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Rider's Almanac Blog


Amid pandemic, Metro Transit providing safe rides to safe havens

Posted by Drew Kerr | Tuesday, March 31, 2020 1:04:00 PM

A person prepares to board a Metro Transit bus to be transported to a Saint Paul hotel.

Metro Transit helped transport around 60 individuals to the InterContinental Hotel on Saturday. Photo courtesy Mike Rios-Keating, Catholic Charities of St. Paul and Minneapolis. 

While people are being asked to stay home to help slow the spread of COVID-19, Metro Transit continues to serve those who need to make essential trips safely.  

One especially important service the agency has provided: Transporting unsheltered individuals to hotels where they can be better protected from the contagious disease. Crowded shelters are adapting to COVID-19, but the risks at these facilities are considered to be higher since people cannot be easily separated from one another.  

Since mid-March, Metro Transit has helped bring more than 200 individuals and their belongings to hotels. Additional support will be provided as needed.  

The transfers are a partnership between Metro Transit, Hennepin and Ramsey counties and service providers like the Harbor Light Center and the First Covenant Church in downtown Minneapolis.  

On Sunday, March 29, Metro Transit transported around 60 elderly individuals from Higher Ground Saint Paul, one of several shelters run by Catholic Charities of St. Paul and Minneapolis, to the InterContinental Saint Paul Hotel. 

Director of Housing Stability and Opportunity Chris Michels said relocating older guests from the shelter was a “critical step” in keeping all shelter clients safe.  

“We’re grateful that the team at Metro Transit stepped up – with compassion and friendliness – to facilitate this effort, making the transition for our at-risk neighbors smooth and safe,” Michels said.  

Operators from several of Metro Transit's garages have helped transport individuals. Ayantu Gemeda, assistant manager-Street Operations, helped organize the trips that were provided on March 29.  

“It’s such a wonderful way to be able to help folks out, to make sure they get to a place that’s safe,” Gemeda said. “I feel very honored to be a part of it.” 

The Metro Transit Police Department’s Homeless Action Team is also working alongside service providers in St. Paul and Minneapolis to help a growing number of individuals in need. Officers are providing emergency supplies and directing individuals in need to safe shelter and other resources.  

What you can do to help 

Catholic Charities of St. Paul and Minneapolis is seeking donations to help cover growing operational costs, as well as in-demand hygiene and cleaning items. Volunteer opportunities are also available. To learn more visit

Learn more about Metro Transit's response to COVID-19

To help prevent the spread of COVID-19, transit should be used for essential travel only. Reducing demand will make transit safer for those who have no alternatives but to take transit and operators. Learn more at