April 16, 2010
U and Met Council Tentatively Agree on Central Corridor
I've been ignoring the blog, even with this ongoing brouhaha in a beaker--and now it seems to have been resolved after much public finger-pointing, the casting of aspersions, leveraged deadlines, the initiation of legal action, and mediation.
November 16, 2009
Northstar Line Opens
The Strib reports on the opening of the Northstar commuter rail line.
The Twin Cities now has a light rail system. Embryonic to be sure, but more than just the lonely Hiawatha light rail line.
Will the Central light rail corridor move ahead on schedule, or will the U of M's dispute with the Met Council de-rail it? Details at 11 (or thereabouts).
May 8, 2009
Hennepin County's Transit Vision
Click on a corridor to get more info.
April 23, 2009
Dinner and drinks
Waiting for the 3 near Dinkytown:
Cell Phone Guy: "Jim? Dave here. I'm on my way to Bloomington. Hey, I was just a Class A co-dependent enabler. Eddy just had dinner on my dime at McDonalds. But then I saw him in the liquor store. Said he'll be sleeping under the bridge."
Cell Phone Guy: "It won't happen again."
April 19, 2009
Green Apples at Bus LRT Station?
The Strib article says that it's a green building, but how green is space for 750 cars, with only 10 bike lockers?
April 16, 2009
"Packed Like Lemmings in Their Shiny Metal Boxes"
It's a commonplace that American commuter culture overwhelmingly comprises solo riders in cars built to seat 4-7 passengers.
Still, as I biked across the Franklin Avenue Bridge at 5:20 pm today, I was struck by the two lanes of predominantly one-person cars, lined up in two Eastbound lanes, bumper to bumper across the breadth of the Mississippi River Gorge. And a couple hundred yards upstream, the same scene stretched across the I-94 bridge.
Until we have good transit options--or $4-a-gallon gas--most commuters will put up with the delays and frustrations of going solo.
The Eight Billion Dollar Question
Will the $8 billion in stimulus funds for high speed rail be a down payment on transit infrastructure comparable to "the Interstate Highway System in the 1950s?"
We're supposed to find out which regions will get the cash by the end of the summer. As the article points out, the midwest region, with a Chicago hub and a very hard-hit economy, should be able to make a strong case to be part of the early answer.
April 13, 2009
High Speed Ohio?
Ohio's jumping on the high speed rail proposal bandwagon
Seeing the Light (Rail)
Who knew the governor and the Chamber of Commerce would so quickly do an about face and get on board the transit bandwagon?
April 12, 2009
Northern Light Express Project
RFP for the Northern Lights Passenger Rail Project: hIgh speed rail, Minneapolis to Duluth
Main page of NLX here
April 8, 2009
The Recession's Growth Industry
On the Hiawatha Line:
Rider 1: So what do you do?
Rider 2: I'm in collections. We used to be a law firm that did some collections, but we've morphed into all collections.
April 7, 2009
At the Metrodome Station
Crowds appear on the plaza, clustered lines:
Winter's sand blown dry across the bricks.
April 6, 2009
Final Dome Opener
Made my usual transfer from bus to train at the Metrodome station.
On Opening day for the Twins.
While waiting for the train, I strolled the Plaza on Kirby Puckett Place, and decided to buy a bag of kettle corn to bring home to make our TV viewing of the game feel a litttle more like Dome, Sweet Dome.
It's the puffy, Teflon and plastic stadium's final year as home of the Twins.
With temps in the low 40's and a stiff northwest wind blowing, most fans were probably happy to retreat indoors for one final home opener. Next year, people will need to ride a few more stops to het to Target Field. (Also, see Target Field webcams )
April 4, 2009
A Philosophy of Cars
Found myself humming this old Paul Simon song:
Cars are cars/ All over the world/ Cars are cars/ All over the world/ Similarly made/ Similarly sold/ In a motorcade/ Abandoned when they're old
"Cars are Cars," from
Hearts and Bones
It's always seemed like a disposable sort of song--it's my least favorite on an otherwise strong if overlooked album--but but its cheesy pop sound was part of the point about commodification and disposability.
April 3, 2009
Transportation Choices 2020
The Transportation Choices 2020 Initiative Includes eight projects to create a true regional transit system.
Take a look at this map to get a sense of what could be. For $100 million a year.
April 2, 2009
Someone ought to do a story
7:20 a.m., on the 50, between the Metrodome and the U:
Woman 1 [looking up under the 35W overpass]: There's our homeless person. I don't know how they can sleep there.
Woman 2: Yeah--
Woman 1: Sleep on that cold concrete. Someone ought to do a story about that.
Woman 2: Yep.
Woman 1: If I ever win the lottery, that'll end.
Woman 2: That's inspiring.
Woman 1: They need jobs, a lot of them have medical issues. I mean, they try to go into McDonalds to get warm, but they just kick 'em out. One poor guy locked himself in the bathroom, he was so cold and tired. He had new clothes--someone had done that. If they have money to buy something, they'll let 'em stay, but if not.... When I used to work downtown, I'd buy two Egg McMuffins and coffees at the McDonalds that was there--back when that was just a couple bucks--and give one away.
High-Speed's Political Hurdles
This AP article lays out why, despite Transportation Secretary LaHood's assertion that "developing high-speed rail is the country's No. 1 transportation priority," U.S. bullet trains are unlikely to become reality, even with 8 billion in stimulus money dedicated to them.
Alack, and weyl-a-wey.
The Functions of Transit Stops?
Aside from their obvious, intended function as locations where people access a transit system, bus stops and rail stations advertise the possibility of transit to all the car drivers who pass by--though not always positively. A lonely soul in the rain,or a crowd huddled in a -20 windchill undoubtedly cause passing drivers to thank their stars for their cars.
They also serve as places of exchange (someone needs money for a ticket, or for smokes, or for a bottle), and sites for interaction among people who wouldn't otherwise look at each other, let alone strike up conversations.
Looking at them sociologically, or anthropologically--what other roles do they play?
April 1, 2009
Who's Doing What? a.m. edition
On the downtown-bound 24 bus, 7:15 am, out of 21 people there were
6 people reading books
5 people reading newspapers
1 person reading a magazine
1 person listening to an mp3 player
1 person talking on a cell phone (also one of the book readers
A big day for newsprint.
Two young professionals (YPs) chatting on the Hiwatha line, 5 pm:
YP1: I'll probably put half my tax return in the Wall Street casino
YP2: I've never bought stock. My grandparents did--
YP1: For Christmas?
YP1: There you go.
YP2: You have to wear that tie?
YP1: Tie or a jacket.
YP2: Fridays too?
YP1: Nah. Good thing--only have one.
YP1: Josh was so trashed Friday night.
YP2: [laughs] Yeah.
YP1: I've seen him wasted before, but he couldn't even keep track of his bets.
YP1: Later. [exits, Lake Street station]
March 31, 2009
Who's Doing What? a.m. edition
On the northbound light rail out of Franklin Ave. this morning, in the front half of the second car, I counted:
5 people reading a newspaper
4 people reading books
Newspapers had a very good day. But before I could count the cell phone talkers and mp3 listeners, I saw:
1 person knitting.
It was my friend Karen, standing in the aisle, needles in hand. I clearly need to add another category to these occasional censuses.
March 30, 2009
A Tale of Life and Death on the 3
As I sat down on the 3, a man behind me was telling the woman next to him this tale:
...he watched her breathe her last, then left her in her chair and went out and around to the front porch where everyone else was.
He sat down, didn't say a thing for 15 minutes. Finally Dianna looked at him and said "What? What's wrong with you?" He just started to cry. They all looked at him. Finally he got up and led them around to the back of the house.
Then I couldn't hear any more.
March 28, 2009
Econ 101 for Legislators
Sheesh. From the PiPress:
The Minnesota House has given the go-ahead to spend federal stimulus dollars on roads, bridges and transit projects.
The House voted 113-19 today to authorize the state Department of Transportation to spend nearly $600 million in stimulus cash....Republican attempts to put up barriers to spending on transit projects failed. Opposition came from Republicans like Rep. Paul Kohls of Victoria, who says the federal government doesn't have the money to back stimulus spending.
Dear Rep. Kohls:
Yes, the federal government is borrowing money to stimulate the economy. They're doing that because there's this thing called a "recession" that's happening, and no one else either can or will borrow. Borrowing money to invest in productive projects like roads and transit is the whole point of "stimulus spending." It will give Minnesotans things called "jobs," and get them travel to work and school more efficiently. All of this is called "governing."
PS--the federal government also has to borrow because this thing called a "surplus" that existed as recently as 2001 became a deficit under your party's rule.
The Challenge of Long-Term Solutions, Transit or Otherwise
The Transit for Livable Communities blog points out that the Met Council's short term fix (good news: no fare increases or service reductions for 2009) doesn't solve the long-term need to invest in a regional transit system.
In a culture that tends to think that "long-term" means either "after the next election" or "after the next paycheck," long-term thinking is notoriously difficult. Add in budget shortfalls and a recession, and the difficulty increases by a factor of, oh, 3,000. Just ask President O as he tries to pitch his budget as a long term investment with short-term costs.
March 26, 2009
Energy Stimulus $$ for Transportation projects?
STrib article today says that Minnesota is getting $37.3 million in stimulus money
to pay state and local governments for energy efficiency and conservation projects.
The article continues:
Among a long list of other things, the funds also can be used on transportation programs that conserve energy...
What might those programs be? Park and ride lots? Bus lanes? Nothing so transitty, it seems. Since "the money is being distributed to 23 cities, 10 counties and six Indian tribes; the state's energy office is getting the biggest chunk of cash, $10.6 million," it won't go toward big, coordinated projects--maybe energy-efficient stoplights in one town, and energy-efficient streetlights in another. Maybe. Maybe not.
Text you later
On the Hiawatha line tonight:
Cell phone woman: I'll text you later--
Cell phone woman: [laughs] That's how I roll.
Cell phone woman: From the mall. I might not buy anything. Text you later.
Who's Doing What? a.m. edition
On the 7:27 am northbound light rail out of Lake St. today, I counted who was doing what in my half of car #2. Out of 30 people, there were:
4 on their cellphones
1 reading a newspaper
2 listening to iPods or other music players
4 reading books
18 still waking up.
1 guy counting who was doing what.
The death of the book was still not in evidence. Newspapers, though, were looking unloved.
March 24, 2009
Central Corridor Update
The March issue of Metro Transit's monthly news publication, Connect, offers an update on the Central Corridor Project.
-Major Construction will begin in 2010, and end in 2014.
-The Minneapolis terminus will be the new station near Target Field, the station that will also be the terminus of the North Star Commuter Rail Line.
-Trains will travel every 7.5 minutes during peak hours. It will take 35 minutes to travel the 11 miles between downtown St. Paul and downtown Minneapolis. (That would take about 15 minutes in a car on I-94--assuming no traffic slowdowns and not counting the time it takes to find a parking place).
March 21, 2009
Biden Promises Money to get Northstar to St. Cloud
Though Senator Klobuchar dials down the expectations.
Dan Erhart, Anoka County Commissioner, wasn't listening to her. Erhart wonders "if there will be another $60 million in federal funding for another main rail line that would run from Interstate 694, in the northern metro area, to a station near Foley Boulevard in Coon Rapids. 'We'd like to connect the whole state by rail,' he said."
With a train-riding Biden on your side, why not think big?
March 19, 2009
Railswarm on the Hiawatha Line
Regular riders of the Hiawatha Line yesterday around 9 am must have felt surrounded as hundreds(?) of Minneapolis South high school students--excused from their classes for a few hours--boarded at the Lake Street station, bound for Target Center to cheer on their Gallant Tigers in the quaterfinals of the girls state basketball tournament.
Led by Tayler Hill, South defeated an overmatched Blaine squad 73-34. I'm guessing the light rail ride back to South was one of the most jubilant trips to school ever.