MINNEAPOLIS (WCCO) — It’s now been one year since the first Green Line train went between downtown Minneapolis and downtown St. Paul.
The $1 billion line has had some issues with collisions and non-paying riders. But it’s also had more riders than expected. Tonight, Nina Moini takes a look at the successes and challenges.
On an average weekday, Metro Transit estimates 41,000 riders board the Green Line. It’s a number transportation officials weren’t expecting until the year 2030.
“It’s easily accessible. It’s easy to walk to,” rider Emily Moews said.
But it’s hard to confirm those numbers.
“I just don’t need it,” non-rider Jason Lindrud said.
According to the Metropolitan Council, one in 10 skip paying for a ride. It’s a problem that could cost more than $1 million each year.
Nieeta Presley and Gretchen Nicholls both work for non-profits that help low-income communities grow. They say all you have to do to see the Green Line’s success is look around.
“There’s so much more pedestrian activity,” Nicholls said.
They point to the future University Plaza at the Western Avenue stop along University Avenue in St. Paul. Set to open in the fall, the project is turning an old milk company and distribution center into 68 units of affordable housing with retail space on the first floor.
“It’s been empty since 2008,” Presley said.
The hope was that the Green Line would spur development along University Avenue. That’s why it was chosen over routes that could’ve been faster.
Nicholls says the amount of new housing along the Green Line is keeping up with estimates for this decade.
“We have been progressing very nicely. Every year, we have between 350 to 300 new units,” Nicholls said.
But she says this area along University Avenue in St. Paul has been a harder sell for new housing and businesses than the two busy downtowns.
Metro Transit has also encouraged drivers and pedestrians to pay attention to signs and traffic signals near the light rail. That’s after dozens of collisions and some pedestrian fatalities as recently as May. They say the biggest challenge has been drivers making left hand turns trying to beat the train.