Transit Agency Cuts Service To Curb Homeless in Minneapolis

The Minnesota city is limiting overnight service, which could displace hundreds of homeless people.

Minneapolis transit officials cut overnight service on the Green Line, displacing scores of homeless people.
Minneapolis transit officials cut overnight service on the Green Line, displacing scores of homeless people.

The transit agency that provides service in Minneapolis has started shutting down the city’s only 24-hour rail line for two hours per night in a move designed to scatter the homeless, but one which has had an impact on working class riders who just want to get home.

Metro Transit scaled back overnight service on its 11-mile Green Line on Monday, forcing hundreds of homeless people off the light rail. The agency will use shuttle buses to replace the train between the central business districts of Minneapolis and St. Paul and through the University of Minnesota every Sunday through Thursday, 2 a.m. to 4 a.m.

“As long as there’s homeless in this region, there’s going to be homeless people using transit for shelter [but] transit is not a shelter,” Metro Transit General Manager Wes Kooistra told the Minneapolis Star Tribune. “It’s not equipped, we don’t have restrooms, we don’t have running water, we don’t offer fundamental services people need.”

The Green Line opened in June, 2014 with an expectation that it would handle 41,000 riders on the average weekday by 2030 — but in October, 2015, the line was already handling 1.3 million passengers a month (though some of that came from football fans). Last year, the line was averaging 42,500 per weekday, according to Metro.

The transit line is clearly a crucial causeway for workers, families, students, as well as the homeless especially during the Twin Cities’s notorious cold snaps.

Police counted a high of 431 homeless people on Jan. 23 on trains and in stations — and estimated between 180 and 275 people per night used trains between Union Depot in St. Paul and Target Field in Minneapolis on the Green Line and to the Mall of America on the Blue Line. Metro Transit believed that about 75 homeless people would be using the trains overnight in August.

Homeless people often use trains because they don’t like the shelter system. A study by Wilder Research found that 62 percent of the city’s homeless avoided a shelter — and a late-night train ride is more attractive than the street.

When the service cuts kicked in on Monday, some homeless passengers chose to wait at the Union Depot station for two hours until another train came at 4 am.

“Now I’ll have to find a bench to sleep on,” Kimberly Meurtha, who was evicted from her St. Paul apartment in January, told the Star Tribune. “If it’s chilly out I’ll want to come on the train.”

Social services advocates have asked Metro Transit to reconsider the cuts and complained they were only “moving people around” and not solving the crisis.

“It’s an insult that you’re bringing us something to rubber stamp once the decision has been made. Clearly, you have not included the most-impacted people … who have the most to lose in this process,” warned Metric Giles, director of the St. Paul housing advocacy group the Community Stabilization Project, at a community meeting in April.

9 thoughts on Transit Agency Cuts Service To Curb Homeless in Minneapolis

  1. The train isn’t a homeless shelter .What a misleading headline.The homeless are trashing the trains.
    I hate riding the trains it usually very uncomfortable and scary.A lots of criminal activities not only the homeless,rowdy teenagers,drug dealers and alcohlics .The list of illegal activities is too long to mention.The Police are avoiding the train ,2 nights a bunch of girls smoking pot at the station while the 2 Metro Police cars nearby.

  2. While I have tremendous sympathy transit is not social services, it is transportation. They need to invest in services for people who need shelter not burden transit which is already trying to do a lot of things for a lot of people.

  3. Your take on this is really misleading (including the headline). They are not cutting the service to curb homeless individuals riding the trains. They are doing so because they don’t have time to do required maintenance and end up having to do fairly regular closures with bus bridges, so this is meant to help avoid these weekend closure that have become too regular. Metro Transit has been really proactive about working with organizations that should actually be providing services for homeless individuals to do what they can to lessen the blow for people affected by the change.

  4. You want the transportation system to double as a homeless shelter, which it isn’t and shouldn’t be. At the same time you advocate for more people to ride transit who, I can confidently assure you, do not want the transit system to double as a homeless shelter.

    Pick your battles, man.

  5. I usually take an Express bus in Minneapolis, but I took that train twice this Spring and both times the car stunk of urine.

    The official line from Metro Transit is they need to do maintenance for those two hours, but I think it is as much about the homeless.

    Train ridership remains high, but some of the passengers who own a car and don’t need to use the train are abandoning it due to the smell and other issues.

  6. What you fail to mention is how the Green Line was the only light-rail line in the country running 24 hours a day. Literally every other rail line in the country had down time for maintenance except this one, and it showed since the train was regularly being closed over weekends for repairs.

  7. When government who runs your city, have a political motivation to pander to people who’re dysfunctional, poorly behaved, engage in lewd or self destructive acts, their policies do NOTHING but foster more dysfunctionality, poor behavior and lewd acts and disavowing self respect and personal dignity. your cities problems of the consequences of people who have zero dignity and self respect……only continue to get worse. Even Worse when you indoctrinate the entitlement mentality on those dysfunctional people you embolden them to be angry or violent when they don’t get their way…where does that behavior sound familiar? AMONG subsidize a culture of degeneracy and debasement, you make it attractive for more people. If you turn a blind eye to masturbating on a train or shitting on the sidewalk or dealing drugs or shooting up heroin in broad daylight, don’t be surprised if people start ejaculating on a train or shitting on sidewalks. YOU’RE GOING TO GET MORE OF IT. Combine with it an entertainment and urban culture that glorifies drug abuse, illicit activities, gun violence, criminality and abuse against woman and distrust and enmity against law enforcement, DON’T BE SURPRISED when EXACTLY THAT kind of behavior proliferates in your neighborhood when you encourage Children to Enjoy it. It’s the fate of all democrat run cities.

  8. I was on a Northbound Blue Line Train early this morning, commuting to my job in downtown Minneapolis. There were so many people sleeping onboard, each occupying 2,3, or even 4 seats between them and their belongings, that regular commuters were left to stand. Is the train a means of transportation, or is it a homeless shelter? Metrotransit needs to decide. Oh, and the smell–or stench, should I say–onboard was terrible. I was standing by a door and glad to get some outside air whenever the doors opened at stations.

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