All bus service throughout the Twin Cities was suspended at 4 p.m. Thursday, joining the halting of light rail lines earlier in the day in anticipation of upcoming demonstrations, a Metro Transit spokesman said.
The extraordinary move came after two days and nights of sometimes violent unrest that has persisted since the death of George Floyd at a Minneapolis intersection after he was pinned by the neck by a police officer.
While transit spokesman Howie Padilla declined to attribute the suspensions solely to the street violence, “obviously, we take into consideration whatever situations call for, and if we have to err on the side of public safety for riders and employees, we’re going to do that.”
It was necessary to impose the shutdown beyond Minneapolis and St. Paul, where the vast majority of the unrest has occurred, because “this is not limited to any single geographic area,” Padilla said.
Padilla said that Metro Transit would have more to say Thursday night about the fate in the coming days for the Blue and Green rail lines and bus service.
Unaffected are Northstar commuter service leaving downtown Thursday for the northern suburbs and shuttle service between terminals 1 and 2 at the Minneapolis-St. Paul International Airport.
The decision made early Thursday afternoon to pull bus service included waiting until 4 p.m. to enact so people would have time to either take an earlier bus or find another travel option, said Terri Dresen, spokeswoman for the Metropolitan Council, which oversees public transportation in the metro area.
Dressen pointed out that due to the coronavirus outbreak having severely pushed down transit demand for the past many weeks, “we’re not talking about packed buses.”
Several suburban bus lines that coordinate with Metro Transit have been notified of the shutdown and were free to decide what action they may take, she said. The Minnesota Valley Transit Authority chose to suspend service at 4 p.m. as well.
Metro Mobility will continue to operate as long as pick-up locations and destinations are in areas deemed safe by providers First Transit and Transit Team, the Metropolitan Council said.
Such a systemwide shutdown is rare, Padilla said, pointing to an ice storm a few years ago that froze service.
This is a developing story. Return to startribune.com for updates.