April 12, 2005

Seeing The Light: My exploration of the Twin Cities LRT

THOUGHTS BEFORE THE RIDE:


"I am anxious and exicted to ride the light rail. I rode the subway in Boston and New York City, so I basically know what to expect. We are getting on at the 50th Street Station, because Mom told me there's a lot of space to park on the adjacent streets. It's raining, it's windy, and it's kind of cold. I'm glad Brad is with to keep me warm with company."


WAKING UP FROM A WALKING SLEEP

My first experience on the Light Rail System was even more "enlightening" than I had originally expected. As I mentioned in my pre-ride entry, I had ridden the subway in both Boston and New York City. I've even experienced the chaos of Grand Central Station, so I didn't think there was any way Minneapolis' rendition of the time-tested model of public transportation, such as the subway, could even compare; but I was wrong.

As I said before, I boarded the train at the 50th St./Minihaha Park Station. My boyfriend Brad and I parked our car on the side street across from Capps. Since the weather was cold and dreary, we weren't as excited for our journey once we met the reality of an outdoor shelter really --much less than the "station" that we expected.

We quickly navigated our way towards the ticket-purchasing machine (which is currently located outside the confies of the shelter. This position really should be re-examined since in cases such as ours, on rainy and snowy days, paper bills have a tendency to become extremely flimsy when wet, thus making it impossible to insert them into the machine). We went through four different bills in an attempt to purchase our tickets. Racing against the clock, we finally had our 2.5 hour LRT passes.

We made our way south towards the Mall of America. I remember the airport terminals and Fort Snelling the most vividly. When we arrived at the mall, I assumed that the train ran in a circle, so we simply stayed on the same car. However, it wasn't until we started moving backwards in the same direction we had come from that I realized it was a "one-way-trip" type of system. Oops.

We decided to simply re-ride the route in its totality. We laughed when we approached and then departed from the 50th St. Station again. Once we arrived at the Metrodome Station, we decided to get off.

I analyzed the station, and continued with the "somnambulistic" theme of my journey. How oblivious I had been! When I attended the Twins game on Saturday night, I witnessed a gigantic line for the Light Rail. I was shocked to see all the people waiting for the train. I didn't understand what the big incentive was, until I took this trip.

We were the only people at the Metrodome station, since it was about 3:00pm Monday afternoon, and raining at that. I noticed that this station was much bigger and more comprehensive than the little pavilion we encountered at 50th St. One of my favorite installments at the station were the heating elements inside the booths. Since its April, the city apparently decided to turn off the heat because nothing happened when I pushed the button. I made a comment to Brad that they really must not know Minnesota weather since April has been known to produce huge snowstorms in the past.

Heat shortage aside, Brad and I made our way down Park Ave. towards the Old Spaghetti Factory. We had been talking about eating there for months, and it seemed like a perfect little piece to add to our adventure.

All in all, my experience on the light rail system was enlightening. I realized how big the Twin Cities Metropolitan area truly is, and how efficient and beneifical public transportation can be. Brad pointed something out that I hadn't previously considered. He said, "This doesn't stop for anyone, everyone stops for it."

In our fast paced world of individual determinism, public transportation inched ahead in my book.

And that's how I see it...

Posted by smit3510 at April 12, 2005 9:15 AM