Orange Line bus at Heart of the City Station in Burnsville

Ride the Orange Line with us on June 11!

Streets.mn will be exploring the Orange Line on June 11, and we’d like you to join us!

We’ll be meeting at approximately 2:00 PM at Marquette and 3rd, two blocks from the Nicollet Mall LRT station, and catch the 2:28 PM Orange Line run down to Burnsville’s Heart of the City station. Once there, we plan on heading to Mediterranean Cruise Café for food and conversation before heading back to Minneapolis at our own pace.

If you’d like to join us in Burnsville, we’ll be at Heart of the City station at approximately 3:00 PM, and the restaurant around 3:15 PM.

Looking forward to seeing you on MSP’s newest rapid transit route!

edited to correct date, which is June 11th (Saturday)

Jeb Rach

About Jeb Rach

Born and raised in rural Minnesota, Jeb has been an avid transit geek since he first discovered it trying to save money on parking in the Twin Cities. He now lives in St. Paul and works in Roseville.

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8 thoughts on “Ride the Orange Line with us on June 11!

  1. Sheldon Gitis

    According to your link:
    https://www.metrotransit.org/route/orange

    the “Route (is) Currently Not Operating” and no schedules are posted in the Schedules and Maps tab.

    The “Show my bus” tab, however, seems to indicate there are 6 of these enormous 120-passenger BRT vehicles motoring back and forth between Burnsville and downtown Minneapolis on a weekday morning around 10am. I suppose if the buses are running continuously throughout the day and evening at 10 or 15-minute intervals, there’s no need to post a schedule.

    The LRT to the airport and megamall is virtually empty at 10am on a weekday. Are the Richfield, Bloomington and Burnsville stops on the BRT line busier than the airport and megamall? Anyone care to venture a guess how many passengers the six 120-passenger BRT buses are carrying to and from downtown Minneapolis and the Burnsville, Bloomington, and Richfileld destinations at 10am on a weekday?

    On what planet does it make sense to run frequent, high-capacity buses and trains between downtown Minneapolis and the suburbs during off-peak periods?

    1. Eric Ecklund

      The Orange Line has 1,100 average weekday riders as of April. With 131 one-way trips each weekday, if you split the ridership evenly it would be 8 riders on each trip. Of course in reality it differs throughout the day. Source: https://metrocouncil.org/Council-Meetings/Committees/Transportation-Committee/2022/May-23,-2022/Info-1_2022-First-Quarter-Ridership-Report.aspx

      Also I want to point out the “enormous 120-passenger” buses you’re referring to only have seats for 61 people. There’s room for 62 standees for a total capacity of up to 123 people, but I don’t want people getting the wrong idea thinking these buses can seat over 100 people. Some trips are operated with shorter buses that seat 40 people with room for up to 44 standees. Source: https://www.newflyer.com/bus/xcelsior-diesel/

      As for the Blue Line, the most recent ridership data shows 15,000 average weekday riders (source: https://www.metrotransit.org/performance#blueline). There are 181 one-way trips each weekday (not including the overnight trips between the airport terminals), so split evenly it would be almost 83 riders on each trip. Of the 15,000 I don’t know how many are going to/from the airport and Mall of America, but even if it’s empty at 10 AM as you claim that doesn’t mean we should just eliminate off-peak service. Part of the benefit of these high frequency routes operating throughout the day is people can just go to the station whenever they want, and it’s more likely the route will fit their needs. A commuter-oriented express bus typically only goes one direction and only during the peak period, so if you want to go off-peak or go from downtown to the suburbs in the morning (reverse commute) it will either take a lot longer by transit or there’s no option by transit.

      1. Sheldon Gitis

        You’re obviously either missing, ignoring, or attempting to obscure my point. Nowhere have I ever said I am opposed to frequent transit service throughout the day and evening. The question I asked, and you chose to ignore or blow off, is whether or not a big bus or a couple rail cars, capable of seating somewhere between 60 and nearly couple hundred passengers respectively, are appropriate vehicles for carrying a handful of passengers at 10am. My guess is a fleet of 6 minivan taxis would be more than adequate to carry the passengers riding the 6 Burnsville BRT buses.

        I seems absurd to me to pay to operate a 6-bus BRT line when 6-minivan taxis on the same fixed route would serve passengers as well if not better. Given the cost difference between operating a BRT bus and a minivan taxi, the off-peak fixed-route taxi service could be offered fare-free, and if it replaced the off-peak BRT bus service, you’d probably save money doing so.

        1. Eric Ecklund

          Metro Transit isn’t going to operate a sub-fleet of mini-buses or minivans just for off-peak times. The New Flyer 60-foot buses operating on the Orange Line are virtually the same as their regular fleet of buses, so there’s fleet commonality and makes it easier to do maintenance on them. They also have the ability to use regular buses on the Orange Line if needed. The cost to purchase mini-buses or minivans would outweigh any savings operating smaller vehicles at off-peak times.

          1. Sheldon Gitis

            According to what calculation would the cost to purchase and operate mini-buses or minivans..”outweigh any savings operating smaller vehicles at off-peak times?”

            The cost to purchase the much smaller vehicles is much less than the price of the BRT buses. By limiting the wear and tear on the much more expensive BRT buses to peak periods only, presumably you would extend the life span of the much more expensive BRT buses considerably. Limiting the big BRT bus usage to peak periods only, you would also require less maintenance of the extremely costly to maintain BRT buses. Regardless of any “fleet commonality”, it’s ridiculous to assert that maintaining the “New Flyer 60-foot buses” is less expensive than maintaining small passenger vans. You could probably pay for a considerable amount of the mini-bus fleet just with the reduction in depreciation and maintenance on the reduced to peak periods only BRT buses.

            Operating costs obviously are another big cost saving. Not only are the much smaller vehicles much less costly to fuel, they also require much less specialized and costly labor and equipment to operate and maintain.

            During off-peak periods, you could probably provide free cab rides on BRT routes for less money. You might not even have to purchase the mini-buses or mini-vans. There’s already an over-abundance of vehicles on the road, so why not use them, just as Amazon and Uber and other transportation and delivery services already do? Whatever Amazon is paying for grocery delivery drivers and driver-owned vehicles is no doubt far less than than what Metro Transit is paying for BRT buses and drivers.

            Flushing money down the toilet running the empty 60-ft buses during off-peak periods is economic lunacy.

            1. Ian GaidaIan Gaida

              For someone asking for calculations I’m noticing a distinct lack of calculations in this reply.

              I’m gonna go out on a limb and guess you don’t work for Metro Transit. These kinds of arguments are hashed out between the accountants, mechanics, and industrial/civil engineers for literal days. Now, I don’t work for them either, but I’ve been a part of these types of arguments, and if I had to guess I’d say they considered this at some point and deemed it either cost prohibitive, or the savings wouldn’t justify the downsides.

              Remember, with each new vehicle you’re essentially raising the labor costs another 100%, as you need to train not only mechanics on how to fix them, but drivers on operation, stock keepers on inventory, etc. That’s a recurring cost every time you get a new mechanic/driver at most repair shops and any time drivers switch routes. This is exacerbated if one of the vehicles, say the 60 ft buses, is already in the fleet negating the need for retraining. It’s safe to say MT is like most organizations in that labor is their single highest cost so doubling/tripling labor costs pretty handily knocks out any supposed savings. Savings that I doubt would materialize as having a small fleet of specialty vehicles drives up costs per unit – “economy of scale” and all that.

              And this is to say nothing of what MT is supposed to do if a random spike of demand suddenly hits. A 9 seat van can’t fit a random group of 40 tourists. So what’s the solution here, tell 31 people they’re SOL and wait for the next bus? Send a replacement to get all 40? Either way the schedule’s now FUBAR. As the old saying goes: better to have it and not need it than need it and not have it.

  2. juan s

    Orange Line is performing poorly because there are too few connecting routes in South Mpls Rt 23 isnt a direct route any more with the closure of 38th/Chicago :make some changes to network Run #46 all times but on 42nd St ,run between Edina and 46th St station only .Rt23 discontinue replace with #11 along 38th St to BlueLine at 38th Station East of Hia Ave run the 9 to cover the 23CH Terminate the# 4 @46th St station
    OrangeLine can be very useful for events downtown,if it erminate near Target Center /Field
    Penn and Lyndale #4PL shuttle to the OrangeLine @46th St Station

    1. Sheldon Gitis

      very useful for the suburban-dominated Downtown Business Council and the billionaire stadium owners and other wealthy downtown business interests. The BRT to Burnsville corporate welfare doesn’t work so well if you’re unable to afford or drive a car.

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