Introducing the B & E Lines in Minneapolis

Hello, all!

I write today to bring your attention to a very interesting and good PDF (portable document format) on the Metropolitan Council’s website that talks a lot about arterial bus rapid transit (aBRT), also known as the only clearly good thing that we’re doing right now, transit-wise. These “aBRT” lines are buses that have been improved with off board payment, real time arrival information, traffic signal priority, and other things.

We’ve got that A Line, over in St. Paul, described as “the best new investment Metro Transit has done since I have moved here,” by a local Civil Engineering professor who is now on his way to Australia; there’s also the C Line on Penn Avenue North in Minneapolis that is forthcoming and also good.

In this here PDF, we have an early review of the A Line over on Snelling Avenue in St. Paul, and it looks good so far:


Wow, up 35%? That sounds good. Also, 20% faster than existing service? Also sounds good. As a reminder, the A Line was super cheap, and only cost about $27 million American dollars, which is some fraction of the consulting fees on the Green Line extension, which will be slower than the buses that run from Eden Prairie to Minneapolis now, and definitely not 20% faster.

As part of the aforementioned PDF, we got a bit more information about future aBRT lines. This has been a little hazy since sassy Ramsey County decided to switch out the B Line on West 7th for some train that will probably not happen until I’m in my 40s (and I’m 26–sorry). Anyway, the East Metro is now looking a little weak, due to that, so please don’t whine in ten years when someone asks why there are not more aBRT lines in St. Paul.

Check out this neat map:


Wow, looks like we have planned aBRT lines in many of the places where it makes sense to make investments in transit. And they’re super cheap!

Again, for emphasis–they’re super cheap. One local nerd recently pointed out there is, theoretically, a bunch of money available in Minneapolis’ property tax capacity to build good transportation improvements like this, though that seems complicated. Maybe less complicatedly, the Counties Transit Improvement Board might disband soon. Then the counties will have more money to spend on, maybe, less bad things. Like, check this out:


Still a lot of relatively small funding gaps, here.

You ever taken the Route 6 bus on Hennepin Avenue at rush hour? It’s hilarious, what with the Benny Hill theme song playing on the speakers and all. We probably won’t get the grade separated rail we deserve anytime soon, but shucks, the $27 million dollar E Line is maybe a plan to greatly increase mobility along Hennepin Avenue, where there are already a ton of transit users? That would probably be a good investment.

The D Line, which will replace the Route 5 bus, is coming up after the C Line on Penn Avenue North, and it’s a bit more expensive. The Route 5 bus through North and South Minneapolis is also by far the busiest in the system and in a more just system, would have been slated for more intensive improvement than a better bus.

Also, we are subbing out the West 7th Street B Line for a Lake-Marshall B Line, replacing the Route 21. I would say maybe don’t even bother and of course build a train in the existing Midtown Greenway trench already, but until we get some new leadership at Hennepin County, that is probably out.

In any case, I don’t know what’s happening! Do you know what’s happening? Everything is hazy and bizarre. You always hear that there is no money, but that is clearly not correct–money exists, and we spend it on wacky $10.6 million dollar pedestrian bridges for the Vikings. That one example is silly, of course, but we build lots of things like that in a year, like the $15 million dollar dumb Cedar Grove Station for the dumb Red Line, or planning in the Red Rock corridor for tens of riders an hour.

There are many tens of thousands of existing transit riders, on routes where we could for sure get many new transit riders, if the current routes were not bad and sad. The aBRT network is a good thing we should be rolling out as quickly as possible. Are we doing that? Nope, we’re mostly still reaching for that extremely high hanging fruit–the guy who owns two cars and lives in Chanhassen and works in downtown Minneapolis and is mildly annoyed about having to pay for parking. Everything is fine.

Nick Magrino

About Nick Magrino

Nick Magrino grew up all over the place but has lived in the Loring Park neighborhood of Minneapolis longer than anywhere else. He has a new cat, Sweater, and does not use hashtags at @nickmagrino. He is probably on a bus right now.