May 31, 2005

Central Corridor Update

The Central Corridor's Coordinating Committee resumed meeting again this month. I assume this means that the Federal Transit Authority's comments have been received

There will be three more public meetings over the summer. If this project is going to happen--and it clearly needs to--the question is whether the corridor will be developed with Bus Rapid Transit or Light Rail. BusRT would be cheaper initially, but I don't think it would have the same appeal for riders--and I don't think it would handle increased capacity as well as Light Rail.

("Increased capacity" assumes that continued service cuts by the Met Council, necessitated by short-sighted,anti-public investment politicians, won't continue to reduce ridership).

Posted by tgus at 2:45 PM

110 over 65 Without the Drive.

We came home yesterday from a short jaunt UpNorth. Nice and relaxing and all. But just thinking about the return drive on such trips gets many people's hearts racing. Here's why: at 6pm near Rogers on I-94, the Cities-bound traffic was stop and go. Mostly stop. It put everyone in a supremely unhappy holiday mood.

It reminded me how grateful I am not to commute to work by car.

Sure, there are times when driving a car to work would be more convenient. But I'm convinced my blood pressure would be much higher if I regularly drove any distance on freeways like that.

Posted by tgus at 2:39 PM

May 26, 2005

Fares Go Up--How About a User Fee instead?

As reported in the Strib, the Metropolitan Council, constrained by the governor's veto of transportation bill, voted yesterday to increase fares; in order to balance their budget the Council will also reduce service. Of course, the net result will be a loss of riders. It's a vicious cycle, sprialing downward. This is the second across the board fare increase in four years.

More details from the Strib:

"Legislators meeting in special session may yet include money for transit in a bill that appropriates operating money for the Minnesota Department of Transportation, said Rep. Ron Erhardt, R-Edina, chairman of the House Transportation Committee.

"In the regular session, Erhardt sponsored a transportation bill that he said would have added money for improved roads and expanded transit service -- including enough to avoid service cuts.

"The bill was passed by the House and Senate and vetoed by Gov. Tim Pawlenty because it included a 10-cent gas tax increase, and Pawlenty has taken a vow not to raise taxes."

We know that the vow has already been broken. Maybe the governor would agreee to a user fee on gas to fund roads and transit?

Posted by tgus at 1:00 PM

May 24, 2005

No New User Fees?

Update: I see Jim at Oil is for Sissies was only an hour-and-a-half or so more timely than I in getting around to commenting on the gubernatorial word-play.

It's not news to anyone around these parts that Governor Pawlenty vetoed the transportation bill that would have filled potholes, built roads AND funded transit at an operable level--in the name of having sold his soul to the Taxpayer's League--I mean holding to his No New Taxes pledge. But hey, i've been on hiatus for a week.

And it's not news that he then turned around and proposed a cigarette tax--I mean user fee--though not to fund anything related to smokers, as you'd expect a cigarette user's fee to do.

We deserve much better leadership than accounting gimmicks and word games. How about investing in the state's infrastructure (and K-12 schools, while we're at it)?

Posted by tgus at 8:08 PM

May 18, 2005

Seattle, MN

Enough with the rain already.

My neighbors' yard looks like a hay field ready for mowing

Posted by tgus at 9:22 PM

May 15, 2005

No Night Buses on Nicollet Mall

As a summer experiment, according to the Strib:

"Affected routes: 10, 11, 17, 18, 25, 675 and 466, which make 200 bus trips between 6:30 and 11 p.m. and which carry about 3,500 riders. At 11 p.m. the buses will return to Nicollet Mall for late-evening trips from downtown." those routes will run on Hennepin Ave. instead.

All of those riders will instead be moved over to Hennepin Ave. "in an effort to make the downtown Minneapolis mall more pleasant for walking, biking, and outdoor dining."

That will certainly mean less diesel exhaust hanging over the sidewalk cafes. As a trade-off, transit users will have some extra walking to do in extra fumes on the Hennepin Avenue detour.

Posted by tgus at 9:54 PM

May 8, 2005

A Lawyer on His Cell Phone

As I boarded the LRT at the Metrodome station, an incongruously loud cell phone conversation began:

"Jim? Jerry." (Pause.) "We settled." (Pause.) "Five and a quarter;
workers comp., one point five." (Long pause.) "Let me look at the settlement sheet. We just finished 10 minutes ago." (Longer pause.) "The other deadline? That would make a July trial." (Pause.) "I've got to catch a plane in 40 minutes. I'm on the train right now. See ya tomorrow"

I know that the conversation wasn't about these' guys' situation. But it could have been.

And the lawyer's travelin' wasn't quite so hard.

Posted by tgus at 12:08 PM

May 6, 2005

About Mother's Day

Young Guy ln Black (one arm around woman in black, cell phone in other hand): "Shelley's here, Mom. She wants to talk to you." Hands phone to Shelley, the woman in black.

Shelley: "Since we're kinda poor right now we thought we'd come visit you for Mother's Day." They talk some more.

Shelley : "OK." Hands the phone back to the Young Guy ln Black.

Young Guy ln Black (looking at Shelley, smiling): "Yeah, mom, she is."

He listens a while.

Young Guy ln Black, abruptly: "Lindsay lost the baby today."

Long silence.

I failed to hear anything more he said.

Posted by tgus at 1:28 PM

More Public Comments

I get in the Franklin Ave. Station elevator, to go up to the platform. Three other people crowd in.

There's an announcement over the elevator's loudspeaker:-"Trains are delayed 2 to 5 minutes."

One of the other elevator riders, a youngish man wearing ear phones, asks loudly (half-lifting his blasting earphones) "Who's talking?"

Me: "An announcement--trains are late 2 to 5 minutes."

Earphone Guy, scowling: "As much money as taxayers paid for this...."

We exit the elevator, and he kicks open the exterior door to leave elevator building.

Earphone Guy: "They raise the fucking rates, I'll never ride again." Storms ahead to the platform, where a train is arriving.

Posted by tgus at 12:59 PM

May 5, 2005

Some Hard Travelin'

Boarding at the Metrodome Station to go home, I stepped lnto the middle of a serious conversation about inadequate health insurance, medical bllls, workers' comp., lawsuits, and communlty service hours. I couldn't catch it all, but it didn't sound fun.

As we pull up to the Franklin Ave. station, in sight of Whiskey Junction, The Joint, and the Cabooze, one of the conversants says: "I wish we could get off here for a beer."

"Yeah that'd be nlce."

"Problem is, I wouldn't stop at one."

'Yeah especially if I have liquor--you know, Jack Daniels. You wanna keep that warm feeling but it doesn't work. You'll have that struggle for long time."

They pause for half a minute. They resume talk of medical problems, x-rays, and unpaid bills as I get off at Lake St.

Cue Woody Guthrie: "I've been havin' some hard travelin', Lord."

Posted by tgus at 7:13 AM