Transit Service Allocation Study

Metro Transit C Line bus.The metropolitan area has an interconnected transit system that transports residents to the places that they want and need to go. Metro Transit is the region’s largest transit provider, providing service to nearly 80% of the fixed-route service areas. The region is also served by five other regular-route transit providers that serve suburban communities and the University of Minnesota. On-demand paratransit service and dial-a-ride services are another critical part of the system.

The design of the transit system is a reflection of regional values and how transit fits into and supports the overall transportation system.

Study progress

The study team has completed several memos and hosted the first policymaker workshop to gather input for developing scenarios and evaluation.

  • Existing Conditions (PDF) — This memo explores how transit resources are currently distributed across the Twin Cities region and how that distribution impacts different regional performance measures.

  • Stakeholder Outreach Summary (PDF) — The Stakeholder Outreach Summary compiles information learned from interviews with existing transit providers about their service planning techniques and priorities, as well as any existing feedback already collected that would help inform the study. See also the background materials (PDF); if you need these documents in another format, please contact the respective transit providers.

  • Policymaker Workshop Presentation (PDF) — This presentation was given to regional policymakers and stakeholders as part of a virtual workshop on April 22, 2020. Policymakers and stakeholders were introduced to the project, briefed on existing conditions, presented with potential evaluation frameworks, and guided through small group breakout sessions lead by the project team.

  • Policymaker Workshop Summary (PDF) — This memo summarizes the approach and findings from the policymaker workshop, including results from the surveys conducted both during the workshop and through follow-up emails.

The study is in the scenario development phase. With all the above input, the team developed two scenario concepts and reviewed these with technical staff and policymakers. The team will build out two scenarios that are described below, along with a high-level summary of the technical criteria that will evaluate them.

  • Scenario 1: Invest additional resources in improving transit that serves all trip types
    The goal of this scenario is to expand the range of communities where it is possible to live without a car. The focus will be on increasing the amount of service that is convenient and can be depended on for all trip types — high-frequency, all-day, all-week service. This scenario prioritizes expanding service to areas of highest transit use potential and maximizing ridership. Service distribution will use an equity lens to distribute expanded services to communities of color and low-income populations.

  • Scenario 2: Invest additional resources in increasing regional access to transit
    The goal of this scenario is to strengthen connections to suburban jobs and opportunities throughout the fixed-route transit service area. The scenario prioritizes suburb-to-suburb transit access, reverse commute services, and job access for suburban residents. Expanding service to areas of highest transit use potential will be a secondary priority. Service distribution will use an equity lens to distribute expanded services to communities of color and low-income populations.

Scenarios and evaluation criteria memo (PDF)

The evaluation criteria for the project will discuss how each scenario compares to the baseline in topical areas like population and jobs served, access to jobs within 45 minutes, access to transit by various socioeconomic populations (e.g. people of color and indigenous people, people with low auto access), and the transit rider market potential.

Study goals

MVTA bus.This project is studying regional transit’s competing roles of serving the largest geography possible and best serving the areas that generate the most ridership. The study will provide insights on how resources are currently distributed between these roles, and how these roles are valued differently through the lens of a technical evaluation versus input from regional stakeholders on a shared vision for transit. The study will:

  • Classify and document the existing conditions for distribution of resources between the different roles transit serves

  • Provide an analysis of different scenarios for regional stakeholders to discuss that will lead to strategic recommendations for policies, goals, or guidelines on how transit can best reflect regional values when considering competing roles

  • Develop performance measures and design guidelines for how geographic coverage-based transit services should be applied


The study will evaluate existing conditions through April 2020. Scenario development and evaluation is expected to last through summer 2020. A final report is anticipated in fall 2020. There were be two to three stakeholder workshops through the study, with the first scheduled for April 2020.

Related study

Network Next: Metro Transit is working on a two-year effort to develop their vision for the bus network of 2040. Building on the existing network’s strengths, Metro Transit is setting out to identify expanded bus service across a spectrum of transit improvements, including improved local and express routes, new arterial bus rapid transit (BRT) lines, and integrated shared mobility options.


Cole Hiniker
Metropolitan Council

Daniel Pena
Metropolitan Council