Thursday, May 22, 2008

Two Peas in a University Pod

For the last few months while I've been watching the central corridor impasse between the University of Minnesota and everyone else , something was nagging me. And it finally clicked. U of M might as well be UT (Texas). Both are trying to reroute their respective lines around campus and near the football stadiums, both routes of which would not maximize ridership. Yet they press on with little care about their affect on the surrounding community.

Here is the U of M alternate route from the Pioneer Press.

Now here are the alternate Austin routes I drew up where the yellow is the better route, however the University continues to push the red route.

Austin-UT Route

I believe what this shows is that Universities for one are scared of things they don't understand, and that they know nothing about transportation planning and so are trying to solve a problem that only exists 8 times a year. Football game and special event congestion. With Austin, they're running the line right past the performing arts center, the football stadium and the track and swim stadiums instead of by the main campus and the dense residential neighborhood to the west.

Another perceived problem is that light rail is dangerous to pedestrians. Unlike those extremely safe cars careening through and around campus driven by students. But it just goes to show that Universities shouldn't control regional decisions by throwing fits. If there were a real issue, regional planners would understand and back off, but planning so that cars can keep driving through campus and less trips on transit can be taken is unacceptable.


Alex said...

I grew up in Minneapolis, so I'm quite familiar with the area. What's particularly frustrating about the safety argument is that the current plan calls for turning Washington Ave into a pedestrian mall - so a street with 25,000 cars per day will suddenly have far fewer vehicles traveling on it - they'll just be trains - and somehow this decreases safety?

M1EK said...

While it was true that UT pushed streetcar to San Jac, it's not true that we'd be going up Guadalupe if they asked for it there. The overriding principle this time around was not to take any through lanes from cars, unfortunately. (shared-lane service on Guadalupe wouldn't be worth the money).