If you haven’t heard, the Vikings and the Met Council looking at partnering to build a pedestrian bridge that would lead directly from the new Vikings stadium to the Track 1 platform of Downtown East station. The reason this bridge is being constructed is that on event days (let’s be real, they mean Vikings game days), a lot of people will be leaving the stadium and, without a pedestrian bridge, will have to cross the light rail tracks. With trains coming every two minutes, that wouldn’t exactly be an ideal situation. However, it will really only be in use for about 20 days per year.
Currently, the Vikings have capped their contribution to the bridge at $3.5 million, while the Met Council is expecting to pay about $6.5 million after costs recently jumped. Now, in comparison to a $1 billion stadium and four light rail lines that each cost between $700 million and $1.774 billion, $6.5 million seems like chump change.
But this tweet puts that in perspective:
— Nick Magrino (@nickmagrino) October 23, 2015
That got me thinking: if $6.5 million is enough to fund a quarter of an aBRT line, how much regular bus service could it fund? I decided to find out.
Going off the numbers in their Service Improvement Plan, I calculated that a bus service hour costs about $113. Do a little math and you’ll see that $6.5 million equals 57,522 bus service hours for Metro Transit. Wow, that seems like a pretty big number! But it’s still pretty abstract. So, I went through the Service Improvement Plan and looked at what proposed improvements could be funded with that money and for how long. Here’s some examples:
|Route #||Improvement||# of years|
|2||Add to the Hi-Frequency Network between Franklin/Hennepin and Oak/Washington.||4|
|3||Increase frequency on the Maryland (3A) and Front (3B) branches between Snelling and Downtown St. Paul to every 20 minutes on weekdays.||10|
|6||Extend all NB trips to Stadium Village Station, increasing frequency on University Ave to every 10-15 minutes.||12.5|
|13||Create a new route with 30 minute weekday service from Columbia Heights Transit Center to Stadium Village Station via University Ave.||7.5|
|19||Make the entire route part of the Hi-Frequency Network.||130|
|22||Add to the Hi-Frequency Network between 42nd St N/Lyndale and VA Medical Center Station||10.5|
|23||Add to the Hi-Frequency Network.||5|
|32||Improve weekday frequency to 20 min and add 30 minute Sunday Service.||14|
|54||Extend to Maplewood Mall as a limited stop alternative to routes 74 and 64.||14|
|61||Improve rush hour frequencies to 15 min, Saturday frequencies to 30 min, and add 30 minute Sunday service.||4|
|62||Add to the Hi-Frequency Network.||8.5|
|68||Add to the Hi-Frequency Network between Regions and 5th Ave S/South St||8|
|83||Improve frequency to every 20 minutes most of the day.||9.5|
|94||Add 30-60 min service on weekday evenings and weekends.||8|
I encourage you to go through all the proposed improvements and see how far $6.5 million could go toward improving bus service, rather than toward subsidizing a bridge that will be used for 20 Vikings games per year.
Oh and also, here’s where you can find contact info for the Metropolitan Council members. Just putting that out there.