The 2018 Super Bowl will bring crowds and (at least some) tourism dollars to Minneapolis, but it’s also shaping up to bring headaches for weekend transit riders.
That’s because on Super Bowl Sunday, Feb. 4, Metro Transit has reserved light-rail service along the Metro Blue Line and part of the Green Line for Super Bowl LII ticket holders, who will need to pay $30 for a “gameday pass,” TwinCities.com reports. Riders are accusing the transit agency of unfairly favoring those who can afford a stadium seat over regular commuters.
“It’s creating two tiers of people: Those who can afford expensive Super Bowl tickets, and those who cannot,” St. Paul resident and Metro rider Nate Hood told the news site.
The transit agency announced last week that, in lieu of light-rail service, riders needing to access those lines will be offered free rides on replacement buses, according to the Minneapolis Star-Tribune. The buses will come every 10 to 15 minutes along both lines, and stop near each established light-rail stop. It will add temporary shelters at 35 locations.
The agency claims it is giving exclusive use of the trains to ticket holders so that it can meet security requirements. Screening areas will be set up at the Stadium Village and Mall of America stations for ticket holders, and trains will run nonstop from those two stations. The agency didn’t want regular commuters to be stuck in long lines for security checkpoints they didn’t need to participate in.
“We just frankly did not want our regular riders to get caught up in that screening process,” Howie Padilla, Metro Transit public relations manager, told TwinCities.com.
Minneapolis commuters are not alone in their frustration. Sports events frequently disrupt public transit schedules, with public agencies and private sports teams tussling over who should pay for late-night or unusual weekend service (see this Next City article about the Santa Clara Valley Transit Agency or this Next City article on D.C.’s Metro). According to the Star-Tribune, however, the Minneapolis agency has said that Super Bowl-related revenue and advertising will pay for game-day services, including the replacement buses, rather than taxpayer money.
Rachel Dovey is an award-winning freelance writer and former USC Annenberg fellow living at the northern tip of California’s Bay Area. She writes about infrastructure, water and climate change and has been published by Bust, Wired, Paste, SF Weekly, the East Bay Express and the North Bay Bohemian.