Metro Transit trying out shorter light rail trains in Twin Cities

Green line train
A rider boards a Green Line light rail train in St. Paul.
Tim Nelson | MPR News 2016

Light rail riders in the Twin Cities will notice something different starting this weekend: Their trains will be shorter than usual.

Starting Saturday and running through mid-August, Metro Transit is running light rail trains in sets of two cars instead of three.

Metro Transit spokesperson Drew Kerr said the goal of the change being tested this summer is to have police and community service officers more visible on the trains.

“When there are three-car trains out there, that’s just more ground that has to be covered,” Kerr said. “When there are two-car trains out there, there’s more of an opportunity for these police officers and community service officers to be on the vehicles and among those who are riding.”

Kerr said the new system will also make cleaning and upkeep easier; staff can clean two cars more quickly than they can clean three. The cars not in use will head to the shop, where they can undergo repairs.

The test comes as Metro Transit reports its light rail ridership — while growing — is only about half of pre-pandemic levels.

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The initiative is one of almost 40 that Metro Transit is taking on as part of its Safety and Security Action Plan, which the agency established in June.

The plan focuses on steps that Metro Transit says will improve conditions on buses and trains and make riders feel safer using the system. Shortening the trains is one of the first steps of the plan that Metro Transit is implementing.

“This is one of those things that we could act on immediately, we could get some immediate feedback on and determine next steps,” Kerr said.

Metro Transit will take feedback from its staff and from riders to assess how the system works and to decide what to do after the test ends on Aug. 19.

Kerr said riders can send an email to comments@metrotransit.org, or call Metro Transit at (612) 373-3333, with their thoughts on the two-car system.

Blue Line change

Starting Friday night, Metro Transit's Blue Line train service between the Twin Cities airport and the Mall of America will shut down until mid-August.

The agency says it'll be conducting preventive maintenance on the southern end of the light rail line, including work on track, signals and crossings.

Buses will replace trains between the Mall of America and Terminal 2 at the airport, following train schedules as closely as possible. Metro Transit says the rail closure is slated to last through Aug. 15.

Trains will continue to run on the rest of the Blue Line, between the airport and downtown Minneapolis.