Metro Mobility users gain new options for transportation under pilot program

A Metro Mobility driver helps a woman through the door of Central Towers in downtown St. Paul.
Curtis Gilbert | MPR News 2014

A new pilot program allows certified Metro Mobility users to use the Metro Transit regular route bus and rail system for free.

Transit officials said it will provide more options for users and should help ease demand on Metro Mobility, as ridership returns to close to pre-pandemic highs.

Charles Carlson, executive director of metropolitan transportation services for the Metropolitan Council, estimates the service will provide more than 2 million rides this year.

"So as riders are returning, we're working to improve our capacity to deliver,” Carlson said. “But we are subject to the labor shortfall that has been experienced across the transportation industry."

Carlson says Metro Mobility has stepped up recruiting efforts, including an increase in wages and to help bring in more drivers.

Carlson said users should also be aware that winter weather can affect capacity in the coming months.

“We also asked for patience from our customers as we're more likely to face some delays and we encourage them to dress for the weather,” Carlson said. “Or even to consider on bad weather days, consider rescheduling a ride, it may be safest to stay home.”

The pilot program was part of the 2023 transportation bill passed by the Minnesota Legislature. It runs through the end of 2024, giving the Met Council a chance to evaluate its success.

Metro Mobility has also begun rolling out new technology to improve the user experience, including email or phone alerts about upcoming rides.