Columns, Features, Love Thy Neighborhood

LOVE THY NEIGHBORHOOD: Crash Course to Twin Cities Transit

Macalester is one of the few small liberal arts colleges located in a thriving urban neighborhood. This coupled with easy access to mass transit allows us to explore many of the great neighborhoods found within the cities.

Whether you are a senior who hopes to discover new places or a first year who is wondering what Minneapolis-Saint Paul is all about, I have assembled this small guide on different mass transit routes and the areas of interest that can be found along each route.

Before riding mass transit, it is important to understand the fare system. Bus routes are typically $1.75 per ride during non-rush hours. Bus fares increase to $2.25 during rush hours which are 6 a.m. – 9 a.m. and 3 p.m. – 6:30 p.m. The light rail system is always $2.25 per ride. Buses take cash, coins and bus passes, which can be purchased at the info desk in the CC at a subsidized rate. The light rail system takes cash, coin and Go-To passes, which are also available at the info desk.

Remember to pay your fare, especially when riding the light rail system. It is easy to forget to purchase tickets, as there are no turnstiles or gates to go through to get to the platform. Metro Transit police stop people all the time, either while on the train or getting off, and will ask for proof of payment. The fine for not paying your fare is $180.

Also remember that if you have questions about your route or any other concerns, the bus drivers and transit police are there to help. They are a resource, and if they do not know the answer to your question they can call someone who does.

Beginning on campus, two major bus lines are easily accessible from the Grand Avenue and Snelling Avenue intersection. The first is Route 63, which connects Macalester to downtown Saint Paul via Grand Avenue.

Grand Avenue, a major shopping and commercial street in the heart of Saint Paul, features many great shops and restaurants. One of the best areas to visit along Grand Avenue is the intersection of Grand Avenue and Victoria Street. This location includes many great retailers such as Ten Thousand Villages and J.Crew as well as excellent restaurants and cafes like Cafe Latte, Bread & Chocolate and Chipotle. This bustling area is the perfect place to spend a nice Saturday afternoon with friends and is only a short bus ride from campus.

Before June of this year, Route 63 terminated at the University of St. Thomas to the west. In conjunction with the opening of the Green Line, Route 63 has been extended north along Cretin Avenue to connect to the Green Line at the Raymond Avenue Station. This area also features many interesting restaurants and stores such as Succotash, Foxy Falafel and other fun artsy venues.

The other major bus line that runs next to campus is Route 84 along Snelling Avenue. To the north, Route 84 connects to the Green Line at the Snelling Avenue Station, one of the busiest along the line. Further north, it will take you to Rosedale Center, a major regional shopping mall that also includes the ever-popular AMC Theater. Hint – buy theater tickets at the info desk where they are discounted significantly!

To the south Route 84 continues down Snelling Avenue before turning west onto Ford Parkway. As it continues down Ford Parkway, it enters Highland Park. At the intersection of Cleveland and Ford Parkway you will find a lot of local shops and restaurants as well as major national chains such as Barnes & Noble, Menchie’s Frozen Yogurt and Panera.

Route 84 then crosses the Ford Parkway Bridge. Once in Minneapolis, you will find Minnehaha Park to the south, home to Minnehaha Falls, a beautiful set of waterfalls. After you cross the river, Ford Parkway turns into 46th Street. Route 84 continues along 46th Street until it reaches the 46th Street Station on the Blue Line.

The Blue Line is the other light rail line in Minneapolis-Saint Paul. It extends from Downtown Minneapolis in the north to the Minneapolis-Saint Paul International Airport and the Mall of America to the south. For those traveling between Macalester and the airport during holiday season, taking the Blue Line and Route 84 is the easiest mass transit option.

This June, the Green Line opened connecting downtown Minneapolis to the University of Minnesota, State Capitol and downtown Saint Paul. Aforementioned connections via Route 63 and 84 can be made at Raymond Avenue Station and Snelling Avenue Station, respectively.

The Green Line can quickly get you to the University of Minnesota campus and the surrounding area, also known as Dinkytown, which has many lively restaurants and concert venues. This light rail is a great option for those going to concerts in either downtown Minneapolis or Saint Paul who do not have cars, do not want to pay for parking or would like to drink and not have to drive home. The Green Line also features numerous restaurants and retailers along its many stops.

That is all for this guide. If you’re curious about the many notable places, restaurants and retailers along these mass transit lines, keep an eye out for my column throughout the semester!

September 12, 2014

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