Metro Transit will improve transit service throughout the East Metro by assigning 33 of its newest, quietest and lowest-emissions hybrid-electric buses to routes operating on streets throughout St. Paul and its suburbs.
Metro Transit General Manager Brian Lamb made the announcement to coincide with the opening of the restored Union Deport transportation hub in downtown St. Paul.
Hybrid-electric buses are propelled partially by electric power stored in a large battery assembly visible on the roof of the vehicle. Hybrid models consume about a third less fuel than standard buses on comparable routes with frequent stops. Hybrids also produce fewer emissions that affect air quality, operate very quietly and recharge batteries while braking.
On weekdays, hybrid-electric buses will serve nearly all trips on routes 63, 64 and 68. On weekends, they will operate on routes throughout the East Metro.
“These 33 new hybrid buses will improve the quality of transit service for both our customers and our communities in St. Paul and the East Metro,” Lamb said.
Route 63 serves western, eastern and downtown St. Paul. Destinations include the University of St. Thomas, Macalester College, Grand Avenue, Downtown, East 3rd Street, Sun Ray Shopping Center and McKnight Road.
Hi-Frequency Route 64 serves eastern and downtown St. Paul, North St. Paul and Maplewood. Destinations include Payne and Maryland avenues, Downtown, Hillcrest Shopping Center and Maplewood Mall.
Route 68 serves downtown St. Paul, West St. Paul, South St. Paul and Inver Grove Heights. Destinations include Jackson Street, Arlington Business Center, Empire Builder Industrial Park, Downtown, Robert Street, Inver Grove Community College and Arbor Pointe.
The 33 new buses will be stored, maintained and fueled at Metro Transit’s East Metro Garage north of downtown St. Paul.
Metro Transit first added a hybrid bus to its fleet in 2002 — one of the earliest U.S. transit agencies to do so. Today, the agency operates 132 hybrid-electric buses — about 15 percent of its fleet. Many of these vehicles operate on Nicollet Mall in downtown Minneapolis where all trips are operated by hybrids.
Metro Transit is a service of the Metropolitan Council. In 2011, customers boarded Metro Transit buses and trains 81 million times.