Maple Grove will open a second transit hub

After 20 years in the transit business, Maple Grove will provide more parking and add trips to Minneapolis.

By LAURIE BLAKE, Star Tribune
Last update: August 10, 2010 – 4:36 PM

Suburban transit in the northwest metro area, which sagged last year after record growth, is poised for another growth spurt: by late October Maple Grove plans to open a second transit station.

The $2.8 million station, located on Maple Grove Parkway off Interstate Hwy. 94 in the northwest part of the city, will offer 500 surface parking spots, an indoor waiting area and service on new coach buses.

The new amenities are expected to attract more riders and boost bus commuting in that part of the city by 5 to 10 percent, said Maple Grove Transit administrator Mike Opatz.

“We are expanding both the number of park-and-ride stalls and the service,” Opatz said. “Initially we are expanding service by two trips — one in the morning and one in the afternoon. As ridership grows and our budget allows, we will add service to it.”

The station is opening during a dip in what had been steadily growing suburban ridership. Last year, due to the economic downturn, Maple Grove ridership fell by 6 percent to 756,000 riders, down from record ridership in 2008 of 807,000, Opatz said.

About 200 to 300 commuters who park and catch buses in a nearby Wal-Mart lot will shift to the new station.

Some riders have already sent e-mail saying they are looking forward to it, Opatz said. “Getting in and out of Wal-Mart is very difficult. It’s a popular store so it’s always very crowded over there.” The Wal-Mart stop does not have an indoor waiting area. “You wait in the rain until the bus comes,” Opatz said.

The city established Maple Grove Transit in 1990 and opened the first Maple Grove Transit Station at Arbor Lakes in 2003. The flagship station offers a three-level, 926-stall parking ramp, temperature-controlled waiting area. There are 21 trips to Minneapolis in the morning and 23 trips back to Maple Grove in the evening.

From all five of the city’s park-and-ride locations, buses make 45 round-trips from Maple Grove to Minneapolis. Ridership averages 3,000 people a day. The express bus fare is $3.

The new station will offer seven trips to Minneapolis on I-94 in the morning and seven return trips in the evening, one more round-trip than offered now from the Wal-Mart lot.

Some of those trips will be made with three new 57-passenger coach buses provided by the Metropolitan Council.

If the new parking fills up, a second level could be built on the parking lot with space for an extra 475 stalls, Opatz said. He expects to build the second level in three to five years.

Laurie Blake • 612-673-1711

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