People, places, and connections: Green Line residents are enthusiastic about light rail

Date: Wednesday, June 10, 2015

The METRO Green Line has proven to be magnet for housing development.  And the people who are living along the line are enjoying the access and connections it provides.

 “I think the Green Line is

one of the most wonderful things [we] have here,” said Truus Ingebritson, an elderly and active resident of The Terrace at Episcopal Homes, at Fairview and University avenues. “It’s absolutely marvelous.”

Ingebritson takes the train
to visit friends in Minneapolis. A native of Holland, she enjoyed a recent trip down
to the Union Depot – remembering what it was like
to arrive there decades ago on the train. She goes to the library, to the Goodwill, and other destinations.

“It’s easy to step on the train,” she said. “It’s level. You don’t have to go up steps. And it’s very safe. I feel very comfortable.” Her favorite feature is the digital sign inside the train that announces the next stop.  

Green Line helps reduce isolation for elderly residents

Truus Ingebritson says the Green Line is easy and safe for elderly people to ride.

Ingebritson is not alone in her enthusiasm for the train. According to Marvin Plakut, President and CEO of Episcopal Homes, almost every customer who comes to visit and wants to get on the waiting list for housing says one of the key reasons is that light rail stops right at their front door.
“Our location really helps to prevent the sense of isolation that seniors can experience when their mobility becomes rather limited,” Plakut said.  “And even our residents who are too frail to feel comfortable hopping the light rail, [it] has brought a lot of life, a lot of energy…to the urban core. So just watching life unfold in front of your eyes, in front of your window, is an exciting feature.”

Work, play…it’s all within reach on the Green Line

Young professional families benefit from proximity to the line as well.
Jeremiah and Acooa Ellis live with their son, Asa, in the Summit-University neighborhood. They enjoy a revitalized University Avenue and have noticed that more homeowners in the neighborhood are sprucing up their homes and yards.Acooa and Jeremiah Ellis live in a single-family home in the Summit-University neighborhood near the Victoria Street Station. They usually carpool to work in downtown Minneapolis after delivering their son to his grandparents’ home in Maplewood for child care. But on some days their schedules differ so one of them takes the train.
“I find myself scheduling meetings along the line because it is convenient for most folks,” Jeremiah said.
They also enjoy destinations like Keys Café, the Children’s Museum, and McPhail. When Acooa’s dad was in town, they took the train to a football game. “We didn’t have to worry about traffic or parking or any of that,” she said.

Neighborhood transformation along the Green Line

Acooa worked in former Saint Paul City Council Member Melvin Carter’s office, and talked with lots of people and businesses along the line who were quite concerned during construction.

“It’s been really cool to see the businesses that were afraid of going out of business, having made investments in their facades during construction, to see that they’re still around, that they’re thriving, and that they’re a big part of the fabric of the line,” Acooa said. “That’s been one of the nicest changes I’ve noticed as we walk up and down University—it feels different.”
Lowertown artist Ta-coumba Aiken gave up his car about a year before the Green Line opened.In the Lowertown neighborhood of downtown Saint Paul, longtime resident and artist Ta-coumba Aiken has watched the Green Line transform the area.
“Businesses are starting to come back alive, new businesses are coming in,” Aiken said. “Unfortunately we lost some businesses during construction, ‘cause people couldn’t make money. [Now we] have Bedlam Lowertown, the Saint Paul Saints…even The Bulldog and restaurants along Sixth Street are thriving because people can feel safe coming in on the light rail and walking two blocks down. They don’t have to drink and drive. You can save on gas.”

Living car-free on the Green Line

Residents who can’t afford cars and some who choose not to own one are happy along the Green Line.
Daphne Cooper, a native New Yorker, calls the Midway area “the Times Square” of the Green Line.“I hated driving—it was draining,” said Daphne Cooper, who moved last fall from Fort Lauderdale to be near her sister. She found an affordable apartment on Snelling Avenue near University Avenue in the Midway.
“I can go anywhere and get there on time,” Cooper said. “I’m a lady on the go. The Green Line is clean, perfect, and I’m very comfortable riding it.”
“Midway is the best place,” she said. “If you’re from New York City, it’s like Times Square. You’re in the heart of the city. Everything is around me: grocery stories, the University of Minnesota, the parks, the downtowns. And the Green Line. I am very self sufficient.”
Aiken gave up his car two years ago. He takes the train to get to Minneapolis, or sometime just to go two stops for groceries at the new Lund’s in downtown Saint Paul. He sees kids, seniors, the homeless, and working professionals all taking the train together.
“People, places, and connections is all that [the Green Line] is about,” Aiken said. “There isn’t anything else. That’s it right there.”
Housing development has boomed along the Green Line in recent years.



Posted In: Communities, Housing, Transportation

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