A new $4.5 million transit station, which opened on Dec. 6, makes connections between freeway and locally-running buses faster.
In Minnesota, it's the beginning of freeway "bus rapid transit" (BRT), which aims to get people wherever they're going as quickly as possible.
The split-level 46th Street Transit Station, which spans the 46th Street bridge across Interstate 35W in Southwest Minneapolis, enables buses to pick up and drop off passengers without ever getting off the freeway, explains Metro Transit
spokesperson Bob Gibbons.
Riders can efficiently make connections between the upper and lower levels of the station, which rises out of the median of Interstate 35W.
From the station, which has LCD monitors with real-time information about bus arrival times, people can hop on express buses bound for downtown Minneapolis, the University of Minnesota-Twin Cities campus, Best Buy corporate headquarters in Richfield, and Normandale Community College in Bloomington. During peak times, express buses run every 15 minutes.
From the freeway, buses benefit from the MnPass
toll lanes, which "give us a consistent, fast trip," he says, explaining that the lane's traffic is kept moving at 50 miles per hour.
Gibbons says that the 13 routes that converge here "have been adjusted to take advantage of the new station."
These changes were made following a lengthy public hearing process over the past couple years. The Metropolitan Council
approved the route realignments in August. The project came together through a combination of federal, state, and regional funds.
He says the setup is a precursor to an expanded bus rapid transit system set to be fully operational in 2012. The idea behind BRT is to have local buses running frequently enough for people to catch freeway buses that'll go both directions every 15 minutes all day.
"When you have that frequency, you don't need a pocket schedule," he says. "You don't have to be a slave to the bus schedule and organize your life around it."
Source: Bob Gibbons, spokesperson from Metro Transit
Writer: Anna Pratt