Helping the Environment – One Ride at a Time
By James Khuong
We all know about the Green line and the Blue line running through the metro, but not a lot of people knew that Minnesota used to be a very public transportation-friendly state. Back in the early 20th century, the metro area had its own streetcar system throughout the city. Sadly, it was shut down on June 19, 1954, making way for the very car-dependent infrastructure that the United States is known for today. Now, after over 50 years, the rails have made a comeback and the city has two lines running full electric light rail trains. These rails are extremely efficient and are definitely good alternatives to your daily rush hour routine. Why, you might ask?
- Cheap: Only costing a few dollars to ride back and forth, as far as you want.
- Fast: They don’t have to stop for lights and go around busy streets and vehicle traffic
- Convenient: Many bus routes transfer to the light rail, and the stops will take you along many popular destinations in the metro
- Environmentally friendly: Since the light rail runs fully off of electricity, there are no fossil fuels being consumed by the light rail or emissions being put out
I take the light rail to school most of the week, and it is definitely much more convenient to just hop on then hop off then to have to drive around the U campus, look for parking, have to PAY for said parking, and then repeat all of that. Parking away from campus on a side street is free, and a lot of the time there are spaces on streets near the light rail that would only be a 1-2 minute walk.
Now although taking the light rail has many benefits, for you and for the world, there are concerns that come up when talking about the light rail. Some of these may include:
- Waiting: Wait times are often talked about, and whether delays will be frequent or not
- Safety: Are light rails safe? Is it safe to ride at night? What kind of security or police are on the light rails?
- Accessibility: Are people with disabilities able to use the light rail? How about bikers?
- Location: If I do not live near the light rail, then what’s the point of riding on it?
A lot of these concerns are valid, and spending money on a new way to get transported around town can be a very difficult thing to do since people have been so accustomed to just driving their car and driving home. I will say that, relatively, the light rail system is still new which is why many people haven’t really heard about it – it has only really been around for a little over 10 years. On top of this, there are only two lines of the light rail right now that go from the MOA to Minneapolis, and from St. Paul to Minneapolis – not very accessible to many people outside of the Metro area. There are plans to add another line, extending from Eden Prairie to Minneapolis. This would allow for much of the west Metro area to reach the Twin Cities, an area of Minnesota that is not typically well connected to the rest of the city.