Green Line: boom or bust?

The new light-rail line is a step in the right direction.

Martin Jaakola

Sitting in rush hour on the way to work, I often get frustrated. My daily, hour-long drive to the Mall of America from Marcy-Holmes seems excessive for a part-time job, especially when factoring in gas prices.

However, the Green Line light rail opened up earlier this month, connecting St. Paul and Minneapolis by rail. For others like me, this has been a welcome addition to what has been a successful progression in modern city infrastructure.

If I take the Green Line to the Blue Line and head to the MOA, it takes me just over an hour to get to work. I save money on gas, and I save time as I study instead of slowly going crazy, yelling at the car merging in front of me.

While the new line is great for people like me, others have voiced concerns about whether it will yield its touted benefits.

One major problem is the cost. Reaching nearly $1 billion, funding for this project has been expensive for taxpayers who had to cover about half the bill. Also, it takes about 48 minutes to ride from St. Paul to Minneapolis, which is much slower than driving in light traffic. There have also been concerns regarding safety. Since light rail trains began running in Minneapolis about 10 years ago, they’ve killed 11 people.

I think it’s important to consider the context of some concerns.

Many who are concerned come from a privileged viewpoint. These are people with enough money to afford a car, insurance and gas, while many others rely on various forms of public transportation.

Splitting up transportation into buses, bikes, cars and the light rail provides an opportunity for alternative transportation to help quell the insane amount of traffic coming to and from the city each day. I don’t think that simply allowing more cars on already-busy roads is the answer.

Finally, driving a car is much more dangerous than riding a light rail. Safety advocates should be up in arms over the inherent danger of cars, especially in heavily populated areas, not the light rail.

In my view, the light rail will continue to gain support and expand toward the suburbs. Growing up in Eagan, Minn., reaching the city without a car was next to impossible. I hope that it won’t take years for this to become a reality.