The Hiawatha Light Rail Line:
Opened in 2004, the Hiawatha Light Rail Line connects Target Field, downtown Minneapolis with the Minneapolis-St. Paul International Airport and the Mall of America.
The line is operated by Metro Transit, who also run the Twin Cities' buses.
Trains run 20 hours a day. The trains run every 7-15 minutes during the day, and 15-30 minutes apart in the evenings.
The line has been a great success for Metro Transit. Approximately 65% more riders than anticipated in the plans use the line.
The Light Rail Line's Route:
The line starts at the Minnesota Twins ballpark, Target Field, just west of Downtown Minneapolis. The line runs through the Warehouse District, through downtown, past the Metrodome and through the Cedar-Riverside neighborhood. Then the line follows Hiawatha Avenue through Midtown to Hiawatha Park and Fort Snelling, then on to the Minneapolis-St. Paul International Airport and the Mall of America.
Buying a Ticket:
Buy a ticket before boarding the train. The stations are unstaffed and have automatic ticket machines which take cash, credit and debit cards.
Riders may pay for a single fare, or choose from one of the passes available. The 6-hour or the 24-hour unlimited bus and train passes suit riders making more than one journey.
A single fare for the train costs the same as a bus fare.
Downtown zone fares apply for trips between the Metrodome and Target Field Station.Go-To Passes are valid for use on trains.
Ticket inspectors randomly inspect passengers' tickets, and the fine for traveling without a ticket is very steep.
Reasons to Use the Light Rail Line:
Since parking in Downtown Minneapolis is always expensive, commuters use the light rail to get to work.
It's usually cheaper to drive to a park-and-ride station and ride the train, than parking in Downtown Minneapolis. This is especially true for those going to a game or event, when parking rates are hiked.
Several bus routes are timed to meet trains to make travel convenient for commuters who don't live near a station.
Park and Ride:
Three stations have park-and-ride lots. Parking is free. The stations are:
- 28th Avenue, Bloomington
- Fort Snelling
- Lake Street/Midtown
Lake Street has a small lot that fills up fast. 28th Street and Fort Snelling have larger lots and space is usually available.
Overnight parking is not permitted, except for a couple of spaces designated for one night's parking only.There is no Park and Ride parking at the Mall of America. The enormous parking ramps are tempting, but you will get a ticket if you are seen parking and leaving on the train. The 28th Street station park and ride lot is three blocks east of the Mall.
Safety Around Trains:
Light rail trains travel much faster than freight trains, up to 40 mph. So it's very unwise to try to run the barriers.
Drivers should watch for pedestrians, cyclists, and buses at stations.
Cross the tracks only at designated crossing points. Be extremely careful crossing the tracks. Look both ways, listen for train lights, horns and bells. If you see a train coming, wait for it to pass, and make sure another train isn't coming, before you cross.
The Planned Light Rail Extension:
Construction on the Central Corridor line has begun, despite many unresolved design, budget and route planning issues. If it can all be worked out, the Central Corridor is projected to be completed sometime around 2014.