When Adela Peskorz moved to Woodbury with her husband 30 years ago, she was forced to do something she'd never previously imagined: get a driver's license.
Peskorz grew up navigating public transit in New York City. Though she's adapted to a car-centric lifestyle over the years, she's more than a little excited about the METRO Gold Line bus-rapid transit project planned for the east metro.
The project is still in the early stages of development, but current plans have the backing of local governments and the project has secured the promise of matching funds from the Federal Transit Administration.
Express bus transportation to and from Minneapolis and St. Paul is currently limited in Woodbury to approximately 6-9 a.m. and 3:30-7 p.m. on weekdays only. With the Gold Line, Peskorz is looking forward to all-day service, seven days a week.
"Knowing I wouldn’t have to keep checking my watch or leave by a specific time, both heading out from and returning home, represents a lot of freedom," she said.
A recent survey of people who said they would use Woodbury stations found 52% would take the Gold Line during the weekend and 45% would use it during rush hour on weekdays. Those who would use it during weekday evenings and nights totaled 33%, and 30% said they would use the line between 9 a.m. and 3 p.m. on weekdays.
The survey, conducted by Metro Transit earlier this year, polled people online and at community events, including the Woodbury Community Expo in March.
Mackenzie Stodola, a practitioner at Woodbury Family Chiropractic, moved to Woodbury from Minneapolis with her husband two years ago after they had their first child. Stodola said she could foresee them taking advantage of more frequent busing for family outings.
"I miss the city and the ease of hopping on a bus," she said.
Woodbury resident Thomas Wilkinson expects he may use the Gold Line to get to stadium events, such as Minnesota United games, a few times a year.
Resident Mike Spreigl sees himself using the line in a similar way, though more often than Wilkinson.
"For me, using the Gold Line would be a way to bridge the gap to the light rail lines, as well as a connection to downtown St. Paul," he said.
As someone who frequents St. Paul to go to concerts and taprooms, Spreigl said the line would mean a safer way to get downtown and back. He added he could see himself using the line "at minimum" twice a month.
When going to Twins games, Spreigl said he'd pay more than $15 to park downtown or drive to a park-and-ride like Fort Snelling or downtown St. Paul, which doesn't have free parking options.
"So now, if I want to go to a day game on the weekend, it's another way to go to a game without congestion worries," Spreigl said.
Park and ride: the most popular option
The same Metro Transit survey found that a majority of people who live or work near one of the three planned Gold Line stations in Woodbury expect to drive and park at a Gold Line station at least some of the time.
Those who said they would drive and park at Gold Line stations made up 73% of respondents, while 33% said they considered walking an option. The survey asked respondents to "select all that apply" from a list of options by which they might access Gold Line stations.
The remaining options included biking (21%), transferring from another transit line (16%), being dropped off and picked up (15%), using a Lyft, Uber or taxi (6%) or other (5%). People who might use a scooter or a mobility device to get to a station each totaled 1% of respondents.