A ride on the BRT

This past weekend brought the arrival of another BRT (Bus Rapid Transit) line to the Twin Cities. Bus Rapid Transit is a special bus line that tries to function as a hybrid between a regular bus and a train. From the train side of the equation the BRT’s are pre-pay routes, with set stations that they stop at. People board at either the front or back, and the decks are lower as if boarding a train. The BRT buses also travel on shoulders, or on some routes, on dedicated lanes just for them. The routes also do not stop nearly as often, choosing instead to maximize the amount of travel time between stops.

This week I had a legitimate reason to utilize this new BRT line that runs up Snelling Ave. I needed to get from Downtown St. Paul to Rosedale shopping center, so I first hopped the Green Line light rail from downtown to Snelling. At Snelling I walked across the street and waiting for the A-Line BRT. It arrived within a couple minutes, and since I had pre-paid, I walked right on. I took a seat and the bus headed up Snelling as quickly as traffic allowed.

I got to Rosedale just under an hour from when I started in St. Paul, but the ride was mostly comfortable. I always enjoy light rail transit, as I find the ride to be much smoother than a bus ever can be. The BRT bus wasn’t bad, but it certainly wasn’t as smooth. It also had to dodge and weave around traffic, which can get annoying after a while.

There are also BRT lines that get dedicated lanes to travel in. These routes are the best of both worlds, since building a lane on a road is much cheaper than light rail tracks. I doubt we’ll see many of these in the heart of the metro, but it should be a good option for some suburbs.

I’m excited to see how much use this line gets, as even on a Tuesday afternoon it had a fair number of people on it. There is already another line projected for 2018, but I’m not sure that one will be going close to anywhere I normally travel. Hopefully, if our legislature can come to some agreements, we’ll also get some additional light rail in the Twin Cities to help with our ever growing traffic issues.

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