I'm Just A Bus Driver, What Do I Know?

So tonight I went to a meeting of Transit for Livable Communities at the nice Goowill building just off University and Fairview. The meeting was mostly about the Central Corridor project, and since it's hard to get information on the web, I decided the best way to find out about developments is by going to the meeting.

As usual, there were a decent share of those passionate, "I hate government" and "Our bus system sucks" people. I always sympathize with those people (because they're right), but they seem to be incapable of figuring out that following the political process is the only way to get this to change. And yelling at the choir rarely does any of that.

It was definitely better than the last community-related Metro Transit meeting. Of course, that's because the meeting last year was to complain about proposed budget cuts. Unlike last year's meeting, though, it was nice to see the concerned citizens for public transportation working on it instead of just the disabled and poor who cannot afford a car.

So what happened at the meeting? Well, they went over the fact that they have an Environmental Impact Study results or something and are looking for the public's reaction to that. Oh wait, the study was about the Central Corridor project, which is a stretch between downtown Minneapolis and downtown St. Paul. The results seem to be that a Light Rail system down the streets of University Ave. (and hopefully a tunnel under the U of M) is the best option to improve transportation in the area.

After a couple of short presentations, we broke into small groups of 10 or so and talked through the issues we found. Of course, a main issue was the money. Where the money is not the problem, it was more the idea of what else we could do with that money. I brought up the idea that I find it hard to believe that they'd find room for light rail and keep the 4 lanes of traffic on the road, but it seemed pretty well known among the rest of the group that it's one of the widest roads in the area. That's probably true, but still, the current Light Rail line on Hiawatha is in much more spacious areas, for the most part.

Apprently the big news of the area is that public transportation is attached to a current tax bill in the state legislature. The Star Tribune has coverage of it, but apparently the word from the meeting is that this half-cent regional sales tax would bring in about $110 million per year for the next couple years, and after the stadiums get paid off, all $220 million would go to public transit. This is the money that mass transit in Minnesota needs, but everyone at TLC was realistically not expecting the legislation to go through. (Plus, our insane governor will most certainly veto it.)

All in all, it was a great meeting to attend. Although I'm still a bit scared of all these political people who just sit around thinking about how to improve the city. They're just too social and weird.


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