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Light rail switching from three-car to two-car system for weekends

Metro Transit officials hope the switch will reduce wait times.
Image by Shalom Berhane
Metro Transit will revert back to a three-car system for special events like Twin Cities Pride, concerts and sporting events.

Metro Transit light rails switched from a three-car to a two-car system on the weekends starting April 13 to reduce maintenance repairs while sacrificing capacity. 

The light rail will still use three cars for scheduled events like Twin Cities Pride, Aquatennial and concerts. Sporting events like Minnesota Twins, Vikings, United and University of Minnesota football games will also use three cars.

During a Metropolitan Council committee meeting Tuesday, Chief Operating Officer Brian Funk said Green Line ridership is up 28% from 2023 but down 21% from 2019. Two-car trains will be used on all non-event days starting June 15, Funk added. 

“Starting in June, the University of Minnesota will be on a summer session and so that would be an opportunity for us to utilize two-car trains on non-event days, including weekdays,” Funk said. 

According to the Metro Light Rail Service Update, running three cars regardless of demand causes unnecessary mileage and increases the workload on the understaffed maintenance team. 

Funk said by Aug. 17, the goal is to decrease train wait times from 15 to 12 minutes for most of the day while monitoring the two-car light rail system.

First-year University student Neema Tajik said along with travel times, his concern for the reduced number of cars is safety. 

“I would kind of check out the cars and see which cars look like they’re not doing the greatest, and then try to get on with less people,” Tajik said. “ Now with only two cars on there, like that’s just going to be even more of an issue.” 

Second-year University student Rachael Gerszewski said the third car is beneficial as it gives more opportunity to switch cars if she feels unsafe or overcrowded.

“It’ll be one of those situations where it’s just, yeah, you can save a little time, but it’s not a really comfortable ride to get on if there’s so many people around,” Gerszewski said. 

Tajik said safety monitoring on the light rail is a high priority for him. 

“One thing I’ve noticed is just like with the more monitoring, I feel pretty safe on it,” Tajik said. “Everyone’s behaving.” 

Both audio announcements and signs will be posted on impacted dates explaining the change, Funk said. 

University of Minnesota transportation professor Yingling Fan said two cars may increase travel time because of increased time spent entering and exiting the light rail. 

“With three cars, you’ve got how many doors for off-boarding and on-boarding. With two cars, you’ve got to reduce the doors for on-boarding and off-boarding,” Fan said. 

Gerszewski said she is hopeful returning to a three-car system on busy event days will alleviate potential overcrowding problems.

“Those cars get really crowded on game days, even if there’s three cars,” Gerszewski said. “It’s nice that they’re not going to two cars.”

Fan said there is always the option to add a car in if this plan does not work out the way Metro Transit hoped. 

“They probably just wanted to be conscious about operating cost and then maybe try it for a few months,” Fan said. “They can always add back a third car.” 

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  • frank neale
    Apr 16, 2024 at 9:53 am

    Im ok with this time saving idea