Quarterly Transit Report – June 2016

An A Line Preview

The big news is the June 11 opening of the A Line, the first urban BRT. I’ll do a separate report on it after it’s been running a couple of weeks and the initial bugs are worked out. The basics have already been well publicized—off-board fare collection, large heated shelters, limited stops, some signal priority, distinctive buses. Here are some things you may not know:


For starters, there’s a big increase in the number of daily bus trips connecting Rosedale with the Blue Line 46th Street Station. The frequency is every 10 minutes. Weekdays increase 40% from 72 round trips to 101; Saturdays 52% from 66 to 100, and Sundays 37% from 71 to 97. The span of service, meaning when the service day starts and end, is basically unchanged, about 4:00 AM to 12:30 AM seven days a week.

On top of that service increase, a slimmed-down Route 84 will offer 31 daily local (makes all stops) round trips on Snelling Avenue between Rosedale and Montreal Avenue in Highland Park. The 84 is slower than the A Line, but if an 84 shows up first, take it.

The reduction in end-to-end travel time varies by time of day and day of week, depending on traffic conditions. One-way running time ranges from 26 minutes on a Sunday morning to 36 minutes during a PM rush hour. Time savings range from 5 to 10 minutes, or 13% to 22%. That’s because the A Line runs mostly in mixed traffic, except for bus-only shoulders from Hewitt Avenue to Como Avenue, and from Hoyt Street to County Road B, and those shoulders have been available to the regular Route 84 Snelling Avenue buses for years. The time savings comes from three factors:

  1. Fewer stops.
  2. Off-bus fare collection. However, the Route 84 is seldom slowed by large boarding groups, except at University Avenue.
  3. Traffic signal priority for buses. This is tricky to do and time savings are expected to be modest.

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It should be noted that an additional 3 minutes will be saved on the roughly 40 percent of the Route 84 trips that currently make an indirect jog via Montreal Avenue between Fairview and Snelling Avenues. Those have been assigned to the surviving Route 84, which originates down by Sibley Plaza on West 7th Street and will continue to provide half-hourly local service on Snelling Avenue, essentially what it does today.

I’ve been told the running time is scheduled aggressively, so it will be interesting to see if the A Line can reliably keep the schedule or it will have to be relaxed. It helps greatly that the A Line won’t emulate the Red Line BRT, which comes to a complete stop and “docks” at every station, regardless whether anyone wants to get on or off. Docking means carefully snugging both bus doors up against a floor-height curb, and it’s a slow, careful maneuver. That’s taking LRT practice a step too far. Like regular buses, A Line buses will only stop if someone actually wants to board or get off.

Other schedule changes worth noting

Route 30, the experimental Broadway Crosstown that connects north and northeast Minneapolis with the Green Line Westgate Station in the Midway, is getting Saturday and Sunday service for the first time.

All night “owl” service is being added to Route 10 Central Avenue from downtown to Columbia Heights, and Route 18 Nicollet Avenue from downtown to 46th Street.

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.