photo was taken on the weekend when Route 364 doesn't run, hence no cars

The recently opened Newport Station park-ride lot next to I-494 and Highway 61. This photo was taken on the weekend when Route 364 doesn’t run, hence no cars.

If the Red Rock Corridor BRT is implemented, serving the Newport station will require an inconvenient diversion off Highway 61, reminiscent of the Red Line’s infamous Cedar Grove detour.

Green Line Running Time Improves


The City of St. Paul has been working on traffic signal timing and it’s starting to show results. The percentage of on-time (no more than 5 minutes late) Green Line trains has increased and the average end-to-end travel time has decreased from 54 minutes to about 51 minutes.

Downtown Minneapolis continues to be a problem, but Metro Transit and the City of Minneapolis are working on better timing, particularly at 3rd Avenue North and at the 4th Street and Chicago Avenue intersection.

Aaron Isaacs

About Aaron Isaacs

Aaron retired in 2006 after 33 years as a planner and manager for Metro Transit, where he worked in route and schedule planning, operations, maintenance, transit facilities, light rail and traffic advantages for buses. He's an historian of transit, as a 40+ year volunteer with the Minnesota Streetcar Museum. He's co-author of Twin Cities by Trolley, The Streetcar Era in Minneapolis and St. Paul, and author of Twin Ports by Trolley on Duluth-Superior.