Green Line Feeder Buses Succeed

The Green Line is the spine of the Central Corridor, fed by a network of bus routes that were extended and given enhanced frequencies and hours of service to complement the LRT. We now have numbers that indicate that the feeder buses are doing their job, attracting more passengers to LRT.

The data source is the count of passenger ons and offs by bus stop from Metro Transit. The counts, from Fall 2013 and Fall 2014 were made by on-bus automatic passenger counters that sample the system on a regular basis and produce a statistically valid average for each stop.

I compared the 2013 (before the Green Line) counts with the 2014 (Green Line in operation) counts for most of the non-downtown stations that are bus transfer points. At these locations it seems reasonable to conclude that the difference between the two counts is the transfer passengers between bus and light rail.

OK, this is not one of the transfer points in the article, but it was the only photo I could find with both a bus and Green Line train.

OK, this is not one of the transfer points in the article, but it was the only photo I could find with both a bus and Green Line train.

At the non-downtown, non-U of M transfer points, I counted an increase of 1922 weekday passengers transferring from buses. Here’s a breakdown by station, traveling from east to west. The numbers given are weekday one-way from bus to rail, so it’s reasonable to assume the same number of return trips.

Robert Street Station
Located at 14th and Robert, this station opened up a shortcut for Route 68 Jackson Street and 71 Arkwright-Payne Avenue passengers who previously would have had to travel all the way into downtown to connect with University Avenue buses. Passengers alighting at this bus stop increased from 47 in 2013 to 194 in 2014.

Rice Street Station
Routes 3, 62, 67 and 262 feed the Green Line from the north on Rice Street. This has been a transfer point since 1887 (yes, 1887), and the original University Avenue streetcar line to Minneapolis opened in 1890. Daily transfers increased from 429 in 2013 to 504 in 2014.

Dale Street Station
With the opening of the Green Line, Route 65 Dale Street no longer went downtown, so transfers to the LRT were expected. They increased 151 percent from 117 to 294 per weekday.

Lexington Parkway Station
Route 83 Lexington Crosstown is a new service that was started concurrently with the Green Line, and it feeds 118 new passengers daily. Extending from Roseville to West 7th Street near the Mississippi River, it has attracted about 450 new daily passengers.

Hamline Avenue Station
Route 21 from parallel Selby Avenue makes a dogleg up Hamline to University Avenue to reach the Midway retail area, so the Hamline Station is where it feeds the LRT with 170 per day, compared to 117 before.

Snelling Avenue Station
Over 2000 people transfer daily between the Green Line and Routes 21 and 84 Snelling Crosstown. Surprisingly, the checks show a slight decline in transfer volume, despite Route 84’s frequency improving from every 15 minutes to every 10 minutes.  Next year Route 84 will be largely supplanted by the A Line BRT, so it’s hard to believe that won’t attract more riders. Stay tuned.

Fairview Avenue Station
The Green Line to Minneapolis is fed here by Route 67, which parallels University Avenue to the north on Minnehaha Avenue. Route 67 used to end here. Now it extends west on University to the city limits, then takes Franklin Avenue through Prospect Park, terminating at the Blue Line. Transfers at Fairview have actually declined 21 percent, but I think that’s because the Route 67 extension gets more people where they want to go directly. Also, the transfer to the Green Line is more convenient at the Raymond Station, so they may have shifted there.

Raymond Avenue Station
This station, actually located a block east of Raymond at Carlton Street, features convenient bus stops directly adjacent to the LRT platform. Route 87, the Rosedale-Cleveland Avenue-Highland Park Crosstown has seen a healthy increase in transfers. Route 67 contributes some transfers. The real story, however, is the extension of Route 63 Grand Avenue from its former terminus at the University of St. Thomas. This has opened up an entire new connection between University Avenue and Grand Avenue. According to the checks, Route 63 is carrying 330 new passengers per day on the extension.

Westgate Station
The new Route 30 Broadway Crosstown from north and northeast Minneapolis ends here, opening up another connection that never existed before. Volume is still modest, but hopefully will grow over time.

Stadium Village Station
Route 6 from Dinkytown was extended a couple of blocks to feed the Green Line. Even though the eastbound bus stop is inconveniently located, the connection has been made, attracting over 200 more daily passengers than before.

Because these 2014 counts are now almost a year old, and the Green Line was only a few months old, I expect to see more growth when this Fall’s counts are published.

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.