Wednesday, July 13, 2011
Nitpicking bus routes: Hiawatha Line crossings near Metrodome
View Routing change for routes 3, 16, and 50 in a larger map
Here's a minor bus route peeve: Riders on Metro Transit routes 3, 16, and 50 often end up waiting for Hiawatha light-rail vehicles to cross not just once, but twice as they head into downtown Minneapolis. Sometimes buses have to wait for two or even three trains* at the crossing on Norm McGrew Place before turning onto the bus-only contraflow lane along 4th Street South. Then buses typically have to wait for trains to diagonally slice through the intersection of 4th Street and Chicago Avenue.
I'll note that the ABS (automatic block signaling) segment of the Hiawatha Line ends right at the latter intersection, so light-rail trains have the same priority as all other traffic at that point. In contrast, the grade crossing at Norm McGrew Place has a traditional railroad crossing with gate arms.
Anyway, why don't the buses just go an extra block to Chicago in the first place? Is there some regulation against having a bus turn while going across tracks? There is actually some clear space adjacent to the tracks in the intersection (not really visible because Google's imagery is out-of-date), and buses may be able to maneuver through there without touching the rails at all.
* Yes, I've been on a bus once or twice as three trains went through the crossing. I imagine only two were revenue trains, while one was heading to the shops near the Franklin Avenue station