Minneapolis ushers in Light Rail era on June 26, cleaner transit options and improved air quality
Light Rail is here! June 26, 2004 marks the first day of operation for the Hiawatha Light Rail line, which runs along Hiawatha Avenue and connects downtown Minneapolis to Fort Snelling (and by 2005 to the Minneapolis-St. Paul International Airport and the Mall of America). The Light Rail increases the transit options available to commuters in the metro area and each trainload of passengers translates to fewer buses and cars on the streets and cleaner air quality and improved traffic flow. The Hiawatha Light Rail line is operated by Metro Transit, which also runs the Twin Cities bus public transit system and is under the aegis of the Metropolitan Council.
Grand Opening Celebration - June 26, 2004
Grand opening celebrations run from 10 a.m. to 6 p.m. on June 26 and include food, music and entertainment, with the opening ceremony scheduled for 10 a.m. at the Warehouse District/Hennepin Avenue Station.
Light rail is a tremendous transportation option for Minnesota. But it's also important to keep safety in mind.
Light-rail vehicles travel at speeds around 55 mph along the Hiawatha Corridor (slower along Downtown streets) and a light-rail car weighs 50 tons or about 35 times the weight of an average automobile. That means it takes the distance of two football field to come to a complete stop. Never try and outrun a train.
Pedestrians and motorists will be safe if they exercise caution and follow simple rules.
- Look both ways before crossing the tracks by car, bicycle or on foot.
- Vehicles should NEVER park on the track
- Always stand behind the yellow lines on station platforms.
- Never stick an arm or a leg into a door that is closing in an effort to reopen the doors. Drivers leave the stations once the doors close on the train.
- Skateboards and rollerblades are prohibited on the station platforms and can result in serious injury if riders fall onto the tracks.
Tips for using the Hiawatha Light Rail system
Here are a few pointers for using the Hiawatha Light Rail line:
- Trains will run from 4 a.m. to 1 a.m., daily, with trains running every 7 ½ minutes during rush hour (6 - 9 a.m. and 3 - 6:30 p.m.) and every 10 minutes between 9 a.m. and 3 p.m. Service times vary during other times.
- Each car has four doorways, is 94 feet long and can carry 66 seated passengers with room for an additional 120 standing passengers.
- Inside each car are four luggage racks and four bicycle hangers.
- Each car is also fully ADA compliant as are the stations. Level boarding will be available at each train door with ramps and tactile edges at each station and elevators as necessary.
- The trains are powered by wires 16-feet overhead.
- Trains will be traveling in opposite directions, only a few minutes apart, on side-by-side tracks. The ends of the rail car are similar as they operate in both directions. White headlights mean that a train is approaching and red taillights signify the rear of the train.
Finally, you must buy your ticket prior to boarding the train. Fares are the same as a regular bus fare. Light Rail transfers must be requested from the bus drivers. Ticket vending machines are available on each platform and instructions are available in English, Spanish, Hmong and Somali. While the honor system is in place, fare inspectors will randomly check for proof of payment. Those riding without a ticket may face a fine of up to $100 for evasion of the transit fee.
For more information on the Hiawatha Light Rail line, visit www.metrotransit.org.
Published Jun 25, 2004