Metro Transit Route 16
|Peak vehicle requirement||16: 15
|Began service||1890 (as streetcar)
1953 (as bus)
|Predecessors||"St. Paul–Minneapolis" streetcar, aka "Interurban"|
|Landmarks served||Target Field, Metrodome, University of Minnesota, Minnesota State Capitol|
|Start||5th Street Garage/Ramp B, Minneapolis, Minnesota|
|End||Kellogg Boulevard and Minnesota Street, Saint Paul, Minnesota|
|Journey time||47–70 minutes|
|Daily ridership||16: 16,880 (weekday, 2010)
50: 6,886 (weekday, 2010)
Route 16 is a major local bus route operated by Metro Transit between downtown Minneapolis and downtown Saint Paul, Minnesota via University Avenue. It is one of the busiest and most frequent services in the Metro Transit system, carrying approximately five million riders annually. Combined with route 50, a limited-stop service which operates over the same path, the two services carried about 6.5 million riders in 2010 and had 23,766 riders on an average weekday. As of 2012, route 16 runs about every 10 minutes from the morning rush hour until around 9 PM on weekdays. The route is one of the few in the system which still operates 24 hours per day, though late-night "owl" service drops down to about one bus per hour. Traversing the full route takes a little less than an hour in light traffic up to about an hour and 10 minutes during peak periods.
The route runs between 10 and 11 miles from downtown to downtown. The specific length varies somewhat depending on direction, time of day, and detours due to road construction. Late-night service operates on a more circuitous route through downtown Minneapolis than regular daytime service, and the route has been significantly impacted by construction for the METRO Green Line light-rail project.
The route is a descendant of the Twin City Rapid Transit Company's "St. Paul–Minneapolis" streetcar line, also known as the "Interurban" line. Streetcars became practical along the route with the advent of electrification, and full service began along the route on December 9, 1890. In the 1950s, the decision was made to convert the streetcar system to buses. Streetcar service along the Interurban line ended in Saint Paul on October 31, 1953, and the route was the last to carry passengers in the city. Service continued a short while longer in Minneapolis until November 28. However, due to fragmentary service elsewhere in Minneapolis, streetcars continued to use the tracks along University to reach the shops at Snelling Avenue in Saint Paul until June 1954. Twin City Lines continued to privately operate buses until 1970, when the company was taken over by the Metropolitan Transit Commission, a precursor to Metro Transit.
Eastbound route 16 buses originate in downtown Minneapolis at the 5th Street Garage (Ramp B of the ABC Ramps complex above Interstate 394 and adjacent to Target Field) and traverse downtown on Fourth Street South, an eastbound one-way with a contraflow bus lane used by westbound buses. The service then runs along Hennepin County Road 122 which links Fourth Street near the Metrodome to Washington Avenue Southeast on the campus of the University of Minnesota. Up until 2011, buses would continue through the campus along Washington Avenue in order to reach University Avenue, though that is temporarily closed to buses due to light rail construction. Until bus traffic is restored in 2013 or 2014, route 16 has been diverted along East River Parkway, Arlington Street, and Pleasant Avenue.
Upon reaching University Avenue, the bus runs several miles on that road until reaching the vicinity of the Minnesota State Capitol building. The bus is ordinarily routed along Reverend Doctor Martin Luther King Jr. Boulevard in front of the capitol before turning onto Cedar Street to reach downtown Saint Paul, but light rail construction has caused a variety of different routings to be used in 2011 and 2012. As of March 2012, the bus follows Rev. Dr. MLK Jr. Boulevard to John Ireland Boulevard, then turns onto 12th Street before entering downtown Saint Paul on Saint Peter Street.
Westbound buses follow a similar route except that they leave downtown Saint Paul along Minnesota Street, have to make a 1-block jog from 3rd Street South to 4th Street upon reaching downtown Minneapolis by the Metrodome, and loop around on Hennepin Avenue, Washington Avenue North, and 3rd Avenue North in order to reach the 5th Street Garage.
Route 50 is a limited-stop service which also operates along the #16 route during weekdays. Bus stops for route 50 are generally spaced about one-half mile apart outside of the downtowns, which shaves about 10 minutes off of the end-to-end travel time. Some route 50 buses only operate within Minneapolis, running to or from University Avenue at Oak Street, or down Huron Boulevard to transfer passengers to and from route 94 buses, some of which use a bus stop at the Huron Boulevard interchange with Interstate 94.
In 2010, route 16 had an operating budget of $10 million and generated $3.7 million in revenue (a farebox recovery ratio of 37%). The route's per-passenger subsidy was $1.26 (possibly the lowest among the Metro Transit system), and about 5 million passengers rode the route that year. Weekday ridership averaged 16,880, while Saturday and Sunday ridership averaged 12,082 and 7,110, respectively. While the face value of a local bus fare is $1.75 (off-peak) to $2.25 (peak), each passenger trip only generates about 75 cents in revenue for Metro Transit due to the extensive use of transfers and discounted fare passes along the route.
Route 50 had a 2010 budget of $3.5 million and generated $1.3 million in revenue (37% farebox recovery ratio). That route's per-passenger subsidy was $1.47, and it carried about 1.5 million riders over the course of the year. Weekday ridership averaged 6,886.
Light rail service on the Green Line is expected to start in 2014 and will take over the bulk of transit ridership along University Avenue. The Green Line, which has a stopping pattern similar to the route 50 bus, may take over the route 50 number and is expected to operate about every 10 minutes like the 16 does today. Initial plans have suggested that the 16 bus will reduce frequency to about once every 20 minutes during peak periods and once every half-hour during other parts of the day. However, the light-rail service is expected to shut down in late-night hours, so the 16 may continue to operate "owl" service along the corridor.
As of 2012, Metro Transit is conducting a more detailed transit service study to determine what changes to make in local bus service near the light-rail line, so plans for routes 16 and 50 are subject to change.
- "Central Corridor Transit Service Study Existing Conditions Report". Metro Transit. 2012. p. 52. Retrieved March 30, 2012.
- Russell L. Olson (1976). The Electric Railways of Minnesota. Hopkins, Minnesota: Minnesota Transportation Museum, Inc. p. 37.
- Olson. p. 65.
- "Route 16 - Local Bus Route". Metro Transit. Retrieved March 30, 2012.
- "Route 50 - Local Bus Route". Metro Transit. Retrieved March 30, 2012.
- "Central Corridor LRT: Frequently asked questions". Metropolitan Council. Retrieved March 30, 2012.
- "Central Corridor Transit Service Study". Metro Transit. Retrieved March 30, 2012.