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Commuter buses get a designated hub downtown

Commuter buses get a designated hub downtown

Rochester City Lines no longer has to park its buses curbside.

The company, which provides regional commuter transit, is now doing its pick-ups and drop-offs in a Mayo Clinic-owned parking lot just south of the Guggenheim Building. The change went into effect on Monday.

Christian Holter, director of operations for Rochester City Lines, said the new transit area will provide consistency and reliability for its customers, especially as the city continues to reconfigure the roads that the bus line has typically relied on for curbside parking.

“Moving RCL's full commuter operations off street is a big deal, and is a great example of people working together and thinking creatively about how space is used,” said Holter. “It also creates curb space for a number of planned downtown amenities including protected bikeways on 3rd Avenue, Discovery Walk on 2nd Avenue, and the City Loop.”

The resurfacing of the lot took place over the past month. The new transit area includes a pedestrian walkway and access points off the sidewalks.

Holter said RCL is using the space with permission from Mayo, which still maintains ownership of the lot. The project, he added, reflects Mayo’s commitment to “meeting the unique needs of those who commute into Rochester from outside of the city.”

The area designated for commuter buses — which takes up about half of Mayo Lot 6 — previously allowed for 250 parked cars. Through its regional transit service, Holter said the space now serves over 1,500 people. (The lot still includes designated parking for blood donors.)

While it is likely that one day the lot will be redeveloped, Holter said the transit hub does give RCL room to grow its operation in the interim. Currently, the company has as many as 9 or 10 buses parked downtown at any one time. The entire transit area has the capacity for up to 15 buses.

RCL provides morning and afternoon commuter service for more than 30 cities within a 50-mile radius, along with Bloomington and Inver Grove Heights. Most of the riders work at Mayo, though the service is available to the general public. One-way cash fares range from $11-25.

Sean Baker is a Rochester journalist and the founder of Med City Beat.

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