Regional Transit Facts
Moving people, spurring economic development
Transit—buses, light rail, vanpools and other modes—plays an essential role in the regional economy. Transit gets workers to their jobs, eases traffic congestion, improves air quality, saves commuters money, and reduces carbon emissions. Transit fosters community prosperity.
Transit ridership on all types of service—express and local buses, light rail, dial-a-ride service, and transportation for people with disabilities—totaled close to 91.6 million in 2019. Two-thirds of weekday transit trips are to work or school.
A robust transit system yields an impressive return on investment in travel time savings for people and goods. In addition, dedicated transit lines are major magnets for economic development. At least $8.2 billion in redevelopment and new construction have been tallied within a half-mile of the two existing METRO light rail lines and the two proposed extensions of those lines, not including any stadium construction.
Region has many transit options
The Metropolitan Council operates the largest transit system in the state—Metro Transit. The agency provided 77.1 million bus and rail rides in 2019. Its service area includes Minneapolis, Saint Paul, and dozens of suburban communities.
In addition to scores of regular bus routes, Metro Transit operates METRO A Line and METRO C Line bus rapid transit. These lines offer limited stops, preboarding ticket purchase, signal priority at intersections, and other service enhancements that add up to a faster trip and an improved experience. The A Line connects Rosedale Center in Roseville to the METRO Blue Line in south Minneapolis. The C Line connects Brooklyn Center to downtown Minneapolis in the Penn Avenue corridor. In 2019, riders boarded the A Line nearly 1.7 million times, up 3% from 2018. The C Line, which opened mid-year, clocked in 1.2 million rides in its first six months of service.
Metro Transit also operates three interconnected rail lines. The METRO Blue Line light rail carries passengers between downtown Minneapolis, Minneapolis-Saint Paul International Airport and the Mall of America. The METRO Green Line light rail runs from the Union Depot in downtown Saint Paul to the Capitol, Midway business district, University of Minnesota and downtown Minneapolis. Northstar Commuter Rail is a 40-mile line carrying passengers from Big Lake in Sherburne County to downtown Minneapolis. Combined, all three rail services provided more than 26 million rides in 2019.
The region has several other transit services. About a dozen cities within the Council’s transit taxing district operate their own regular-route bus services. These Suburban Transit Providers carried nearly 5 million riders in 2019.
Contracted regular-route service consists primarily of commuter routes from the suburbs into the central cities, provided by private companies or suburban transit providers under contract with the Council. In 2019, these routes carried nearly 2.6 million passengers. The University of Minnesota operates bus service between its two campuses in Saint Paul and Minneapolis; in 2019 that service provided nearly 4.1 million rides.
Transit Link is a region-wide dial-a-ride program that serves people outside areas served by fixed-route transit. Ridership totaled 236,082 in 2019. Transit Link ensures equitable, consistent service throughout the region, coordinated with fixed-route transit.
Metro Mobility is a special dial-a-ride service for people certified under the Americans with Disabilities Act. The Council-administered service is provided through contracts with private companies. Four counties or nonprofit agencies also provide transit for people with disabilities outside the transit taxing district. In 2019, Metro Mobility and the other agencies provided 2.4 million rides.
is the Council-sponsored vanpool program. It provided almost 106,600 rides in 2019.
All transit and carpool riders enjoy a time advantage on the high occupancy toll (HOT) lanes in the I-394, I-35W and I-35E corridors.
Expanding the transit network
Under Gov. Tim Walz's proposal for a generational and transformational investment in the regional transit system, the Council and our transit partners are planning a major expansion of bus rapid transit. In addition to METRO A Line and METRO C Line, and METRO Red Line in Dakota and Hennepin counties, the Council is constructing or planning for:
- METRO Orange Line, highway bus rapid transit along I-35W south to Burnsville, opening in 2021.
- METRO Gold Line, highway bus rapid transit in the I-94 corridor from downtown Saint Paul east to Woodbury, opening in 2024.
- METRO B Line, bus rapid transit along the Route 21 corridor from Uptown Minneapolis to Union Depot in Saint Paul.
- METRO D Line, bus rapid transit connecting Brooklyn Center to downto Minneapolis and the Mall of America in the Route 5 corridor.
- Additional arterial bus rapid transit lines on heavily traveled urban routes and additional highway bus rapid transit.
Construction is also under way on an extension of the Green Line light rail from downtown Minneapolis southwest to Eden Prairie, and planning is complete for an extension of the Metro Blue Line northwest to Brooklyn Park.