SAINT PAUL, Minn. - The new Green Line light rail connecting Minneapolis to Saint Paul has significant differences with the ten-year old Blue Line along Hiawatha Avenue in Minneapolis and Bloomington. The differences are important to note, especially for drivers alongside the trains.
The main differences are the locations of the two lines and their rights-of-way.The Blue Line runs largely on exclusive right-of-way, once out of downtown Minneapolis, while the Green Line shares the city streets with cars, trucks and buses.
"They (Green Line trains) are going to be stopping more frequently," said Brian Lamb, General Manager of Metro Transit. "We know that the average trip length for people right now going along University Avenue(Green Line) is about 3 miles. So, it is kind of a neighborhood orientation as well as the work-oriented trip. The Blue Line really has a couple of key destinations (Airport, Mall of America, VA Hospital) and so the trip lengths should be a little bit longer."
There have been four collisions between Green line trains and cars during the testing phase of the line.
"The few incidents that we have had thus far have all had the same common theme of people turning against a red, hard red arrow and their focus I always up front," said Lamb. "Normally, when you are taking a left-hand turn, you are looking ahead of you. We want people to be aware that the train may be coming up behind you."
Blue line trains run much faster than their Green Line cousins. That is mostly because of the dedicated right-of-way and because, when a Blue Line train approaches an intersection with autos, lights flash and crossing arms drop to block vehicular traffic.There are no crossing arms on intersections along the Green Line.
It is important to note that the Blue and Green Lines share the tracks in Downtown Minneapolis between the old Metrodome (Downtown East) station and Target Field. Riders boarding trains in that stretch must watch the electronic signs on the front and sides of the trains for green or blue squares that indicate whether their final destination is the Union Depot in Saint Paul (Green) or the Mall of America in Bloomington (Blue.)
All rides on both lines and all Metro Transit buses will offer free fares on Saturday and Sunday, June 14 and 15, as part of the opening festivities.