Transit for Livable Communities.

SIGN UP:   

 About Us.Our Work.Take Action.Support Us.For the Media.Resources.
Transit.Walking.BicyclingThoughtful Development.

News

« October 2011 | Main | December 2011 »

Weekly Transportation News

11/29/2011

Transit:

  1. Pioneer Press: Dakota County bus-rapid transit stays on track with grant
  2. Pioneer Press: Mississippi River route chosen for high-speed train to Chicago
  3. Republican Eagle: High-speed rail headed our way?
  4. St. Cloud Times: Mississippi River route chosen for high-speed train to Chicago
  5. Star Tribune: After Ramsey, what's Northstar's next stop?
  6. Star Tribune: La Crosse-St. Paul high-speed rail route endorsed
  7. Star Tribune: Ramsey expected to get Northstar commuter rail line station
  8. Star Tribune: Transit board finds $3.2 million for new Cedar Av. bus service
  9. MPR: Central Corridor Construction on University Avenue Completed
  10. Finance & Commerce: How LRT Could Change the Capitol Area (subscription required)
  11. Finance & Commerce: Minnesota's Plans for High-Speed Rail Include Milwuakee (subscription required)
  12. Pedestrian Observations: A Transit City is a Centralized City
  13. The Transportationist: Transportation Costs Too Much

Bike/Walk:

  1.  Planetizen: The Value of Transportation Enhancements; Or, Are Walking and Cycling Really Transportation?
  2. Planetizen: LEED May Be discouraging More Bike Storage Rooms
  3. MinnPost: St. Paul's Controversial Jefferson Avenue Bikeway Sparkes Even More Citizen Hearings
  4. Albert Lea Tribune: A Future Trail
  5. Planetizen: Reason London Failed in Becoming a Cycling City

Roads/Bridges:

  1. MinnPost: Obama administration to lawmakers: Work out a deal on St. Croix bridge
  2. MPR: Oak Park Heights mayor opposes St. Croix bridge through his city
  3. MPR: St. Croix bridge bill has Minnesota congressional members at loggerheads
  4. Republican Eagle: Letter: Region needs new river crossing
  5. Stillwater Gazette: New bill calls for less costly St. Croix bridge
  6. Star Tribune: St. Croix River bridge summit fails to reach a consensus
  7. Star Tribune: MnDOT OKs Frontage Roads Leading to Elk River
  8. Old Urbanist: Jane Jacobs on Narrow Streets

Other:

  1. BBC: How a Midwestern Town Reinvented Itself

Weekly Transportation News

11/18/2011

Transit:

  1. National Journal: Transit Riders as Taxpayers
  2. Finance & Commerce: No Light Rail Crossing for I-94 Bridge (subscription required)
  3. Star Tribune: After Ramsey, What's Northstar's Next Stop?

Bike/Walk:

  1. New York Times: The Pedestrian Loses the Way
  2. Human Transit: Walkscore's New Apartment Search Functions
  3. DC Streets Blog: Nine Reasons for Bike/Ped Advocates to Take Heart: The Senate Edition

Roads/Bridges:

  1. Grist: Why Cities Should Destroy Their Highways
  2. Star Tribune: St. Croix Bridge Passes Key Hurdle
  3. MPR: Stillwater Residents React to New Bridge Development
  4. MPR: Klobuchar Confident St. Croix Bridge Bill Will Move Forward
  5. Winona Daily News: Businesses Weigh in on Interstate Bridge
  6. MPR: St. Croix Bridge Bill Has Minnesota Congressional Members at Loggerheads
  7. MPR: Oak Park Heights Mayor Opposes St. Croix Bridge Through his City
  8. MinnPost: Devin Henry: Obama Administration to Lawmakers: Work Out a Deal on St. Croix Bridge

 

An interview with Jennifer Munt

11/11/2011

Hilary Reeves, TLC’s communications director, recently sat down with Jennifer Munt to talk about her first several months on the Metropolitan Council. Munt represents District 3, which includes 16 suburbs in Hennepin County. She is also the president of the board of Transit for Livable Communities.

  Jennifer Munt Met Council
Jennifer Munt, Metropolitan Council Member for District 3

For me, there are two values that guide my work on the Met Council: equity and inclusion. I believe that we can do a better job of providing the tools to cities so that they can design communities where everyone can prosper, whether you’re old or young, whether you have a car or not.

TLC If a person waiting for the bus or arriving at a park and ride asked you why the Met Council matters, what would you say?

I would tell them that we’re all about livability, we’re about affordable housing, clean water, beautiful parks, and we make sure the buses and trains run on time.

TLC As a member of the Met Council, what does it mean to bring a regional vision to your District and your District’s views to the Council? What’s at stake?

I believe I was appointed to be a regional thinker. I don’t think we move the region forward if we are just about bringing home projects to our districts. Everything we do is so interconnected: community development, environmental services and transportation. And similarly, what happens in one portion of the region affects what happens in another.

TLC How should the Met Council balance, rail, bus, and bus rapid transit investments for the best outcomes for the region?

We need to pair the right mode with the needs of a given corridor. I think that our transportation policy plan is well balanced in that respect. We know we need to double our transit system by the year 2030. The problem is that we don’t have the funding necessary to make all of those things happen. My frustration is that we can get the capital for a project but it’s a struggle to get the operating dollars to keep what we build alive. 

TLC Is there a vision for what the regional bus system could be if funding were secure?

I think there’s a clear vision of what it would be. When we restructure a segment of the bus system, we go out and we talk to people. We find out: where do they want to go? That changes over time. There are new developments, there are new trends, new places where people want to go, new places where people work. So, we tailor our system to those changing needs. We’re finding now, with $4 per gallon gas, there are more and more people who want to choose transit and we’re finding that younger people want to be less auto-dependent. They want choices. They want to take their bikes. They want to take the bus. And right now those choices aren’t plentiful for them.

We’re finding now, with $4 per gallon gas, there are more and more people who want to choose transit and we’re finding that younger people want to be less auto- dependent. They want choices. They want to take their bikes. They want to take the bus. And right now those choices aren’t plentiful for them.

We also have an aging population, with far greater needs for transit. One of the most eye-opening experiences for me recently was when I had the opportunity to put on an age suit. This age suit made my body feel like I was 73. It made climbing stairs a challenge. It made running across an intersection a challenge. I found new value in those count-down timers that told me whether I had enough time to get across or not. It totally changed the way I see things. Planners of our transit system need to understand what young people need, what our aging population needs and we need to make a greater investment in transit in order to meet those needs.

TLC What about people who are stranded in the housing they have, unable to reach work or essential shopping without a car?

For me, there are two values that guide my work on the Met Council: equity and inclusion. I believe that we can do a better job of providing the tools to cities so that they can design communities where everyone can prosper, whether you’re old or young, whether you have a car or not. I’ll give you an example.

Continue reading "An interview with Jennifer Munt" »

Weekly Transportation News

Transit:

  1. Star Tribune: Transit-Oriented Development Along Cedar Av. Explored
  2. Finance & Commerce: Judge Tosses MPR Light-Rail Suit (subscription requried)
  3. CBS MN: MnDOT Gets $1.18M to Help with Vet Transit

Bike/Walk:

  1. TCDP: Putting People First in Transportation
  2. Twin Cities Runoff: Riding on the Shoulder
  3. Good: How Biking Can Save Cities Billions of Dollars in Health Expenses
  4. The Pump Handle: Bicycling in China, the Twin Cities, and the Senate
  5. The Atlantic Cities: How Timed Traffic Signals Can be Bad for Pedestrians

Roads/Bridges:

  1. TheCityFix: Building More Roads Does Not Ease Congestion
  2. Star Tribune: Feds Say They'll Mediate Deal for St. Croix Bridge
  3. Pioneer Press: State Legislators Oppose New St. Croix River Bridge

 

2011 Commuter Choice Awards Recognize Creativity & Tenacity

11/10/2011

From Hilary Reeves, TLC

I should have brought my camera to the Commuter Choice Awards, held November 9 in Saint Paul. Or better yet, a video cam to capture some of the comments and the almost-Hollywood acceptance music that played while winners approached the stage. There are pics of one of the winners, Northern Brewer, in this blog post about their bicycling ways.

  2011commchoicelogo

There were some cool ideas and quotes from the 2011 awards. It’s very interesting to see the kind of programs people are putting into to place to help people save money and sanity in the effort to get to and from work. Here is just a sample.

PRIORITY PARKING, SHUTTLES, SHOWERS, LOCKERS, RACKS, and VANPOOLS!

Wells Fargo Minneapolis Campus set up guaranteed parking for carpools and a shuttle from an off-site parking garage to the work building. They said one of their priorities was to be sensitive to their neighborhood—congrats to them for finding creative ways to coexist.

Cushman & Wakefield/NorthMarq Real Estate Services—Campbell Mithun Tower doubled the bike racks available to employees and added showers and lockers. That really sends a signal that bicycling or walking or running to work is a-okay!

In a hats-off to persistence and determination, one of the awards went to Susan Humphrey, who works for US Fish & Wildlife. When her office location moved, she figured out a way to organize vanpools from western Wisconsin. She said the biggest upside is that because of the daily van rides, she now knows her co-workers and has made some great friends.

 

BEST QUOTE

MCTC (Minneapolis Community and Technical College)

The person who accepted the award made it clear how much it matters to focus on how people get places.

“For many of our students, things are pretty challenging economically. Providing affordable transportation options helps make them successful.”

He also gave a shout out to the college’s president and CFO for finding the money to subsidize student transit passes.

 

BEST STAT

Northern Brewer has 60 employees and this summer there were 30 bikes in the racks they installed at their workplace. That’s 50% mode share (in wonk-speak).

 

OTHER BEST STAT

As noted in a MinnPost story about the Awards, Jodie Zurn worked hard to convert the Minneapolis office of the United States Department of Agriculture from a federal transit voucher system to Metro Transit’s MetroPass—saving her agency $100,000! She said other agencies are following suit.

 

CONGRATS TO ALL THE 2011 WINNERS-

Kelly Burroughs

Susan Humphrey

Kristen Ries

Jodie Zurn

Northern Brewer Ltd.

Wells Fargo Minneapolis Campus

U.S. Bank—Richfield Campus

Cushman & Wakefield/NorthMarq Real Estate Services – Campbell Mithun Tower

Minneapolis Community and Technical College

Nice Ride Minnesota

REI

and thanks to Metro Transit, and the region’s Transportation Management Organizations (TMOs)-- Minneapolis Commuter Connection, 494 Commuter Services, St. Paul Smart-Trips, and Anoka County Commute Solutions--  for sponsoring the annual Commuter Choice Awards.

Weekly Transportation News

11/04/2011

Transit:

  1. Star Tribune: 35W Congestion Puts BRT Plans on Hold
  2. MinnPost: Could Bus Rapid Transit Increase Ridership 30 percent in the Twin Cities?
  3. Star Tribune: Flexing Legal Muscles Pumps Up Land Prices for Transit Project
  4. The City Fix: 7 Billion Reasons to Improve Sustainable Transport
  5. Star Tribune: Red Rock Gaining Ground
  6. Finance & Commerce: Technology Aims to Ease Traffic Flow
  7. Pioneer Press: Light-Rail Complaints Costly for Contractor

Bike/Walk:

  1. Star Tribune: Minneapolis Considers $75 Fine for Failing to Clear Sidewalks
  2. DC Streets Blog: Strike Three: Another Senator Takes Another Swipe at Bike-Ped Funding
  3. Twin City Sidewalks: Halloween is the Sidewalk Holiday
  4. MN Department of Natural Resources: Public and Private Partners Aim to Make Minnesota the Country's Top Bicycle Tourism Destination 
  5. Star Tribune: More Bikes, Healthier Cities
  6. NRDC Switchboard: Making Cities Healthier (and livelier) with a 'Walking School Bus' and Vitality Makeover

Roads/Bridges:

  1. Finance & Commerce: Bid Letting Delayed for $180 Million Bridge (subscription required)
  2. KSTP.com: New Report Sheds Light on Safety of Twin Cities Bridges
  3. KARE Report: 1 in 17 Minn. bridges 'structurally deficient'
  4. KAALtv.com:  Advocacy Group: 10 Percent Minn. Bridges "Structurally Deficient"
  5. Minnesota Public Radio: Report: 1 in 17 Twin Cities bridges is 'structurally deficient'
  6. FOX 9 News: Report Says 1 in 17 Twin Cities Metro Bridges Deficient
  7. Alexandria Echo Press: Letter - Our aging bridges need repair
  8. Pioneer Press:One in every 17 Twin Cities area bridges is structurally deficient
  9. Grand Forks Herald: OUR OPINION: To bridge partisan gaps, 'fix what we have'
  10. MinnPost.com: Truth about parking: Nothing comes for free

TLC Member and Ally Celebration!

11/01/2011

From Owen Duckworth, TLC

On Wednesday, October 26th, 2011, TLC gathered together a number of active members and leaders from partner organization to do something we’ve been meaning to do for a long time…celebrate! After a drawn out fight during the legislative session, the state government shutdown, and finally a budget deal, we felt that we needed to celebrate the hard work that our staff, members, partner organizations, and elected allies put in over the course of the year. Even as transit funding as a whole was cut, we were able to lessen the cuts through our advocacy and organizing work and we certainly were successful in preventing the draconian cuts that would have eliminated a large chunk of Metro Transit service and increased fares.

We were joined by 30 plus members as well as a number of allies from partner organizations and two elected officials. It’s likely the first time since the legislative session that many of these people were in the same room together, and potentially the first time many of our members and partners were able to interact in a less formal environment than say a meeting or committee hearing, or a rally at the Capitol. In order to show the diversity of groups who worked on transit funding, we brought up a number of speakers to address the crowd, thank them for their time and energy and talk about what’s next for transit in the region.

Longtime TLC member and activist Kathleen Murphy reminded the group about the importance of transit to our communities and the need to continue to keep focused in 2012 and beyond. State Senator Scott Dibble and State Representative Alice Hausman talked about the importance of citizen involvement at the State Capitol during the legislative session and that despite challenges, they were optimistic about the ways in which transit is being discussed as a core part of transportation infrastructure in the state and nation.

Michelle Sommers, President of the Amalgamated Transit Union Local 1005, spoke about the importance of transit to both riders and operators, and the growing strength of the relationship between Local 1005 and TLC. We couldn’t thank Michelle and ATU Local 1005 enough for the work that they did during session, as their members worked long hours collecting postcard petition signatures against cuts to transit and informing riders about the risks to their service.

Andrea Kiepe, organizer for Transportation for America (T4A) lead the group in an action to make calls to Senator Amy Kloubuchar about the importance of getting a Federal transportation reauthorization bill that prioritized multimodal transportation funding. She particularly stressed the need to share the importance of transit, bike, and pedestrian infrastructure with members of Congress in the next few months as conversations of a bill are being shaped in Washington D.C.

As we wrapped up our celebration, we had to first thank former TLC organizer Michelle Dibblee for her time as the lead organizer, especially for the long hours she put in during the 2011 session and her work to grow TLC’s grassroots power and capacity. We closed our program with Executive Director Barb Thoman talking about our work coming up in 2012. Getting bonding money from the state to build the Southwest LRT and ramping up our campaign for more funding for transit in the region are primarily what’s ahead for transit advocacy here at TLC in the coming year.

Frequently in this line of work we get caught up in thinking about the next piece of work, next campaign, or next fight that we have on our hands rather than stopping and celebrating what we’ve accomplished. Given the number of people involved in our work it was due time to thank everyone we’ve worked and partnered with to help protect and expand public transit in the Twin Cities region. Whether our members and allies were in attendance on October 26th or not, we want to thank everyone again for their hard work and energy!

Members, be on the lookout for upcoming campaign work in the next couple of months!

IMG_7589


Shaping Minnesota's Transportation Vision --We're On the GO

By Bill Neuendorf, TLC                        

In September, MnDOT released a draft of a long-term vision for our state’s transportation networks – a vision that will lead to the development of numerous transportation plans and will guide the investment of tens of billions of dollars of investment in the coming years.

An intensive six-month process to develop the vision included input and idea-gathering from groups and individuals throughout the state.  TLC staff and members took part in these sessions and recently submitted comments on MnDOT’s proposed vision (see link to comment letter below).

While vision statements tend to be idealistic and aspirational, they can effectively set the tone for future policy, programs, and action. With a budget of nearly $2.0 billion annually, the importance of an equitable and results-oriented vision is undeniable.  

MnDOT’s draft vision recognizes that Minnesota is changing. Our population is growing older; younger generations and new immigrants have different transportation and housing preferences; and our society is realizing that dependence on fossil fuels is neither reliable or sustainable.

The vision articulated by Minnesotans through MnDOT’s stakeholder engagement process shows that residents continue to value tradition and well-founded community-planning principles. They also value:

  • Transportation options, whether that be public roads, public transit, or safe public sidewalks and bike routes
  • Reliable and affordable public transit
  • Connections for pedestrians and bicyclists – infrastructure designed for people rather than just cars and trucks
  • Improved safety for all road users
  • A connected network of roads, transitways, waterways, and paths that address the needs of today and tomorrow.

What does this new vision mean for Minnesota’s transportation investments? It could mean that our roadways and other transportation projects are better connected and intertwined so that efficiency and cost-effectiveness are improved. It could mean that pedestrians, young and old, have the ability to connect more easily with their neighbors. It could mean that deliveries and commerce continue to move efficiently and productively throughout the state and beyond. Or it could result in just another document sitting on the shelf collecting dust.

Defining the vision is only the first step. To ensure that we move toward this vision, the money must line up with the vision and goals must be specific and measurable. TLC will encourage MnDOT to engage Minnesotans early so that community input can meaningfully shape transportation planning and the design of individual projects.

TLC is committed to bringing transit riders, bicyclists, and pedestrians to the table. We hope that having a visionary menu of community-supported transportation projects will mean that Minnesota residents are well served for generations to come.

Links:

Minnesota GO vision

TLC’s comments dated 10/21/2011

Nothing Like that New Bus Smell!

By Bill Neuendorf, TLC               

Have you ever wondered what a new bus smells like? Honestly, I had never given it much thought. That all changed when I attended the Minnesota Public Transit Association’s annual conference in October.

Manufacturer’s, consultants, and vendors filled the exhibit hall with the latest buses and countless accessories to enhance the comfort and performance of these vehicles. Marketing reps were on hand to describe and explain how the latest GPS tracking systems work and to point out the features that make one model better suited for suburban express routes rather than local city routes. They touted the endless technical improvements - reduced emissions, quieter operations, increased reliability, and greater comfort. Even more encouraging, was the fact that many of these products are American-made.

While this was definitely a glass-half-full crowd, there was hesitancy in the air. The operators and vendors I spoke with were concerned about the rocky path that some political leaders want public transit systems to travel.

There was sincere concern about riders being able to get to places they need to go -such as grocery stores and medical appointments. It is especially important for older and disabled riders to have a way to maintain social contacts that are so vital to keeping them active and engaged.

Transit providers throughout Minnesota are concerned about the decrease in financial support from both state and federal sources. They discussed ways to operate more efficiently and to increase revenue from advertising. Most confirmed that these efficiencies had already been implemented and turned back to the need for new support to keep the systems running for our aging population. These efficiencies were partially responsible for Metro Transit’ Top Five ranking among large transit systems earlier in 2011.

So – how do new buses smell? Amazing - the scent of a brand-new bus is fresh and optimistic. I hope more and more transit riders get to experience this sensation soon.

 

April 2014

Sun Mon Tue Wed Thu Fri Sat
    1 2 3 4 5
6 7 8 9 10 11 12
13 14 15 16 17 18 19
20 21 22 23 24 25 26
27 28 29 30