How to Build Great E Line Stations

Metro Transit is upgrading the busy Route 6 bus corridor to an arterial bus rapid transit (BRT) line, named the E Line, with an opening date of 2025. This corridor runs from Southdale in Edina, through Uptown, Downtown Minneapolis, and the University of Minnesota, before terminating at the border of Saint Paul. BRT provides higher-quality service compared to local bus routes through features like dedicated bus-only lanes, priority for buses at traffic signals, wider stop spacing and fare pre-payment at stations.

E Line route. Source: Metro Transit

Metro Transit is soliciting feedback on station design and placement for the E Line through October 31st. To make the E Line as successful as possible, it’s important that transit riders and advocates make their voices heard in this comment period.

Here are some ways you can ask that the E Line stations be improved:

Build Bus-Only Lanes

By providing lanes on the roadway exclusively for transit, buses bypass congested car traffic and stay on time all day long. Bus-only lanes also eliminate the possibility that backed-up car traffic will block bus stations. Providing bus riders with dedicated lanes is only fair: on Hennepin Avenue, buses carry 49% of the people, yet make up only 3% of vehicles during rush hour.

The City of Minneapolis’ official Transportation Action Plan actually calls for transit priority, like bus-only lanes, throughout the E Line corridor from Uptown to Prospect Park. Installing bus-only lanes makes sense in conjunction with the E Line, and there are actually existing street improvement projects into which this could fit:

Hennepin Avenue South Reconstruction

The City of Minneapolis is proposing to build bus-only lanes on Hennepin Avenue from the Midtown Greenway to Douglas Avenue when this stretch is reconstructed, but these plans have not yet been approved by the City Council. The grassroots Hennepin for People group is advocating for the city to sign off on a version of this project with bike and bus lanes, and this comment period is another opportunity to push for bus-only lanes.

Hennepin Avenue Downtown Reconstruction

Hennepin Avenue through Downtown Minneapolis is nearly finished being reconstructed with four travel lanes, yet there are no apparent plans to designate bus-only lanes on this key bus corridor. Hennepin Avenue will not only carry the E Line, but will also serve numerous local bus routes. With bus-only lanes, here’s how it could look:

A rendering of how Hennepin Avenue could look with bus-only lanes through Downtown Minneapolis. Photo and editing: Philip Schwartz

East Hennepin/1st Avenue NE Safety Project

These streets just east of the River are vastly overbuilt, with three, one-way travel lanes, plus two lanes of parking, each. Hennepin County is currently designing a safety improvement project for this stretch. With so much space to work with, transit riders deserve their own lanes.

University/4th Street SE Safety Project

Similar to East Hennepin and First, Hennepin County is designing a safety improvement project on University Avenue and 4th Street SE near the University of Minnesota. These three lane, one-way streets would also benefit from a bus-only lane to get around congestion near Central, I-35W, Dinkytown, and near the U of M stadiums.

Design Stations With Future Protected Bike Lanes in Mind

At station locations where protected bike lane projects are currently under development, such as University Avenue, Metro Transit is working with partner agencies to design the stations to work with protected bike lanes. At stations where there should be protected bike lanes, like France Avenue and Hennepin at 33rd/36th Streets, we should encourage Metro Transit to design the stations to accommodate future protected bike lanes.

An example of a “floating bus stop” on Oak Street in Stadium Village, where a protected bike lane runs between the sidewalk and bus stop. Photo: Sam Penders

Support the Inclusion of All Stations

To provide truly enhanced transit access in the E Line corridor, it is crucial that all of the proposed stations are built. The proposed stations are on average 0.4 miles apart, which provides a nice balance of rider access and bus speed.

For any kind of public comment period, the turnout tends to be higher from wealthy, whiter neighborhoods that have the time and resources to mobilize against progressive change like improved bus service. Just see what some Linden Hills Nextdoor users are saying about E Line stations in their neighborhood:

Contrary to this pushback, people do ride transit in Linden Hills. I know multiple transit riders in the neighborhood, and I have personally ridden Route 6 to Linden Hills. If transit access across the city is important to you, submit a comment in support of these stations. Don’t let the well-organized detractors be the only voices heard.

Support Far-Side Bus Stations

Where feasible, Metro Transit is planning to build stations on the “far-side” of intersections, meaning the bus stops just past intersections, rather than before them. This simple strategy reduces delays by minimizing conflicts with right turning vehicles, and allows the bus to proceed through an intersection with signal priority before stopping at the station. You can tell Metro Transit that you like this idea.

A bus stop at the “far side” of an intersection. Source: NACTO

How To Provide Comments

With these suggestions in mind, I urge you to comment on the station plans by the upcoming October 31st deadline. Here’s how:

  1. Go to the E Line stations page.
  2. Click on an individual station name to see the proposed design.
  3. Click on the “Submit a comment” link and provide feedback for that station, as well as comments on the corridor as a whole.

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