If you’re headed to worship, work or play on Super Bowl Sunday, don’t count on taking a light-rail train to get there.
Blue Line trains between Mall of America and downtown Minneapolis will be restricted to those with tickets to the game at U.S. Bank Stadium and a $30 light-rail “game-day pass.”
Green Line trains will run normally between Union Depot in St. Paul and Stadium Village in Minneapolis. West of Stadium Village, trains will carry only ticket holders to the stadium, and beyond.
Ticket holders and the trains will undergo security screenings at Mall of America and a Stadium Village checkpoint. Train riders will go without stopping to the football stadium and enter there without further screening.
Metro Transit will operate buses every 10 to 15 minutes along the light-rail lines for everybody else but will not stop in the secure perimeter, about five blocks around the stadium. Specific information on where the stops will be available on the Metro Transit website. The agency will have “ambassadors” at many stops to steer riders in the right direction, said spokesman Howie Padilla.
Metro Transit also is building 35 more bus shelters on the routes because, well, winter.
The changes will be in effect all day and most of the evening of Feb. 4. After the game, as fans disperse and downtown Minneapolis starts to clear out, light-rail service will resume for all. Replacement buses will continue to run, Padilla said. .
Metro Transit said the move is all about security.
“The safety of our customers, staff and fans drives everything we do,” Metro Transit said on its Facebook page. “As security needs related to the Super Bowl became apparent during planning, we decided to provide people without Super Bowl tickets a way to complete their trips without being delayed by security measures.”
Some riders weren’t buying it, though.
“Why not the other way around?” one woman commented on the Facebook thread. “Instead of inconveniencing regular riders with slower buses, have all the rich football fans take buses and let us take the train like usual, just w/o stopping at the stadium?”
Another woman posted, “Call this what it is: preferential treatment for the elite and a disregard for the residents who pay for this service daily and took a recent fare increase. Call Metro Transit, call the Mayor call your City Council member!”
Padilla said it’s not unusual to use buses to replace light-rail trains in some instances, such as when there’s construction or an accident on the tracks.
Both the Green and Blue lines stop in front of the stadium. That stop is within the secure perimeter and on Super Bowl Sunday, stadium security is exponentially more intense than it is at regular NFL games because of the global profile of the game.
Super Bowl Host Committee Vice President Kyle Chank said ticket holders will be encouraged to board light-rail trains rather than driving into downtown Minneapolis.
The Super Bowl Host Committee hopes that 20,000 of the 65,000 people who will attend the game will opt to use transit, helping to shorten security lines at the stadium.
Host Committee spokeswoman Andrea Mokros said planners worked hard to minimize the inconvenience to the entire community while organizing a safe and secure 10-day event. “We will continue to communicate these impacts early and often, and will keep our focus on ensuring residents and visitors alike can get where they need to go, including via public transit,” she said in a statement.
The buses will run before, during and after the game until the light-rail trains are back on their regular schedules. The game starts at roughly 5:30 p.m. and takes at least three hours — not including extended postgame ceremonies.