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Long-awaited $112M rapid transit bus 'Red Line' to open for business

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The Cedar Avenue rapid busway, a $112 million transit link between Dakota County and the wider Metro Transit system, is ready to roll beginning Saturday.

The Star Tribune reports that the Red Line, as it will be known in the new color-coded lingo of Metro Transit, is the first of its kind in the Twin Cities, and will start all-day, every-day shuttle service between Apple Valley and the Mall of America on Saturday, linking Dakota County into the metro area’s growing light rail network.

To start, the busway will operate with an open door policy, allowing people to take as many free rides as they like from June 22 through June 30.

Metro Transit has some info about the opening Saturday, which will run from 11 a.m. to 3 p.m. along the line.

Dakota County has been pushing for such a line since the 1990s, the Business Journal says.

BRT buses will use the shoulder lanes at all times of day. They will be permitted to travel up to 15 miles per hour faster than traffic in the regular lanes, within the speed limit, says the Strib.

The cost of the project — including seven buses, three stations and road improvements — is about $112 million. About 975 riders per day are expected during the first year, with the number growing to 1,600 per day by 2017. The cost of operating the BRT is estimated at $3.2 million a year.

Destination options will expand further in 2014, when a new light rail line connecting with Hiawatha will open between downtown Minneapolis and St. Paul, according to the paper.

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