Stoplight problems slow Green Line on its first Monday

Green line train headed for Minneapolis
A train runs on the Green Line's first day in downtown St. Paul, Saturday, June 14.
Judy Griesedieck / For MPR News

UPDATE (5:41 p.m.): After learning that the collisions into the signal poles occurred as early as Friday, Metro Transit spokesman John Siqveland said agency officials are no longer confident that the crashes were the sole reason behind the slow travel times for some trains Monday. But they believe the collisions may have factored into the delays.

Earlier story below:

Light rail trains along the new Green Line connecting St. Paul and Minneapolis ran slower than expected Monday morning because of traffic light problems unrelated to the transit system, officials said.

Two traffic signal poles in St. Paul were struck by motor vehicles causing longer signal cycles that are delaying the trains, said Metro Transit spokesman John Siqveland.

The agency has dispatched two additional trains to maintain the frequency of runs and St. Paul city officials hope to fix the traffic signals in time for the evening rush-hour commute, he added.

"We are running the extra trains right now," Siqveland said. "We are trying to maintain those 10-minute spacings between trains, but we are running slower than we would like."

Earlier in the day, some trains were taking more than an hour to make the trip between Target Field in downtown Minneapolis and Union Depot in downtown St. Paul. That's longer than the scheduled time of 48 minutes.

But overnight and early Monday, the trains were hitting their scheduled end-to-end travel time of 48 minutes, Siqveland said.

Kari Spreeman, a spokeswoman for the city's public works department, said the signal poles were hit in two separate incidents. A vehicle crashed into a pole at University Avenue and Fry Street on Friday, and a similar incident happened at University and Griggs Street on Saturday.

Metro Transit counted 75,000 rides on the Green Line over an eight-hour stretch on Saturday and a six-hour stretch on Sunday. The agency plans to release updated ridership numbers later in the week.

By 2030, the daily ridership is projected to reach more than 40,000.

Disclosure: Minnesota Public Radio and the Metropolitan Council are negotiating ways to reduce noise and vibrations from the newly built light rail line outside MPR headquarters under a contract agreed to in 2009.

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