The Green Line's first month is in the books

  • Article by: JAMES WALSH , Star Tribune
  • Updated: July 20, 2014 - 11:47 AM

Passengers like the convenience. Officials are still trying to shorten travel times, which are longer than hoped.

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The owner of Anh’s Hairstylists in St. Paul plans a bakery next door to take advantage of the location on the line. Below, passengers boarded at the U.

Photo: Richard Tsong-Taatarii • rtsong-taatarii@startribune.com,

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In the month since the Green Line light-rail route connecting downtown St. Paul to downtown Minneapolis opened for business, some things have become very clear:

People who used to take the bus between the cities seem to like it. People who’ve never taken public transit before have been willing to try it. And, while the negatives of lost parking and disrupted traffic are mostly past, it’s still too early to tell if the nearly $1 billion line will be a business boon or bust.

“In the beginning, I was against it. Then we realized we had no choice but to try to make the best of it,” said Ericka Trinh, who cuts hair at Anh’s Hairstylists in St. Paul. Trinh said workers will soon break ground next door on a new business — her own bakery/bistro — sparked by the proximity to the line and the Western Avenue Station.

“Now, I want to take full advantage of it,” Trinh said.

Despite travel times that were slower than promised — several rides along the 11-mile route last week took an hour or more from the Union Depot in St. Paul to Target Field in Minneapolis — more than 30,000 riders are hopping aboard the Green Line each weekday, according to Metro Transit. That’s better than expected, and 2,500 more than ridership projections for 2015. And classes at the University of Minnesota, whose students are expected to swell the ranks of riders, have yet to start.

For many, it’s been a smooth ride so far.

Dylan Smith takes the Blue Line from home in south Minneapolis and transfers to the Green Line to get to work in St. Paul. It’s more comfortable than the Route 16 bus he used to take, he said. “It’s much better. I get a seat. Before, I usually stood the whole time.”

Mark Sprinkel, a Minnetonka native who now lives in East Lansing, Mich., was in town last week to catch baseball’s All-Star Game. During his visit, he hopped the Green Line to St. Paul and met a friend for lunch.

“This is pretty cool,” he said. “They needed something like this.”

Four or five times a month, Claudia Nelimark heads from her home on the East Side of St. Paul to a volunteer job in downtown Minneapolis. On a recent morning, she caught the Green Line at Union Depot and rode west.

“I love it. I think it’s great,” she said.

Nelimark used to drive the route, she said, but that was expensive. And the bus was too crowded. While the rail car she was in became more crowded as she got closer to work one morning last week, she said it typically is no more than half full.

“Life is so busy,” she said. “On the train, you can just sit and see what’s happening along the way.”

A month’s numbers

In the month that the Green Line has been rolling, much has happened along the route or at one of the 23 stations. According to Metro Transit Police, there have been:

• Six accidents, mostly involving cars illegally turning into a train, but none that involved injuries.

• Five assaults.

• One robbery.

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