Metro Transit's Orange Line opens with two stops in Richfield

Lake Street Station-3542A strong public transportation system has almost too many benefits to count. From benefits for riders’ health associated with more walking to less road congestion to reduced household expenses. It’s clear that improving a city’s transportation system is one of the best ways to improve residents’ quality of life.

On December 4, the City of Richfield added a new public transportation option to its infrastructure with the help of Metro Transit and the opening of the Orange Line. The new 17-mile bus rapid transit line connects Minneapolis, Bloomington, Burnsville and Richfield along I-35W.

Richfield’s two Orange Line Stations will be located at Knox Avenue and 76th Street, as well as I-35W and 66th Street.

Ward II City Councilmember Sean Hayford Oleary and At-Large City Councilmember Mary Supple both participated in the Orange Line ribbon-cutting ceremony on December 4 with Governor Tim Walz and other area elected officials.  

“Richfield has worked to make sure everyone can get where they need to go with dignity and safety, whether they walk, bike, drive, or take transit,” explained Ward II Councilmember Sean Hayford Oleary. “We have long had great bus options, but the Orange Line supercharges those existing lines with all-day, fast service in both directions to downtown Minneapolis and Burnsville.”

The rider amenities and efficiency of bus rapid transit are more attune to the light rail than traditional bus transportation. Trips on the Orange Line will be faster than a typical bus route, customers will pay their fare before getting on the bus, stations will have real-time departure signs and stations will offer enhanced security. However, bus rapid transit is less expensive to build and allows for more flexible routes.

“The Orange Line brings more reliability and connectivity to the city’s transit system. Its frequent service will connect residents to their destinations downtown and in the suburbs without the need to check a schedule,” said transportation engineer Ben Manibog. “The reliable weekday and weekend transit will make it easier and more comfortable for residents to go car-lite or car-free.”

The I-35 corridor was selected for the Orange Line route because it is one of the most heavily traveled roads in Minnesota. Prior to the COVID-19 pandemic, more than 14,000 traveled via bus along the corridor on a daily basis.

The Orange Line will operate every 15 minutes on weekdays and every 30 minutes during nights and weekends. One-way trips should take 38 minutes traveling south and 34 minutes heading north.

Funding for the project was provided by the Counties Transit Improvement Board, the State of Minnesota, the Metropolitan Council, Hennepin County, Dakota County and the federal government.  

“This investment we’re making here is generational,” said Governor Walz. “This is not just a bus line; we’re connecting communities.”