New suburbs-only express bus service set for launch

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A "first of its kind" express transit service gets underway on Tuesday and it's notable because it will run suburb-to-suburb, cutting travel time by avoiding downtown Minneapolis or St. Paul.

The new Route 494 buses will use I-494 and Highway 169 to serve the western metro suburbs of Eden Prairie, Hopkins, Maple Grove, Plymouth and Shakopee.

The route is designed to boost access to western metro job and commercial centers, with a press release saying it should also prove an express service between the suburbs can be successful in the Twin Cities.

Funding for the service has been provided by the Minnesota Legislature. Rep. Tony Albright (R-Prior Lake), one of the authors of the bill providing the funding, said the service will boost jobs and economic development.

"This suburb-to-suburb demonstration project has the potential to serve thousands of employees in the southwest Twin Cities metro area," he added.

"Providing a ride from Shakopee to Maple Grove increases opportunities for commuters from Dakota County and the south metro, and is an excellent way for us to grow transit while serving the unmet needs of employees and employers along the route," Sen. Jim Carlson (DFL–Eagan & Burnsville) added.

Services will run about every 30 minutes in both northbound and southbound directions during the morning and afternoon peak periods.

Trips cost $2.25 per trip, with buses – operated by the Minnesota Valley Transit Authority – accepting Go-To cards, Metropasses, tokens, cash and stored value cards.

Click here for the full schedule and stops.

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