Thursday, January 4, 2007

Twin Cities Want In the TSR

The Twin Cities was well known for it's street railways but not always for the best reasons. So it comes as no surprise that the only other metro region to have a regional government besides Portland would want to put together a light rail system. The most recent light rail success story in the United States turns out to be Minneapolis' Hiawatha Line. So successful is the line, that is has already surpassed it's projections for the year 2020 by 6,000+ riders a day. That's astonishing and it gets better.

This one success spurred the legislature to create a dedicated funding source for operating revenue for Metro Transit. Previously they were allocating funding every year, moving with the whim of the political winds. Now that they have an operating funding source, they need a capital funding source to match with Federal New Starts money for expansion projects.

Today Hennepin County realized as did all the other counties that this was necessary to build a real transit network. While the governor opposes the sales tax, he's going to have to get onto the idea quickly. The region can't afford to be left behind in the TSR. It's doing well so far and has a bit of a head start over places like Phoenix, Seattle and Charlotte but it's going to take more than the Hiawatha line to attracts jobs and the creative class.

Even if the governor doesn't agree, the mayor has been looking at a streetcar network.

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