Metro Transit has confirmed what had been proposed last month: It will be cutting Green Line light rail services between 2 a.m. and 4 a.m. on weekdays.
In an announcement Friday afternoon, Metro Transit General Manager Wes Kooistra said the four trips that run during the two-hour period will be replaced with buses that will stop near each Green Line station.
It will then return to a 24-hour service on weekends, with the step being taken to give its maintenance crews time to carry out repairs on the line.
"Under the current Green Line schedule, maintenance staff is often required to work while overhead power lines remain energized, which can complicate their work," Kooistra wrote. "Some maintenance activities are delayed until there are other reasons to suspend light rail service, such as road maintenance and construction. This is clearly not the best way to keep this important public asset in good repair."
While maintenance was one reason for the change, it also comes after concerns had been raised about late-night assaults, thefts and drug use on the Green Line.
The decision to scrap the late night services has prompted concern about the impact on the homeless that ride the Green Line overnight, with Metro Transit itself saying the decision could impact 200-300 homeless Minnesotans.
But Kooistra says that allowing the Green Line to be used for overnight stays "undercuts our ability to provide safe, clean and reliable service."
"It is also clear that transit is an unacceptable option for people who need affordable housing, shelter, or other support," he added, saying "nearly everyone agrees that trains are not a safe and dignified place to sleep," and pointing out the trains are without running water, beds, or bathroom facilities.
Metro Transit says it will respond to concerns by working with the Interagency Council on Homelessness to connect those affected to shelters and housing services.
"Through these changes, we will continue to honor our commitment to our riders and the communities we serve," Kooistra concludes. "We will better and more safely address maintenance requirements. And we will continue to work together with our partners so that everyone experiencing homelessness can find safe and affordable housing."