This is a guest post by a Minneapolis resident and planner who has recently begun using the new 46th Street “online” transit station to commute to and from work. The opinions expressed here are solely his or her own, and do not reflect those of his or her employer.
Freeway-level boarding area
Monday morning I tried out the new I-35W and 46th Street Station, on opening day of the bus stop in the median of the freeway beneath the 46th Street bridge. The station was constructed at the same time as the major Crosstown Commons project, and is expected to serve future bus rapid transit (BRT) routes on 35W and Highway 77. For now, it’s the only one of its kind in the Twin Cities transit system. Passengers walk down stairs or take an elevator in one of two towers from the bridge deck down to freeway level, where buses traveling on the freeway’s new high-occupancy toll (HOT) lanes can quickly pull over without completely exiting the freeway.
This week, Metro Transit opened a new bus station at 46th Street and 35W in Minneapolis. The design of the station, including boarding at freeway-level, is a first of its kind for Minnesota. Local buses drop off passengers on 46th street, who then take an elevator or stairs down to the freeway level for boarding.
The idea is to increase the speed of buses: they no longer have to pick up passengers on freeway on- and off-ramps, but instead use special lanes in the center of 35W to enter the station area. The station is part of a larger plan to improve Bus Rapid Transit (BRT) service between southern suburbs and Minneapolis.
However, one or two local routes in Minneapolis may have actually had their travel time increased during certain times of day since passengers now need to transfer at 35-W rather than local streets. I’m getting most of this information anecdotally, but the Metro Transit overview of the changes seems to indicate the same (see Route 146).
Later this week, I hope to post a first-hand account of the using the new station from a regular bus rider in south Minneapolis.