First timer’s guide to Minneapolis driving, parking and public transportation
Helping you get to and fro with ease - explore our first timer's guide to Minneapolis transportation.
Minneapolis drivers come in all shapes and sizes. There are petrified slow drivers, there are terrifying fast drivers and everyone in between. Stay alert, obviously, and you shouldn’t have any problems.
NOTE: It’s illegal to text and drive in the State of Minnesota even at stoplights. This includes reading texts, composing emails and looking at websites. A first offence means a $50 fine, plus court fees. A second offence is a $225 fine, plus court fees. Nearly 6,000 drivers were cited for texting and driving in 2016.
It’s still legal to driving while talking on a cellphone (no hands-free hardware required, as of now), but we don’t recommend it. Teens driving on permits cannot use cellphones at all.
Most of Minneapolis’ streets are plotted on a delightfully intuitive grid system with a large number of streets being numbered. This makes navigation relatively easy. There are, however, a few quirks to keep in mind while you’re cruising the streets.
Nearly all the streets in downtown Minneapolis are one-way. Not a day goes by when someone from out of town doesn’t take an impulsive turn only to find themselves facing a wall of oncoming traffic. Don’t be that person!
Unlike many other cities, cars are not allowed to drive down the city’s light rail tracks. Train operators will often lean on the horn if they see someone driving on the tracks for, like, a really long time, which can be embarrassing (we hear).
Beware of drifting out into the intersection during a green light if there’s gridlock ahead of you. It doesn’t matter whose fault it is, if you get caught in the intersection after the light turns red, also known as “blocking the box,” you can be fined. Make sure there’s enough room for you to completely cross before entering an intersection.
Traffic agents are often in the streets in downtown Minneapolis during rush hour. Any directions one of these agents gives you overrides traffic signals and signs. Also, be extremely careful while passing these brave folks, so as not to injure them with your car.
Minneapolis is a year-round cycling city. When crossing over a bike lane, be especially alert that there isn’t a cyclist in your path.
If you’re not accustomed to driving on snow and ice, we can’t stress this enough, patience is key. There’s no such thing as “too slow” when driving on un-plowed streets or through a winter storm. If you’re here in the dead of winter (January-March), though it doesn’t happen frequently, it’s a good idea to familiarized yourself with the phenomenon of black ice and how to safely navigate it.
Minneapolis street parking rules can vary from one street to the next. Take a moment to look around for signs stating parking restrictions before leaving your car, especially in business districts.
Parking meter enforcement hours also vary from street to street. Hours of enforcement are listed on each parking meter or parking spot number post. Unfortunately, these can be difficult/impossible to see without getting out of your car.
In winter, if a snow emergency is declared after heavy snowfall, it kicks off a rolling, three-day parking restriction schedule. For details on snow emergency restrictions, click here. There are a number of ways to find out if a snow emergency is in effect, including apps for iOS and Android, calling (612) 348-SNOW (7669) or visiting www.ci.minneapolis.mn.us/snow.
While accumulated snow drifts can begin to creep off sidewalks into the street, obstructing the available space to park your car, be aware that parking your car too far out in the driving lane can earn a fine. If you’re unsure about whether or not your car is parked safely, it’s probably a good idea to find another spot.
We’re especially proud of our public transportation system. It’s inexpensive, comprehensive, reliable and in 2016 the American Public Transportation Association named it the Transit System of the Year.
Single ride fares for buses and trains are $2, except during rush hour (6-9 a.m. and 3-6:30 p.m., Monday through Friday) when the fare is $2.50. Each single ride pass is good for 2 1/2 hours on any train or bus (not including suburban express buses), going in any direction. The transfer expiration time is printed on the pass.
If you’re boarding a bus with a pass that’s still within the transfer time, show it to the driver as you board. On trains, there’s no need to re-validate passes, but keep them handy for occasional fare checks by Metro Transit officers.
A 24-hour transit pass is $6.50. An all-day pass is prorated depending on what time you make your purchase, ranging from $1 to $5 and is valid until 2 a.m. the following day.
Tickets can be purchased at light rail stations, onboard buses or through the Metro Transit app (iOS and Android).
The METRO Blue Line, composed of 19 stations connecting downtown Minneapolis to Mall of America via the airport, starts running at 4 a.m., with the last southbound train departing downtown’s Target Field Station at 1:12 a.m. Trains run roughly every 10-15 minutes, with reduced times later in the evening.
The Green Line, composed of 23 stations connecting downtown Minneapolis to downtown St Paul via the University of Minnesota campus, operates 24 hours a day. Trains run roughly every 10-15 minutes with reduced frequency over night (once every 30-60 minutes).
For more information about the Metro Transit light rail lines, click here.
Metro Transit buses (hours vary) do the heavy transportation lifting. Several dozen routes crisscross the city and out into the suburbs. For more information on riding the bus, click here. Short rides on select buses within the downtown Minneapolis core are free. Click here for more information.
Food, uncovered beverages and alcohol are not allowed on buses or trains.
- The Metro Transit app for iOS and Android.
- MyNextTrip app for Android tells you when a bus or train will next pass specific stops.
- The Google Maps transit planning tool is extremely accurate for planning instant or future trips in the Twin Cities.
- The Minneapolis Skyway app for seamlessly navigating on two feet.
For more information, visit metrotransit.org or call 612-373-3333.