Metro (Minnesota)

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METRO MinnesotaLogo.gif
METRO Green Line, UofM, pre-opening, June 2014.jpg
An eastbound Green Line train just across the Washington Avenue Bridge traveling past the Weisman Art Museum on the University of Minnesota's East Bank
Owner Metropolitan Council
Locale Minneapolis-St. Paul metropolitan area
Transit type Light rail (LRT) and Bus rapid transit (BRT)
Number of lines 2 LRT lines
2 BRT line
Number of stations 41
Website What is METRO?
Began operation 26 June 2004
Operator(s) Metro Transit
Minnesota Valley Transit Authority
System map

Metro (styled as METRO) is a light rail and bus rapid transit system which serves the Minneapolis-St. Paul metropolitan area. As of 2014, the system consists of three lines (Blue, Green and Red) connecting Downtown Minneapolis and St. Paul with Bloomington and Minneapolis-St. Paul International Airport, with several extensions in planning stages. The system is operated by Metro Transit for the Blue and Green Lines and by the Minnesota Valley Transit Authority for the Red Line.

Metro operates parts of its system 24 hours a day,[1] one of only six U.S. rapid transit systems to do so (the others being the New York City Subway, Staten Island Railway, the Red and Blue Lines of the Chicago 'L', Philadelphia's PATCO Speedline and the PATH lines). The entire Green Line and a small 2-station portion of Blue Line which connects the Airport – Terminal 1-Lindbergh and Airport – Terminal 2-Humphrey stations operate 24 hours a day, 7 days a week; [2][3]

In the 1970s, roughly contemporaneous with the construction of Washington D.C.'s Metro system and San Francisco's Bay Area Rapid Transit, the newly formed Metropolitan Council contemplated the creation of a similar mass transit for the Minneapolis-St. Paul metro area, but the idea was eventually abandoned due to opposition from the Minnesota Legislature.[4] For the next few decades, there were repeated proposals to build light rail along several corridors, particularly the University Avenue corridor between downtown Minneapolis and St. Paul (the present Green Line), but the idea of light rail only gained steam in the late 90s.

In 1999, the Minnesota Legislature approved funding for the first line (the present Blue Line) along Hiawatha Avenue (initially named the Hiawatha Line[5]) in south Minneapolis, which opened in 2004. In 2013, in anticipation of the opening of the Red Line and Green Line, and in order to help passengers better identify with each of the routes, Metro Transit announced that the system would be rebranded and each line assigned a unique color. The first phase of the Red Line opened in mid-2013, and the first phase of the Green Line (also known as the Central Corridor) in mid-2014. Extensions are planned to bring the system into the western metro area, with construction anticipated near the end of the decade.

Current System[edit]

Minneapolis Metro
 System diagram 
Target FieldNorthstar Line
Warehouse District / Hennepin Avenue
Nicollet Mall
Government Plaza
U.S. Bank Stadium
West Bank
Franklin Avenue
East Bank
Lake Street / Midtown
Stadium Village
38th Street
46th Street
Raymond Avenue
50th Street / Minnehaha Park
Fairview Avenue
VA Medical Center
Snelling Avenue
Fort Snelling
Hamline Avenue
Lexington Parkway
Airport – Terminal 1-Lindbergh
Victoria Street
Airport – Terminal 2-Humphrey
Dale Street
American Boulevard
Western Avenue
Bloomington Central
Capitol/Rice Street
28th Avenue
Robert Street
Mall of America
10th Street
Cedar Grove
140th Street
Saint Paul Union DepotAmtrak
147th Street
Apple Valley

free airport zone
downtown fare zones


The current Metro system consists of three separate projects. There are two light rail lines (the Blue Line and the Green Line), which together run on a little more than one-mile of shared track through downtown Minneapolis. The BRT Red Line serves as an extension of the Blue Line across the Minnesota River, where it connects with southern suburbs at four different stations. Low ridership projections would have made the required bridge for an extension of the Blue Line economically infeasible.

Together, the two light rail lines run on 21.8 miles (35.1 km) of route.[6][7] There are a total of 41 stations; 5 shared between the Green and Blue Lines, 1 shared between the Blue and the Red, 4 exclusively for the Red, 13 for the Blue and 18 for the Green. The main hub of the system is Target Field Station in Minneapolis, though Union Depot in St. Paul is envisioned as an additional future hub.

Trains run approximately every 10 minutes throughout the day, with reduced schedules at night and on weekends. All stations have electronic displays that show predicted real-time departure information, known as NexTrip. Predicted real-time departure information is also available through Metro Transit's website.


Metro uses a proof-of-payment system, requiring riders to carry tickets at all times. Fares are purchased before boarding, either at ticket machines located in the stations, or by scanning a Go-To card at dedicated pedestals. Tickets are valid for 2 1/2 hours after purchase, with transfers available to other Metro lines as well as any Metro Transit bus routes. Within the two Downtown Zones of Minneapolis and St. Paul, tickets are 50 cents; otherwise they follow normal Metro Transit fares:

  • Adults: $2.25 rush hours, $1.75 non-rush
  • Seniors, Youth, Medicare Card Holders: $2.25 rush, $0.75 non-rush
  • Persons with Disability: $0.75 any time.
  • Kids below 6: free with paying rider. Limit is 3.

In addition, passes are available for various lengths of time or numbers of trips at appropriate discounts. In addition, students at the University of Minnesota have the option of purchasing U-Passes, which give unlimited rides throughout the semester.


Several expansion projects are planned for the Metro system, at various stages of completion.

C Line[edit]

The C Line is a planned bus rapid transit route to run from downtown Minneapolis to the Brooklyn Center Transit Center.

Construction was originally targeted for 2017, pending full project funding. As of April 2016, the timeline for the C Line has been adjusted to target 2018 construction instead. Full funding for the project has still yet to be identified, and a 2018 construction schedule offers better opportunities to coordinate C Line construction with other road projects on Brooklyn Boulevard and Penn Avenue. Metro Transit is working to advance project engineering over 2016-2017 to begin construction in 2018.

Green Line extension[edit]

Main article: Southwest LRT

The Green Line extension (also known as the Southwest LRT) is a planned expansion of the Green Line, to run from Target Field Station to several southwestern suburbs. The project is in late planning stages and is expected to be completed by 2020. The project is expected to cost approximately $2 billon USD.[8]

Blue Line extension[edit]

Main article: Bottineau LRT

The Blue Line extension (known as Bottineau LRT) is a planned extension of the Blue Line to Brooklyn Park. The project is in early planning stages and is expected to be completed in 2021.[9]

Red Line extension[edit]

Plans exist to extend the Red Line farther south along Cedar Avenue into Lakeville, Minnesota.

Orange Line[edit]

Main article: METRO Orange Line

The Orange Line is a planned bus rapid transit route to run along I-35W from Minneapolis south into Richfield, Bloomington and Burnsville, with plans to later extend into Lakeville. The Orange Line will parallel the Red Line approximately 3 miles to the east. It is expected to be in operation in 2019.

Gold Line[edit]

The Gold Line is a planned bus rapid transit route to run along Interstate 94 from St. Paul Union Depot to Woodbury.

There are also numerous proposals in early planning stages for routes along Interstate 394 from Minneapolis to Wayzata, Highway 169 from Minneapolis to Shakopee, Interstate 35 from Minneapolis and St. Paul to Forest Lake, Highway 36 from St. Paul to Stillwater and Highway 61 from St. Paul to Hastings (Red Rock Corridor).


The first Type II LRV arrives at a media event on October 10, 2012, displaying "Green Line" on the destination board.

The Metro system's rail lines use a combination of exclusive and shared right-of-way, depending on the circumstances. Within the two Downtown Zones, trains run on surface streets in an exclusive right-of-way, without preemption. The Blue Line runs primarily alongside Hiawatha Avenue (Minnesota State Highway 55), along land originally acquired for expansion of that highway, except for a brief stretch in a tunnel underneath Minneapolis-St. Paul International Airport. The Green Line runs along the median of University Avenue in an exclusive right-of-way, except for a brief stretch of the Washington Avenue Transit Mall where its tracks are shared with buses. The Blue Line's at-grade crossings are protected by automated grade crossing gates; the Green Line's crossings move in regular traffic, with signal priority but no preemption.

Since the completion of three-car station extensions in winter 2010, Metro Transit operates one-, two- and three-car trains on the Blue Line, depending on the time of day and ridership needs. Many stations on the line were initially built to be capable of serving only one- or two-car trains, as a cost-saving measure; all of the shorter platforms were designed and built with future extension in mind and currently all stations are capable of serving three-car trains. The Green Line was built with three-car platforms at all stations.

Rolling stock[edit]

Currently two models of LRVs run in the Metro system.

Type I[edit]

Type I LRVs were manufactured by Bombardier Transportation, in its Flexity Swift design, utilizing a low floor for accessible boarding at all stations. Metro Transit operates 27 vehicles on the lines, numbered 101 through 127. Initially painted with Metro Transit livery, all have been repainted as of 2015 to reflect the Metro system branding. During this time, Type I cars also were retrofitted with colored LCD headboards for route destination displays and other improvements.

Type II[edit]

Type II LRVs are manufactured by Siemens in their S70/Avanto model. 59 vehicles have been ordered, primarily to serve the Green Line. Type II LRVs are mechanically, but not electronically, compatible with the current fleet of 27 "type I" vehicles, so while the two generations do run on the tracks at the same time and both types are able to push a malfunctioning unit of the other type, multiple-unit consists may only be assembled of one type.[10]

See also[edit]


  1. ^ "Online Schedules - METRO Green Line". Metro Transit. Retrieved 2014-06-23. 
  2. ^
  3. ^
  4. ^ "Special Review Hiawatha Avenue Light Rail Transit Line". OFFICE OF THE LEGISLATIVE AUDITOR STATE OF MINNESOTA. March 1, 2002. Retrieved 2014-06-23. 
  5. ^
  6. ^ "METRO Blue Line - Facts About Trains and Construction". Metro Transit. 2013. Retrieved 2014-06-15. 
  7. ^ "Metro Green Line Fact Sheet". Metropolitan Council. 2014. Retrieved 2014-06-15. 
  8. ^ Nelson, Tim; Gilbert, Curtis (April 27, 2015). "Southwest light rail cost estimate jumps to $2B". MPR News. Retrieved 28 April 2015. 
  9. ^ "Project Timeline". Metropolitan Council. Retrieved 28 April 2015. 
  10. ^ "Transportation Committee Meeting July 26, 2010". Metropolitan Council. July 26, 2010. Retrieved 2010-08-06. 

External links[edit]

Media related to Metro Transit (Minneapolis-Saint Paul) at Wikimedia Commons