It’s “only” 5 minutes, or Green Line Delay Monetized

Jim Walsh reports in the Strib

“According to timetables released before the line opened, a trip from Union Depot to Target Field was expected to take about 48-49 minutes. Metro Transit officials said last week that the westbound Green Line is averaging about 54 minutes, end to end and that the eastbound train is averaging about 53 minutes.”

If we take these numbers at face value, the train is 5 minutes late on average. (It is probably worse than this from a user perspective, because the times when it is late is when more riders are on the train to experience its lateness, when few riders are on-board in off-peak periods, it probably runs much closer to on-time).

He also reports 30,000 rides per day using the line. I don’t know the average length of trip, but let’s assume it is 1/2 the distance of the line. (This may be too long, but it off-sets the fact that more people experience the delay than the on-time conditions). Thus the average passenger trip would be delayed about 2.5 minutes.

There would be 75,000 person minutes of delay per day. There are 1440 minutes in a day, so about 1250 hours per day, or 52 person lives are lost to excess time on the train.

At a Value of Time of $15 (just as a point of information MnDOT now uses $16 for auto-value of travel time savings per person hour, but maybe transit users have a lower VOT because they don’t mind being delayed so much because they can do other things on the train) per hour, this is $18,750 per day or $6.8 Million per year.

Over 30 years, this is $205M without discounting. With discounting at 2% this is about $152M.

In short, this is not a small miss that we can just ignore (saying that it’s only 5 minutes and no one goes end to end anyway), and everything that can be done should be done to make the line go as fast as possible with a minimum of delay.

This does not even consider the lower operating costs to MetroTransit from less delay.

2 thoughts on “It’s “only” 5 minutes, or Green Line Delay Monetized

  1. And that’s not counting the lost time that people experience when they miss their transfer, thanks to the train being late. I take the Green Line from East Bank Station to Snelling Ave. in the afternoon, and lately it’s been about 4 minutes late getting to Snelling. The train arrives at Snelling just in time for me to see the southbound 84 bus pulling away from the stop, meaning that I have to wait the full 10 minutes for the next 84.

    When Metro Transit reconfigured the bus routes near the Green Line, they emphasized that riders would have greater flexibility due to being able to transfer to north-south bus routes. Unfortunately, the poor timing of the Green Line is making those transfers difficult.


  2. Light Rail pre-emption is not sound economically nor environmentally. The nightmarish traffic congestion on Hiawatha with its notorious left turns rightly turned citizens off to that model. Repeating the mistake on University Avenue would have similar results.

    Always Green Traffic Control technology would solve the problem time-wise, economically, and environmentally. Here is a link to a description of it.


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