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  • Stephanie Kaczynski

Personal Sustainability: State Fair Edition

The Great Minnesota Get-Together is full of time-honored traditions, from celebrating the end of summer by eating weird food on a stick to trekking all the way across the fairgrounds to get a bucket of Sweet Martha’s cookies.

But this year, I decided to start a new tradition: getting to the fair in a sustainable way.

For months, I’ve been curious about the new A Line bus route as I watched the bus stops being constructed along Ford Parkway, where I live. Not a light rail, but not a standard bus route, the A Line connects the end of the Blue Line in Minneapolis to the Green Line at Snelling & University and ends at Rosedale Center to make a large backwards L between the Cities. It comes every 10 minutes, and it’s much faster than a regular bus: like the light rail, travelers pay at a pay station before boarding the bus, saving time on stops, and the bus only stops at dedicated bus stops, making fewer stops than traditional city buses.

There are certainly barriers to using public transit, from scheduling to knowing which bus routes you need. Changing buses, knowing where to get off, and estimating bus timetables are unfamiliar experiences for many, and it can be scary to step into the unknown and give up the control that comes with driving your own car.

Luckily, Metro Transit makes these challenges easy to overcome. Each A Line and light rail bus stop has a screen with real-time updates on when the next buses are coming. On the A Line, each stop is announced by street intersection, nearby landmarks, and any intersecting bus routes. And the Metro Transit website and app allow you mobile access to real-time routes and timing for all buses. Use the resources available, and don’t be afraid to ask a bus driver or fellow passenger for help.

Since the A Line runs the exact route I would otherwise drive to get to the State Fair, I decided to try it out. Sure, it would save me the time and money I would otherwise have to spend on parking, but my main motivation was to make a small, personal choice to sustainably commute to the State Fair by having one less car on the road.

So how was the experience? Phenomenal. I’ve been raving about it to anyone who will listen ever since. I waited less than 10 minutes for a bus, the bus drivers and fellow passengers were courteous and friendly, and there’s no way I would have gotten there any faster in a car. And even better, my carbon footprint for the entire State Fair outing was a small fraction of what it would have been.

In the grand scheme of things, one person’s green decision won’t shake the world. But small, personal choices add up, and we all have a responsibility to do our part to reduce our impact on the environment. As my experience proved, sometimes the sustainable choice is also the easiest choice. How will you know if you don’t give it a try?

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