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The New C Line: A Reason to Celebrate & A Sign of What’s Possible

The June 8 grand opening of the METRO C Line was an exciting moment for transit riders and transit advocates in the Twin Cities—and a hint of what’s possible in years to come.

As we learned on day one, riding this new bus rapid transit line is easy and enjoyable. People can count on frequent service, a fast ride, comfortable shelters, and quiet, electric buses between downtown Minneapolis, the North Side, and Brooklyn Center. The buses come every 10 minutes. Service is available in the evenings and on weekends. Every bus has a bike rack. Fares are collected at the station. And Metro Transit is planning for snow removal in the winter months too. There’s a lot to love. And if you’re thinking, “More of this, please!” you’re not alone. With adequate resources, this is what riding the bus could and should be like all the time.

In numbers that reflect both the appeal of this service and growing demand for transit options, Metro Transit expects C Line ridership to grow to 9,000 rides per day by 2030.

At the grand opening celebration at Penn & Lowry in North Minneapolis, we heard a lot of enthusiasm. The quick trip was a big plus for people who will commute to work on the C Line and for parents traveling with young kids. The signage and audio features with real-time info about when to expect the next bus were also a hit with riders we talked to, including folks with impaired hearing and vision.

Not only is the new C Line reliably connecting people in the West Metro with their jobs and education, it’s also supporting workers in Greater Minnesota. That’s because the C Line uses electric buses built at New Flyer Industries right in St. Cloud. Hearing from Jim Wiebe, who works at New Flyer and is a member of the CWA Local 7304 union, the statewide connection between transit, local jobs, and the environment is clear. Speaking at a recent rally at the State Capitol, Jim emphasized, “We can’t forget that we’re all in this together. We need to act together so no one is left behind. . . . At New Flyer we take pride in our work because we know the buses we build are moving us all closer to a 100% equitable and clean energy future.”

Taking public transit is always more sustainable than driving alone, but by using electric, zero-emissions buses the C Line will do even more to reduce air pollution and climate pollution. It is the first step in Metro Transit’s commitment to having an all-electric bus fleet by 2040. Duluth became one of the first places in the nation to make progress toward zero-emissions public transit when their new electric buses hit the streets last fall. Across Minnesota, the transition to a carbon-free, emissions-free transit system benefits all of us, but is truly critical in communities of color and low-wealth communities, where people are disproportionately breathing dirty air and getting sick as a result. That’s part of why we’re so excited to see the C Line serving North Minneapolis residents this summer. It’s also why Rep. Fue Lee’s proposal to prioritize zero-emissions buses in communities most impacted by air pollution had our support at the State Capitol this year and why we hope to continue that conversation in 2020.

Right now, the METRO C Line is a win-win-win. It improves access and connection where people live, work, and play. It curbs pollution and congestion and injustice. It is nice to ride. When we dream about the future of transportation in Minnesota, this is the kind of solution we hope for.

Can you imagine what daily life will be like if every community has amazing, climate-friendly transportation options like the new METRO C Line? Today, many residents lack even the most basic bus service, and even heavily used routes are overdue for improvements. With enough funding and community support, however, the C Line is just one of ten new bus rapid transit lines that could open across the Twin Cities metro in the next ten years! Help us make it happen: