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Light Rail’s Green Line Opens With Celebration, Some Protest

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(credit: CBS) Holly Wagner
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ST. PAUL, Minn. (AP/WCCO) — The Green Line light rail that runs between St. Paul and Minneapolis is open for business.

Service on the Green Line officially started at 10 a.m. Saturday after a ribbon cutting ceremony at Union Depot on St. Paul.

“Often history is defined with great moments in transportation,” said St. Paul Mayor Chris Coleman. “This is no exception.”

The new line offers service along an 11 mile stretch from downtown St. Paul to downtown Minneapolis.

There are 18 new stations, including stops at the University of Minnesota.

It was a highly anticipated day for the people involved in the billion dollar project and those folks who are eager to take advantage of the new rail line.

“I’m excited to be able to take this between the cities when I need to,” Nicole Ketelaar, of Minneapolis, said.

“I’ve watched them build it for what seems like forever,” Isaac Van Bruggen, of St. Paul, said. “So I’m so excited it’s open and people can use it now.”

Van Bruggen says he’ll be a regular, taking the Green Line to work every day.

“I’m very excited to not have to drive and deal with traffic and be able to take the train,” he said.

The new line runs near several college campuses and through the heart of the U of M.

It’s expected to be a big draw for college students and workers traveling between the Capitol and downtown St. Paul.

“This is a great community service, like education or public safety. It will be huge benefit. It’s another option. It will help reduce or ease congestion a bit,” Lauren Baenen, spokesperson for the Central Corridor Light Rail Line, said.

But it may come with a hefty price tag.

Some are questioning whether taxpayers will get their money’s worth.

“Two plus billion between the two light rail lines. What kind of return are we getting for that,” Steve Ellenwood, of Woodbury, said.

A small group of demonstrators gathered near the Victoria Station, protesting future expansion of light rail.

“I can’t stop this it’s already here,” Ellenwood said. “It’s going to be lightly used and it’s going to cost us a lot of money. But it’s here. But it’s getting people aware of that it’s going to cost us a lot of money.”

Metro Transit projects that by the year 2030 the Green line will have a ridership of more than 40,000 weekday boardings.

Metro Transit offered free rides Saturday, and, just four hours after opening, Metro Transit tweeted it had given out 15,000 rides.

Despite bad weather leading to events being canceled, many people still showed for the opening.

Metro Transit will also offer free rides on Sunday.

(TM and © Copyright 2014 CBS Radio Inc. and its relevant subsidiaries. CBS RADIO and EYE Logo TM and Copyright 2014 CBS Broadcasting Inc. Used under license. All Rights Reserved.This material may not be published, broadcast, rewritten, or redistributed. The Associated Press contributed to this report.)

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