Most people in the Twin Cities region have heard of the Metropolitan Council. Yet many might struggle to explain what we do. They might know we run Metro Transit, or that we clean most of the region’s wastewater. Both of those things are true, but they’re just part of the picture.
The Met Council exists to lead a regional conversation about what residents want the future to look like.
Legislators came up with the idea back in 1967, when the Twin Cities was second to Los Angeles in terms of urban sprawl. A bipartisan group created the Met Council as a planning agency for the region.
Every 10 years, the Met Council engages residents, community organizations, cities, counties, and businesses to draft a long-term plan for the region. That plan takes issues like land use and development, transportation, housing, racial equity, regional parks, and other key issues and combines them in a document that looks 30 years into the future. It’s a plan that’s written with the input of hundreds of participants across the seven-county metro area.
In essence, the Met Council was given the mission of thinking about what our region would be like for our children and grandchildren. But we are also responsible for making many of those plans come to fruition.
Connecting people to opportunities
Transit is our most visible service, and we are in the process of a major program of investments. By 2040 those investments will connect 500,000 people who don’t have good transit service today to a 30-minute, one-seat ride to work or school.
It is equally important to operate our transit system as safely and efficiently as possible. Right now, we’re working hard to rebuild ridership after it dropped off as a result of the COVID-19 pandemic. A critical challenge is that our transit system is witnessing the same increase in crime and other bad behaviors that are plaguing transit systems across the nation.
Riders deserve a clean, safe, comfortable environment, and we’re making moves to provide that. The Safety and Security Action Plan endorsed by the Council last June describes the steps Metro Transit is taking to improve public safety on transit. This includes continued investment in increasing visible, official employee presence on our system, greater utilization of real-time cameras, expanded lighting and other security features at stops and stations, and partnerships to connect riders in need to services.
The Met Council is the official recipient of much of the federal transportation funding allocated to the seven-county metro area. We work closely with communities across the region, relying on elected officials to advise us on where to make the best investments. In the funding process we just completed, we authorized over $350 million in transportation investments and improvements between now and 2027.
The Met Council operates one of the state’s largest housing authorities, serving more than 7,200 households with low and moderate incomes every month with federal rental assistance. We help families to find safe, affordable housing on the private market across the region, moving closer to jobs, schools, and other opportunities that help them build a better future.
Everyone appreciates the opportunity to enjoy the great outdoors. We work with city and county regional park agencies to plan and fund the regional parks and trails – places like Minneapolis Chain of Lakes, Square Lake, and Lebanon Hills. These places receive more annual visits than Glacier, Yellowstone, and Grand Canyon national parks combined.
The common denominator in all our work is collaboration and partnership.
This year the Met Council is starting to reach out to communities to begin work on our next 30-year plan, which will look forward to the year 2050. Our role is to facilitate a broad, region-wide discussion about our values and vision as a region. We will be engaging with elected officials, neighborhood groups, advocacy organizations, and all residents who want to have a voice in what our future will look like. I’m excited to have that discussion, so watch this space; I’ll keep you posted. — Charlie Zelle is the chair of the Met Council.
Post a comment as anonymous
Watch this discussion.
Welcome to the discussion.
Keep it Clean. Please avoid obscene, vulgar, lewd, racist or sexually-oriented language.
PLEASE TURN OFF YOUR CAPS LOCK.
Don't Threaten. Threats of harming another person will not be tolerated.
Be Truthful. Don't knowingly lie about anyone or anything.
Be Nice. No racism, sexism or any sort of -ism that is degrading to another person.
Be Proactive. Use the 'Report' link on each comment to let us know of abusive posts.
Share with Us. We'd love to hear eyewitness accounts, the history behind an article.