A bus rapid transit bus rests at Brooklyn Center Transit Center.

Metro Transit Delays F Line BRT Construction to 2028

The F Line arterial bus rapid transit (aBRT) project, planned to largely replace Route 10 between downtown Minneapolis and Northtown Transit Center in Blaine, has been delayed by three years. Construction originally planned to begin in 2025 now won’t start until 2028, with an opening date still to be announced.

Metro Transit decided to push construction of the F Line to 2028 in order to coordinate with roadway and safety improvements made by the Minnesota Department of Transportation (MnDOT) on Central Avenue. Portions of the F Line on University Avenue and 53rd Avenue may still start construction before 2028.

This 13-mile long F Line aBRT investment is expected to service 32 stations, arrive every 10 minutes, and cost $98 million. Starting at the south end of Nicollet Mall (or just “Nicollet,” as the city is now branding it) in downtown Minneapolis, the F Line primarily runs on Central Avenue before diverting to University Avenue at 53rd Avenue. The route would serve Marcy-Holmes and other Northeast Minneapolis neighborhoods, the cities of Columbia Heights, Hilltop, Fridley and Blaine, where it terminates.

METRO F Line Map | Illustration: Metro Transit

Route 10 remains one of Metro Transit’s busiest bus routes and approximately sees 3,700 weekday rides through April of this year. Ridership, however, is down from 6,500 weekday rides due to the long-lasting effects of the COVID-19 pandemic and changing commute patterns. About 60% of those Route 10 riders are people of color, one-fifth identify as having a disability and about 40% live in low-income households.

The Route 10 corridor — prioritized for aBRT in 2019-2021 as part of Metro Transit’s Network Next plans — will be similar to their other aBRT routes like the A Line, C Line and D Line. The F Line will eventually become the region’s 6th aBRT line with more bus rapid transit (BRT) and aBRT lines to come.

BRT, like the under-construction Gold Line, features dedicated bus-only lanes along most or all of their routes. They also incorporate elements from light rail transit (LRT), as seen on the Blue Line. Similar yet different from the two, arterial bus rapid transit typically upgrades existing local bus services and often operates mostly or entirely in mixed traffic. For instance, the future F Line aBRT features elements from both BRT and LRT with 60-foot articulated buses, consolidated stops, upgraded and heated shelters, real-time information (NexTrip), security cameras, lighting, off-board payments, improved boarding areas and more. 

Metro Transit’s Response

It’s a long wait to 2028, and an unfortunate circumstance for Route 10 riders and the Twin Cities as a whole. Metro Transit Senior Communications Specialist Laura Baenen issued a statement reassuring us that the F Line’s coordination with MnDOT’s improvements to Central Avenue will continue to advance safety and connectivity while supporting Metro Transit’s commitment to transit equity.

“As our transit equity statement reflects, we acknowledge that providing safe, affordable and reliable transportation increases opportunity and that our services and programs should be built to equitably benefit all, especially under-served communities,” Baenen said.

“The F Line will support our commitment to transit equity by bringing faster and more reliable transit service to a corridor where 85% of households lack access to a vehicle. Additionally,” the statement said, “according to a 2022 onboard survey, 60% of Route 10 riders are people of color.  

“Aligning F Line construction with MnDOT investments on Central Avenue will also help create a safer, more walkable and bikeable environment overall while lessening disruptions to businesses, residents and riders.”

All good points. It’d be nice to have that F Line a little sooner, but if the improvements do make it that much better, the wait may be worth it.

Correction: an earlier version of this story stated that portions of the F Line may begin service before 2028, along University and 53rd Avenues. It has been corrected to state that those portions of the line may begin construction by that time. We regret the error.

About Richie Song

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Richie is a resident of Brooklyn Park, an advocate for transit and the developments of better cities.