B Line bus
The 12.6-mile B Line is designed to provide faster and more reliable bus transit service in the Route 21 corridor along Lake Street in Minneapolis and Marshall and Selby avenues in Saint Paul.

Comments on the proposed Metro Transit B Line, which would largely follow the Route 21 bus corridor along Lake Street in Minneapolis and Marshall and Selby avenues in Saint Paul, are being gathered through March 22. Just a few days after that the Metropolitan Council is expected to act on other arterial bus lines, including one that would serve Mendota Heights.

The draft plan for the 12.6-mile B Line bus rapid transit (BRT) service shows it traveling from Minneapolis’ Bde Maka Ska to Saint Paul’s Union Depot. It also shows station locations, intersections and platform spots.

B Line bus
The downtown Saint Paul portion of the proposed B Line.

Public comments on the draft plan will be incorporated by Metro Transit staff into a final plan that is expected to be presented to the Met Council this summer. Once that plan is approved, engineering can get underway, with construction to begin in 2023 and service expected to start in 2024.

The B Line would connect at Snelling and Dayton avenues to the A Line, a BRT route that has been running along Snelling, Ford Parkway and 46th Street between Roseville and the light-rail Blue Line in Minneapolis since 2016.

   

BRT requires passengers to pay at kiosks in advance for faster boarding. The stations have enhanced lighting, push-button heating, real-time scheduling and improved security. The buses also make fewer stops.

Route 21 bus service would not be eliminated when the B Line opens, but its route would be changed. Route 21 would run every 30 minutes between Hennepin Avenue and Minnehaha Avenue in Minneapolis, serving all local and B Line stops. Service between Selby and the Midway area would be replaced by a new local bus Route 60, which would provide local service with buses running every 30 minutes.

Route 21 originally crossed the Selby Avenue bridge over Ayd Mill Road, but a fire in 1976 and deteriorated bridge conditions forced the buses to be rerouted north to University Avenue between Snelling and Hamline avenues. The changes were made permanent in 1991.

 

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The Route 53 rush hour service will be evaluated as the B Line nears implementation.

The public can make comments on the B Line plans at metrotransit.org/b-line-project.

BRT requires passengers to pay at kiosks in advance for faster boarding. The stations have enhanced lighting, push-button heating, real-time scheduling and improved security. The buses also make fewer stops.

More BRT lines are on the way, including one serving Mendota Heights

The Met Council on February 24 reviewed its plans for additional BRT lines in Minneapolis and the northern and southern suburbs. That includes a G Line that would extend from Little Canada to Mendota Heights via Robert and Rice streets. It would replace sections of bus Routes 62 and 68.

The G Line is one of three routes poised to move to a Met Council vote on March 25 for continued planning and funding. They would join a growing network of three BRT lines that are currently operating and five more that are on the drawing boards.

Met Council chair Charlie Zelle and other members said they are excited to see the projects take shape. Kris Fredson, who represents area neighborhoods, said he is pleased to see that there is a vision in place for a strong BRT system.

Katie Routh, assistant director of BRT projects for Metro Transit, said more than 4,000 public comments went into recommending the three new routes.

The current and future routes are part of Network Next, a 20-year plan to expand and improve the Twin Cities bus system. Transit improvements under consideration include improved local and express routes, integrated shared mobility options and new BRT lines.

— Jane McClure

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