Hamline Hi-Rise seniors lead the effort to add bus route down Hamline Ave. to light rail line
By TESHA M. CHRISTENSEN
Photo right: Proud Hamline Walkers have gone door-to-door canvassing the neighborhood with a petition asking for a bus route down Hamline Ave. Over 250 have signed it. (Photo by Tesha M. Christensen)
Some senior residents of the Hamline Hi-Rise opt to drive their power wheelchairs down the street instead, traveling nine blocks south to get to the shops along University.
Jerline Clark doesn’t think that’s safe. And she’s working to do something about it.
Clark is pushing for a bus route down Hamline.
When the Green Line opened, Metro Transit added a route along Lexington, she pointed out, using federal funds designated for the purpose of moving people towards the light rail line. Representatives with Metro Transit have told Clark they won’t add a line along Hamline because there is one on Lexington.
“We still can’t get to the light rail,” remarked Clark, who has been a resident at the Hamline Hi-Rise since 2005. Completed in 1976, 777 N. Hamline has 17 floors and 186 one-bedroom apartments. It is operated by the St. Paul Public Housing Agency.
Photo left: Jerline Clark, a resident at the Hamline Hi-Rise, is leading the effort to get a bus down Hamline. “I see a need for this,” she explained. (Photo by Tesha M. Christensen)
Over 250 people agreed with her and signed a petition last fall requesting a bus down Hamline.
In addition to asking fellow Hamline Hi-Rise residents to sign, Clark and the Proud Hamline Senior Walkers went door-to-door in the neighborhood asking for signatures.
“There are a lot of people from different walks of life that want the bus,” remarked Darlene Jackson, a fellow Hi-Rise resident who helped canvas the neighborhood. She pointed out that many Hamline University students indicated they’d use a bus if there was one.
Emily Samsel lives next door to the Hamline Hi-Rise and regularly volunteers there with her church, The Third Way Community, that meets at Knox Presbyterian Church.
“It seems like a no-brainer to me,” said Samsel.
Right now, residents walk two blocks down to Minnehaha to catch a bus. They take that over to Snelling where they have to switch buses. That takes them only as far as University. Then they have to switch buses again to find one to take them to Cub.
Imagine doing that as a senior and then hauling your grocery bags back, switching buses several times again. Now factor in inclement weather and icy roads.
“In the winter, it’s terrible,” added Jackson. “We’re got to eat too. That’s where the grocery stores are.”
Samsel acknowledged that the residents could opt to use Metro Mobility, but it isn’t predictable, and it costs $3 or $4 each way, she said. For someone who has to get to a doctor’s appointment three times a week, that adds up.
“Most seniors are pretty limited,” Samsel pointed out.
Some people opt to walk, but that can be tough too, pointed out Samsel. “These sidewalks are trouble,” said Samsel. “I trip every time and I don’t have a disability.”
Because of the bumps and sidewalks that aren’t shoveled well, the power wheelchairs use the smoother street surface.
Samsel believes that many residents would use a bus if it ran down Hamline. “It’s good for everybody,” she stated.
As she’s talked to neighborhood residents, she has only heard support for the initiative.
They aren’t asking for a private bus, stressed Clark. “We just need it to be convenient,” she said.
Clark pointed out that they’re flexible about how often the bus runs down Hamline. It could be every two hours or just mornings and afternoons.
Last October, a community meeting was held at the Hamline Hi-Rise. Clark plans to hold another within the next few months to garner more support for the bus route.
She also urges residents to contact these people to show their support:
—Met Council Representative Jon Commers 651-645-4664
—Metro Transit General Manager Brian Lamb 612-349-7510
—St. Paul City Council Member Russ Stark 651-266-8640
—Minnesota Department of Transportation Commissioner Charlie Zelle 651-366-1899
For more information, contact Clark at email@example.com.