On Super Bowl Sunday, Minneapolis light rail lines off-limits to non-ticket holders

This train is bound for 'downtown Minneapolis'... unless it's February 4, 2018, and you don't have a Super Bowl ticket. You loser.

This train is bound for 'downtown Minneapolis'... unless it's February 4, 2018, and you don't have a Super Bowl ticket. You loser. Richard Sennett, Star Tribune

Super Bowl LII (aka Super Bowl 52: Beyond Metrodome) already has its first controversy. 

(Second, if you count the building they're playing it in; you should.)

On Monday, unionized workers with Metro Transit voted to reject a contract offer from the Twin Cities transit authority, and to go on strike during next year's Super Bowl festivities. Both ATU Local 1005, which represents some 2,500 workers, and Met Transit have said a contract deal could still be reached in time to avert a public relations (and logistical) nightmare.

And good luck to them. Now maybe it's time for riders of Met Transit to threaten a strike.

On Monday, the Minnesota Super Bowl Host Committee -- the same group that helped recruit 10,000 unpaid employees for billionaires lucky volunteers! -- launched its "Know Before You Go" campaign. 

Know Before You Go provides a few noteworthy tidbits, both for Twin Cities residents and the one million (!) people expected to visit the area the first week of February. For example, here's one fact, which the host committee describes as a "highlight":

Metro Transit is the best way to reach downtown Minneapolis with expanded schedules on key routes for local commuters and additional schedules for Super Bowl related events. That includes unlimited fan passes ($40 for unlimited rides on all buses, light rail and North Star from January 26-Feb 4), Gameday Passes ($30 – only those holding a Gameday Pass and an official Super Bowl ticket will be able to ride the light rail on game day) and All-Day Passes ($1-5, varies by time of day and day of the week.)

See that bold part? That's messed up! 

Just 10 months ago, Metro Transit was bragging about how many people used either the Blue Line (Minneapolis/Bloomington/MSP Airport/Mall of America) or Green Line (Minneapolis-to-St. Paul) during the previous year. Combined ridership of the two lines his 22.9 million during 2016, with an average of almost 70,000 rides per weekday.

By our math, that means an average of about 45,000 riders were using the light rail on weekend days. Let's assume a many of those riders were traveling to weekend events: Concerts, conferences, or, say, football games. 

All other days, that means paying the non-rush-hour fare of $1.75. On February 4, 2018, a light rail ride can be yours for just slightly more: about $2,500, or the low-end average cost of a ticket to the Super Bowl.

This "highlight" reads more like a lowlight for the average Twin Cities person who's just trying to get around, whether people are playing football somewhere or not.

One such person noticed this interesting wrinkle in Met Transit's Super Bowl gameplan, and tweeted at them.

Tuesday afternoon, Met Transit responded to clarify its policy.

We suppose that means another "highlight" was just announced: Super Bowl ticket holders using the light rail train that Sunday will have to "go through security screening to board trains." So at least it's fair. Though not everyone gets to ride the light rail on Super Bowl Sunday, at least everyone gets to  be pissed off about it.

Remember, riding the light rail is not a right. It is a privilege -- one that will, for one very special day next year, be reserved for 66,000 rich, fortunate, and obsessed football fans.