Usage of transit park-and-ride facilities reached a new high in the Twin Cities metro area last year, rising to more than 18,000 daily users.
That’s one of the key findings of the park-and-ride survey conducted annually by Metro Transit in cooperation with other transit and transportation agencies in the region.
Maurice Roers, manager of facility planning for Metro Transit, says usage rose from 17,367 in 2010 to 18,341 in 2011, an increase of 5.6 percent.
“That tracks quite closely with our growth in express bus ridership,” Roers says. “It was up 6.3 percent in 2011.”
Facilities with the largest percentage increases include:
- Hmong American Alliance Church, Maplewood – 51 additional users (up 100 percent).
- I-35W and County Road C , Roseville – 51 (up 75 percent).
- I-35 and Kenrick Avenue, Lakeville – 124 (up 46 percent).
- I-35W and County Road H, Mounds View – 37 (up 43 percent).
- Northtown Transit Center, Blaine – 51 (up 24 percent).
Usage at the five park-and-ride facilities serving the Northstar Commuter Rail Line was up by 12 percent. Nonetheless, Northstar patrons are using only about a third of the 2,772 spaces that are available. The most popular of these facilities is the one at Elk River station, which serves about 329 riders a day. In contrast, just 29 patrons are using the 668-space lot at the Fridley station.
Expansion of park-and-ride facilities has been a key element in the Metropolitan Council’s strategy for growing transit ridership and easing traffic congestion in heavily traveled corridors. In the last decade, the council has nearly doubled the total number of park-and-ride spaces in the region – from 15,533 in 2002 to 29,183 in 2011.
Park-and-ride lots and the express bus routes serving them account for 13 percent of the transit system’s total ridership. Thanks in part to this service, some 40 percent of downtown Minneapolis workers and 20 percent of downtown St. Paul workers commute to and from their jobs by transit.
The council projects that the region will need 40,200 spaces by 2030 to keep pace with demand.
While the system has some 10,000 unused spaces on any given day, not all of them are located where they are needed. More than 20 of the region’s 110 park-and-ride facilities are operating at 90 percent capacity or more.
They include large facilities at Maplewood Mall, Guardian Angels Church in Oakdale, Hwy. 610 and Noble Parkway in Brooklyn Park, Louisiana Boulevard in St. Louis Park and Foley Boulevard in Coon Rapids.
New transit center at Maplewood Mall
On Wednesday, the Met Council is expected to award a contract to build a new $11.2 million transit center at Maplewood Mall. The facility will include a parking structure with 999 spaces, more than double the current number of surface parking spaces at the mall location. It is scheduled for completion by November.
Other park-and-ride projects on the horizon include:
- Hwy. 36 and Rice Street, 280 spaces, scheduled for completion by September.
- Hwy. 610 and Noble Parkway, 1,000 spaces, scheduled completion by May 2013.
- I-94 and Manning Avenue, 550 spaces (to relieve the congestion at the Guardian Angels facility), scheduled for construction in 2013.