Target Field light rail station will be crowded

image CC licensed by flickr user dgwallick1

image CC licensed by flickr user dgwallick1

Way back in July I toured Target Field as part of a Sensible Land Use Coalition event.  Overall I was very impressed with the future home of the Twins (how can you not play baseball outdoors?), especially the entrance from First Avenue and the open concourse design.

One thing I heard made me do a spit-take though.  Our tour guide said that when surveyed, 40% of fans said they would like (or plan to, I can’t remember his exact phrasing) take the train to the game.  Four-Oh percent.  Our tour guide was kinda the project manager for the County, so I assume he knows what he is talking about.

Target Field holds 40,000.  If there is a sell out, that means 16,000 people say they would ride the train.  Knowing there is a difference between what people say they will do, and what they actually do, let’s assume only 30% actually ride the train (maybe a few stay late after the game to enjoy downtown).  That means 12,000 people will stream out of target field onto 5th Street after the ninth inning.  Each three-car train can hold 360 people.  That means 34 3-car trains would be needed to move all those transit-hungry baseball fans out of downtown.  If there is a 5 minute headway between trains that is 2 hours and 50 minutes.  If they somehow increase that to 2 minutes between trains it is an hour and 8 minutes.

The consultant that did the transportation demand management plan had a nifty simulation showing people streaming out of the stadium, and she said it could be done, but I still don’t understand how you can overcome the math.  Either people will soon realize that the train is too crowded (or, more accurately, the wait is too long) and move to other modes, or Met Transit has some tricks up its sleeve to quickly move all those people.

8 thoughts on “Target Field light rail station will be crowded

  1. When I toured, it was explained that the 40% number would only be reached once Southwest, Central, and possibly Bottineau were in play (Currently at the dome, the mode share for transit is about 15%). So you could theoretically have another station in the vicinity with Southwest and/or Bottineau – relieving some of the pressure on the Ballpark Station.

  2. In San Francisco, the light rail vehicles are insanely packed before/after Giants games, so the problem is real. Like Target Field, AT&T Park is a beautiful new stadium in a rapidly-developing former industrial/warehouse area at the terminus of a light rail line and a commuter rail line. Even with extra shuttle LRT service on game days, it can be tough to meet all the demand!

  3. I wonder if there are going to be any special Northstar runs for Twins games? Seems like a good idea to me, if they can figure out the timing.

  4. I gotta say — what a great problem to face. This brings back some memories of my time in Freiburg, Germany. After each (SC Freiburg) soccer match, >50% of the crowd would stream down to the tram stop and fill up each vehicle. Then they’d bring in the next one. I don’t know how many trams they had on hand, but it was managed very well, all things considered.

  5. Actually a 3-car train will hold closer to 550 people. And in a 30% scenario, we’d have bi-directional travel, which improves the situation.

    The tail tracks at the Ballpark Station will help the immediate situation- I think there is spaces for 2x 3-car trains or 4x 2-car trains, so these should be staged and ready at the end of games. This goes away with a SWLRT line (assuming 3A or 3C2, but let’s not go there).

    Ultimately there will be equilibrium- the various modes will balance out to whatever meets capacity and semi-logical choice. If the situation is really bad, people will stay downtown longer.

    For any of this to matter, the pitching rotation is going to have to improve. We could clear out a 50% share of 8,000 attendance games pretty easily.

  6. It’s a great problem to have, but also shows what I think is an under-commitment to good transit design in the urban core. Already all LRT stations are being expanded to handle 3-car trains, something which could have been done in the first place (and probably more cost-effectively).

    I think the same stinginess is being applied at Target Field. The split 5th Avenue bridge is a prime example. It would have cost a couple of million more to flatten the whole bridge, which would have opened up the area to all kinds of innovative station designs that could have served more people more quickly. The way it sits now, passengers waiting to board will be directed into a narrow, awkward staging area to wait for the train in a queue before being directed to cross the tracks (probably by a traffic cop).

    In contrast, the whole bridge area could have been transformed into a mini transit mall that probably would have made development prospects across the street from the field even more attractive, and thus encouraged greater transit use. I think the current design will turn a lot of people off to taking transit to the game, something that doesn’t serve the long term goals.

  7. Pingback: Target Field light rail station will be crowded | Freiburg Travel - Culture and Recreation

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