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Facts About the METRO Blue Line

Photo of Metro Blue Line light railMinnesota'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, the Minneapolis/St. Paul International Airport and the Mall of America in Bloomington. The north end of the Blue Line is anchored by Target Field Station, with connections to the Northstar Commuter Rail Line and bus service at the nearby Ramp B/5th Street Transit Center. The south end of the Blue Line is the Mall of America Transit Center, with connections to the METRO Red Line and bus service. 

Stations: 19 (see map). The Blue Line shares five stations in downtown Minneapolis with the METRO Green Line.

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

Ridership: From opening through the end of 2013, there have been 90.5 million rides on the Blue Line. There were 10,162,919 rides on the Blue Line in 2013 (12 percent of total ridership). In 2012, there were a record number of rides -- 10,498,236. 

Financial results: See results by calendar year.

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

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

Major park-and-ride lots: 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 December 4, 2004, 27 days ahead of schedule

Light Rail Construction

Rail constructionConstruction funding (in millions $):
Federal - $334.3
State of Minnesota - $100
Metropolitan Airports Commission - $87
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



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