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Orange Line FAQs

Frequently Asked Questions

What is BRT service?

Bus rapid transit – or BRT – is a package of transit enhancements that adds up to a faster trip and an improved experience.

  • Train-like features
    You'll pay your fare before you get on for faster boarding and wait at enhanced stations.
     
  • Enhanced stations with more amenities
    Real-time departure signs so you'll always know when the bus is coming, enhanced maps and signage.
     
  • Enhanced security
    Stations with cameras and emergency phones, fare enforcement by Transit Police and improved lighting.
     
  • Specialized vehicles
    Unique, recognizable buses with wider aisles and additional doors so more people can get on and off easily.

How is Orange Line service different from an express bus?

Orange Line station and other improvements will also benefit express bus routes in the corridor. At many stations, a customer will be able to choose between express and station-to-station service based on the length of trip, destination and time of day. The Orange Line will be slower than a non-stop express trip over the entire 17-mile corridor. However, frequency and span of service will be greatly enhanced to destinations throughout the corridor, providing more options for people traveling in both directions, seven days a week.

Why was I-35W selected for BRT?

I-35W has been Minnesota’s busiest commuter corridor, with 26 express bus routes operating pre-pandemic, and one limited-stop route (Route 535) providing station-to-station service. There were about 14,000 daily bus riders on I-35W pre-pandemic. This high demand led the Minnesota State Legislature to pass a 2003 bill which mandated that MnDOT study the feasibility of BRT on I-35W. In 2010, Highway BRT along I-35W was incorporated into the Metropolitan Council's 2030 Transportation Policy Plan. The Orange Line will significantly improve this route, while utilizing improvements that are already constructed and operating.

What will be the frequency and service hours?

The Orange Line is expected to run every 15 minutes on weekdays, with 30-minute service on weekends and at night. During rush hour, express buses will supplement Orange Line service.

What kind of features will stations have?

Orange Line stations will provide a comfortable, secure waiting space and a variety of customer amenities.

These features include:

  • Bike racks
  • Litter receptacles
  • Information about the stop / route / system and neighborhood
  • Real-time information signs
  • Security cameras
  • Emergency telephones
  • Station lighting
  • Push-button heating
  • Ticket machines for off-board fare purchase using cash or credit card, or for recharging a Go-To Card
     

Will the Orange Line have Park & Ride facilities?

Yes. The Orange Line will serve three existing park & ride facilities: Burnsville Heart of the City municipal ramp, I-35W & 98th Street Station (formerly South Bloomington Transit Center), and Knox Avenue Park and Ride .

Will this new service replace any existing routes?

Yes. The Orange Line will upgrade and replace Routes 535 and 597. Although Orange Line service will not provide a one seat ride to Normandale Community College (NCC), travel to NCC will be enhanced. The frequency and reliability of service to NCC will increase with transfer opportunities at 98th Street.

How much will it cost to ride the Orange Line?

The Orange Line will have the same fare as local bus and light rail. There will be no extra charge for the service.

When did construction begin? When will the Orange Line be open?

Construction on the northern end of the project began in 2018 under MnDOT's 35W@94 project, with the next phase of work beginning in 2019 in the I-494 area. The Orange Line will open for service on Dec. 4, 2021.

What will make the service rapid?

Traveling in high-occupancy vehicle (HOV) E-ZPass lanes saves time spent in congestion or at traffic signals. Making fewer stops will significantly speed up travel time. It will help buses stay better in sync with traffic flow.

  • Low-floor buses and raised curbs at stations, plus wider bus doors and boarding from the front and back, will speed up boarding.
  • Ticket machines will allow customers to purchase tickets before boarding. There’s no need to line up and wait at the bus farebox.
     

Will BRT vehicles have priority lanes?

Yes. Orange Line vehicles, like express bus routes, will use the high-occupancy vehicle (HOV) E-ZPass lanes while on I-35W. Once downtown, Orange Line buses will use transit advantages on Marquette Ave. and 2nd Ave..

Will there be changes to other bus routes in the Orange Line corridor?

Yes. Metro Transit has redesigned routes in south Minneapolis, Richfield, and Bloomington to provide timed, reliable connections with Orange Line stations and improve transit in the area. Metro Transit service changes will be implemented with the opening of the Orange Line on Dec. 4, 2021. Minnesota Valley Transit Authority will provide bus service connecting with Orange Line stations in Burnsville.  

Will there be changes to other bus routes in the Orange Line corridor?

Yes. Metro Transit has redesigned routes in south Minneapolis, Richfield, and Bloomington to provide timed, reliable connections with Orange Line stations and improve transit in the area. Metro Transit service changes will be implemented with the opening of the Orange Line on Dec. 4, 2021. The Minnesota Valley Transit Authority will provide bus service connecting with Orange Line stations in Burnsville.  

What routes will connect with Orange Line stations?

  • At I-35W & Lake St. Station: Routes 21 and 27
  • At I-35W & 46th St. Station: Routes 11 and 46
  • At I-35W & 66th St. Station: Route 515
  • At Knox Ave. & 76th St. Station: Route 540
  • At Knox Ave. & American Blvd. Station: Routes 4, 534, 538, and 542
  • At I-35W & 98th St. Station: Routes 18, 465, 534, 539, 546, and 547
  • At Burnsville Heart of the City Station: Route 425
  • At Burnsville Parkway Station: Route 444
     

How will currently operating routes change?

  • Route 7 will extend all trips to 66th St. and Cedar Ave. Select trips will serve VA Medical Center
  • Route 46 weekend service will be suspended due to an ongoing driver shortage.
  • Route 501 will connect Mall of America and air cargo facilities along Cargo Rd.
  • Route 515 will be simplified to travel between Southdale and Mall of America via 66th and Bloomington Ave. Bloomington Ave. service will be improved to every 20-30 minutes.
  • Route 535 will be replaced by the Orange Line.
  • Route 538 will be modified with schedule times at Knox Ave. & American Blvd. stations.
  • Route 539 will provide a direct 98th St. crosstown connection between Mall of America, I-35W & 98th St. Station, and Normandale Community College. It will no longer serve W. Old Shakopee Rd., Valley West Center, France Ave., Normandale Village, 90th St. or Penn Ave. See new routes 534 and 546 for replacement service.  
  • Route 540 will serve Normandale Lakes on all trips.
  • Route 553 service will be suspended due to an ongoing driver shortage.
  • Route 597 will be replaced by the Orange Line and new Route 547 which offers reverse-commute service to southwest Bloomington jobs.
     

Will any new routes connect with Orange Line Stations?

Yes:

  • Route 534 will replace Route 539 and will travel between Normandale College, 98th St. Station along Collegeview Rd., Poplar Bridge Rd., 90th St., Penn Ave., American Blvd., Lyndale Ave., and 99th St. daily.
  • Route 542 will be restored more directly via American Blvd. and extend via W. 78th St. to Hwy. 169 during weekday rush hours.
  • Route 546 will replace Route 539 and will travel on W. 98th St., Penn Ave., Old Shakopee Rd., Valley West Center, and France Ave., connecting I-35W & 98th St. Station to southwest Bloomington and Normandale Village daily.
  • Route 547 will replace routes 597C and 597E and will travel on W. Old Shakopee Rd., connecting I-35W & 98th St. Station to southwest Bloomington during rush hours.
     

Are future changes to planned for connecting route service? 

As resources become available, these improvements may be implemented at a later date:

  • Route 46 weekend service would be restored.

  • New Route 548 would be implemented to replace Route 597B along Hyland Greens Dr., Normandale Blvd., W. 102nd St., and Old Shakopee Rd. connecting with I-35W & 98th St. Station.
  • Route 553 service would be restored.

Where can I learn more about the connecting bus service plan?

The Connecting Bus Plan and related documents can be found in the Project Library.