Nice Ride season over, but consider the bus for short trips

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November 19, 2012 // UPDATED 5:48 pm - December 27, 2012
By: Hilary Reeves
Hilary Reeves

Now that Nice Ride bikes are tucked away for the winter, consider using the bus for your quick trips to lunch, meetings, doctor’s appointments or shopping. Using Metro Transit is an ideal way to save on car and gas expenses, improve our local air quality and enhance your personal health.

It’s always sad to see the green bikes and stations taken off the road for winter. But, there’s much to celebrate about the 2012 Nice Ride season. There were 274,045 rentals on the system this year, a new record. And the green bikes and stations expanded into downtown St. Paul and along the Mississippi River. 

The folks at Nice Ride report that people who subscribe to Nice Ride (and get their own key fob for locking and unlocking bikes) use them primarily for transportation — including getting to work or school. Those who walk up to the stations and get day passes are using the bikes more in off-peak, non-commuter times of day. For example, many people took Nice Rides all night long during the Northern Spark event last June. During the Uptown Art Fair, Nice Ride provided a bike valet and bike parking, accommodating 1,000 bikes each day of the fair. 

Nice Ride stations are strategically located near both bus and light-rail stops. On the Hiawatha LRT line, Nice Ride kiosks are near every stop between Lake Street and downtown. Bike stations have already been located near every station on the Central Corridor (aka Green Line), ready for its opening in 2014.

Use the bus for your short trips

This winter, consider taking the bus for the trips you might have made on the green bikes. If you need to move around the city for lunch or appointments, meetings or shopping, check out Metro Transit’s Hi-Frequency routes. It can be easier and faster to jump on board a bus than to drive. Here are some examples.

Downtown Minneapolis to Uptown? It’s a 15-minute trip on Route 6, which departs every seven  to 10 minutes during rush hour and every 15 minutes off-peak. Example: catch Route #6 at Hennepin Avenue & 8th Street downtown and get off in Uptown in about 14 to 17 minutes. No worries about parking!  

Downtown Minneapolis to Phillips Eye Institute, Children’s Hospital or Abbott Northwestern? The #5 Route from Nicollet Mall arrives to these locations in about 

15 minutes. 

Over the river for lunch to restaurants in Nordeast? It’s 10 minutes on the #10 from Nicollet Mall & 7th Street South to the corner of University and Central Avenues in Nordeast. Or stay on the bus and check out some of the new restaurants further 

up Central. 

MSP Airport to downtown Saint Paul? Route #54 from the Lindbergh Terminal to 5th & Minnesota takes about 23 minutes. 

Downtown to the Kingfield neighborhood for Sunday brunch at Currans or a match at Reed-Sweatt Family Tennis Center? Route 19 takes about 20 minutes from downtown Minneapolis.

Benefits of Metro Transit 

You can save a lot of money by using the bus for short-term transportation, instead of a car. According to a 2012 report by AAA, it now costs nearly $9,000 per year ($8,946) to operate an average sedan, driven 15,000 miles annually. Not to mention the cost of parking. 

In comparison, a one-way fare on Metro Transit is $3 or less — even at rush hour. GoTo Cards (available at many retail locations and online) make it very easy to mix the bus into your normal transportation routine. It’s like a pre-paid fare. When you board, you pass the card over a reader and it deducts the cost of that trip. Refill the card at LRT stations, retail locations or online. Transit passes (which work like GoTo cards) are frequently available through larger employers and colleges and universities.

You might be surprised to know that Metro Transit boasts some of the cleanest-running vehicles of any operating in the Twin Cities. With a fleet of buses running on hybrid energy or ultra-clean diesel, not to mention no-tailpipe light rail, Metro Transit vehicles produce just a fraction of the per-person emissions of individual motor vehicles.

When combined with bicycling and/or walking, riding on the bus or light rail system can significantly improve your health. People who use mass transit are more likely to meet the Surgeon General’s recommendation to get physical activity by walking or bicycling for transportation, according to a recent report from the Journal of Public Health Policy. People who use transit walk about 19 minutes per day compared to only six minutes per day for non-transit users. 

When you think of how mass transit operates, its benefit to individual health makes sense. Since mass transit is not a door-to-door service, it requires some amount of walking or bicycling to board. That habit of walking or bicycling, to get to and from mass transit, apparently begets more walking and bicycling. People, it would seem, are the epitome of Newton’s first law of motion: “An object at rest stays at rest, and an object in motion stays in motion.”

For more information about Metro Transit fares and routes, go to metrotransit.org.

Hilary Reeves is communications director for Bike Walk Twin Cities.