Metropolitan Council Facts

Fostering a prosperous region

The Metropolitan Council plans for the future of the Minneapolis-Saint Paul metro area in partnership with 181 cities and townships and seven counties. We provide cost-effective transit and wastewater services, plan for effective transportation in the region, assist households with low and moderate incomes to find housing they can afford, and support communities as they plan for anticipated growth. Our mission is to foster efficient and economic growth for a prosperous metropolitan region.

The Met Council develops, in cooperation with local communities, a Regional Development Framework — a set of policies to guide the efficient growth of the region and help maintain the region’s economic competitiveness. The current framework is Thrive MSP 2040. The desired outcomes of Thrive are stewardship, prosperity, equity, livability and sustainability. We measure all of the Council's policies and services by these outcomes.

Supporting the region's economic vitality

photo of a man, woman, child, and dog walking down a pathOur planning and services provide a foundation for regional economic vitality. We:

  • Operate Metro Transit, which carried 35.9 million bus and rail passengers in 2021 (about half the ridership we had before the COVID-19 pandemic). 

  • Make strategic investments in a growing network of bus and rail transitways, and transit-oriented development. 

  • Collect and treat wastewater for 90% of the region’s population at rates 41% below average for similar-sized systems across the U.S., and earn state and national awards for environmental successes. 

  • Plan and fund acquisition and development of a world-class regional parks and trails system that attracts more than 65 million visits each year. 

  • Assist 7,200 households with low and moderate incomes to find and stay in affordable rental housing.

How the Council is governed 

The Minnesota Legislature created the Council in 1967. Our jurisdiction comprises the counties of Anoka, Carver, Dakota, Hennepin, Ramsey, Scott and Washington. 

The Council’s governing board has 17 members who are appointed by and serve at the pleasure of the governor, currently Gov. Tim Walz. Sixteen members represent geographic districts of roughly equal population across the region. The Council chair, the 17th member, serves at large. Charlie Zelle serves as chair. 

The role of Council members is to provide a regional perspective and work toward a regional consensus on issues facing the metropolitan area. All meetings of the Council and its subcommittees are open to the public. 

Council staff is organized in four major divisions that focus on: transportation planning; transit operations; wastewater treatment, water supply and water quality; and community development. Administrative and service units support all major divisions. 

Highlights in 2021

  • Federal funding for regional transportation projects. In 2021, the Council approved the distribution of $214 million of federal funding for 56 transportation projects, including highway, bridge, transit, bicycle, and pedestrian projects in 36 cities and townships. The selected projects improve connections and access to get people to the places they want to go and open doors to opportunity across the region.
  • METRO Orange Line opens for service in I-35W corridor. We opened the region’s first highway bus rapid transit line, which connects Minneapolis, Richfield, Bloomington, and Burnsville residents and workers in the I-35W corridor. The 17-mile line provides fast, reliable, all-day service in both directions, seven days a week. As part of the METRO system, the Orange Line connects people across the region to job centers and destinations along I-35W, including Best Buy headquarters, the Penn American District, Southtown Shopping Center, Heart of the City in Burnsville, and downtown Minneapolis.
  • Maintaining and renewing valuable wastewater infrastructure. The Council continued its 10-year, $1 billion region-wide initiative that began in 2013 to accelerate the work of updating and improving aging wastewater collection and treatment facilities. The Council estimates the value of the region's investment in eight treatment plants, 600 miles of interceptor pipe, and metering and lift stations at $7 billion.
  • Technical assistance in the local comprehensive planning process. Under state law, every 10 years the Metropolitan Council reviews the updated comprehensive plans of seven counties and 181 cities and townships in the region. As of Jan. 1, 2022, the Council had received 164 of the expected 168 plans; 150 have been authorized by the Council. The remainder were either under review or were incomplete and awaiting additional information from the local government. The Council’s seven sector representatives, who are experienced planners, provided professional planning and technical assistance to local governments throughout the 2040 comprehensive planning cycle. 
  • Partnering with communities on redevelopment and development. In the 2021 funding cycle, the Council awarded more than $27 million in Livable Communities grants to support local projects that revitalize brownfields and create jobs; spur transit-oriented development; and create affordable housing. The grants help leverage hundreds of millions of dollars in other public and private investments. The grants included a record $8 million targeted specifically for affordable housing.
  • Continued expansion of arterial rapid bus network. Construction began on the METRO D Line, an arterial bus rapid transit line stretching from Brooklyn Center to Bloomington. The new METRO D Line will expand equitable access for Metro Transit’s busiest bus route in a corridor where 1 in 4 households does not own a vehicle. The project includes new stations and pedestrian and signal improvements at 34 intersections. The project is planned to launch service in late 2022. The Council also approved the final corridor plan for the METRO B Line, which will connect Uptown in Minneapolis with Union Depot in Saint Paul, operating primarily along Lake Street in Minneapolis and Marshall and Selby avenues in Saint Paul.
  • Tracking COVID-19 in wastewater. Research scientists at the Metropolitan Wastewater Treatment Plant in Saint Paul continued to monitor levels of the SARS-CoV-2 viral material entering the plant in wastewater, including the newest variant, Omicron, in its study. Sewage emerged in 2020 as an important indicator of the prevalence of the virus among the population the wastewater system serves, often before community testing shows the same trends. The Council partners with the University of Minnesota Genomics Center on the research.
  • Preparing for a changing climate. Minnesota’s climate is already changing and impacting Council operations. We are developing a Climate Action Plan to further minimize our agency’s contributions to climate change, change policies and practices to adjust to the effects of climate change, and increase our flexibility to survive and thrive regardless of how climate change develops. A cross-divisional team is working on the plan, expected to be completed in early 2023.

Council revenues and expenditures

The Council relies on several funding sources. In 2021, 33% of the Council’s revenue came from user fees for wastewater treatment and transit services, and 51% from state and federal funds. About 10% of revenue is raised from a seven-county property tax and 7% from other sources. Budget expenditures totaled $1.17 billion. 

The Council’s 2022 adopted budget expenditures total $1.1 billion. The operating budget of $845.8 million (69.1% of expenditures) covers daily expenses, mostly for regional transit service and wastewater treatment. Debt service of $192.4 million (15.7%) covers payments on the Council’s long-term capital bonds and loans. Pass-through funds totaling $171  million (14.0%) are federal and state funds that the Council receives and allocates to local governments, agencies, and rental property owners for transportation, regional parks, rent assistance, and other programs. The remaining 1.2% is allocated to post-employment benefits.