Bussing for Beginners
With the State Fair just an A-Line away, and two cities interconnected by trains and bus lines, the idea of bussing sounds almost perfect; however, the actual task can be daunting for someone new to the streets of Saint Paul. When I came to Hamline a year ago from a tiny town whose nearest bus was a greyhound an hour away, I had no idea how to work these systems. Googling to no avail and few stints somewhere in Minneapolis taught me to look before I leap, and most importantly it taught me to ask. Luckily I befriended a native and he began to show me the ropes, and this knowledge that I’ve gained using the public transit I shall now pass onto you.
First and foremost, download the Metro Transit app, whether the ticket machine won’t read your card, you have no idea when your bus is coming or you want to estimate a trip time this is the one stop shop for you. After making an account you can look up routes, even plan them based on times and dates, as well as buy virtual tickets (which prevents the paper printed ones, helping the environment) and find out about any rider alerts for your specific bus line.
Stops to Know
Now, one may wonder how to figure out which bus line one needs. With all the numbers and stations it can be confusing. One key thing to remember is that the Snelling and Hewitt Stations are the nearest to campus, so if you’re trying to return to campus that’s what you’re looking for. If you’re taking the Green Line, which is a major artery of the Twin Cities, your stop is Snelling Station. From the Snelling light rail station you can walk straight down Snelling towards Hamline, or you can go to the Snelling and University bus station and take the A-Line to Snelling and Hewitt. Figuring out which bus line you need is simple with the help of our pocket GPS systems. Google maps and Siri both have up to date bus schedules for the Twin Cities and can give you walking directions; however, I’ve found that the Metro Transit App has the best route planner of the apps. You can choose an address, METRO Station, or Landmark (like Hamline University) and it will plan multiple routes and give you their estimated trip time. Again, the Metro Transit App is your best friend when learning the bus systems.
Green vs Blue
Now, when listening to the slang of the cities, you may have heard ‘Green Line’ or ‘Blue Line’ tossed around. They are the two train lines going through Saint Paul and Minneapolis, the Blue Line heads towards Mall of America and the airport, where the Green Line’s objective is to get to downtown Saint Paul. They both go through Downtown Minneapolis, then split into different routes after the US Bank Stadium station. Starting from Hamline, you’ll most likely take the Green Line. If you’re headed towards Downtown Saint Paul, you want the CVS side of the street station, and if you’re headed to Saint Paul take the station on the Midway bookstore side of the street. The local Target on University Ave is near both a Green Line and an A-Line Stop Specifically, the University and Hamline Ave stop or Hamline Ave Station, respectively.
Tips and Tricks
The logistics of the METRO system will come more easily the more you use it, but I can share a few tips and tricks. Number one, and this is the most important, never turn your music up too loud so you can hear what’s happening around you. Whether it’s an announcement over the loudspeaker or something happening behind you between other patrons of the public transport, you need to be aware. It’s tempting to tune the world out, especially the less respectful individuals on the bus, but for your own safety and security, always be aware of your surroundings. Second, if you’re listening to directions through Siri or google maps, don’t look at your phone too much or leave your phone on loud. Plug in earbuds and put the map in your pocket, if you’re very confused, sneak a peek when answering a message. The reason for this is because, though it’s an unsavory topic, those who are looking for someone to steal from, follow, etc. will pick out someone who looks out of place or unsure. A major give away for that is someone looking at their maps or digging through their bag. Try your best to always look certain, act like a local, and you’ll be less vulnerable looking.
Finally, leave early. Earlier than you think you need to, especially when getting used to the systems. Give yourself plenty of time to get lost or suffer traffic or mechanical difficulties. It’ll make the trip a lot smoother and much less stressful. As a closing note, the Go-Card you might see advertised is offered at a discounted rate through Hamline. You can approach Anderson Front Desk or the Cashier at Hamline if you’re interested in purchasing one. They provide unlimited rides for an entire semester at a discounted rate for Hamline Students, more information about that is located on the Metro Transit website (https://www.metrotransit.org/) which provides all the aforementioned benefits and tools of the app, along with a lot more.
Have fun, be safe, and never ride in the last train car.