Red Line Connects to South Metro

By Hilary Reeves, Communications Director



More than 100,000 vehicles cross the Minnesota River every day. The options for making that trip expand in a big way on June 22, when the state’s first bus rapid transit line opens along Cedar Avenue in the south metro.

On Saturday, June 22, join the celebration of the opening of the Red Line. Activities are planned at both the Cedar Grove Transit Station (on Nicols Road, north of Diffley in Eagan), and the Apple Valley Transit Station from 11 a.m. to 3 p.m. Rides on the Red Line and connecting routes will be free on opening day and through June 30. TLC members are gathering at 11a.m., on Saturday June 22, at the Mall of America Station to catch the Red Line leaving at 11:16 and check out the route (see events below to RSVP).

“It is great to see this expansion of the Twin Cities transit system, bringing new options to and from the south metro and introducing the region to a new kind of transit service—very comfortable, rapid, easy-boarding bus. This is another step forward in making our region’s transit plans a reality,” said Barb Thoman, executive director of Transit for Livable Communities.

The new Red Line service will operate all day long seven days a week and run so frequently that, the Met Council says, you don’t even need a schedule! Residents in the south metro will have a new, easy way to get to the airport and jobs. And the reverse is true: the Red Line will connect to retail, government offices, and jobs in Eagan and Apple Valley. There are 4,500 jobs near the new 147th Street Red Line station alone. The 140th Street Station is within walking distance of the Partners in Higher Education building, which includes Dakota County Technical College, Inver Hills College, and Saint Mary’s University, as well as Mount Olivet Assembly of God and the Apple Valley Sports & Ice Arena.

Red-Line-Google-Map1-WEBClick here for an interactive Google map of the Red Line, showing stations along the route and notes about nearby destinations.

Commuters who ride into the Cities on MVTA express routes now have options for getting home during the day and after rush hour.

For example, a regular commuter who takes the MVTA express into downtown Minneapolis in the morning will be able to catch the Blue Line (Hiawatha LRT) and change to the Red Line at the Mall of America. From Target Field to Apple Valley Transit Center will take about one hour, for as little as $1.75. (Fares are the same as on other transit service. Transfers are good for unlimited rides for two hours.)

The Red Line will provide station-to-station service between Apple Valley and the Mall of America, traveling on new bus-only shoulder lanes along Cedar Avenue and Highway 77. Buses will operate every 15 minutes during peak travel periods. Service begins at 5 a.m. weekday mornings (early enough to get workers to a shift start at the airport) and operates till midnight. Service runs from 7:30 a.m. to midnight, Saturday and Sunday.

Buses will serve each station with level boarding, real-time signs, and other transit advantages, much like service on the METRO Blue Line (Hiawatha LRT).The buses will operate somewhat like a light rail train on wheels, pulling up to stations where passengers can board through either a front or rear door. Pay stations also will be located at both the front and rear of each bus, where passengers can swipe their Go-To Cards or board with cash, SuperSaver, or paper transfers. Passengers can purchase tickets from pay stations on the platforms at Mall of America and Apple Valley Stations as well. Each bus has two bicycle racks at the rear of the bus (inside), so bicyclists should board through the rear door. The buses are equipped with automatic counters at each door to record ridership.

There are five stations on the Red Line.

  • Mall of America Station, with connections to the Blue Line (Hiawatha LRT) and Metro Transit and MVTA bus routes. Park & Ride ramp with 750 spaces, bike lockers for rent, bike racks.
  • Cedar Grove Transit Station in Eagan. Transfer here for MVTA buses to the Minnesota Zoo and other MVTA routes. Park & Ride lot with 150 spaces, bike lockers.
  • 140th Street Station, a walk-up station, with nearby access to Dakota County Technical College, Apple Valley Sports Arena, and other destinations. Connecting MVTA bus service, bike racks.
  • 147th Street Station, a walk-up station, with nearby access to Caribou Coffee, FedEx Office, and other retail and services. Connecting bus service and bike racks. More than 4,000 jobs are located near this station.
  • Apple Valley Transit Station.

Apple-Valley-Map-WEBA local map showing the area near one of the Red Line walk-up stations. Credit: City of Apple Valley.

The METRO Red Line is a collaborative effort of the Metropolitan Council, Dakota County and its regional railroad authority, MVTA, Metro Transit, the Counties Transit Improvement Board (CTIB), the Minnesota Department of Transportation, the Mall of America, and the cities of Lakeville, Eagan, Apple Valley, and Bloomington, as well as local businesses in communities near the corridor.

Funding for the project has come from federal, state, and regional funds; CTIB; Dakota County; Apple Valley and Lakeville.