How does Woodbury feel about all-day bus service? That's what Metro Transit will be testing with a new bus route connecting Woodbury Village Shopping Center and Sun Ray Transit Center in St. Paul.
The proposed Route 323 would expand all-day bus service in Maplewood and into Woodbury, also stopping near Woodwinds Health Campus and Valley Creek Mall. It could replace existing Route 63, which currently runs every 20-30 minutes east of Sun Ray Transit Center along McKnight Road to Lower Afton Road/Londin Lane in Maplewood.
A three-year trial run, set to begin in summer 2020, would gauge interest in all-day bus service to Woodbury. Trips would be every 30-60 minutes between 6 a.m. and 11 p.m. every day of the week, with 20-minute end-to-end travel time. There would be timed connections with Route 63 at Sun Ray Transit Center and the ability to transfer to five other routes, a news release said.
Metro Transit planners had the future Gold Line, a bus-rapid transit system set to connect St. Paul and Woodbury, in mind when thinking through Route 323, said Nick Thompson, director of Metropolitan Transportation Services. Both ends of Route 323 would connect to future Gold Line stations, Thompson said.
The proposed bus route is part of a federal grant to Metro Transit for the purpose of testing new services for a three-year period, Thompson said, adding that there has been demand for an expansion of all-day bus routes into these areas — retail, medical offices, workplaces and residential developments — that aren't currently serviced by public transit.
Maplewood and Woodbury are currently served by express buses, which only run during peak times — approximately 6-9 a.m. and 3:30-7 p.m. — on weekdays only.