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Metro Transit Snow Removal

Snow accumulation and ice build-up pose challenges for transit customers and transit operations. Metro Transit Engineering & Facilities staff address these challenges in concert with contractors, municipalities, transit partners and business/property owners.

The Suburban Transit Providers (SouthWest Transit, Minnesota Valley Transit Authority, Maple Grove Transit and Plymouth Metrolink), the City of Ramsey and the University of Minnesota are responsible for snow removal in their service areas.


Metro Transit removes snow and controls ice at all of its transit facilities and on the Northstar commuter rail line. These facilities include bus garages, rail right-of-way, Park & Ride lots/ramps, rail stations, transit centers and more than 700 locations with Metro Transit-owned customer-waiting shelters. While some of this work is contracted, the greater majority is performed in-house by a facilities maintenance staff of modest size.


With a small staff and large winter storm workload, Metro Transit establishes priorities to ensure it fields its service and tends to the needs of its customers.

Priority #1 – Bus and Rail Operations
In order for buses and trains to begin service, garages, driveways, rail yards and support facilities must be cleared so operators, mechanics, transit police, street supervisors and operational support staff can begin serving customers.

Simultaneously, drive lanes at park-and-ride lots, transit centers, layovers and turnarounds are plowed and, if necessary, snow is removed from rail track beds.

Priority #2 – Passenger Movement
Next, Metro Transit begins to clear snow and ice from customer areas at locations with the most activity -- rail stations, transit centers and Park & Ride lots -- to permit safe passage for the highest number of customers. In very heavy snowfalls, this work may be accomplished in two stages, initially providing only a walkway to a bus loading area or clearing only the tactile edge on a rail platform, returning later to complete the work. In lighter snowfalls, the entire facility will be cleared.

Priority #3 – Customers with Limited Mobility
Once high-use facilities are cleared, Metro Transit begins meeting the travel needs of customers with limited mobility.  By tracking the boarding locations of customers paying fares with mobility Go-To Cards, Metro Transit prioritizes these locations based on the number of daily boardings by customers with limited mobility.

Priority #4 – Customer-Waiting Shelters
After high-use limited mobility sites have been addressed, Metro Transit begins clearing the 700 customer-waiting shelters it owns throughout the seven-county metro area. It is important to note that not all shelters are owned by Metro Transit. Generally, Metro Transit shelters do not display paid advertising and Metro Transit does not own bus benches – these shelters and benches are maintained by private companies.

At its shelters, Metro Transit will clear snow and ice from the shelter and clear a six-foot area around the shelter. In addition, Metro Transit staff will create a four-foot wide walkway from the shelter to the bus stop.

Priority #5 – Revisiting and Grooming
Metro Transit next returns to facilities to address clean-up work and new issues. For example, it is not uncommon for street snowplows to push snow back into an already cleared path from a bus shelter to a bus stop.


With its limited staff, Metro Transit is not able to clear snow from the nearly 13,000 transit stops throughout the region. Metro Transit relies on adjacent property owners and businesses to clear bus stops and sidewalks. Some municipalities both engage in this work with city crews and have created ordinances that require property owners to address snow removal or face financial penalties.

Persistent Problems

Metro Transit wants to hear from its customers when problems persist following a snowfall. Call Customer Relations at 612-373-3333, option 3 or use the online contact form. Metro Transit will address the issue by either doing the work itself or notifying one of its partners – municipality, private shelter company etc. – of the deficiency.


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