Mayor Frey blocks full-time bus lanes

On Friday evening June 17th, Mayor Frey acted to block full-time bus lanes for Hennepin Avenue which the day before had been approved by a vote of the Minneapolis City Council. We are disappointed but undeterred. 51% of local bus riders are people of color. Frey’s action disregards the needs of working class transit riders, adopted city policies, our city’s climate action goals, an outpouring of support from our community, the entire 15-member Minneapolis delegation to the state legislature, the expressed preference of Metro Transit, the recommendation of his own professional Public Works Department staff, and of course a vote of the Minneapolis City Council. We will continue to fight for full-time bus lanes. We want the $60 million E Line bus rapid transit to be successful from day 1 when it begins service on a newly reconstructed Hennepin Ave in 2026.

Actions to take to counter this mayoral veto:

💛 Send a letter requesting the council override the Mayor’s veto — organized by Our Streets Minneapolis
💛 Call Mayor Frey 612-673-2100 tell him you support full-time bus lanes on Hennepin Ave from day 1.
💛 March for Hennepin Bus Lanes on Tuesday, June 28th at 5 PM. Meet at Smith Triangle Park (24th & Hennepin), March at 5:30 PM. Join us!

Mayor Frey’s actions should match the transportation policies he says he supports when he’s campaigning.

The full text of Mayor Frey’s veto letter below:

Council President Jenkins, Council Vice-President Palmisano, and Members of the City Council:

This letter is to inform you that I have approved items 3.2 and 3.3 and have vetoed items 3.1 and 3.4 included in Legislative File No. 2022-00513.

I continue to support the Public Works recommended layout, which has been unaltered since it was introduced in late 2021. The proposed layout features transit priority lanes, an off-street bikeway, and significant safety improvements- all of which effectively reprioritize how we use public space to improve the lives of Minneapolis residents.

I fully support a bus only lane with specified hours of operation to reduce congestion and vehicle miles traveled. I cannot, however, support keeping bus only lanes 24 hours a day when buses do not run 24 hours a day. This would ignore the countless small businesses, many of them BIPOC owned, who compromised both for the presence of a protected bike lane and prioritized bus lanes at the expense of a substantial amount of parking. Many of those same business owners and employees have navigated profound economic stressors ranging from the global pandemic, the civil unrest of 2020, rising inflation, and a workforce shortage. Let’s at least show a willingness to work with them.

We can achieve our shared climate and transit goals while preserving a reasonable number of parking spaces for community businesses by allowing for a flexible operational plan that is capable of offering transit service up to 24 hours a day. I am urging you to work with my administration and Public Works leadership team to do exactly that. This plan must be driven by metrics such as transit delay, speed, and reliability; corridor operations; and safety. Our Public Works staff have also outlined significant safety measures for the corridor such as overhead electronic signs that make exceedingly clear to drivers, pedestrians, and bicyclists when bus lane restrictions are in effect. Additionally, posted signs, parking meters, painted busways and traffic enforcement would help further enhance the corridor’s overall efficiency and safety.

Finally, the City Council has previously recognized the importance of relying on recommendations from subject matter experts and trained professional staff with respect to our street operations. In 1995, the City Council enacted a resolution delegating authority over all turn restrictions, lane restrictions, stop signs, handicap parking and transfer zones, bus stops, parking zones, establishment of one-way streets, loading zones, parking meter zones, street light installations, truck routes, valet zones and snow emergency routes to the City Engineer. In 2015, the Minneapolis City Council further delegated the “operation, maintenance, and control of city-owned infrastructure and city-managed public rights-of-way to the Director of Public Works or their designee. Both of these delegation actions are still in effect. Today’s veto is reflective of the trust I have in the recommendations of our Director of Public Works, City Engineer, and their skilled professional staff. I remain committed to working with the City Council to figure out the final pieces of this project so we can keep this progressive vision for Hennepin Avenue South on track.

Yours Truly,

Mayor Jacob Frey