NEWS & VIEWS OF PHILLIPS SINCE 1976
Tuesday September 19th 2017

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A New Column: PUBLIC TRANSIT

By JOHN CHARLES WILSON

Hello, People of the Phillips Community!  My name is John Charles Wilson and I have been graciously invited by the Editor of The Alley Newspaper to write a monthly column on the subject of public transit.

I grew up in St. Paul, near the present-day Rondo Library, in the 1970s and 1980s.  I have always loved buses and collected bus schedules as a hobby. When I was a teenager, I spent my money mostly on bus rides. I wanted to ride every route but there were some routes where it wasn’t possible without spending the night at the end of the line.  Fortunately, there are way fewer routes like that now than then, as many suburbs have attained all-day service.

My historical knowledge of the twin Cities transit system informs my opinions about how it can be made better.  I’ve always wanted to put my opinions to good use, and had my life gone differently I would probably have become a Transit Information Specialist, or better yet, a planner with Metro Transit.  Back when the system was called MTC, I dreamed of a gubernatorial appointment as a Metropolitan Transit Commissioner, but I now realize the Commission, and now the Met Council, don’t have the day-to-day authority over routes and schedules—the planners do.  All the formal leadership does is approve or deny the plans.

That leads to my first piece of advice for anyone trying to influence our transit system.  Aim your discussion at the Planning Department, not the Met Council itself.  Your ideas will be more likely to be seriously considered at that level.  Attend the public meetings that are advertised about various transit projects.  Actually engage the staff in conversations when possible.  They don’t bite.

As some of you know, the Met Council is considering a fare increase, the first one in nine years.  Presently the debate is whether to raise the fares 25 or 50 cents across the board.  I am proposing a different strategy: raise the non-rush hour fare, so the fare is the same at all times of day.  The rush hour tax was instituted June 1, 1982 as a “temporary” measure to circumvent a law limiting the bus fare to 60 cents.  That law is gone and so should the rush hour tax.

I hope to write something more Phillips specific next month.

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