Riders hoping to get on the lightrail train had to deal with near gail force winds at times Saturday, June 14, 2014, at Union Station in St. Paul, MN.


After more than a decade of planning, the first trains on the Green Line prepared to leave the station last Saturday.



Green Line 107,039

Supp. bus service 3,391

Regular bus 211,962

Blue Line 60,562

Red Line BRT 1,319

Northstar 2,234

Contracted bus 4,322

MVTA 1,904

Total 392,733

Metro Transit's free rides on Green Line opening weekend defy bad weather blues

  • Article by: Tim Harlow
  • Star Tribune
  • June 20, 2014 - 10:00 PM

The nov­el­ty of the new Green Line plus free rides on bus­es and oth­er trains gave Metro Transit a big bump in rid­er­ship last week­end when Green Line trains made their de­but.

Num­bers re­leased Fri­day by the Metropolitan Council showed that 107,000 rides were tak­en on the Green Line that runs be­tween Union Depot in down­town St. Paul and Tar­get Field in down­town Minneapolis.

When bus rides, the Blue Line and the Northstar Com­mut­er line were add­ed in, Metro Transit pro­vid­ed 392,733 rides over the June 14-15 week­end.

“We were pleased with the re­sponse this week­end and had peo­ple from all walks of life,” said trans­it spokes­man John Siqveland. “Op­er­a­tion­al­ly it was a suc­cess and it gave us a chance to intro­duce serv­ice to new rid­ers and say hel­lo to our longtime cus­tom­ers.”

Num­bers might have been even high­er had it not been for storms that rolled through the met­ro area June 14 and forced the can­cel­la­tion of fes­tivi­ties cele­brat­ing the open­ing of the $957-mil­lion line. More than 61,000 rides were tak­en on the Green Line on June 14.

Regu­lar Green Line rid­er­ship is pro­ject­ed to be 27,500 daily by 2015 and 40,000 by 2030.

About 250,000 peo­ple use Metro Transit’s bus­es and trains on a nor­mal week­end. The free rides gave the trans­it a­gen­cy a 12 percent boost, Siqveland said.

Num­bers from the Met Council show that 211,962 rides were tak­en on regu­lar Metro Transit routes and 60,562 tak­en on the Blue Line, the light-rail line be­tween the Mall of America and down­town Minneapolis. More than 2,230 rides were tak­en on the Northstar Com­mut­er line, and 1,319 on the Metro Red Line, the bus rapid trans­it line that runs from the Mall of America to Lake­ville and Apple Valley.

Sup­ple­men­tal serv­ice and those op­er­at­ed by the Met Council ac­count­ed for a little over 8,000 rides while Minnesota Valley Transit Authority pro­vid­ed 1,904 rides.

Metro Transit also de­buted its big­gest make­o­ver of bus routes since the Blue Line op­ened in 2004. Free rides al­lowed rid­ers to try 17 new and reconfigured bus routes, many of which feed into the Green Line.

A­mong the chan­ges:

New route (83) on Lexington Avenue in St. Paul.

In­creased fre­quen­cy on routes 62, 63, 67 and 84 with stops at Green Line trans­it sta­tions along University Avenue.

Oth­ers such as Route 3 have new down­town St. Paul pickup points and run on dif­fer­ent streets while the 16 and 94 ex­press bus­es run less of­ten.

Route 50 to the University of Minnesota is gone.

“This is a once-in-a-life­time op­por­tu­ni­ty to launch a serv­ice like this, and by giv­ing free rides it al­lows peo­ple to try out those con­nec­tions,” Siqveland said.

Mon­day marked the first day rid­ers had to pay to ride the Green Line. Siqveland said Metro Transit will soon re­lease open­ing-week rid­er­ship to­tals.


Tim Harlow • 612-673-7768

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