Light rail will run 24/7

City officials and student gov’t leaders say the longer Green Line hours will benefit riders.

Blair Emerson

When the Central Corridor light-rail line opens June 14, trains will run 24/7.

The line was originally set to operate seven days a week until only 1 a.m., but last week Metro Transit announced in a letter that trains will run continuously.

Three Minneapolis City Council members, two of whom represent University of Minnesota-area neighborhoods, authored a letter to Metro Transit last month asking officials to extend the Green Line’s hours until at least 3 a.m. each day.

Ward 3 City Councilman Jacob Frey, who helped write the letter, said he supports the extension of hours.

“If we’re going to invest all of this money into public transportation and a large-scale new light rail, it makes sense that it’s accessible to all different cultures and age demographics,” he said.

Metro Transit spokesman John Siqveland said the transit authority was already looking to extend overnight hours for the new light-rail line when the council members sent their letter, but transportation officials hadn’t made a final decision.

“We hadn’t yet resolved that issue of how to provide that overnight service on the Green Line,” he said. “And so this [letter] was sharing that information with the council members once we sort of have a better sense of how it’s going to look.”

The 24/7 service is expected to be permanent, Siqveland said, but maintenance work could occasionally halt service in the early morning hours.

The Minnesota Student Association passed a resolution last Tuesday supporting the council members’ letter. The resolution said University students could benefit from extended hours because many are out working or socializing past bar close at 2 a.m. and need a safe way home.

David Busacker, co-director of MSA’s facilities, housing and transit committee, said the longer hours could help keep students safe and he hopes they last. If the extended hours don’t stick, MSA will continue its stance pushing for later service, he said.

Metropolitan Council member Adam Duininck also said he hopes the 24/7 hours stay, but those longer running times could mean increased costs.

“Since we’re driven by fare structure and costs and budget, we do have to make sure that there’s enough activity and enough riders that it justifies keeping the lines open,” Duininck said.

Busacker said MSA may reassess its stance when its members get more information about how many people use the late-night service.

“We need more hours, and yes, we are willing to deal with the consequences, [but] I would definitely make sure we have numbers to back it up,” he said.

Under Metro Transit’s current plan, trains will run less frequently in the late night and early morning hours.

Duininck said Metropolitan Council members support initiatives advocating for extended hours of operation for the new light-rail line. He said the Met Council members hope to eventually have a system of buses and light-rail trains running 24/7.

“The biggest thing is we want to try to be responsive to the city and to other constituencies like the University of Minnesota,” he said. “When they give us public input like this, this is exactly how we want it to work.”