MINNEAPOLIS (WCCO) — The new Green Line light rail train that connects St. Paul and Minneapolis officially begins its travels this weekend.
The nearly $1 billion system has been busy with test runs and final preps this week. The cities are planning celebrations to help get people excited to use public transportation in the Twin Cities, including a good deal for riders.
There will be free travel on all metro transit systems — buses and trains — from June 14-15. Plus, several events are planned at each stop along the new train.
At the main hub in St. Paul, crews are putting final tweaks on the trains before Saturday.
Officials want to ensure all the dozens of trains are good to go, as they’ll depart every 10 minutes starting on Saturday morning from the main hub.
Metro Transit is also tweaking some test travel times. They say they still have a few routes they want to get in their goal range for travel times. Right now, it takes about 48 minutes to get from one end to the other.
This weekend, riders can celebrate the new train with freebies and several celebrations at the 17 different stops along the way. Officials with Metro Transit hope the events help generate riders and help grow the area along the train’s path.
But General Manager Brian Lamb says marketing this weekend is only the beginning push to prove to riders this is a good investment of their time and money.
“You head into the fall season where people are kind of off summer vacation, thinking about going back to school, we’ve got a pretty aggressive marketing campaign around that. And then as the winter sets in, and people say, ‘I really don’t want the hassle of driving on 94’ so we have kind of three or four stages,” he said.
As for this weekend, the celebrations held at the stops along the Green Line will be catered to each community — from the West Bank to Target Field. Each hopes to show off a little about what that area is all about.
“The All-Star game this summer will also be a good opportunity for us to showcase the ease of riding the Green Line,” Lamb said.
Beyond the celebration, Metro Transit officials also want to remind motorists to be cautious with the new light rail system and share the road. They say all of the vehicle collisions with trains could have been avoided and that both pedestrians and vehicles need to be mindful of the traffic signals surrounding the new trains.
Construction on the Green Line began in 2010 and it will be the second light-rail line in the region, after the Blue Line, which connects Minneapolis to Bloomington.