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Sunday May 19th 2019

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Metro Transit – You’re voting for an agenda

BY JOHN CHARLES WILSON

This is another slow month for transit news in the Phillips Community. I was originally going to write about the Gold Line, a Bus Rapid Transit line being planned to operate on the East Side of Saint Paul, when I was inspired to change the topic to something more geographically universal.

The primary elections are coming up on the 14th of August. How does that relate to transit? Since 1970, the State of Minnesota, the Metropolitan Council, and various other local government entities have run the transit system in the Twin Cities. The Federal government provides funding for specific transit projects, like Light Rail and Bus Rapid Transit. In this context, elections are important.

Take, for example, Hennepin County Commissioner Peter McLaughlin. He has probably done more than any local politician since before the Reagan era to promote public transit in our metro area. He has been a huge booster of Light Rail (both the Blue and Green Lines, and the future extensions to Eden Prairie and Brooklyn Park), Commuter Rail (Northstar to Big Lake and hopefully someday to Saint Cloud), and Bus Rapid Transit (the Red Line and the A Line, with new lines planned to pop up in the next decade or so). Unfortunately, the DFL denied him this year’s endorsement.

Without good transit, no major city can prosper. This isn’t just a “liberal” or “Democratic” issue. At least two Republican State Representatives, Kelly Fenton of Woodbury and Jim Nash of Waconia, are supporters of transit. Ms. Fenton helped conceptualize the Gold Line Bus Rapid Transit that I mentioned at the beginning of this column, and Mr. Nash’s support is all the more remarkable in that his district is on the rural fringe of the metro area and doesn’t have transit (though Victoria and Waconia have both experimented with it in the past).

It is probably less surprising that the DFL is often associated with support for transit. Karen Clark, Scott Dibble, and Frank Hornstein have all made the grade, so to speak.

There is no way I can cover every local politician and their stance on transit in this one column, so I urge you, the voters, to do your own research prior to voting. Please vote for the candidate of your choice, though I hope that, like me, you will consider transit as at least one of the issues worthy of influencing your vote. Thank you.

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One Response to “Metro Transit – You’re voting for an agenda”

  1. Jim Nash says:

    Hi John,

    I wanted to provide an important clarification. I support busses as a form of transit and am a critic of light rail. I appreciate your pointing out that I support bus transit; it is a flexible form of transit and I do indeed believe in it.

    That can’t be said for me of Light Rail. I don’t see it’s value or utility. It is expensive and doesn’t really solve the problem and I’ve actually led the way in getting the State of MN out of paying for LRT. Last year I authored a bill that passed into law removing State funding of SWLRT for maintenance and operation costs,

    I just wanted to provide this clarification for your readers. As I said, I believe in busses but not the rest of the MetCouncil agenda.

    Rep. Jim Nash.

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