In my walking travels, I've seen the effect of Twins home games on our Light Rail line, coming and going. Over Memorial Day weekend I saw some sad faces at the 46th St. Station, one a young child dutifully wearing his Twins jersey. But the Hiawatha train that pulled up was packed, unable to take on those 10 or so passengers. This was about an hour before the first pitch. One had the good sense to follow me to a waiting bus. I wonder if the others ever made it to the game, and if so, what inning.
This weekend, I took a grandchild on the Northstar, transferring to the Hiawatha. The Twins were getting thumped by Atlanta, so we got caught in the boarding queues for the LRT. We were packed like a cattle car, standing room only all the way to the Mall of America. Supposedly MOA is not a Park and Ride, but experienced riders probably know that they may get shut out at the 28th Ave Station / Park and Ride further up the line.
One of my fellow upright travelers told of how it should work, like at Comiskey Park (U.S. Cellular Park now) in Chicago, home of the Chicago White Sox. Pointing at our fancy LRT car he said, "this is just show business." He's exactly right. It's flashy and expensive but as a significant transportation carrier, it's insignificant. And you can't depend on it for mission critical trips to the stadiums or the airports, not unless you leave at least an hour earlier. It's always something with LRT, like when they let you board downtown but somehow forget to tell you that the line is closed further down where you'll find a slower though much more comfortable bus waiting to limp through the rest of the stops.
Oh but the people involved are so happy spending our money on this nonsense. The beginnings of the Central Corridor are underway and the dreamers are already picking out prints and colors for the third line to Eden Prairie and many more after that. And there is already talk of another blast from the past, a downtown train terminal. I'd be amused except that the total tab for all this dreaming is at least $ 10 billion to build, billions more to subsidize, then tens of billions more to rebuild them all after their typical 30-40 year lifespan. And of course, there's the collateral damage of displaced businesses - and a fatality a year per line.
And it's all for show as the man said. It's like the storied cable cars of San Francisco, fun for tourists, but nothing you'd really depend on to get you somewhere on time. OK, we have the Hiawatha. Let it end here and strike the set.
Cross-posted and comments welcome at Speed Gibson.