Bus-only lanes coming to Minneapolis streets to increase reliability for riders

After testing additional bus lanes in the city of Minneapolis, Metro Transit is moving forward with the project that is expected to help improve service reliability and efficiency.

With the number of people riding the bus continuing to decline over the last several years, Metro Transit and the city of Minneapolis are hoping better reliability will win those riders over.

To increase that reliability, bus-only lanes could be the answer.

The plan is to make lanes that are now designated for street parking as bus-only lanes designated by red paint. A similar system is used in the city of Chicago.

“We’re really trying to maximize the use of the space that’s out there today,” said Michael Mechtenberg, a program manager with Metro Transit. “In some cases, that requires moving a little bit of parking. In other words, that means utilizing the center turn lane.”

The idea leads some to wonder, yet again, where are they going to park?

“We’re only taking parking for two hours, during peak hours, when the buses have the most challenges and we never take parking on both sides of the street at the same time,” said Allan Klugman, a traffic engineer with the city of Minneapolis.

The project managers point out designated bus lanes got an overwhelmingly positive response from riders who responded to handouts they received on the bus, but those traveling by car got less notification.

The designated bus lanes will be on Hennepin Avenue between Franklin and Lake Street only during the morning and afternoon commutes. The permanent lane will be on Chicago Avenue southbound from East 28th Street to the transit station.

There will also be a pilot program on Nicollet Avenue between Franklin and Lake Street.

“In many ways, we’re making the drive a little bit easier,” added Mechtenberg.