In a presentation on February 24, planners announced findings of a recent ridership survey, among other data, that allows them to recommend the new route primarily along Central and University Avenues as the next in a series of three such routes that the Met Council should fund over the next decade.
“We see it as a really strong existing transit market with a lot of strong ridership,” said Katie Roth, Metro Transit Assistant Director of Bus Rapid Transit Projects. “We see a lot of potential for strong ridership growth and then we see there’s a robust amount of services in the corridor today that makes it pretty cost-effective to grow that into BRT service in the future.”
The cost of the route, which also replaces the current standard bus route 10, is projected to be $81 million and cost as much as $15 million a year to operate, according to Metro Transit. That placed it among the more affordable options the agency is considering for its F, G, and H Lines. Most notably, of the more than 4,000 surveys returned from Metro Transit users and others, the Central Avenue option was the most favored of the options, at 28.5% approval.
Currently buses to Blaine go through the Northtown Bus Transit station at Northtown Mall, but the owners of the mall are currently suing Metro Transit and the Met Council over the station, which the mall wants moved. That lawsuit won’t be heard until August.
“Land uses can change, or ownership can change. Throughout the development process, the process can change,” said Laura Baenen, a spokesperson for Metro Transit. “We’re used to dealing with the curve balls as they come up.”
“Certainly the connections that are made at the Northtown Transit Center are really important to anchoring the end of the F Line and they look to be an important part of the line as we develop it,” said Roth. “We’ll respond to how this process plays out.”
The Metropolitan Council’s transportation committee will take up the funding matter in early March before the full council votes on it by the end of the month.
Construction wouldn’t begin until 2025 at the very earliest, according to Metro Transit.