Metro Transit on Wednesday said it will offer free rides for Blue and Green Line passengers who will be put on replacement buses on Super Bowl Sunday as portions of both light-rail lines will be restricted exclusively for fans heading to the game.
The announcement came after scores of riders raised concerns about the plan to use the Blue Line to shuttle fans with tickets and a $30 light-rail “game-day pass” between Mall of America and U.S. Bank Stadium. Trains will not stop between the mall and the stadium.
On the Green Line, only ticket holders will be allowed to ride from trains from Stadium Village west into downtown Minneapolis on Feb. 4.
In lieu of light-rail service, Metro Transit will provide station-to-station service every 10 to 15 minutes along both the Blue and Green lines using buses, similarly to how it does when the Green and Blue lines are shut down for maintenance.
"We will offer free rides to any customer whose travel plans are disrupted and will be using our replacement buses on the day of the Super Bowl," the agency said in its announcement. "Replacement bus service is being provided so customers who are not traveling to the game can still get to their destination without waiting in line for required security screenings at the Mall of America and Stadium Village."
Replacement buses will run 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, the announcment said.
Metro Transit also will add temporary shelters at 35 locations.
Metro Transit said it believes using replacement buses is the least disruptive option. It strikes a balance and is a better solution than a 96-hour partial light-rail shut down in the security zone, which was the original mandate from the security experts.
"We appreciate that this represents a departure from the norm and will require more patience from our customers," the transit agency said. "A sincere thank you for being flexible on gameday and throughout the ten days of festivities leading up to it."
The agency said that no taxpayer money will be spent on gameday services, including rail service to the game. The cost for gameday service, including replacement buses, will be paid for through Super Bowl-related revenue and advertising.