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Thursday, March 2, 2017

Five Years Later Union Depot's Quarter Billion Dollar Renovation Still Fails to Deliver Half the Riders Promised.

Article by Bill Hosko on the Union Depot. The location where the Gateway Corridor/Gold Line and Red Rock Corridor plans to end. Click the links to read more.
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After St. Paul Mayor Chris Coleman, with others, oversaw a quarter billion renovation of Union Depot in 2012, they promised 2,600 riders a day to be using the hub once opened. Considering the 2,600 figure calculated by pro-transit www.streets.mn, from Met Council data, was an average of weekend and weekday ridership the figure could be rounded to 3,000 riders per weekday figuring ridership is less than 30% better on weekdays (it's much higher). The streets.mn article stated "of course, weekday service will be greater and weekend less."

Mayor Coleman and transit planners predicted merchants would clamor to fill the 95,000 square feet of open space and businesses would compete to fill the retail spots within. Fast forward to 2017 and you'll find the place is a ghost town and the coffee shop is struggling to stay open. A single cart offering cartoon illustrations for sale is the current centerpiece of this “transportation hub”, which is losing millions of dollars annually.  

According to Met Council's most recent data the Union depot hosts only 1,500 "boardings" a week day. That's half the riders promised now 5 years since the project was finished. What's worse is if you break down the numbers to show how many riders board per stop: 
1.) The Union Depot has service 24 hours a day. The Green Line stops at the Union Depot every ten minutes and at night stops once an hour from 1am to 5am during the week.
2.) According to Metro Transit's website the Green Line makes a stop at the Union Depot 114 times in a 24 hour weekday. 
3.) This equates to only 14 riders boarding at Union Depot on average per stop at the station.

If you view the entire Union Depot site, and all its levels, you should be left with the impression that a lack of commonsense planning ruled the day.  Things are so bad financially, funerals are held in the concourse through the doors to the center- left.  Amtrak is not happy. Greyhound bus pulled out of the deal before it even opened.  Will Amtrak be forced to find a way to move to north downtown Minneapolis?

This photo was taken Tuesday, 2-21-17 at 6 PM in Union Depot.  
In conclusion, Mayor Coleman is determined to prop up his largely failed legacy and his gubernatorial candidacy. He needs your help currently to do it.  I am a Saint Paul native and a long-time downtown business owner and artist.  


Bill Hosko
Saint Paul, MN