Minneapolis exploring moving buses, adding events to Nicollet Mall

Every day, more than 11,000 people get on or off a bus on Nicollet Mall, but that could soon change.

"Think about some of your favorite cities in the world and they almost all have some form of fully pedestrian mall in their downtown core," Minneapolis mayor Jacob Frey told FOX 9.

The city is exploring the idea of closing Nicollet Mall to bus traffic as a way to help revitalize downtown after the pandemic.

The mile-long stretch from Washington Avenue to 12th Street would become a public plaza that could host events like the Taste Of Minnesota to bring more people downtown year round.

"We're not going to be able to do things the way that we were doing them pre-COVID and have it all remain the same. Things will change. They are changing," said Frey.

City leaders say they are in talks with Metro Transit and the Met Council about where the buses would go and what if any infrastructure would need to be built to accommodate them.

But the Minneapolis Downtown Council says it's not just about moving the buses. It's also about creating the programming to replace them.

"I love the idea. I think now's a great time to be reimagining what downtown is all about for people. What brings people together," said Adam Duininck, President and CEO of the Mpls Downtown Council.

Metro Transit appears to be open to the idea

Spokesperson Drew Kerr said in a statement, "We continue to work with the City of Minneapolis to develop and evaluate ideas for how to best serve transit customers if Nicollet Mall were to become pedestrian only. Our goal is to ensure any changes provide a customer experience that is as good as or better than today."

At least one bus rider says he would welcome the change.

"I don't think it would hurt, at the very least, trying something new. I think certainly it's a positive idea.," said Gunnar Gustafson.

The city and Metro Transit will start getting feedback from the public this summer but a move probably wouldn't happen for a couple of years.