|METRO D Line|
|Vehicle||New Flyer XD60|
|Began service||Late 2022|
|Route type||Bus rapid transit|
|Locale||Minneapolis–St. Paul, Minnesota|
|Start||Brooklyn Center Transit Center|
|Via||Emerson Avenue, Chicago Avenue|
|End||Mall of America|
|Length||18.5 mi (29.8 km)|
|Stations||40 (8 one-way station pairs)|
|Ridership||23,600 (2030 average weekday estimate)|
The METRO D Line is an under construction bus rapid transit line in Minneapolis-Saint Paul, Minnesota. The route will primarily operate on Fremont and Chicago Avenues from Brooklyn Center through Minneapolis to the Mall of America in Bloomington. The 18.5-mile (29.8 km) route was identified by Metro Transit in 2013 as one of several existing local bus routes to be upgraded to bus rapid transit (BRT). As part of BRT service, the D Line will feature "train-like amenities" including improved station facilities, off-board fare payment, modern vehicles, fewer stops, and higher frequency. The current alignment would substantially replace the existing Route 5, the highest ridership bus route in Minnesota. In October 2020, the project received full funding from the Minnesota Legislature with an anticipated opening date of late 2022. Construction began April 5, 2021, with an informal groundbreaking at Chicago and Franklin Avenues.
The Metropolitan Council, the metropolitan planning organization for the Twin Cities, completed a 2030 Transit Master Study for the region in 2008 which identified arterial bus network corridors and encouraged further study of arterial bus rapid transit projects. The council set the goal of doubling transit ridership by 2030 in their 2030 Transportation Policy Plan and identified implementing arterial bus rapid transit as a method of increasing ridership. Metro Transit began study of 11 corridors for their potential for arterial bus rapid transit in 2011-2012. Those 11 routes served 90,000 riders per weekday, which was close to half of the total ridership for urban routes. Ridership on implemented routes was predicted to increase 20 to 30 percent after the first year of opening. Corridors were evaluated on capital and operating costs, potential ridership, and travel time savings. At the time, an opening for the first BRT line was hoped to open in 2014. The A Line was selected as the first corridor for study in 2012 with the line opening in 2016. After the B Line project was postponed so the corridor could undergo further study as the Riverview Corridor, the C Line was the next project placed under development and opened in 2019.
The D Line became the third project to enter planning stages and in 2017 hosted open houses where Metro Transit estimated construction could start by 2020 if funding was secured. Later in 2017, the route was downgraded under the Metropolitan Council's Transportation Policy Plan from being funded under the "Current Revenue Scenario" to the "Increased Revenue Scenario" which means the project would only be built if funding is found. The city of Minneapolis passed a resolution in support of the project, partially in protest, but the Metropolitan Council defended the planning decision because at the time funding was not identified for the project. Governor Mark Dayton included $50 million for the D Line in his bonding bill request in 2018. Funding was again supported by Governor Walz and regional leaders in 2019 but did not secure funding in the state budget.
The D Line would travel north from Mall of America to downtown Minneapolis via American Boulevard, Portland Avenue, and Chicago Avenue. While in downtown Minneapolis, the route would travel on one-way pairs of 7th and 8th Streets, before traveling along 7th Street to Plymouth Avenue in North Minneapolis. From there, the route travels on the Fremont and Emerson Avenues one-way pairs before reconnecting on Lowry Avenue and continuing on Fremont Avenue. Once the route reaches 44th Avenue, it travels west and eventually follows the route of the C Line to Brooklyn Center Transit Center via Brooklyn Boulevard.
Plans include a station for the intersection of 38th Street and Chicago Avenue, which is the site of the murder of George Floyd. However, upon receiving full funding for construction, Metro Transit decided to remove the station from construction at the time. Metro Transit will remain engaged with the community and the City of Minneapolis regarding the intersection's design in the future and the station will be constructed at a later time.
The line would largely replace Metro Transit's Route 5 which in 2017 provided 19,500 weekday rides. With over 120 northbound and southbound trips daily on Route 5, 23 buses were required to serve the line during peak periods. Plans for adding transit signal priority to 19 intersections on the north portion of the route and 12 on the south end were unveiled in 2017 with a planned opening in 2018.