Messages from the Council Chair

Let’s talk about the Met Council

February 2023

Readers of this post likely know a lot about the Metropolitan Council. But among residents of the Twin Cities region, you are in the minority. While most people in the region have heard of the Met Council, many might struggle to explain what we do. They might know we run Metro Transit, or that we clean most of the region’s wastewater. Both of those things are true, but they’re just part of the picture.

Yet, as we begin to gear up our work on the region’s 2050 development plan, we are presented with an opportunity to get the word out about the important role we play in making the Twin Cities one of the best places to live in the nation. In essence, the Minnesota Legislature has given the Met Council the mission of thinking about what our region could be like for our children and grandchildren. But we are also responsible for making many of those plans come to fruition.

A Metro Transit Police officer chats with a light rail passenger.

Rebuilding transit service

Transit is our most visible service, and we are in the process of a major program of investments. By 2040, those investments will connect 500,000 people who don’t have good transit service today to a 30-minute, one-seat ride to work or school.

It is equally important to operate our transit system as safely and efficiently as possible. Right now, we’re working hard to rebuild ridership after it dropped off as a result of the COVID-19 pandemic. A critical challenge is that our transit system is witnessing the same increase in crime and other bad behaviors that are plaguing transit systems across the nation.

Riders deserve a clean, safe, comfortable environment and we’re taking action to provide that. The Safety & Security Action Plan endorsed by the Met Council last June describes the steps Metro Transit is taking to improve public safety on transit. This includes continued investment in increasing a visible, official employee presence on our system, greater use of real-time cameras, expanded lighting and other security features at stops and stations, and partnerships to connect riders in need to services.

We touch people’s lives in many ways

The Met Council is the official channel for much of the federal transportation funding allocated to the seven-county metro area. We work closely with communities across the region, relying on elected officials to advise us on where to make the best investments. In the funding process we just completed, we authorized over $350 million in transportation investments and improvements between now and 2027. These investments that will make travel safer and more efficient throughout the region.

We operate one of the state’s largest housing authorities, serving more than 7,200 households with low and moderate incomes every month with federal rental assistance. We help families to find safe, affordable housing on the private market across the region, moving closer to jobs, schools, and other opportunities that help them build a better future.

Everyone appreciates the opportunity to enjoy the great outdoors. We work with city and county regional park agencies to plan and fund the regional parks and trails — places like Minneapolis Chain of Lakes, Square Lake, and Lebanon Hills. These places receive more annual visits than Glacier, Yellowstone, and Grand Canyon national parks combined.

The common denominator in all our work is collaboration and partnership.

This year the Met Council is starting to reach out to communities to begin work on our next 30-year plan, which will look forward to the year 2050. Our role is to facilitate a broad, regionwide discussion about our values and vision as a region. We will be engaging with elected officials, neighborhood groups, advocacy organizations, and all residents who want to have a voice in what our future will be. I’m excited to have that discussion, so watch this space, I’ll keep you posted.