Transit planners seek Central Corridor community advocates

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Transit planners are trying something new to ensure new train and bus schedules meet residents’ needs once the Central Corridor light rail project is finished.

The District Councils Collaborative of Minneapolis and St. Paul is seeking community leaders to help them find out how neighborhood residents will use transit.

Carol Swenson, executive director of the collaborative, said transit planners normally use data to come up with new routes and schedules for buses and trains and then take those plans to the public for comment. This time they are piloting a program that seeks information from residents first, she said.

“What Metro Transit is trying to do and we’re trying to do as part of this project is to really make sure that we hear from them, where they need to go, if they had an opportunity to take transit where would they be going, and what is their use of transit outside of going to work,” Swenson said.

Planners will train “trusted advocates” to help assess those needs. Organizers hope those advocates will represent a wide range of groups, including immigrants, people of color and people with disabilities.

The pilot program is modeled after one used by transit planners in Seattle.

Planners’ goal is to make sure people’s concerns about how transit schedules will interact are addressed ahead of time to avoid having community residents turn against a project once it’s finished.

Anyone interested in the trusted advocate program can find more information on the District Councils Collaborative’s website.

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