Cost of Blue Line extension jumps 45% 

Last Wednesday, the Metropolitan Council released more information about the proposed extension of the Blue Line light rail through north Minneapolis, Robbinsdale, Crystal and Brooklyn Park. The project is currently projected to cost around $2.2 billion, but, the Met Council revealed last week, added contingency costs required by the federal government now put the cost at a range of $2.9 to $3.2 billion — an increase in cost of 45%.

Bring Me the News reports:

The Metropolitan Council said the range was “consistent with national trends in inflation and rising construction costs since the pandemic.”

“Light rail projects are 100-year investments. They aren’t cheap, but they are worth it,” Hennepin County Commissioner Jeff Lunde said in a statement.

“This project will provide reliable transit service for decades to come in addition to generating billions of dollars of investment in community and economic development, housing, infrastructure improvements, and more.”

The council added that light rail ridership has increased 19% in the past year. 

Indeed, light rail ridership was up 19% in 2023, but only from the low levels of 2022. While Metro Transit recorded 14.7 million light rail rides in 2023, it recorded a combined total of 25.2 million rides on the Green and Blue lines in 2019. Light rail ridership in 2023 was 42% below that of 2019. Meanwhile, the Star Tribune carried a story recently titled “Crime jumped 32% on Metro Transit trains, buses in 2023.”

This is simply the last in a long line of transit projects with ballooning price tags: The cost of the Southwest light rail transit project is now estimated at $2.7 billion, a number that has more than doubled in the past decade. Government simply isn’t very good at spending your money.