Metro Transit using three-car light rail trains on a busy Saturday in the Twin Cities after completing the pilot program

It was the game twice Saturday night in downtown Minneapolis.

“I’m excited,” Blaine Vikings fan Derrick Williams said. “Always good to come to a game, the atmosphere, everything. A good night, I can’t wait to be there.

Vikings and Twins fans were gearing up for a pair of games that started just 10 minutes apart, around 6 p.m.

Some walked, but others took the light rail.

“Even with an event it can get crowded, but with the Twins and that too, you don’t know,” noted Steve Pepera, of Farmington. “Two events, how it will end.”

The Minneapolis Downtown Council estimates that with two concurrent games, plus events at the Orpheum and Guthrie theaters, over 70,000 people attended.

A Twins spokesperson told Target Field there was an attendance of 21,781.

These numbers are a kind of test for Metro Transit.

“I think for people who like the train, it’s a good option,” says Clarinda, Williams’ wife. “If that’s ok with you. I think with the COVID restrictions it’s a bit safer.

Between July 9 and Friday, Metro Transit ran two-car trains on the Blue and Green lines.

This is part of a larger plan to address safety issues, make cars cleaner and further improve the interaction between riders and metro police.

“A bit of a wait, but other than that the cars are clean, and at first not crowded,” Pepera said.

It wasn’t just busy in Minneapolis.

Minnesota United and the St. Paul Saints also played games on Saturday night.

A United spokesperson said the match at Allianz Field was sold out, with 19,829 people attending.

So the Green Line had a lot of runners.

On a Saturday with so much activity, Metro Transit chose to use three-car trains.

There is a caveat, however: waiting times between trains have been reduced from 12 to 15 minutes.

Going forward, the agency says it will look at projected ridership to decide whether to permanently reduce its trains to two cars or back to three.

“I think two cars probably during game time, even if it’s just a Vikings game, any game, two cars isn’t enough,” says Shawn Pierce, a light rail driver from Farmington . “I think three cars, trial by error and see how it goes.”

Riders who spoke with 5 EYEWITNESS NEWS say that on those busy mega-event weekends, the train ride home can be crowded.

They say after a long night it’s something they would like to avoid.

“I don’t like it,” said Jan Bromenschenkel of Mendota Heights. “You know my knees hurt, but there are too many people. It was really good when I saw the assembled car tonight.

The Vikings and Twins both have home games scheduled for September 11 and 25.

Times will be staggered, so it’s likely that there won’t be as many people coming downtown at the same time.

Metro Transit says the use of three versus two cars will be on a case-by-case basis. Jeff Meussner, visiting from Detroit, says he liked riding the light rail, as long as the system gets people where they need to go, efficiently.

“If you can move people faster, it’s a good idea if they can maintain the same service,” he says.

Jose P. Rogers