Transportation What transit options would you like to have? Eric Ringham April 29, 2010, 5:00 AM Apr 29, 2010 46 comments Planners say the Twin Cities area can’t solve its congestion problems simply by building more roads. Today’s Question: What transit options would you like to have? ‹ Older What should be the role of local police in enforcing immigration law? Newer › In your view, what qualities make a great teacher? Browse by category Education Health Economy Politics/Government Culture Religion/Ethics Science/Technology Transportation Race/Gender Environment/Energy Security International affairs Immigration Media Military About the blogger Eric Ringham firstname.lastname@example.org DMox High speed cross town trains that roughly follow the interstate system. It would eliminate the need to build more roads, take advantage of already designated transit space, and deliver many of us, who commute too far across town to use buses, to housing & work centers. Gary F A Chevrolet ad used to say “It’s not just your car, it’s your freedom”. Mass transit means shipping people from pre-determined spaces to pre-determined spaces. It means government and bureaucrats choosing where lines will be placed and who “benefits”. Being in sales, I could never do mass transit. I could never haul customers around, haul equipment around, or schedule sales calls. I couldn’t leave work early and go to my son’s baseball game somewhere across town after school. You can’t stop a Menards or Home Depot on the way home from work to pick up potting soil or lumber. Or groceries. It’s not just my car, it’s my freedom. Freedom is a good thing. Sue de Nim The freedom of having a car is great…. if you can afford a car, and are able to drive, and fuel is cheap, and parking is free, and you have a pleasant commute, and don’t mind spewing exhaust into the atmosphere, and don’t have to worry about drunk or distracted drivers, and don’t care that we depend on foreign oil, and so on. The option of taking transit so I can read the paper while someone else drives appeals to me. Freedom is great, but I fear our persistent abuse of our freedom will be our downfall as a nation. Tony Just like Gary’s post below, I too have to use my car to get to my multiple low-pay/no-benefits jobs, and it’s different locations every day. All the same, it would be great if I had a cheaper option because the price of gas is still killing me. Oh yeah, I almost forgot……with the convenient new oil spill in the Gulf of Mexico, wait for the price of gas to rise even higher. And the burning-it-off solution….what could possibly go wrong? Al I want a network of trains and buses. I have spent time in Washington, DC end enjoyed not having to drive everywhere. I don’t see the movement toward a system like that going on in MN though. We are planning and building one small stretch at a time, rather than a system. When I was in DC, the maps contained future stops and lines. That’s how you get buy in from the entire community – by letting people see that the system is coming to their part of town too. The other nice feature about the DC system is the speed. The stations aren’t placed every 4 or 5 blocks and don’t snarl the car traffic that is already there. However, placing stations every couple of miles requires a bus system to support it. This seems like too much forethought for the current leaders deciding the fate of transit in the Twin Cities. DC has a system that is clean, safe and easy to use, but ours is nothing like it. nk I imagine our government officials get a lot of complaints about pot-holes. What better way to reduce those complaints than by reducing the number of people who drive on the roads by offering an extensive system of transit options? It wouldn’t be easy or cheap, but worthwhile progress rarely is. Al Fisher OK Gary, but not everyone is a salesman nor leads life the way you do. The previous post, by another Al, describes how most European systems work, and they work wonderfully. My wife can drive to work in 12 minutes. But on our public transportation (I hesitate to use the word) system it takes an hour if she is not traveling during our brief commute hours, 40 minutes during rush hour. No one will use a system that bad unless they absolutely have to. We subsidize travel by car with huge bonding bills for highways and bridges, federal tax dollars (my tax money) and policies that encourage suburban sprawl. I want comparable subsidies to be used to create a true metro-wide transit system with inter-connecting services that also link to airports and high-speed intercity rail. People will want to use such a system, unless, of course, they’re a door-to-door salesman. Gary F If I don’t have roads, I can’t make a living. If I can’t make a living, then I can’t pay over 50% of my income in taxes. And some people think 50% isn’t enough. Khatti I’d like to see light-rail spurs extended out into the outer suburbs. I’m thinking of places like Shakopee and Hudson Wisconsin. The Twin Cities can be a lot nicer place to visit if you don’t have to bring your car along. nk People like Gary would also benefit from more commuter and light-rail options, as there would be less congestion on the roads, fewer accidents, less wear and tear, less construction/maintenance. I doubt anyone wants to do away with roads completely. People understand that many jobs require car/truck travel. I also think that the Hiawatha Line could have been built better (i.e. elevated/underground at street intersections) but again, people have to be willing to pay their share, and obviously some people are unwilling to do that. Joshua K I agree with the planners… building more roads is not the answer. Building more mass-transit is! If we could take the Washington D.C. Metro transit system and re-create it here in Minnesota, it would relieve the congestion issues that will only continue to get worse without it. If we could super-impose the DC Metro map over our own map, it is simply amazing the impact it would have. http://www.dcmetromap.net/colormap_lettersize.pdf And, I agree that freedom of a car is great, to pick up groceries, and run errands…and for the routine commute that carries thousands in and out of the TC metro-area daily: a fully developed transit system would support that majority’s needs. -joshua James I commute 25 miles one way, My preferred mode of transport is a dual sport motorcycle. It gets 75MPG and I have one heck of a fun time going to work. I ride as long as the snow is gone. If everyone rode a motorcycle with high MPG we would have no oil issues. DTOM Sieglinde Gassman I live on the far east side of St Paul and find it difficult to use public transportation to get to work since it adds 2 hours to my post-retirement part-time work-day. In the metro and suburban Baltimore/D.C. area you do not need a car. I hear this is true in Boston, NYC, Chicago, Portland & San Francisco. What a dream! I lived in Seattle before there was light rail and even then one could go anywhere in the city easily and quickly using the amazing bus system. Only used my car for out-of-town. I would like to see the continuing development of light rail and commuter rail with a greatly improved connecting bus system that eliminates long transfer waits at bus stops without shelters. Don’t know if I will live long enough… P. Nielsen Sadly, we are far behind on this great and growing need……shortsighted leadership probably being the main cause. Living in Woodbury (I’d rather be in St. Paul), I have watched what little public transportation we had cut and eliminated….first the little vans circulating within the city transporting people to the Park ‘N Ride for the express bus service to Minneapolis or St. Paul, then cuts and elimination of much of the Metro Dial A Ride Service for those in the suburbs, making it next to impossible for those not able or wanting to drive to get to necessary appointments, church, or shopping. There is absolutely no public transportation available during daytime or weekends to transport people around. What ever is left of the so-called Dial A Ride service is not worth much. Plans should be put in place to add bus and van service to all suburbs and not just to downtowns during rush hour weekdays. With the huge aging babyboom generation reaching retirement age with its related health issues, it’s way past time to get this done. Cynthia McArthur I would like to see more light rail, commuter trains and high speed trains to other states. I’ve solved the traffic problem on a day to day basis with personal trips by choosing to live in St Paul near amenities that service all my personal needs. 90% of what I need to get accomplished can be done within 5 miles of my home so walking and biking are certainly options. Maybe a commute to work can’t be easily solved but deciding to live in a way that includes multi modal forms of movement helped me make living in St Paul easy and pretty traffic stress free. Now for high speed rail around the country and more light rail to places where the car is the only way to get there, for now… Ginger The taxation on gas should be changed to a sales tax on the cost, rather than a set tax per gallon. If this had been in effect during record high gas prices than the available funds for mass transit would have likewise increased. Gas companies would be less eager to raise prices when doing so enriches their main competition. nk How about an east/west street and a north/south street in Downtown Mpls devoted to foot traffic and bicycles. The current bike lanes can be confusing (left turns) and frustrating to both bikers and drivers. In general, if there were more roads converted to appealing, well-lit corridors (see Midtown Greenway) bikers would migrate there and confrontations between bikers and drivers would be fewer. Mary Alice Harvey We need a better network of bus and train, including intra-city high speed rail. there are many towns, counties and regions in Minnesota that no longer have any public transit. We not only need more geographic coverage, but more hours. As an elder who no longer owns a car, I am stopped from going to many evening meetings because the meeting may run late when the buses are no longer running. this also applies to students who need to work evenings but run the risk of missing the last bus. When I was young it was much more possible to live without an auto. We have set up a system of housing, business, and jobs that now makes that impossible. mevdev There should be more light rail to the suburbs and streetcars again in the downtowns. The streetcars were there, but then GM’s subsidiary bought out the Twin cities system and switched to their buses. Buses are nice on the fringe outskirts, but they are just as bad as cars and slower too. Public transportation should get you to where you want to go faster and it is possible. kennedy Something accepted in this conversation is living 20 miles or more from where you spend your time. I prefer the option of living within a few miles of work. Also living near a grocer, pharmacy, restaurant, etc. makes daily life much easier. I’d like to see more communities plan for this. If you choose to live distant from your destination, you pay the price. Everett Flynn I really don’t think what people want matters at all here. We’re getting LRT shoved down our throats one way or another. And it’s going to happen one, ridiculous line at a time, every 10 years or so. Why we haven’t put rail in the freeway corridors escapes me, and remember that we’re currently investing billions in rebuilding the 35W corridor all the way from downtown Mpls thru Bloomington (to fix the 35W/62 design failure). Yeah… light rail is kind of neat and all, but it’s freakishly expensive and cannot be adapted to changes that we cannot foresee now but which may be necessary in the future. Shane Bikers always wine that they need more dedicated bike lanes/roads. So I think we should make bikers license there bikes, like we license our cars, and use that money to build them what they want. Also, if you look at any objective research roads move more people more efficiently, and cheaper then any mass transit. We have heard how successful light rail has been, but it is not even self-sustaining. Without constant subsidies it would be bankrupt. Bottom line, we need more and better roads. comments sent to MPR Comments texted to MPR: More continuous, connected bike trails. -Virginia, St. Louis Park Multiple BRT lines to the ‘burbs and a better bike lane and trail system in the core cities would go a long way, I feel. -Pete, Minneapolis Better and more extensive bike pathways and lanes. -anonymous Light rail from the south to north along 35w and 35e corridors. -anonymous J. Wagner A statewide Complete Streets policy! http://www.completestreets.org/ I would like to see serious investment into high speed/light rail. These environmentally sound technologies can serve as a terrific community building asset. Charlie C Gary F: I agree that a car gives you freedom, and yet many Minnesotans don’t have the option of owning a car and still need to go to the grocery, the bank, to work, and school. We should be doing everything we can to connect neighborhoods to necessities. The less you need to drive, the better the quality of life for the people without cars and the more pleasant our roads will be when we do need to use the car. The Central Corridor stop at Hamline and University is an absolute win in my book. Now if only Target and Cub had been built closer to University… David N. Is there a reason Monorail hasn’t been considered as a viable mass transit option for Minnesota or other states? The initial test pilot program in Seattle proved that a Monorail system can pay for itself very quickly, and that the systems are cheap, efficient, reliable and safer to operate. Some systems can even be run autonomously. That same company offered to build and pay for an entire Monorail system in LA, with the only request that the company get to collect the profit from it for a few years. That was defeated by lobby groups, some supported by oil companies. Time after time Light-Rail systems have proven to be problematic and expensive, why do we keep making decisions based on short term cost concerns, rather than decisions that would be better financially and effectively long term? John Streetcars! They should never been removed. Steven Kinnunen Bus and rail commuting options that move beyond the obsolete downtown-hub, suburban-spoke arrangement would significantly expand the ability of people to avoid car commuting when they want to. Nearly all Twin Cities job growth in the last 20 years has occurred in the suburbs, but our current transit model can’t accommodate it. My suburban workplace has at least 7,000 employees, but only a fraction of 1 percent commutes by bus. No wonder — under the best of conditions, it’s a 75-minute trip to or from Uptown Minneapolis, the densest residential neighborhood in the state. robert Berger I believe we will have more constraints within the next 20 years which will make rail, electric trolleybus necessary. Because rail is so expensive, we will only be able to build a few lines. Bus rapid transit may be beneficial, but we need to think of electrically powered transit. If PRT proves effective at Heathrow airport in London, I hope we will see some PRT serving to connect commuters to light rail. I don’t believe PRT can serve as a full coverage system for a city, but it may serve to connect suburban residents to line haul transit such as BRT and LRT more effectively than buses. Buses on local roads often seem to create rather than alleviate congestion. Bikeways and sidewalks will also be important. alex We need a subway system. When I go to cities with good subway systems, the subway is so much easier than driving. nk As a bike commuter, I would welcome a yearly license fee for my bike if it meant more well-placed bike paths. I’m guessing I’m not alone in this. I’d welcome a link to the objective studies that rate cars as more efficient and cheaper than ANY mass transit. Are pollution, car accidents, hideous parking lots, etc. figured into the “cost”? Joey Gary F: I’d like to eat a New York Strip seven nights a week, too, but in the long run the cost and cholesterol would kill me. Want vs. need, right? If your job really requires an automobile, then keep using it. But for times when you don’t need it–and for most of us in the city, that’s all the time–there are much more practical solutions. David N. Gary, it seems to me that it is slightly narrow minded to think that in countries where Mass Transit is a primary source for commuting, that you couldn’t possibly live life, make money or do what it is you like to do. In addition to this, it is pretty narrow minded to think that in American states that have good public transit (Seattle, DC, etc) that no one there is able to do the things you say you do. Compromise, doesn’t equal people’s liberties being taken away. There isn’t some liberal waiting to rip your car keys from your hands. What people are trying to work for is a system that works for more than a government hating traveling sales people who need to pick up lumber. As a side note: I don’t know who is doing your taxes, but if you’re paying 50% tax, they are being done wrong. I would LOVE to live in a nation that charged 50% tax. The countries in the world that have the highest satisfaction with their government are also the countries that have the highest taxes. Adrienne Rail service to Duluth and along the north shore would be a great service to the whole state. Luke Van Santen While I agree with many of the options put forward prior to this comment (especially light rail on existing road right-of-way and personal rapid transit (PRT)), I think one of the most effective solutions is not being mentioned near as much as it should be, if at all – TELECOMMUTING! I know it is not applicable for everyone, but for those who can, it solves time, resource consumption, stress, and environmental problems, all while making the existing infrastructure more usable by everyone else and reducing the amount of wear and tear on that same infrastructure! My other car is a computer! Dianne For commuting, I loved riding the bus when I lived in SE Minneapolis and the light rail when I lived in South Minneapolis, but now I live in North Minneapolis and my only choice is a 50-minute bus ride. I want to see more light rail and commuter rail lines for commuters. I also think a street car-like vehicle would be good in the downtown areas and between Minneapolis and St. Paul. Sheldon Gitis Ironically, there is no public transit option along the only existing public transit right-of-way in the Central Corridor between Minneapolis and St. Paul. I would like a public transit option that utilized the existing transit right-of-way running between the TCF Bank Gopher Football Stadium and the the Fairgrounds. A public transit route along the existing rail corridor would serve the 2 Downtowns, Como Park, Hamline University, Midway Stadium, and all 3 of the U of M Twin Cities Campuses with faster, safer, less costly transit service than the proposed concrete project on University and Washington Avenues. Julie I live and work in Minneapolis. When the weather permits, I ride my bike to work, otherwise I bus. The number one consideration for me each time I move into a new apartment is how good the transportation options are, because I don’t have a car available to me. I get a little tired of hearing how we need to build X more lines out to the suburbs, when selfishly, I want better transit in Minneapolis and St. Paul first. With such limited resources, it makes the most sense to me to invest in a system that will be in use 24/7 and be more reliable for people who already use and need mass transit, not just as commuter lines M-F during rush hour for people going to and from work. Charlie C Sheldon: In case you check back, you can ride the Campus Connector (free, open to the public) from TCF Bank Stadium to the fairgrounds lots, or adjacent the West entrance (first stop off the private transitway). The only downside is that they reroute the bus around the fairgrounds during the get-together. Aaron Worthwhile transit solutions involve the integration of multiple modes of transportation, and leadership that operates in the presumption of innovation, not maintenance only. I would like to have a well design mix of neighborhood community vehicles, foot and bike paths, conventional roadways, improved bus service and especially personal rapid transit (it’s not as futuristic or impractical as frequently assumed). stu klipper Now that you ask, it occured to me that something that might be warrenting consideration is a system of Water Taxis on the river. They’ve proved to be succesful in East Coast cities with revitalized water fronts. So, now that that revitalization has happened in Mpls. & St. Paul why not water transport here too? The ‘infra-structure’ is built-in, to with the Mississippi River. Perhaps the locks could serve as terminals and transfer points. Such as system would have to be a seasonal operation, at least until the warming climate notches up a bit more. Peter We need tax-payer funded unicorns. That way we would have no traffic congestion and little greenhouse gas emissions. Richard Callahan Something as simple as a bus line going north and south on Lexington Avenue from W. 7th to 694 would be of great benefit. It’s difficult to go north and south via bus or bike in St. Paul. Dawn Bryant Trains — lightrail, commuter & long-distance Sarah A light rail or transit bus between Mankato and 494 along/on Hwy 169 would be great! There is a LOT of commuter traffic along this route and would make travel available to many who do not have access to other transportation or would prefer mass transit. Mike Loshe Thanks for the share! I recently took a road trip with the family to the Great Wolf Lodge for the weekend and the biggest tip I can give someone on a family road trip with little ones is to PACK GAMES! I had so many games and movies I think I had the whole family DVD collection in the car. Not do these hold the kids attention but it also normally puts them to sleep which is great when you have a long ride ahead of you!