METRO Red Line Facts

Red Line is state's first BRT line

Whether it’s a quick commute home, a weekend out in downtown Minneapolis, or a shopping trip along Cedar Avenue, the METRO Red Line is a great way to connect to key regional destinations.

Minnesota’s first bus rapid transit (BRT) line is a unique way to travel. The buses use stations, an upgrade from regular stops, and dedicated lanes or shoulders to make for a faster, more efficient trip.

The METRO Red Line links the communities of Lakeville, Apple Valley, and Eagan to the Mall of America (MOA), MSP Airport, and downtown Minneapolis (via METRO Blue Line connection at the MOA). The 11-mile corridor began operation in June 2013. Ridership totaled 270,400 in 2017.

photo of a family standing outside a Red Line station

Convenient service connects to the region

photo of people entering the Red Line busTrips on the METRO Red Line are so frequent riders don’t need a schedule:

  • Buses operate every 15 minutes during peak travel periods.
  • Travel time during peak periods is 20-22 minutes between Apple Valley Transit Station and the Mall of America.
  • Fares are $2.50 during the rush-hour period and $2.00 otherwise.
  • Service runs seven days a week, operating approximately 4 a.m. to midnight (3:45 a.m. to 11:15 for northbound trips).
In 2017, a new "in-line" station opened in the freeway median at Cedar Grove, shaving several minutes off the trip.

With a connection to the METRO Blue Line at the Mall of America, METRO Red Line riders have access to a regional transit system. Connections can be made in downtown Minneapolis to the Northstar Commuter rail line, the METRO Green Line to Saint Paul, and many local bus routes.

The BRT difference

Both the buses and the stations on the METRO Red Line have a different feel from what’s typical of the Twin Cities transportation system. Red Line features:

  • Buses accommodate 30 people seated and 30 people standing
  • They have wider doors for easier and faster boarding than typical buses
  • Passengers can use their Go-To Cards to board at the front or back doors
  • Modern heating/air conditioning systems and an open interior design provide for maximum comfort
  • Bike racks inside each bus
  • "Next Stop" displays and audio announcements so riders always know where they are
  • All five stations display real-time bus arrival information
  • Stations feature indoor waiting areas and boarding platforms, with no steps for bus entry and exit 

Built through a unique partnership

TPhoto of a bicyclist disembarking onto a Red Line platformhe METRO Red Line resulted from a collaborative effort among several local and regional agencies. Dakota County Regional Railroad Authority led the initial planning for the transitway and the construction of the improved roadway, with the Metropolitan Council overseeing the transit facility and technology components. Funding was provided by federal, state, and local sources, including Dakota County and the Counties Transit Improvement Board. The Minnesota Valley Transit Authority now operates the service under contract to the Council.

Planning for future growth 

Cedar Avenue (County State Aid Highway 23/Trunk Highway 77) is one of two crossings over the Minnesota River from western Dakota County to Hennepin County and is expected to see dramatic increases in traffic congestion over current levels in the next 20 years. Traffic volumes along Cedar Avenue at the Minnesota River bridge are forecast to increase 63% by 2030 over current volumes.

Dakota County and cities in the corridor are planning land uses and infrastructure near the stations to be more accessible to transit, walking and bicycling. With the projected development in the corridor, officials will plan future southward extension of Red Line service and construction of additional stations to meet demand.