Rush Line is now the METRO Purple Line

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October 5, 2021

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Rush Line is now the METRO Purple Line

East Metro transit project will seek entry into federal program this fall ahead of planned transition to Metropolitan Council

The Rush Line Bus Rapid Transit Project is now the METRO Purple Line. The inclusion of the planned 15-mile transit route into the regional METRO system occurs as the project nears completion of the Environment Analysis Phase led by Ramsey County.  

Today the Ramsey County Board of Commissioners and Ramsey County Regional Railroad Authority voted to commit $39.9 million of county funding to the Purple Line for the Project Development phase, the next step in the federal process.

Leadership of the project is expected to transition from Ramsey County to the Metropolitan Council in late 2021 or early 2022, once the project completes its environmental process. As the region’s leading transit provider, the Metropolitan Council has the experience and expertise to lead final design and construction for the project, and ultimately operate the Purple Line as part of the regional METRO system. The Metropolitan Council has been involved with all aspects of project planning to date.

Today’s funding commitment will allow the Metropolitan Council to seek entry into the Project Development phase of the federal Capital Investment Grants Program. This federal program is expected to provide funding for approximately half the anticipated capital cost of the project.

Based on the project’s estimated cost and ridership, financial plan, environmental and congestion relief benefits and impacts on land use and economic development, the Purple Line is expected to qualify for the program and be competitive with other projects around the country for funding. The overall capital cost of the project is currently estimated to be between $457 million and $474 million.

The Purple Line will be a high-quality transportation option that provides METRO service, which is frequent, fast and reliable. The 15-mile route connects communities in Saint Paul, Maplewood, Vadnais Heights, Gem Lake, White Bear Township and White Bear Lake. Construction may begin in early 2024, leading to the start of service in late 2026.

As part of the regional METRO system, the Purple Line will connect people to jobs, housing, transit stations and key destinations such as Union Depot and downtown Saint Paul, Regions Hospital, Hmong Village, Phalen Regional Park, St. John’s Hospital, Maplewood Mall and downtown White Bear Lake.

“This project is a vital link for residents, workers and businesses in the East Metro,” said Ramsey County Commissioner Victoria Reinhardt. “The funding being committed today by Ramsey County is the most significant financial step to date in building this critical connection. The Purple Line will help advance equity and access to jobs in Ramsey County by providing another transportation option in areas that are underserved by transit. The average annual cost to own and maintain a new personal vehicle is over $9,000, a financial burden for many households, and the Purple Line will provide the freedom to allow more Minnesotans to access everything they need.” 

“The Purple Line is a major investment in mobility and sustainability,” said Saint Paul City Council member Nelsie Yang. “It will greatly improve access to jobs, healthcare, and other opportunities for residents along the route, advance equity, and bring economic development benefits to the communities and businesses it will serve. Purple Line will also reduce emissions by using electric buses – with no tailpipe emissions. We’re excited about the Purple Line’s ability to connect the northeast metro to our growing regional transit system and to advance our climate change goals.”

“This project will ensure that our region is connected to jobs, schools, health care, and more for decades to come,” said Metropolitan Council Member Susan Vento. “Feedback from residents, businesses, workers and students along the route has shaped this project and will continue to do so in the years to come. Transit service like Purple Line has generated significant economic development in Minnesota and across the U.S. and we look forward to the opportunities that will come with this route.”

Over the past three years, project staff have taken in thousands of comments from the community, connecting with more than 3,400 people at events, pop-up meetings, open houses, virtual events and a variety of other efforts. In 2020, the cities of Saint Paul, White Bear Lake, Vadnais Heights, and Maplewood passed resolutions of support for the project’s preliminary design plans.