Metro Transit and project partners today, December 3, celebrated the opening of the METRO D Line, a new Bus Rapid Transit line that largely replaces Route 5, the state’s busiest bus route.
The 18-mile D Line operates between transit centers at Mall of America® and in Brooklyn Center, serving downtown Minneapolis, Richfield, and Bloomington. About one in four residents who live along the corridor don’t have access to a vehicle.
“This is a big day for the thousands of people who rely on Route 5 to get to work, school, appointments, and other destinations,” Metropolitan Council Vice Chair Molly Cummings said. “Our riders are voting with their feet, and they’re telling us they want the kind of all-day service and high-quality stations the D Line provides.”
Ridership in other similar corridors grew by about one-third after BRT service was introduced and BRT ridership has recovered strongly since the start of the pandemic.
Service in BRT corridors is improved by moving fare payments off the bus, spacing stops further apart, and the use of transit advantages, like bus lanes and technology that gives buses a better chance of getting a green light. Stations include ticket machines, real-time signs, on-demand heat, light, security cameras, and emergency call buttons.
On the D Line, 60-foot buses will arrive at stations every 10 to 15 minutes throughout much of the day. Limited Route 5 service will continue to be provided.
Among those eager to use the D Line is Minneapolis resident Adrian Gorder, above right, who will take the bus to and from work and for date nights with his partner. “It’s life-changing to have consistent, rapid transit,” he said. “I can depend on when that bus will be there. When I work late nights as a bartender and server, I will feel safer at a well-lit and maintained stop.”
Major employers along the D Line corridor include Hennepin Healthcare, Abbott Northwestern Hospital, Children’s Minnesota, and Mall of America®.
“As one of the largest employers in south Minneapolis and a champion for sustainable commuting, Allina Health is extremely excited about the opening of the D Line,” Allina Health Vice President Facilities Management Tony LaCroix-Dalluhn said. “The faster service, enhanced rider experience and more accessible stations will be a significant change for our 400-plus existing riders from Abbott Northwestern Hospital and our System Office in the Midtown Exchange building.”
Mall of America® employs more than 500 people in security, housekeeping, gift shops and attractions such as Nickelodeon Universe. Many more work at stores, hotels, and restaurants in and around the mall.
“Having quality transportation options is essential when it comes to recruiting and retaining team members at Mall of America®,” Mall of America® Vice President Human Resources Carrie Wright said. “We are excited to see this project come to fruition as it will dramatically impact countless people throughout the Twin Cities area by offering a more convenient travel experience.”
While the D Line is significant on its own, its opening is also a major milestone in Metro Transit’s efforts to create a network of BRT lines across the region.
Plans call for 12 BRT lines to be in operation by 2030. More than a quarter of the region’s residents, and nearly half of the region’s BIPOC and low-income residents, will be within a half-mile of a BRT line when the network is fully built out.
The next BRT lines scheduled to open are the METRO B Line on Lake Street and Marshall and Selby avenues (opening in 2024) and the METRO Gold Line along the I-94 corridor east of Saint Paul (opening in 2025).
Four BRT lines already provide transit service in the Minneapolis-St. Paul metro area. They are:
- The METRO A Line between Rosedale and the METRO Blue Line’s 46th Street Station
- The METRO C Line between the Brooklyn Center Transit Center and downtown Minneapolis
- The METRO Orange Line between Burnsville and downtown Minneapolis
- The METRO Red Line between Apple Valley and Mall of America®
Other service changes took effect across the region today, December 3, to maintain service reliability amid an ongoing operator shortage. Replacing local bus service with BRT service benefits customers and operators with a minimal impact on operator requirements. Learn more about service changes and efforts to hire bus and train operators here.