Met Council OKs 'train like' rapid bus route for St. Paul

The Metropolitan Council on Wednesday backed plans for a rapid transit bus line with "train like features" that will run on one of the region's heaviest traveled streets.

The "A Line" promises faster and more frequent service on a route running on St. Paul's Snelling Avenue and Ford Parkway between the Rosedale Transit Center in Roseville and the Blue Line 46th Street Station in Minneapolis.

The "arterial bus rapid transit" is projected to make local bus service as much as 25 percent faster without making major changes to the street. It's the first of its kind in the Twin Cities, officials said.

Wednesday's Met Council vote lets the project enter final design and construction phases. Construction will begin later this year and service will start in late 2015. State and federal funds are covering the $25 million cost.

What makes it different from a regular city bus route? The Met Council site says the rapid line will include:

• Service so frequent you won't need a schedule, along with fewer stops

• Train-like features: You'll pay your fare before getting on for faster boarding and wait at enhanced stations

• Real-time departure signs so you'll always know when the bus is coming, enhanced maps and signage

• Stations with cameras and emergency phones, fare enforcement by Transit Police and improved lighting

• Unique, recognizable buses with wider aisles and additional doors

A "B Line" is expected to open in late 2016 on St. Paul's West 7th Street while a "C Line" is projected on Penn Avenue in Minneapolis as early as 2017, the Met Council said, adding that it's also looking at a potential future extension of the A Line to Arden Hills.

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