A few updates on the user experience on the east side of the line:
1) Signal timing is working quite well within DT St Paul. Sometimes there is a short stop right before it goes over I-94, but otherwise the train moves really well from MLK Blvd all the way down to Union Depot.
2) Signal timing along University is still frustratingly hit-or-miss. Although the train makes it through Western, Victoria, and Hamline more regularly, it almost never makes it through Lexington, Dale, or Snelling without stopping. And if it does make it through one of those busy intersections, odds are it will stop at the very next minor intersection: Grotto, Chatsworth, etc.
3) The trains are almost as busy during the times I've ridden midday than at rush hour. And I rode down to the Farmer's Market last Saturday afternoon, and the trains were standing-room only in both directions. Very exciting!
4) The diversity of people that ride the train is great. There is a pretty even mix of professionals and blue collar, old and young, choice riders and transit-dependent, hipsters and families, black, white, Asian, and so forth. It seems to be attracting people from all walks of life. Exciting.
5) There even seem to be some tourists that are taking the train from Minneapolis over to St Paul. I'm starting to see people with city maps and bulky cameras wandering around the CBD area of St Paul with some regularity. That almost never happened before the Green Line started running.
6) The pedestrian dynamic along University Ave is starting to change in interesting ways. The easiest way to cross the street is no longer at a signalized intersection but at the end of a platform, like at Griggs or Oxford Avenue near Lexington. I'll be curious to see if these street corners are the places where the pedestrian-oriented businesses we all want to see (coffee shops, restaurants with patios, dry-cleaners, etc) start to pop up.
7) The streetscaping along University really adds to the pedestrian-friendliness of the street. The rain gardens, planting beds, and additional trees all break down the scale of the space and add color and interest. Hopefully they continue to be well maintained.
8) I've seen pedestrians do some seriously strange and dangerous things in trying to run and catch a train. Fortunately no one has been hit by a train or car yet, but I'm sure it's only a matter of time. I think schedule regularity is the key to avoiding this. If the trains are bunched or if you're unsure if it will take 20 minutes for the next one to show up, then people will be incentivized to take more risks than normal.
9) The few times I've seen the new bus route on Lexington, it's let a decent (10-12) number of people off at the Lexington station. So it appears to be doing some good work as a feeder. Hopefully it finds some success.