Green Line boosts job access

A light rail Green Line train crosses University Avenue in Minneapolis on Monday night. According to Metro Transit, there has been about $3 billion in development along the Green Line corridor since construction began in 2010.

James Healy

A light rail Green Line train crosses University Avenue in Minneapolis on Monday night. According to Metro Transit, there has been about $3 billion in development along the Green Line corridor since construction began in 2010.

Benjamin Farniok

After a year of service, the Green Line         light rail has made it easier for Minneapolis and St. Paul residents to commute to work, a new report shows.
 
According to a University of Minnesota Accessibility Observatory study published earlier this month, the Green Line and changes to bus routes near it have sped up commutes in the Twin Cities over the past year.
 
St. Paul residents have benefited most from the light rail, according to the study. On average, St. Paul commuters can access 2,000 more jobs within 30 minutes than they could last year during the same time period — an increase of 5.3 percent.
 
Employees are getting to work faster because the rail has made additional areas of the city more accessible, said the observatory’s director and co-author of the report, Andrew Owen.
 
“The goal here is to evaluate how well our transit system fulfills its fundamental goal of connecting people to their destinations,” he said.
 
Researchers analyzed departure and arrival times for buses and trains recorded over the last year — along with data from the U.S. Census — and found that St. Paul residents heading to work could get to their jobs easier than Minneapolis residents because there are more stops in St. Paul, Owen said.
 
The Green Line was built with the goal of making jobs more accessible in mind, said Metro Transit spokesman Howie Padilla.
 
Some students have enjoyed dramatic drops in commute time. Education junior Monica Poe said the Green Line has helped her travel quickly to her job at the Mall of America during the past year.
 
“Before, it took like an hour [by bus], but now it takes like 5 minutes after walking from my house,” she said.
 
The distance Poe travels to and from work has also gotten shorter, she said, because now she only has to take one bus between the light rail and the mall.
 
Along with the rise in job accessibility, some businesses near the University have seen more customers since the light rail opened — but not all.
 
David Yousef, regional manager at Smokedale Tobacco in Stadium Village, said the train hasn’t increased business for the store.
 
“There’s new faces coming in from St. Paul, but we have seen no increase in business,” he said, adding that most of his customers live on campus and don’t use the light rail to get to his shop.
 
But the Dairy Queen in the same area has seen a business boom in the last year, owner Chris Ferguson said, though he’s not sure if the increase came from the light rail or the opening of Sally’s Saloon and the 700 on Washington apartments.