Metropolitan Council

The Metropolitan Council includes many work units with different TOD responsibilities. We support TOD through regional transportation and land use planning and by operating the region’s largest transit system. We develop and help implement the region’s long-range vision for transit. We operate the Metro Transit bus and rail system, we support communities with technical assistance. We provide grants for local planning and projects. We help people learn about transit options. We collaborate with one another and work with staff in the cities, counties, and organizations that make up our region.

Metropolitan Transportation Services is a division of the Metropolitan Council responsible for leading the development of the region’s transportation policy plan. We conduct and support transportation planning studies, and support the Regional Solicitation process. We support the planning done by Transit Systems Development and partner with Local Planning Assistance to support the implementation of local TOD policies.

What we do to support TOD:

  • We lead the development of the region’s 2040 Transportation Policy Plan (TPP) that is updated every four years and includes policies on integrating transit and land use planning.

  • We work with transportation agencies throughout the region to understand trends in travel behavior, evaluate the effectiveness of the transit investments, and evaluate the region’s long-term transportation financial resources.

  • We support transportation corridor studies led by others, like county regional rail authorities, including evaluating the cost-effectiveness of proposed transit alternatives and their potential for supporting TOD.

  • We assess recommendations from corridor studies to include specific corridors in the TPP, which makes projects eligible for federal transportation funding.

  • We support applications to the federal government for transit project funding.

  • We review the transportation element of local comprehensive plans for conformance with the regional transportation system and consistency with regional transportation policies.

​More information:

Transit Systems Development (TSD)

METRO Green Line transitway on the East Bank of the University of Minnesota

Transit Systems Development (TSD) at Metro Transit oversees the planning, design, engineering, and construction of major transitway projects, including light rail transit (LRT). Due to the size, complexity and interdisciplinary nature of these projects, Metro Transit establishes project offices that include staff from the Metropolitan Council, Metro Transit, MnDOT, counties, and consultants. This coordination can result in improvements to pedestrian access as well as better opportunities for TOD or Joint Development.  

What we do to support TOD:

  • We develop the Land Use and Economic Development sections of the application to the Federal Transit Administration for transitway funding.

  • We educate communities, property owners, and developers about TOD.

  • We analyze land along the transitway and work with local governments and developers to identify opportunities for future development.

  • We work with Engineering and Facilities at Metro Transit on how to consider existing and future development in the design and function of transit facilities (e.g., pedestrian access and visibility of waiting areas).

  • We work with Local Planning Assistance in the Community Development Division to evaluate and recommend changes to local comprehensive plans and policies to support TOD.

More information:

METRO Green Line Extension (Southwest Corridor)
METRO Blue Line Extension (Bottineau Corridor)
METRO Gold Line (Gateway Corridor)


Bus Rapid Transit Projects (BRT)

Arterial BRT station under construction

The BRT Projects Office at Metro Transit plans and implements bus rapid transit (BRT). BRT includes features that are similar to light rail transit (LRT), but are in corridors that are not candidates for LRT. Corridors planned for BRT have high current bus ridership, and run along corridors where additional development is likely. Riders pay fares at stations before boarding. Shelters feature amenities, such as heating and information on arrival times. BRT stops less frequently and travels faster than local buses. In some cases, BRT may travel along rights-of-way that are reserved for transit and/or carpools. In other cases, streets may be modified to make it easier for buses to operate (e.g., stopping in the travel lane with a curb extension rather merging into and out of traffic).

What we do to support TOD:

  • We work with planners and economic development staff in cities to evaluate the potential for TOD, including how different routes or station locations would best connect transit riders with destinations.

  • We work with property owners and developers to ensure the compatibility of BRT stations with adjoining development, considering the impacts of waiting areas, streetscape, and access for transit riders, pedestrians, residents, and customers.

  • We help MnDOT, counties, and cities with the design and engineering of roadways to meet the needs of future BRT stations and operations.

  • Engineering and Facilities at Metro Transit helps us develop plans for BRT stations.

More information:

Metro Transit Bus Rapid Transit Projects

Facilities Planning
The Chicago/Lake Transit Center at the Midtown ExchangeFacilities Planning at Metro Transit plans improvements or changes to facilities that support the transit system. Facilities include bus stops, shelters, BRT stations, LRT stations, commuter rail stations, transit centers, bus garages, and park-and-rides. These facilities are also part of the community and can help attract and serve TOD.

We consider how well facilities will function and how they affect public infrastructure and surrounding land uses. We evaluate how shelters and landscaping will work for people boarding and exiting transit. We also review private development plans and give feedback on how they might affect or could benefit the transit system.

What we do to support TOD:

  • We develop and implement policies about the allocation and timing of investments that support transit operations, transit rider needs, and community needs.

  • We develop guidelines for our larger proposed facilities that give direction for more detailed work on design and engineering.
  • We provide feedback on proposed development site plans and public spaces, and we suggest changes that could improve transit operations and service.

  • We collaborate with owners and developers of adjoining property on the design of transit facilities.

  • We review local street reconstruction projects and suggest changes that make it easier or quicker for buses to operate.

  • We collaborate with Field Operations and Service Planning at Metro Transit to better understand how existing conditions might affect decisions about facility location and design.

  • We collaborate with Transit Service Development and the BRT Projects Office at Metro Transit on the design of transit stations.

Route planning exercise during outreach meeting on Service Improvement Plan.Transit Service Development at Metro Transit continually evaluates the transit system and explores potential changes to improve service, including its cost-effectiveness. We address the needs of riders, including their reliance on transit to access jobs and services. We are developing Network Next, a 20-year plan for expanding and improvement the bus network as resources allow. 

Transit is most effective when it serves concentrations of jobs and travels along direct routes near potential riders. We educate communities about how the location and intensity of development, as well as local infrastructure like sidewalks, can increase the likelihood of more frequent transit service, longer hours of service, and/or better amenities such as shelters.

What we do to support TOD:

  • We review and comment on potential impacts to transit when cities submit comprehensive plan amendments or environmental review documents related to development to the Metropolitan Council for review.

  • We meet with local elected officials and staff, community groups, and residents to talk about the potential for changes and the timing of changes in service and amenities.

  • We work with Engineering & Facilities at Metro Transit when changes may be needed at stops, shelters, and stations.

  • We work with Street Operations at Metro Transit to better understand how conditions “on the ground” are affecting bus service and on-time performance.

  • We work with Planning & Urban Planning in Engineering & Facilities at Metro Transit to evaluate development projects and give communities feedback on how those projects could impact or benefit transit stops, stations, and operations.

  • We review Livable Communities grant applications for TOD projects that could affect or benefit our services.

More information:

Network Next

TOD Office
The TOD Office at Metro Transit takes the lead on coordinating efforts at the Metropolitan Council to support TOD. We engage communities and developers to integrate development at or adjacent to existing transit stations and facilities. By doing so, we seek to provide opportunities for residents and businesses to locate near transit services. The TOD Office serves as the primary contact within the Metropolitan Council for developers who want to explore these opportunities, seek assistance with identifying funding resources, and want help in engaging communities. The TOD Office also convenes a Metropolitan Council/Metro Transit TOD Internal Working Group to discuss and coordinate TOD-related efforts. As resources permit, we support studies that can strengthen TOD outcomes, such as parking studies and information on childcare locations accessible for transit riders.

What we do to support TOD:

  • We support Transit Systems Development at Metro Transit in exploring opportunities for potential Joint Development along planned transitways.

  • We analyze land and facilities owned by the Council for potential development, and we coordinate with adjacent landowners to explore potential development partnerships.

  • We provide TOD-related technical assistance and partner with Local Planning Assistance to develop information on resources and best practices.

  • We hold public TOD forums with local governments, developers, and other stakeholders to discuss current TOD challenges and opportunities.

  • We collaborate with Transit Systems Development, as well as real estate and legal staff at the Metropolitan Council, to explore opportunities for development adjacent to or integrated with regional transit facilities.

More information:

Transit Oriented Development (TOD) Office

Local Planning Assistance

Local Planning Assistance (LPA) in the Community Development Division provides technical assistance to communities to support local comprehensive planning. Sector Reps are planners who help cities, townships, and counties address requirements and policies in the region’s system and policy plans. Both Thrive MSP 2040 and the 2040 Transportation Policy Plan include policies and requirements related to TOD. Sector Reps work with staff throughout the organization to address potential opportunities and challenges for implementing these policies at the local level.

What we do to support TOD:

  • We develop and maintain the online Local Planning Handbook that provides resources for communities updating their comprehensive plans, including identifying their responsibilities related to transit, transitway development, and TOD.

  • We lead the review of comprehensive plans and environmental documents for consistency with Council policies, including transit-supportive land uses.

  • We develop the land use policy in Thrive MSP 2040, and work with Metropolitan Transportation Services in integrating transit and land use planning.

  • We participate in and provide technical support to station area planning efforts led by counties and cities.

  • We take the lead in developing resource and training material on planning topics, including TOD.

  • We help other Metropolitan Council and Metro Transit staff understand the needs and perspectives of local government concerning transit, land use, and TOD.

  • We serve as a primary point of contact and refer local planners to technical staff throughout the Metropolitan Council and Metro Transit.

More information:

Local Planning Assistance
Local Planning Handbook

Livable Communities

2700 University, LCA-TOD project in 2012 (UrbanWorks Architecture for Flaherty & Collins Properties).

The Metropolitan Council supports TOD through grants administered by the Livable Communities Act Program (LCA). The program provides funding for communities participating in the LCA to invest in local economic revitalization, affordable housing initiatives, and development or redevelopment that supports transit use.

TOD-related projects may be eligible for one or more of the LCA grant programs. Part of LCA funds are reserved for the TOD Grants Program. This program supports pre-development activities and eligible expenses for development that is oriented to transit and within one-half mile of stations or stops on light rail transit, bus rapid transit, commuter rail, or express bus service. Projects within one-quarter mile of high-frequency local bus routes are also eligible. Since the TOD grant program began in 2011, the Council has awarded grants to 82 projects, totaling $58 million.

What we do to support TOD:

  • We advise communities that participate in the LCA on which funding source may be the most appropriate or competitive for a given project or pre-development planning work.

  • We convene workshops where design professionals give feedback on concept plans for projects.

  • We convene an interdepartmental staff group to do a first round of project scoring to help identify candidates for funding.

  • We collaborate with Engineering & Facilities at Metro Transit to ensure that development projects enhance adjacent transit stops and stations (e.g., visibility of bus stop from ground-floor retail).

  • We convene meetings of the Livable Communities Advisory Committee, which does a second round of scoring and recommends grant recipients to the Metropolitan Council.

  • We work with LCA participating communities through the application and awards process, as grant awards are administered, and while we monitor progress and results. 

More information:

Livable Communities Program
TOD Grants Program 

Commuter Services event to promote alternatives to driving alone, featuring “Where Do You Live?” poster.An efficient and effective transit system depends upon regional and sub-regional concentrations of employment and other major destinations, such as schools. Commuter Services at Metro Transit provides free services to employers and other organizations when they move to or expand in a location that is better served by transit. We do this to increase awareness and use of multimodal options when people are often more receptive to alternatives for getting to work or school. These kinds of efforts work best when employers and organizations support multimodal options, when they plan in advance, and when community development policies and regulations also support transit, bicycling, and walking.

What we do to support TOD:

  • We analyze multimodal options for employees and students.

  • We inventory resources and amenities near workplaces or schools that would be available to employees if they relied on transit.

  • We provide information on transportation options, including transit, bicycling, and car sharing services.

  • We offer reduced transit fares through the Metropass program, which can be further subsidized by employers or schools.

  • We oversee Transportation Management Organizations (TMOs) that can be established to manage and coordinate commuter programs.

  • We work with local governments to explain our services and how they could complement zoning requirements to manage travel demand.

More information:

Commuter Outreach Facts

Regional Policy and Research in the Community Development Division collects and analyzes regional data that informs regional policy, programs, and initiatives. This includes data on socioeconomic trends, land use, housing, development activity, economic activity, and projected growth. We track development activity along existing and future transit corridors to support planning and implementation of regional TOD policy.

What we do to support TOD:

  • We produce forecasts of employment, population, and households used in local comprehensive plans.

  • We provide TAZ-level forecasts for community review as part of transitway corridor planning.

  • We identify regional issues and analyze trends that can inform TOD planning, such as housing market preferences and challenges related to affordability.

  • We provide data to Transit Systems Development (Project Offices) at Metro Transit for transitways and transit station areas used in evaluations of existing conditions and future conditions.

  • We track development around transitway stations over time.

  • We support local planning efforts, such as the Corridor Housing Strategy, supported by Southwest LRT Community Works at Hennepin County.

More information:

Research and Data


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