FTA, Metropolitan Council sign $239.3 million FFGA for Gold Line BRT project

April 12, 2023
The 10.3-mile BRT route will feature 21 stations and will be the state’s first BRT route to primarily operate in bus-only lanes.

A Full Funding Grant Agreement (FFGA) for $239.3 million has been executed between the Federal Transit Administration (FTA) and Minnesota’s Metropolitan Council for the METRO Gold Line Bus Rapid Transit (BRT) project.

The 10.3-mile project is being constructed along the I-94 corridor and will include 21 stations connecting downtown St. Paul, Minn., east to Woodbury. While Metro Transit currently operates six BRT routes, nearly 70 percent of the Gold Line will operate in bus-only lanes, making it the state’s first BRT route to operate primarily in bus-only lanes and allowing for all-day service with buses arriving every 10-15 minutes.

The funding is supplied through the FTA’s Capital Investment Grants Program and represents 47 percent of the project’s $505 million cost. An additional $120 million, nearly 48 percent of the cost, is being provided by Ramsey and Washington counties.

"Better transit systems mean faster commutes, cleaner air and better options to get people where they need to go," said U.S. Transportation Secretary Pete Buttigieg. “The Twin Cities' growing BRT network is an example of how safe, convenient public transit can transform communities, and we are proud to support the new Gold Line, which will connect more people with jobs and opportunities."

Metro Transit says 93,500 jobs are estimated to be within a half mile of Gold Line stations and 14 percent of the households within a half mile of Gold Line stations do not own a car. Additionally, Ramsey County Commissioner Trista Matas Castillo noted 16 percent of the population lives in poverty, and 44 percent of the population is racially and ethnically diverse.

"The Gold Line BRT project will not only provide better public transportation to residents, but it will also promote equity by connecting areas of affordable housing with jobs and other opportunities," said FTA Administrator Nuria Fernandez. "We applaud the Metropolitan Council's choice to use electric-powered buses, which will improve air quality and help address climate change."

Construction on the project began in October 2022. The Gold Line BRT is expected to begin service in 2025 and will feature pre-boarding fare payment, traffic signal priority, real-time arrival and departure screens, shelters with enhanced security cameras and emergency telephones and bike racks. Buses used on the route will feature wider aisles and come equipped with additional doors and folding seats to accommodate wheelchairs and strollers.

“I’m thrilled the Federal Transit Administration has validated this project by signing the Full Funding Grant Agreement,” said Metropolitan Council Chair Charlie Zelle. “As public servants, it’s important to evaluate transit projects through many lenses, including whether a project delivers the kind of service and benefits our community deserves. I’d like to thank the FTA and the Biden administration for making transit a priority, as well as the thousands of community members who offered their comments, support and ideas to help bring this project to fruition.”

About the Author

Mischa Wanek-Libman | Editor in Chief

Mischa Wanek-Libman serves as editor in chief of Mass Transit magazine. She is responsible for developing and maintaining the magazine’s editorial direction and is based in the western suburbs of Chicago.

Wanek-Libman has spent more than 20 years covering transportation issues including construction projects and engineering challenges for various commuter railroads and transit agencies. She has been recognized for editorial excellence through her individual work, as well as for collaborative content. 

She is an active member of the American Public Transportation Association's Marketing and Communications Committee and serves as a Board Observer on the National Railroad Construction and Maintenance Association (NRC) Board of Directors.  

She is a graduate of Drake University, where she earned a Bachelor of Arts degree in Journalism and Mass Communication with a major in magazine journalism and a minor in business management.