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Rapid Transit Buses Set For Big Debut

MINNEAPOLIS (WCCO) -- A new kind of bus service is coming to the Twin Cities.

Metro Transit is about to release their fleet of 12 new rapid buses on the A Line of Snelling Avenue, Ford Parkway and 46th Street.

It was a five-year project that blended bus improvements over the years.

Spokesperson Katie Roth says transit riders played a big role in the project.

"It's something that's been designed for transit riders by transit riders, and it's really a culmination of a lot of public input, a lot of attention to detail of all the things that we can do better," Roth said.

She says these buses will run faster with fewer stops to speed up travel time. Signal priority will also allow more time for the buses to make it through lights.

"So the buses have some equipment on board that can communicate with the traffic signals and get a few extra seconds of green time to make it through the light before it turns red," she said.

Lower floors, higher curbs at stations and the ability to board through both doors will speed up the boarding process. And a major player in the quicker ride is the introduction of pay stations.

"On the A Line you pay before you board, and so at each station we'll have two ticket machines as well as a 'Go-To' card reader [which is] the easiest way to pay for your ride," Roth said. "And folks can just come up, tag their cards and be ready to get on the bus."

If you have cash or a credit card, you can buy a ticket at another machine at stations.

GPS tracking devices are also located on board to let the station screens display -- in real time -- when your next bus will arrive.

All rapid buses have free Wi-Fi, and other improvements should also make for a smoother, more comfortable ride with more room on board. There are bigger back doors for more space, along with folding seats.

"So that makes a lot more space for someone who might have a stroller or a cart to get that out of the isle and keep things free and clear," Roth said.

The new fleet of rapid buses will hit the streets, in full service, this Saturday. All of the A Line buses will be free for riders Saturday through Monday.

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