SAINT PAUL, Minn. (WCCO) – After disruption during construction and disagreement over its need, there’s little debate the Metro Transit’s Green Line is off to a successful launch.

That’s thanks to strong ridership from people like Melanie Wayne. She brought her girls down from Ham Lake for a light rail excursion.

“Just to come down and we can be in Minneapolis and find some place to eat for lunch, and then come to St. Paul to look around and go back,” Wayne said.

Since rolling out service on June 14, the average weekday ridership is exceeding all expectations.

Metro Transit had projected serving up 27,500 weekly rides by 2015. Instead preliminary numbers for the first full month of service exceed that, posting 30,264 weekday rides.

Metro Transit spokesman, John Siqveland, attributes that to the route’s traditional transit corridor and some simple curiosity.

“What we’ve seen is people who have never taken a train before coming out and exploring. They are finding all those great destinations on the green line, and that’s what makes light rail work,” Sigveland said.

But, the nearly $1 billion, 10-mile transit line came at another cost. Many small businesses along the route closed during the extensive construction period.

“Well, we’ve definitely seen more business,” Ollie Dodge, of Ngon Vietnamese Bistro, said.

He manages Ngon Vietnamese Bistro which is on the corner of University Avenue and Victoria Street. The restaurant managed to hold on during construction and is now reaping the rewards.

“You see people with the little pamphlets that are like checking out all the different stops and the different things they can find along the way. Just making a day of it,” Dodge said.

“It’s just something new and different for us to do,” Wayne said.

Metro Transit says weekend ridership is also very strong, averaging around 24,000 daily riders.

It will wait for annual numbers to come in before amending future ridership projections.

Bill Hudson

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