See more of the story

A trans­it a­gen­cy that pro­vides bus serv­ice to the southern sub­urbs said Wednes­day it will al­ter sev­er­al routes in Min­ne­ap­olis in an ef­fort to im­prove trav­el times in the city’s traf­fic-clog­ged down­town.

The Min­ne­so­ta Valley Transit Authority (MVTA) will shift six south­bound bus routes, equaling 47 daily trips, off busy Marquette Avenue be­gin­ning July 8. The af­fect­ed south­bound MVTA routes are the 464, 470, 472, 476, 478 and 479, pro­vid­ing a­bout 1,500 daily rides on week­days.

In re­cent weeks, more than 100 bus­es from four trans­it ag­en­cies have been using S. 2nd Avenue to de­tour around a closure between 10th and 11th streets. MVTA said down­town con­struc­tion pro­jects this sum­mer have in­creased con­ges­tion, caus­ing “unaccept­able de­lays.” More than 40% of down­town work­ers commute to their jobs by pub­lic trans­it.

MVTA pro­vides ex­press serv­ice be­tween Min­ne­ap­olis and Apple Valley, Burnsville, Ea­gan and Rosemount in Da­ko­ta County and Pri­or Lake, Savage and Sha­ko­pee in Scott County.

In­stead of board­ing south­bound routes on Mar­quette Avenue, MVTA cus­tom­ers using these routes will board at: 4th Avenue and 3rd Street; 4th Avenue and 5th Street; 4th Avenue and 7th Street; and 3rd Avenue and 11th Street.

Some MVTA pas­sen­gers will have to walk a­bout three ad­di­tion­al blocks to board the bus, said spokesman Rich­ard Craw­ford. “De­pend­ing on where cus­tom­ers are down­town, the dis­tance to the board­ing lo­ca­tion may be clos­er,” he said.

MVTA has been reach­ing out to cus­tom­ers on af­fect­ed routes this week to com­mu­ni­cate the new rout­ing and board­ing lo­ca­tions. There will be no chan­ges to oth­er MVTA routes, and north­bound routes into Min­ne­ap­olis will not be affected.

“We owe it to our cus­tom­ers to seek vi­a­ble so­lu­tions to the grid­lock,” MVTA Transportation Director Sa­man­tha Por­ter said in a news re­lease.

MVTA will mon­i­tor bus trip times dur­ing the con­struc­tion-re­lated de­tour to de­ter­mine when nor­mal rout­ing will re­sume.

No chan­ges to down­town routes or stops are planned for South­West Transit, ac­cord­ing to Matt Fyt­en, di­rec­tor of op­er­ations for the Eden Prairie-based trans­it a­gen­cy.

As con­struc­tion on Mar­quette Avenue be­tween 10th and 11th streets wraps up, South­West Transit “ex­pects its ser­vices in the downtown zone to bet­ter ad­here to their sched­uled times,” Fyten said in an e-mail.

South­West, which pro­vides a­bout 3,200 daily rides to Eden Prairie, Chanhassen, Chaska and Carv­er from down­town Min­ne­ap­olis, will mon­i­tor con­struc­tion and trav­el times close­ly, he add­ed.

Last month, South­West CEO Len Simich wrote a let­ter to Min­ne­ap­olis May­or Ja­cob Frey in­sist­ing traf­fic con­trol agents sta­tioned at four key inter­sec­tions should give pri­or­i­ty to bus­es over cars. The gridlock had re­sul­ted in sig­nifi­cant de­lays for com­mut­ers, Simich said. The a­gen­cy urged rid­ers on so­cial me­di­a to com­plain to the city a­bout con­ges­tion.

The city said last month that it had changed the tim­ing of traf­fic lights to im­prove traf­fic flow down­town and al­tered me­tered park­ing to al­low more room for bus­es to ma­neu­ver on some city streets.

In addition, work on 10th Street is now complete, according to city spokeswoman Sarah McKenzie. One northbound general traffic lane not used for buses is still closed on Marquette for concrete repair but should reopen Monday.

There will be additional work on the northeast corner of 11th Street and Marquette beginning Monday, McKenzie said. This will only involve closures on the north sidewalk, parking lane and bike lane on 11th Street, but not Marquette.

Ja­net Moore • 612-673-7752 @ByJanetMoore