Once seen as a wild card in the University of Minnesota's campus safety plans, the Green Line so far is turning out to be a nonissue.
In the first weeks of the semester, the light rail has enjoyed a clean safety record around its three campus stations. University officials say it has not contributed to crime on campus.
"Within the last week or two, we certainly are feeling comfortable that the trains and our community are interacting well," said Ross Allanson, director of the U's parking and transportation services.
"We're very happy with the way that the train has performed through campus," he added. "We are dealing with issues around signal timing and train progression through campus. And those are being worked out from a technical standpoint. But overall, we're hearing good reports."
When the light rail opened in June, the U had just come off a school year in which robberies spiked that previous fall, and university leaders were concerned about improving safety and security. They'd told reporters they weren't sure what effect the line would have around the West Bank, East Bank and Stadium village stops, calling it a "question mark."
There were concerns the train might give criminals better access to campus or that students engrossed in their iPods or phones wouldn't be watching out for crimes or oncoming trains.
So far, though, the train has not had any campus accidents, Allanson said.
The train did hit and kill a woman Aug. 31 near the university, but that was at the Westgate Station at University Avenue and Emerald Street, two stops away from Stadium Village. The train also suffered a breakdown Sept. 8, but it was not a safety or security concern.
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Analysts haven't seen any changes in crime trends since the Green Line started running with student back. Crime rates on and around campus are usually at their highest at the start of school, in part because many new students aren't savvy about safety and security.
The university rail stations are among the most popular. Average weekday Green Line ridership reached nearly 38,000 people between Sept. 2 and Sept. 19, the most recent data available. That's far above the 27,500 transit officials thought it would reach next year.
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During that same period, the East Bank Station had an average of almost 5,100 weekday boardings — the most on the line. The West Bank Station had the fourth-highest average number of boardings — more than 2,400 — and Stadium Village Station had an average of more than 1,700.
Allanson says winter could pose a few challenges to operations, but shouldn't affect the train's safety.