Green Line doesn’t add to crime

Despite past worry, the light rail opening hasn’t affected crime rates around its stops.

Jessie Bekker

Despite previous concerns from the University of Minnesota community, the Green Line light rail hasn’t brought more crime to the area.

Excitement swept the University area last year as residents awaited the much-anticipated Green Line, but with that came concern from some neighborhood members who thought the new travel option could bring criminals. Law enforcement officials say there hasn’t been a noticeable increase in crime this semester.

A 2012 University survey, which included Prospect Park residents, showed that community members living along existing and planned light rail lines in the Twin Cities associated increased crime with the train stations, but research in other cities has shown that light rail lines don’t tend to boost crime rates.

“I don’t see an uptick in crime on the University campus that directly correlates with the light rail,” said Metro Transit police Capt. Jim Franklin, adding that the data he has show steady trend lines.

Still, the ease of transportation offered by the Green Line has helped facilitate isolated incidents of crime.

In late August, two suspects used the train to escape after a robbery in the early morning hours, said University police Deputy Chief Chuck Miner, adding that video evidence was used to eventually identify and locate the suspects.

Miner said concerns about the light rail running through campus largely pertain to pedestrian safety when crossing tracks — not crime.

“My feeling is that there’s been not a net negative or a net positive regarding crime on campus,” said Ross Allanson, director of the University’s Parking and Transportation Services.

Franklin said he’s noticed some students even feel safer with the light rail on campus.

“I think what you’re finding is that students are embracing the light rail rather than fearing it,” Franklin said, “and we’re seeing that in our ridership numbers.”

UMPD has worked closely with the Metropolitan Council and Metro Transit to ensure signals are functioning as efficiently as possible, Miner said.

While Miner said UMPD has not taken extreme measures against crime on campus specifically related to the light rail, he said officers have collaborated with Metro Transit police and stationed officers to patrol the Green Line.

But Miner does recommend that riders stay aware of their surroundings, especially keeping an eye out for people watching valuables.

Franklin said he thinks the partnership with UMPD has been successful.

“We’re sharing information, we’re sharing intelligence and we’ve got a strong foundation solidifying the University Police Department and the Metro Transit Police Department,” he said, “which strengthens us and our public safety efforts on campus.”