Metro Transit eyes Central Avenue for next BRT line

Tim Harlow, Star Tribune
·2 min read

A rapid bus route through northeast Minneapolis and Anoka is next on the list as Metro Transit continues growing its network.

Transit officials chose Central Avenue for the F Line after the route, which would run from downtown Minneapolis through Columbia Heights, Fridley and Blaine, received the most votes in a recent ridership survey. The F Line, which would largely replace Route 10, also came out on top when criteria such as ridership, potential ridership, and construction and operating costs were factored in, said Charles Carlson, director of Bus Rapid Transit projects.

Transit officials will present plans for the F Line on Wednesday in a presentation to the Metropolitan Council.

No action will be taken Wednesday, but if eventually approved the F Line could be one of three rapid bus lines built by 2030. Metro Transit has identified two other corridors in the east metro as candidates, including Route 3, which travels along Como and Maryland avenues, and Routes 62 and 68 on Rice and Robert streets.

As part of its Network Next initiative, Metro Transit aims to have up to 15 rapid bus lines by 2040. The goal, Carlson said, "is to extend high level bus service, improve access to jobs and expand access to the region."

Bus rapid transit offers passengers an experience similar to light rail, but on wheels. Buses stop only at stations, spaced a quarter- to a half-mile apart, and riders pay fares before boarding. Trips can be completed up to 25% faster than on traditional bus lines.

Three rapid bus lines are up and running, including the A Line connecting the 46th Street light-rail station and Rosedale Transit Center along Snelling Avenue, and the C Line from downtown Minneapolis to Brooklyn Center. Both lines saw ridership gains — as high as 30% — before COVID-19 hit. The Red Line from Apple Valley to the Mall of America started running in 2013.

This spring, Metro Transit plans to start building the D Line, which will run along Chicago, Fremont and Emerson avenues between Brooklyn Center and the Mall of America. Planning is underway for the B Line, which will run along Selby Avenue and Lake Street replacing Route 21, and the E Line, which will run from the University of Minnesota to Southdale Center via Hennepin Avenue now served by Route 6.

Route 10 serves about 7,100 riders a day. With rapid service, Metro Transit estimates ridership will grow to 12,000 by 2040. Initial estimates show it would cost about $81 million to build the F Line, plus annual operational costs of $15 million. Funding has not been secured.

The idea behind Network Next is to knit together a system that would improve access to fixed-route services such as the Green Line, Blue Line and the future Gold Line rapid bus line from St. Paul to Woodbury, and provide for "all purpose, all day trips," Carlson said.

Tim Harlow • 612-673-7768