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Monday's Green Line commute: Train hits car, stoplight slowdown

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On the first day of regular, paid weekday service on the new Green Line, a light-rail train hit a car that had run a red light and turned in front of it.

Meanwhile, trains ran slower than expected because of traffic light problems unrelated to the transit system.

No one was injured in the Monday evening crash, which the Pioneer Press reported happened near University and Hampden Avenue at about 8:20 p.m. The newspaper quotes Metro Transit police, which said said the car and train were both westbound on University when the car ran a red arrow, turned left and pulled in front of the train.

The train struck the car near its rear driver's side door. The driver was cited for failure to obey a traffic-control device. WCCO reported that the car was towed and the train was able to leave the scene in 15 minutes.

The accident was the fifth since the Green Line began testing earlier this year. In three accidents from April 30 to May 16, Metro Transit said the motorists were at fault. The fourth occurred when a car struck the front of a test train; the cause is under investigation.

Meanwhile, MPR News reported that trains ran slower than expected Monday morning due to traffic light issues. Two traffic signal poles in St. Paul were struck by motor vehicles causing longer signal cycles may have been a factor in slowing light rail trains, said Metro Transit spokesman John Siqveland.

The Star Tribune reports that there were a few delays in the morning. Some trains took longer than every 10 minutes to arrive at some stations, and the time they stopped didn’t always match that on the schedule. "Otherwise, the reported troubles were mostly kinks officials said would be worked out over time," the story said.

“It does take a couple of weeks to settle into regular operation,” spokesman John Siqveland told the newspaper.

The newspaper also reported that an aggravated robbery was reported late Sunday evening at the Dale Street Station when a group got off the train, assaulted one young man and stole both his phone and the phone of a companion.

Earlier Monday, some trains took longer than an hour to make the trip between Target Field in downtown Minneapolis and Union Depot in downtown St. Paul. The scheduled time is 48 minutes, but FOX 9's test run clocked the trip at 1 hour and 5 minutes.

The Star Tribune had a test of its own, with reporters trying different modes of transportation — light rail, car, bicycle and bus — to see who could arrive first at the Star Tribune in downtown Minneapolis after leaving the State Capitol at 8:30 a.m. The reporter and news intern in a car finished first in a 26 minute trip. The cyclist was second (30 minutes, 57 seconds) and the Green Line passenger was third (42 minutes). One bus rider finished the trip five minutes behind the Green Line rider. A second bus rider made the trip in 59 minutes, blaming the longer trip on "some confusion caused by changes to connecting bus routes."

Updated light rail ridership numbers will be released later in the week. The Green Line offered free rides over the weekend as part of its kickoff festivities. Tickets cost $2.25 for during rush hour, $1.75 during off hours and are good for 2.5 hours of riding both trains and buses.

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