Added Buses, Light Rail Strong Possibility for Midtown Corridor

Updated: 03/08/2014 8:46 AM By: Todd Wilson

Richard Krout moved from Austin, Texas to Minneapolis two years ago. Ever since he's been here he has ridden the bus.

"I ride the six from Uptown to downtown. Then I usually ride the 21 sometimes all the way to the train line on Hiawatha," he said.

When Krout heard about Metro Transit looking into enhanced bus service for Lake Street and rail in the Midtown Greenway, he liked that idea.

"I think it's a great idea. It is real busy on Lake Street and if they did add that I'd definitely use it everyday instead of the bus. That would probably free up room on the bus," Krout said.

Under the new recommendations, enhanced bus stations would be built every half a mile on Lake Street. And Metro Transit would use "Transit Signal Priority." It's a technique that detects buses as they approach an intersection and adjusts the signal timing to improve service for the line.

Right now, a trip from West Lake Street to the Blue Lines Lake Street Station takes 42 minutes. With enhanced bussing the trip is estimated to take 30 minutes.

Rail would run the 4.5 mile corridor south of the Midtown Greenway. The line would run with single car trains. A ride from the proposed West Lake Street Station to the Blue Lines Lake Street Station is estimated to take 13 minutes.

"It's also important to point out they are not necessarily conjoined projects. In other words, the bus project could move ahead first," said John Siqveland of Metro Transit. 

Either way, Krout says, it all makes sense.

"Because its one of the busiest routes," he said.

The cost, depending on track design, enhanced bus and rail is expected to cost between $235 million and $270 million to build and $15 million a year to run.

Right now, there are three projects ahead of this one.

There is a search right now for funding, which would be a mixture of federal, state and local money.