As a follow-up to my post a month ago about the Apple Valley Cedar Avenue Bus Rapid Transit Display, I had Kim run over to the Apple Valley Cub to snap some photos of the North American Bus Industries Inc. (NABI) 60-BRT Hybrid that was on display as a preview of what is to come in the future for Dakota County.
For whatever reason, it wasn’t in the cards for me to see the BRT vehicle up close. I suppose I have vacation on the brain because yesterday (Tuesday) I thought that it was really Wednesday and drove over to Cub to find the parking lot missing one large bus. After Kim straightened my internal calendar out I planned on heading over today after we got back from work. Due to us both being stupid we ended up at the Apple Valley Transit Station while our car was safely parked at the overflow lot at 28th Ave in Bloomington which, by the way, will be closing on the 23rd and will be replaced by the newly constructed parking garage directly adjacent to the LRT platform! I’m not quite sure why Metro Transit decided that paper fliers stuck to windshields on a day when it was supposed to thunderstorm (it didn’t thankfully) would be a better way than say a large sign that everyone would be able to see, but hey, they’re funded by public monies, what better way to waste it than to print 100s of fliers and then have someone come and pick up the litter later?!
While Kim didn’t talk to anyone about the bus as she didn’t think she would be able to recall everything I really wanted to know such as the specific plans for the Cedar Ave Corridor itself and how that would affect the way bus service currently operates in and out of downtown, she did pick up several pamphlets and other media that they had available. According to NABI’s promotional materials for the bus that was on display, it offers:
- Five doors, two on the left hand side
- Air disc brakes on all three axles
- Optional all-electric air conditioning
- Low-floor entry at all doors
- Frame less side windows
- Fender skirts on all three axles
- Full-height door glazing
- Multi-function driver’s display
- Advanced multiplexing with integral diagnostics
- Hybrid-electric, diesel, or natural gas propulsion
To me it looks like a cross between the Light Rail (I’m sure on purpose) and your typical city bus. The interior doesn’t look any different than any other bus that is currently running with the MVTA aside from the fact that it’s a double connected with the accordion that I never feel comfortable sitting in. None of the promotional materials either from the county or from NABI discuss what type of “propulsion” we will utilize here in the South Metro nor how much it will cost.
While Kim didn’t ask any questions about possible route changes, a single sheet distributed by Dakota County shows the Cedar Avenue Bus Rapid Transit Corridor map with current and future stations marked starting at 215th St and Cedar and stopping just a little north of 494. Stations that have not yet been constructed yet appear to be planned for Cedar/MN-13, Cliff Rd, 140th St, 147th St, 180th St, and 215th St. Currently the 477 route out of Apple Valley makes no stops between Apple Valley and Lake St in Minneapolis (which is only by request) and during our daily trips to Minneapolis we only stop there 1 out of 4 days a week (I typically telecommute on Fridays). Is this map suggesting that the “rapid transit” out of Apple Valley will make five stops between the transit station and what appears to be the Mall of America? Overall, a nice preliminary thought, but as of right now, I’m just not as excited as the county seems to want me to be about this bus or their future plans for Cedar transit options.
I plan on contacting Sam O’Connell, the Dakota County Transit Specialist, who is listed as the contact for more information on the promotional materials, tomorrow to get some more of my questions answered and I will be sure to post them as a comment below. If you happen to have seen the NABI BRT vehicle today and have more information about the planned routes please let us know. In addition to contacting Sam, the county will be offering news, information and refreshments at several public sessions to be held at the Dakota County Western Service Center (which, ironically, is on a pretty shitty transit route) on the following Thursdays throughout the summer, fall, and winter at extremely inconvenient times for pretty much any typical mass transit rider (hey Dakota County, if you’re reading this, let’s see some new times offered that are acceptable, ok?)
July 24th (3:30 to 4:30pm)
August 28th (7:30 to 8:30am)
September 25th (3:30 to 4:30pm)
October 23rd (7:30 to 8:30am)
November 20th (7:30 to 8:30am)
December 18th (3:30 to 4:30pm)
See all the pictures from the NABI 60-BRT Hybrid Vehicle on Flickr here.