I was out a couple of weeks ago making a video about people’s experience with the A Line, a rapid bus line between Roseville, Saint Paul, and Minneapolis. I knew that ridership in this corridor has increased 30% since the A Line opened. But the numbers did not quite prepare me for people’s enthusiasm.
“It’s just really easy.”
“The A Line has helped me by taking 10 to 15 minutes off my commute every day.”
“I like riding the A Line because it’s very fast.”
“I really love the fact that it comes so often.”
The A Line works so well because it’s “arterial Bus Rapid Transit” (aBRT).
Arterial Bus Rapid Transit is a slightly opaque name for a straightforward idea: make bus service faster and more reliable by carefully engineering out things that slow them down. For example, buses spend a lot of time stopped while people board and pay fares. Solution: pay your fare at the station, and board through both doors.
To learn more about aBRT, you can check out www.betterbusesmsp.com/about-abrt; and while you’re there, you can watch the video from our trip and judge people’s enthusiasm for yourself.
Bottom line: the A Line works.
Governor Dayton is proposing to accelerate the construction of aBRT lines by bonding for $50 million to fund more aBRT. The proposal itself does not specify which routes the funds should be used on. $35 million would almost certainly go to fully fund construction of the D Line along the route of Metro Transit’s #5 bus, the busiest bus line in Minnesota. Substantial additional money would go to advancing the B Line, aka Lake-Marshall between Minneapolis and Saint Paul. There’s a nice summary of how the rest would be spent in the April 15 Pioneer Press editorial supporting the investment, here: www.twincities.com/2018/04/15/editorial-a-clear-case-for-these-buses. (The link title gives away the conclusion, but it’s worth a read anyway.)
Now the bad news: that proposal was not included in the House’s bonding proposal this week.
Would you like to see more fast, comfortable, reliable buses in the Cities? The Saint Paul Area Chamber of Commerce, East Metro Strong, and the Minneapolis Chamber have set up a way to make it easy to say so to decision-makers. The site www.betterbusesmsp.com will automatically find your legislators and help you let them know of your support.