Part of the new transit plan to alleviate traffic in the South Metro are BRT vehicles (aka Bus-Rapid-Transit) which the county believes will be an economical solution in lieu of light rail.
According to the Thisweek article I linked, BRT is a bit different from traditional bus service because it runs even more frequently than the current schedules, the buses get traffic light priority and they will link up with the light rail at the Mall of America. Now, the bus rider in me likes the idea of more frequent schedules and the lack of traffic lights impeding my speedy delivery downtown but the skeptic in me notes that they are saying it links up with the light rail at the Mall. Why are they planning on making another stop there? Are they thinking about dropping Apple Valley riders off at the MoA or 28th Ave LRT station and then thinking that we should take the train from there instead? While that would definitely cut down the round-trip time for the buses making that loop, it would increase the average riding time for Apple Valley transit riders almost two-fold (at least for the times that I normally ride).
If I leave the Apple Valley Transit Station at 7 AM (it’s usually ~7:08 AM) I will get downtown before 7:50 AM or about 40 minutes. If instead we make a stop at the Mall of America, have to get off the bus (which takes time, I never clocked it though), wait for a train, board the train and then ride the ~45 minutes to Minneapolis, it will come to be about an hour or more! While this scenario isn’t laid out in the article I have read, I wonder if that’s what they really plan on…
They are going to have one of these vehicles on display, most likely at the Apple Valley Transit Station, on July 15th and 16th. While the final location wasn’t specified in the article, I would guess they’d have it there being that the work is almost complete on the new lot across the street (parking lines were even painted yesterday) and there will be plenty of room in the old, and much smaller lot, at the transit station proper.
Check out the article for more information on county meeting times and dates where you can find out more information about the future BRT plans.