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Purple Line BRT Project

As initially envisioned, the METRO Purple Line BRT was a 15-mile line between Union Depot in downtown Saint Paul and downtown White Bear Lake generally along Robert Street, Jackson Street, Phalen Boulevard, Ramsey County rail right of way co-located with the Bruce Vento Regional Trail and Highway 61. In spring 2022, the Purple Line began a Route Modification Study to evaluate a new northern terminus north of Beam Avenue to either end the line at Maplewood Mall Transit Center, I-35E & County Rd. E park & ride in Vadnais Heights or Century College on the border of White Bear Lake and Mahtomedi. An ending at Maplewood Mall Transit Center proved to be the only option that would qualify for federal funds.

The Purple Line project is now beginning to evaluate White Bear Avenue as an alternative to using the Bruce Vento Regional Trail Corridor. Options for the route to continue beyond Maplewood Mall Transit Center will continue to be explored during the evaluation of this new alignment. Learn more about the Route Modification Study.

The line will connect with existing and future light rail and bus rapid transit service of the METRO system, including direct or close connections to the Green Line, Gold Line, B Line, G Line, and H Line, as well as local and express bus routes. The line will increase accessibility to jobs, housing, and services, thus improving the attractiveness and competitiveness of the east metro area.

The Metropolitan Council, in partnership with Ramsey County and the Minnesota Department of Transportation, will design and construct the project. Metro Transit will own, operate and maintain the line. Design and construction funding will be provided by the Federal Transit Administration and Ramsey County. Operations and maintenance funding will be provided by Ramsey County and the Metropolitan Council.

 

View a map of the METRO Purple Line (as of December 2021)

 

Route Modification Study Factsheet - Hmong | Karen | Somali | Spanish (as of January 2024)

 

What is Purple Line BRT?  

The Purple Line is a proposed bus rapid transit (BRT) line in Ramsey County that will connect with expanding light rail and BRT service of the METRO system. The line will increase accessibility to jobs, housing, and services, improving the appeal and competitiveness of the east metro area. Purple Line will be one of the region’s first BRT lines to operate primarily in exclusive or semi-exclusive lanes, providing for a more reliable and faster transit trip.  

What is Bus Rapid Transit?  

Bus rapid transit brings better amenities, faster service, including bus-only lanes, and a more comfortable ride: 

  • More Frequent service:  
  • Provides all-day service that operates seven days a week with buses arriving every 15 minutes. 
  • A faster ride 
  • Pay before you board so the bus leaves the station faster. 
  • Raised platforms help you step or roll on and off easily. 
  • Fewer stops than local routes and bus-only lanes that help keep the bus moving. 
  • Buses are given priority at key traffic signals to “ask” for green lights. 
  • Stations with enhanced amenities 
  • Shelters will provide comfortable waiting space and a variety of amenities: NexTrip real-time departure signs, maps, heat, lighting, bike racks, and added security with cameras and emergency telephones. 
  • Specialized, electric buses 
  • Buses will be unique and recognizable with wider aisles, additional doors, and folding seats to make room for wheelchairs and strollers. 

Why is Purple Line needed? 

  • Serving the needs of people who rely on transit. 
  • Supporting those who can’t afford, are unable, or choose not to drive. 
  • Meeting increasing demand for reliable, high-frequency transit. 
  • Ridership on existing Bus Rapid Transit service was strong throughout the COVID-19 pandemic and has gained riders more quickly than other service types, reflecting a demand for more all-day, all-purpose service. 
  • Project staff are evaluating the estimated travel time and ridership for Purple Line. Preliminary information will be available in 2024. 
  • Planning for sustainable growth and development. 
  • Tackling traffic congestion by expanding reliable transit services and guiding transit-oriented, walkable development. 
  • Expanding multimodal travel options. 
  • Addressing air quality and greenhouse gas emissions by shifting independent car trips to transit trips. 

What kind of amenities will stations have? 

Purple Line stations will provide a comfortable waiting space and a variety of customer amenities:

Example of Purple Line Station Design

Figure 1: Visualization of 5th/6th Station platform on 6th Street 

  • Shelter with heat, light, and seating 
  • Bike parking 
  • Trash and recycling bins 
  • Information kiosk 
  • Real-time arrival information  
  • Fare card validators 
  • Ticket vending machine 
  • Pylon station marker 

What is Metro Transit doing to improve safety and security on the transit system? 

To better serve riders and staff, build confidence among prospective riders, and position Metro Transit as a great place to work, a concerted effort is being made to improve public safety on transit. Agency-led efforts are summarized in the Safety & Security Action Plan (SSAP). 

Since the plan was created, reported crimes have declined by 33% from the first to third quarter of 2023. Some highlights of this work include: 

  • Enhanced efforts to hire and retain police officers and Community Service Officers (CSOs). 
  • Expanded community partnerships, including contracting with 10 community-based organizations, who are working to address issues like unsheltered homelessness and substance use disorders that can show up on transit. 
  • Supplemental security at transit facilities with the most calls for service. 
  • Greater use of real-time cameras, including on buses and at facilities. 
  • Clearer and more prominent communication about respectful behavior on transit.  

How much will it cost to ride Purple Line? 

Purple Line will have the same fare as METRO/local bus service. There will be no extra charge for this service. Seniors, youth, Medicare card holders and people with disabilities qualify for reduced fares during non-rush hours. 

How is the Purple Line being funded? 

The METRO Purple Line will be designed and constructed with funding from the Ramsey County Regional Railroad Authority, Ramsey County, and the federal government. The project is working through the Capital Investment Grants Program, managed by the Federal Transit Administration, to seek the federal funds for the project. County funding provides a stable investment for the construction of the METRO Purple Line. The Metropolitan Council will fund the operations and maintenance costs of the METRO Purple Line. 

When will construction begin? When will Purple Line open? 

The project is working toward a preferred White Bear Ave Corridor design option in early 2024. Once a preferred White Bear Ave option is selected it will then be compared to the Bruce Vento Regional Trail Corridor option to select a preferred route option in fall 2024. Construction is anticipated to begin in 2027 and the Purple Line could open as early as 2029. However, capital projects like this are complex and unforeseen challenges arise and the schedule is subject to change. 

Project History 

For past documents related to the Purple Line project, visit the Project Library (pre-2022). For more recent documents, check out the web pages of the project website. 

May 2023 Route Modification Study Factsheet - Hmong | Karen | Somali | Spanish

Project schedule

2022-2027: Design Advancement, Route Modification Study Phase I and Phase II

2027: Construction Start

2029: Anticipated opening of the Purple Line


Stay informed

Subscribe to Purple Line Update to get project updates. 


Project Contacts

Purple Line Project Office

PurpleLine@metrotransit.org, 651-602-1955

Media Contact

Laura Baenen, laura.baenen@metrotransit.org, 612-269-4365 

Community Outreach and Engagement
 
Liz Jones, elizabeth.jones@metrotransit.org, 651-602-1977

Colin Owens, colin.owens@metrotransit.org, 612-618-0495