B Line
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.

The final corridor and station plans for the $65 million B Line between Saint Paul’s Union Depot and Uptown Minneapolis received a unanimous vote of support on October 13 from the Metropolitan Council. The B Line is expected to begin providing bus rapid transit (BRT) service starting in 2024 along Lake Street in Minneapolis, and Marshall and Selby avenues in Saint Paul. The faster service will largely replace Route 21, which is Metro Transit’s second busiest bus route. It was carrying about 10,000 passengers per day before the pandemic.

Engineering on the 12.6-mile line will now get underway and continue until late 2022. Construction is expected to start in 2023. Once completed, the B Line will provide connections to the light-rail Green and Blue lines as well as the A Line rapid transit bus that connects Rosedale Center to Highland Village and the Blue’s 46th Street Station in Minneapolis.

Not everyone is on board with the B Line, however, including a group of residents in the Lexington-Hamline neighborhood. They would rather have Marshall and not Selby used for the portion of the route between Snelling and Lexington Parkway and mounted an unsuccessful petition drive to change the route.

The Lexington-Hamline residents contend there was a lack of involvement of their neighborhood and the Lexington-Hamline Community Council. Their objections include having large lighted bus platforms close to homes. Selby, they say, can be very narrow in the winter.

   

Not everyone is on board with the B Line, however, including a group of residents in the Lexington-Hamline neighborhood. They would rather have Marshall and not Selby used for the portion of the route between Snelling and Lexington Parkway and mounted an unsuccessful petition drive to change the route.

They also questioned how buses will make the turn at busy Selby and Snelling avenues. B Line buses will share the A Line stations at Snelling and Dayton avenues. Metro Transit staff said those issues have been studied, and that test runs show the buses can navigate the corner.

The draft plan for the B Line was released in February and a recommended route released for public comment in July, according to Deb Barber, who chairs the Metro Council’s Transportation Committee. The project has generated more than 2,500 comments, according to Barber. Most comments expressed support for bus lanes on Lake Street. There were also comments about the loss of on-street parking, potential traffic delays, bus and bike interactions, impacts on snow plowing and the size of shelters and stations.

 

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Metro Transit staff met on October 11 with a group of Lexington-Hamline neighbors to discuss their concerns, Barber said, and will continue to work with neighbors along the route. Amy Westerberg, who lives at the northeast corner of Hamline and Selby avenues, said the engagement was too little, too late for her and her neighbors. Her family’s house is now up for sale.

In Minneapolis, neighborhood leaders are asking for consideration of dedicated bus-only lanes on part of Lake Street. That request is being considered, with technical studies to be done by the end of the year.

A total of 33 stations are proposed for the B Line, including four in downtown Saint Paul before terminating at Union Depot. The buses will run every 10 minutes. BRT requires passengers to pay at kiosks in advance to promote faster boarding. The stations offer real-time information on bus schedules, improved lighting and security, push-button heating and bicycle parking.

Metro Transit plans to replace some regular bus service along Route 21 in Minneapolis, but with buses only running every 30 minutes. A new Route 60 is planned to operate along Selby and provide access to Midway shopping destinations once the B Line starts operating.

— Jane McClure

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