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SW LRT: Skipping Minneapolis for the Suburbs

lakes and parks alliance

MPR News Notes on the news from the Twin Cities

A stop-by-stop look at Southwest LRT

Laura Yuen May 16, 2014, 7:03 AM11

Who would be the heaviest users of Southwest light rail?

Hunt for the big globs in the map. Projections by the Metropolitan Council show that the line would be most popular with people traveling to and from select stations in Eden Prairie, Hopkins and St. Louis Park. The opposite is true for the three stops that skirt the edge of north Minneapolis, represented by the teeniest of dots. (You can click on the balloons to see each station’s average weekday ridership projected for 2030.)

Ridership for each of those three north-side stations — Penn, Van White and Royalston — fails to hit the 1,000-mark, making them outliers along the 16-station route to Eden Prairie. For example, only 273 people a day are expected to use the Royalston stop, compared to the thousands projected for many of the suburban stations.

Estimated SW Light Rail ridership

Source: Metropolitan Council, Map created by Will Lager / MPR News

The numbers might not be earth-shattering for folks following the project. But they add fodder to the argument among social-justice groups that north siders need increased transit access to the line, said Michael McDowell, transit organizer for Neighborhoods Organizing for Change.

A new coalition is calling for expanded bus service to make sure low-income riders in the heart of north Minneapolis can connect to the light-rail stops. The groups are also negotiating for heated bus shelters, reduced fares, and other concessions.

“If it’s about regional equity, then Minneapolis needs to get its cut of this $1.7 billion project,” McDowell said.

Here’s the station-by-station breakdown:

2030 Average Weekday Ridership