ST. PAUL NOTES | Big plans for BRT on Snelling Avenue


Although Snelling Avenue doesn’t have the first Bus Rapid Transit (BRT) running yet, the Met Council is already making plans to expand the line. A November 14 press release said that the council would evaluate “a future extension of A Line (Snelling Avenue) Bus Rapid Transit (BRT) from Rosedale Center in Roseville north to the Twin Cities Army Ammunition Plant (TCAAP) property in Arden Hills.”

The first part of the BRT “A line” is scheduled to begin in 2015, running along 46th Street in Minneapolis, to Ford Parkway and Snelling Avenue to Rosedale. The Met Council estimates the cost of the A line at $25 million and the press release said that $15 million in funding has been identified.

BRT is supposed to be faster and more attractive than regular bus service. According to the Snelling BRT website, the line will have frequent service, “train-like” features, including prepayment of fares and “enhanced stations” with real-time departure signs and enhanced security. BRT buses will have wider aisles and more doors.

The first Twin Cities BRT line opened in June, running along Cedar Avenue from Apple Valley to the Mall of America. That’s the Red Line — I’m not sure why the Snelling Avenue BRT is (at least up to this point) designated by a letter rather than a color.

Will BRT really be worth the cost? That is, will it be significantly different / faster / better than just adding more frequent bus service? And is it preferable to the much-more-expensive streetcar alternative?

The Met Council keeps on rolling out plans, but debate continues in the blogosphere. For thoughtful discussion of the costs / benefits and decisions about buses and streetcars and light rail, two good places to go are Streets.MN (e.g. this article or this one) and Conrad de Fiebre’s writing on Minnesota 2020 (e.g., on the Red Line BRT and on streetcars in general.)