Metro Transit Facts

Metro Transit — the region’s transit workhorse

Transit in the Twin Cities area has many faces—buses, trains, car and van pools, park-and-ride lots, transit hubs, and high-occupancy-vehicle lanes. The heart of transit in the seven-county region is Metro Transit, carrier of about 86% of the region’s total public transit passengers.

Transit plays an important role in the regional economy. Transit gets workers to their jobs, eases traffic congestion, improves air quality, cuts commuting costs, and reduces energy consumption. Dedicated transitways spur economic development.

Metro Transit at a glance

  • Metro Transit is a service of the Metropolitan Council.
  • Service area includes Minneapolis, Saint Paul, and dozens of suburban communities.
  • In 2017, Metro Transit provided 81.9 million rides on 130 bus routes—including the new A Line rapid bus service—and the METRO Blue and Green Lines (light rail transit, or LRT), and Northstar, a commuter rail line.
  • Each weekday in 2017, customers took an average of 264,347 trips on Metro Transit buses and trains.
  • Ridership on the METRO Green Line increased again, finishing 2017 with 13.1 million rides. 
  • In its first full calendar year of service, ridership on the region's first arterial rapid bus service, the A Line, was 13.1 million, boosting ridership in the Snelling Avenue/Fordway Prkway/46th St. corridor by one-third.
  • More than 9 out of 10, or 91%, of Metro Transit customers surveyed said they are satisfied with the service.
  • 31% of transit riders reported a household income of $50,000 annually or greater; 18% earned $75,000 or more.
  • About 59% of local bus riders have no working automobile available for their use. For the METRO Green Line, 41% have no vehicle and for the METRO Blue Line, 25%.

Transit fleet, staff and facilities

Metro Transit operates a fleet of 909 buses, 91 light rail cars, 18 commuter rail passenger cars and 6 commuter rail locomotives. The bus fleet includes 40-foot buses (both standard diesel and hybrid-electric models), articulated “accordion-style” buses, coach buses, and A Line buses. The entire fleet is equipped with wheelchair lifts or ramps and bicycle racks.

Metro Transit continues to add hybrid-electric buses to the fleet as standard diesel buses reach the end of their useful lives. Hybrid buses get about one-third better fuel mileage on local routes, are quieter and produce 90% fewer emissions than the buses they replace.

Metro Transit employs about 3,200 people as bus and rail operators, mechanics, administrative and support staff, and police officers. Facilities include five service garages, three rail operations centers, one fleet service center, an administrative building, a regional transit information center, an operations support center, three retail stores, and Metro Transit Police headquarters.

Metro Transit and its suburban transit agency partners also maintain an array of transit centers, passenger facilities, and park-and-ride lots and ramps. These lots and ramps contain nearly 34,200 spaces, along both bus and rail routes, and about 18,700 vehicles are parked in them on an average weekday. Many facilities are full each day.

Bus and rail fares

As of Oct. 1, 2017, bus and light rail fares during the rush hours (Monday through Friday, 6 a.m. to 9 a.m. and 3 p.m. to 6:30 p.m.) are $2.50 on local routes and $3.25 on express routes. Non-rush-hour fares are $2.00 and $2.50, respectively. Seniors and youth pay a discounted fare of $1.00 for rides during non-rush hours; people with disabilities pay $1.00 regardless of the time of day. Transfers are good for unlimited rides for two and one-half hours.

Twins fans get off a Northstar train.Weekday fares on Northstar Commuter Rail are based on distance traveled, and range from $3.25 to $6.25. Weekend fares range from $2.75 to $5.50. Transfers to bus or light rail are free.

The Transit Assistance Program offers discounted fares to residents with low incomes. Riders must be certified for participation.

Metro Transit offers a number of discount fare programs to employers and educational institutions, including Metropass, U-Pass, Go-To College Pass, and Student Pass, a fare card for high school students.

Participation in Metropass continues to grow. As of December 2016, 333 employers made the unlimited-ride pass available to their employees, with more than 36,000 commuters taking advantage of the program. Metro Transit has other employer programs available. An additional 35,150 university, college, and high school students use unlimited-ride passes to get to school, representing 10.3 million rides in 2016.

Website offers travel planning tools

Metro Transit offers a variety of online tools at its website to make trip planning easy. Users can input their origin and destination points and desired departure or arrival time, and Trip Planner generates several travel options, including maps. GPS-based NexTrip gives users predicted real-time departures of buses and trains. Users may also purchase transit passes online.

In 2017, customers planned 5.3 million trips online and received personalized transit information 908,000 times by phone from the trip planning experts of the regional Transit Information Center. Customers also used the NexTrip feature on 3.1 million times and requested 2 million real-time departures via text message.

View the 2017 Metro Transit Fact Book.