For east metro transit fans, ‘someday’ never comes

“Your time will come.” That’s what residents in the Twin Cities’ east metro have been told for several years when they ask about getting a little more transit bling as they pony up their sales tax money for transit projects.

When is that time?

It’s a good question, the answer to which has been: “Not yet. Some day, though.”

On Monday, a Little Canada DFLer pushed a plan in the Senate that would require 40 percent of transit sales-tax revenue to be spent “where 40 percent of the people reside.” That’s the east metro.

That didn’t go over so well with the west metro, the Pioneer Press noted.

“If Hennepin County’s doing the heavy lifting here in terms of putting money into the system, it seems to me fair that Hennepin County reaps its proportional benefit,”(Sen. Ron) Latz said.

He supported an amendment to give Hennepin County a bigger share of taxes from leased vehicles. The formula devised by Dibble divided that lease revenue among metro counties based on their population but treated Ramsey County as 50 percent of its population and Hennepin County as 25 percent of its population to preserve more money for the less populous metro counties.

Latz and Bonoff suggested crediting Hennepin County with 50 percent of its population.

But majorities of the Senate approved the 40 percent goal for the east metro and rejected a higher share for Hennepin County. The voting broke down along geographic lines with almost all east-metro and west-metro lawmakers voting as blocs, regardless of party. But the decisive vote came from outstate senators, who disproportionately sided with the east metro.

The debate raised an important question: How can a regionally funded transportation system be … regional?

The Senate passed its transportation bill. It faces an uncertain future because the House, controlled by the GOP, does not favor a transportation plan based on an increase in taxes.

  • MrE85
    • Hmm… I wonder if we could get a license to do that?

      • MrE85

        If you do, let me know. We buy advertising on buses from time to time.

        • My idea is to retire and run a cigar and beer bus from Woodbury to St.P and Mpls. :*)

          • MrE85

            I should have known…you know, you might just get rich.

          • rst1317

            Reverse that, have Woodbury a stop and hit Hudson. WI tax on cigars is a flat 25 cents per stick. Plus, you can buy off-sale beer and bourbon on Sundays.

  • Kassie

    I’m in Saint Paul and have lived in Minneapolis too. I’ve noticed that on my daily bus ride, it is primarily people of color on the bus, even though the area it goes through is about 50% white if you consider the whole route. Living in an equally diverse neighborhood in Minneapolis, I saw a much more equal mix of ethnicity of bus riders. I’ll hypothesize that part of the reason the East Metro doesn’t get as much funding is because it doesn’t have as many of the white middle class population riding the bus as the West Metro does.

    Of course, this is a chicken and egg question. Are there less middle class whites on my bus because they are less likely to take transit or are there less because the transit isn’t as good as it is in the West Metro?

    • The buses out of Woodbury in the morning are packed. Problem is: The last bus is at 7:50 AM.

      The area is planning the Gateway Corridor — bus rapid transit. I believe the latest estimate is that it will start running in 2023.

      • Kassie

        How packed are the buses? Like suburban packed, or city packed? My bus is often standing room only. When I’m downtown waiting for my bus I see the Woodbury bus go by and there are still seats available with only one more stop to pick up.

        If every day the buses were standing room only, they would add another bus. But again, is this chicken or egg question? Do they not have another bus because there aren’t enough people, or are there not enough people because there isn’t a later bus?

        • Postal Customer

          I believe that’s a catch-22 😉

      • tboom

        The last bus at 7:50 AM (and 5:05 PM reverse direction) has been a problem for more than 40 years. You’d think the transit decision makers would be able to figure this out – but I suppose they drive to work.

  • Postal Customer

    We’re two cities. Saint Paul doesn’t want anyone forgetting that, no matter how much eschewing that structure would benefit everyone. I’ve always thought that Mpls & St P along with Henn & Ram counties should merge.

    • Kassie

      Oh, Minneapolis also does not want anyone forgetting either. Who would they be superior to if not St. Paul?

      • tboom

        Lindstrom, with that lower-class umlaut’y looking letter where the “o” belongs.

    • rst1317

      If anything, municipalities within those counties should de-merge. They’re too large, too diverse and don’t do well meeting their citizens needs.