Thursday, March 26, 2009

Why People Are Going to Hate You

Because you're floating a bill that would make transit planning a state function instead of a more local one. That is dumb on so many levels.
The main reason the measure is so politically fraught is that it seeks to take metro-area transit authority away from the powerful and long-entrenched Metropolitan Council. Hausman says the present concentration of transit dollars and planning power in the Met Council and the Counties Transit Improved Board (CTIB) creates inefficiencies and unwisely forces the whole state to hew to a long-range rail transit policy dictated by a handful of metro entities--particularly Hennepin County and the city of Minneapolis.
Why would you take the transit authority away from the regional planning agency? This makes absolutely no sense unless you want to steal funding for "other" transportation priorities. One of the problems in the Twin Cities is that the current righty Governor appoints members of the Metro Council which controls regional policy. Somehow fix that first.


Anonymous said...

Yet people have little problem with the Federal government doing transit planning. They might disagree with the particular approach being used at the moment, but everybody seems to take as a given that the US DOT has to be involved.

Peter said...

While the solution put forward in that article isn't very good, the reasoning is. The Met Council only governs a 7 county area, but now, depending on who you ask, the metro area is anywhere between 17 and 23 counties.

And since the Met Council is, as the article says a transit agency that doesn't advocate for transit, thanks to its members being appointed by a stupid Republican governor, the counties decided they were going to take charge themselves.

I hate that the Met Council is appointed by the governor, because it basically means that outstate super right Republicans are influencing transportation policy in my area.

If the legislature wants to reform the Met Council, they need to make it accountable to the people, not the governor, and expand it so it's relevant again. All the outer counties are afraid to join because it means more taxes, but they won't have much choice. Even if they never use our transit, the people in the core that do use the transit will help make it easier for them to drive into the core.

Also, thanks for bringing this up, I would have missed it if you hadn't

Anonymous said...

Don't do it! Look at the BS in New York right now! State legislatures deciding the fate of strictly regional goes nowhere. Even if the MTA district is arbitrarily defined, it can't be any more arbitrary than state borders that were determined centuries ago.

Anonymous said...

While this bill does consider the problem of the Met Council acting as an arm of the governor who does not support transit, the solution as proposed is even worse.

The bill states, "'The authority shall be composed of members, selected as follows:
(1) the mayor of Minneapolis or a member of the Minneapolis City Council, chosen
by the Minneapolis City Council;
(2) the mayor of St. Paul or a member of the St. Paul City Council, chosen by the St. Paul City Council;
(3) one Hennepin county commissioner chosen by the Hennepin County Board;
(4) one Ramsey county commissioner chosen by the Ramsey County Board;
(5) county commissioners from Anoka, Carver, Dakota, Scott, and Washington counties; and
(6) two residents of greater Minnesota, one each from north and south of the metropolitan area, appointed by the governor."

The resulting board would have a voice of 4 city representatives, 5 suburban/exurban representatives and 2 outstate residents appointed by the governer (who would presumably share the governor's views). And this is the group that is supposed to govern transit investments in region where the existing transit structure is a hub and spoke model focused mostly on downtown Minneapolis and downtown St. Paul?

I can't think of a worse form of governance than the proposed structure. CTIB was created as a response to Met Council's lackluster interest in transit expansion and even though it is a duplication of government, at least is much more functional government than the Met Council.

I agree the current goverance structure of 5+ governing bodies is not the most efficient. I would be more than happy if the transit authority was not beholden to the current Met Council and either by removing Metro Transit or (better yet!) by reforming Met Council to be more representative of the Twin Cities region and transit users(such as by electing the Met Council at large).

This part doesn't make a lot of sense: the transit taxing district is expanded to all parts of the 7 counties (not just the developed parts). It does not consider the other counties that have seen new development, although that development is not likely to have enough density to be served by transit.

There is a good part to the bill:
"The Minnesota Transit Authority shall prepare a comprehensive integrated statewide mass transit plan and report that plan to the legislature by January 1, 2010. The plan shall include the requirement that local governments adopt land use and subdivision regulations to reduce reliance on automobiles by allowing transit-oriented developments on lands along dedicated transit routes, and to encourage redevelopment of existing parking areas for transit-oriented development." Can we just have this part, please?

Anonymous said...

Yeah, my first thought was NYC too. I'm actually beginning to think that these "metro" transit authorities are a really bad idea. As a city resident, how exactly do I benefit by subsidizing suburban and rural transit...?