The name isn't likely to leave riders' lexicon any time soon, but starting Friday the light-rail line that runs from downtown Minneapolis to the Mall of America in Bloomington won't be called the Hiawatha Line.
The line is being rebranded as the Metro Blue Line, said Metro Transit spokesman John Siqveland.
As part of the change over and to educate riders, transit agency officials will hold a launch party from 7:30 to 9 a.m. Friday at the 46th Street Station in south Minneapolis, As part of the festivities, Metro Transit will unveil new logos for the Blue Line, new station graphics and pass out new schedules for riders. They also will distribute special commemorative fare cards.
Over the past couple weeks, destination signs with blue markers and the words "Blue Line" have been used to help riders become familiar with the line's new name. New rail cars recently added to the line also will be on display.
Getting riders familiar with the Blue Line name will be important because the new Green Line trains between Minneapolis and St. Paul will start running next year. In downtown Minneapolis, the two lines will share a track and station stops.
It also will help distinguish the train from the new Red Line Bus Rapid Transit line that is scheduled to begin operating in June 22 along Cedar Avenue from Bloomington to Eagan, Apple Valley and Lakeville.
For the 31,000 daily users, the name change "will be hard," said Siqveland, noting that the light-rail line has been known as the Hiawatha Line since its debut in 2004.
Even Metro Transit's web site won't totally eliminate references to "Hiawatha." To ease the transition, a web page describing Blue Line service will keep the word Hiawatha in parenthesis in the title.
Other than the name change, the Blue Line also will have longer trains. Metro Transit will now operate three-car trains, which will run about every 10 minutes throughout most of the day.
Last year, Metro Transit provided 10.5 million rides on the line, the highest number since rail service began nine years ago.