Rush Line bus rapid transit passes milestone vote

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Rush Line bus rapid transit passes milestone vote

Project governing bodies endorse route, service type

Two key governing bodies of the Rush Line project voted today to endorse bus rapid transit (BRT) service running mostly in bus-only lanes between Union Depot in downtown Saint Paul and White Bear Lake. The Rush Line Corridor Task Force and Policy Advisory Committee each voted to recommend BRT service as the “Locally Preferred Alternative” on a 14-mile route along Robert Street, Phalen Boulevard, Ramsey County Regional Railroad Authority right-of-way alongside the Bruce Vento Trail, and Highway 61.

"Today we have passed a key milestone for the Rush Line,” said Corridor Task Force Chair Victoria Reinhardt. “The unanimous endorsement of a bus rapid transit line allows us to move one step closer to bringing this needed service to our residents and businesses. With the help of the community, we can now focus our efforts on the environmental and design details to ensure that maximum benefits are achieved.”

Selecting the Locally Preferred Alternative is the project stage in which many options for routes and vehicle types are narrowed to one. Today’s votes follow an intensive planning and public engagement process underway since May 2014. The advisory committee and task force deliberated over factors including cost, ridership, travel time, access to job and activity centers, and development potential. They also gathered direct input from neighbors, commuters, businesses and community groups in determining the most promising potential route and service options.

“Today’s votes cap a thorough and balanced process,” said Policy Advisory Chair Nora Slawik. “Input from our citizens and communities has been essential in driving to this resolution which best meets the needs of those living and working in the Rush Line corridor.”  

The Locally Preferred Alternative must now be presented and approved by the elected officials of each city along the line – Saint Paul, Maplewood, White Bear Lake, Vadnais Heights and Gem Lake – along with the Ramsey County Regional Railroad Authority in order to advance to the next project stages of environmental review, design and engineering. Construction of the line could begin as soon as 2023.

Service among the line’s 20 stations is proposed with hybrid-electric buses running every 10 minutes during peak traffic periods and every 15 minutes from early morning until midnight every day of the week. Most of the route will run on dedicated bus-only lanes:

  • In downtown Saint Paul, outside lanes on Robert Street would be dedicated to buses during peak periods.
  • Between Arcade Street in Saint Paul and a proposed station at St. John’s Hospital in Maplewood, the line will run adjacent and separated from bicyclists and pedestrians on the Bruce Vento Trail using existing right-of-way owned by the Ramsey County Regional Railroad Authority.
  • Along Highway 61, buses would run on reinforced, dedicated shoulder lanes (similar to METRO Red Line operation on Highway 77).

> View a route map

Daily Rush Line ridership is estimated at nearly 6,000 by 2040. More than 60,000 people live near the line’s station areas which are located at job and activity centers, health care facilities and clinics, economic development nodes and transportation hubs (including Union Depot and the Maplewood Mall Transit Center and Park & Ride). Stations planned in residential areas would serve many populations, including those who depend on transit for mobility. 

The estimated $420 million project also envisions new Park & Ride facilities near Highway 36 and English Street and in White Bear Lake. Planned stations include features similar to the METRO Green Line and A Line such as real-time arrival and departure information, security cameras and ticket machines. 

> Fact sheet 

Contact: Andy Gitzlaff, Rush Line Project Manager: 651-266-2772