Photo of light rail Hiawatha Route 55Facts About the METRO Blue Line

Minnesota’s first light-rail line opened in 2004

Before & After Study: This report provides an overview of the planning, development, funding, construction and early operation of the METRO Blue Line (named "Hiawatha" from 2004 through early 2013). View the report (note: large file, 9 mb)

Length: 12 miles, connecting three of the Twin Cities’ most popular destinations — downtown Minneapolis, Minneapolis/St. Paul International Airport and Mall of America in Bloomington.

Stations: 19 (see map)

Opening: Service between the Warehouse District and Fort Snelling began June 26, 2004; full service to the airport and Mall of America began Dec. 4, 2004.

Ridership: Since opening in June 2004 through 2012, customers have boarded METRO Blue Line light-rail trains 83.4 million times. Ridership in 2012 was 10.5 million and average weekday rides totaled more than 31,300.

Financial results: See results by calendar year.

Patron generators: Downtown Minneapolis, Metrodome, University of Minnesota, 11 neighborhoods, Minnehaha Park, Minneapolis/St. Paul International Airport, Mall of America and VA Medical Center.

Impact: More than 50 percent of train riders are new to transit since rail service began.

Major park-and-ride lots: At Fort Snelling (1,080 spaces) and 28th Avenue (1,550 spaces)

Milestones achieved:
• Broke ground January 17, 2001
• Completed mining of airport rail tunnels October 2002
• Opened partial service June 26, 2004
• Redesigned bus service to coordinate with rail June and December 2004
• Began full service Dec. 4, 2004, 27 days ahead of schedule

Light Rail Construction

Rail constructionConstruction funding (in millions $):
Federal - 334.3
State of Minnesota - 100.0
Metropolitan Airports Commission - 87.0
Hennepin County - 84.2
Congestion Mitigation/Air Quality grant - 49.8
Transit capital grant- 39.9
Minnesota Dept of Transportation - 20.1
Total 715.3

Construction approach: Design/Build with separate contracts for light-rail vehicles and airport tunnels.

Metropolitan Council – owner
Metro Transit – operator
MnDOT – design and construction
Metropolitan Airports Commission
Hennepin County
City of Bloomington
City of Minneapolis


Information: 612-373-3333

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