Anti-LRT protest planned for Green Line's opening day

:::: UPDATE :::: Anti-LRT protest on Green Line's opening day was a bust

Steve Ellenwood, a Woodbury resident who describes himself as "very active" in Republican politics, is organizing an anti-LRT protest planned to take place during the Green Line's opening day tomorrow.

"We're just a group of people that are very, very concerned about the financial commitment we've subjected future generations to," Ellenwood tells us. "When you listen to proponents of this, you keep hearing them say [LRT] is going to cut congestion, which is a bunch of BS. That's already proven not to be true."

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"There's no density and there's no demand," Ellenwood continues. "There's a duplication of service. There's no business case and that's proven because of the subsidies that have to be put in."

Ellenwood says he hopes up to 200 people will turn out for his protest, which he's organizing via texting and Facebook. The plan is for protesters to walk around Green Line stops with anti-LRT signs.

Though the specific messaging is still in the works, Ellenwood says the theme will be that "there's no reason to be building this with the transit system we have."

"The money that we're spending is just phenomenal, and that's what concerning," Ellenwood continues. "If you choose to live on a bus line it's pretty functional to get where you need to go, so why are we having to put billions of dollars into something that's duplicating that service while our roads and bridges are collapsing?"

We brought Ellenwood's concerns to Metro Transit spokesman John Siqueland.

"Like public education or public safety, public transit does not exist to turn a profit," Siqueland tells us. "The operation of public transit is subsidized not only in Minnesota but around the world. Our metro Blue Line has a history of being at the top of its class when it comes to amount of [operational expenses] that are covered through fares, and that's about 35-40 percent annually."

(For more, click to page two.)

Indeed, Siqueland says he thinks the way the Green Line will be financed will be similar to the Blue Line. In 2012, the last year for which data is available, the Blue Line's $27,955,667 in expenses were covered by $10,307,508 in passenger fares, $12,734,091 in sales taxes spread through the five-county metro area, and $4,170,000 in state appropriations. (Other smaller revenue streams made up the rest.)

"With the Green Line, we're anticipating that for the first period, fares will cover about 25 percent [of expenses], and then that will increase," Siqueland says. "That's the same trend that happened with the Blue Line."

Given his concerns about LRT's financial viability, Ellenwood can't be happy about the fact that Saturday and Sunday, people can ride all Metro Transit buses and trains free of charge. In other words, no Green Line fares will be collected until Monday.

But with the Green Line already a done deal, Ellenwood says the ultimate purpose of the protest is to "raise awareness."

"There's no demand and you can prove that just by getting on at 10:30 in the morning or 2 in the afternoon, and they're going to be running these things constantly?" he says. "Why?"

To see the full breakdown of the Blue Line's expenses and revenue streams, click to page three.


Blue Line Financial Results by Calendar Year

-- Follow Aaron Rupar on Twitter at @atrupar. Got a tip? Drop him a line at [email protected]