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Sunday January 23rd 2022

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Transit: Happy New Year, People of Phillips!

By JOHN CHARLES WILSON

Well, the year 2021 is drawing to a close and 2022 is just now starting. As a transit enthusiast, I have a lot to be disappointed in and a lot to look forward to, and I hope alley readers feel the same.

What was disappointing was primarily that the pandemic has decimated transit usage to the point where many bus and train routes have been curtailed. I had hoped things would be back to normal by now, but I suspect this is the new normal. The rise in attacks on innocent transit users, especially on unsupervised trains, is very disconcerting. There are people who now eschew the light rail for slower buses because they are perceived as safer. The fact that there is a shortage of bus and train drivers doesn’t help any, either.

However, there are reasons to be hopeful for a better future: Maybe even if humans don’t beat coronavirus, we may find a way to have an uneasy truce with it. Maybe we will find a happy medium with security/law enforcement where really harmful behavior is suppressed without them having to be so brutal about it. (Hint: the powers that be should study how other countries handle this stuff.) Maybe the Met Council will find a way to make driving a bus equally lucrative to what it was in the 1970s and 1980s.

There have been some accomplishments in 2021: The Orange Line went into service, connecting downtown Minneapolis with Burnsville. Plans are chugging along for the E Line on Hennepin and the B Line on Lake Street. Construction is underway for the D Line on Chicago Avenue. Work is being done to expand Bus Rapid Transit to Saint Paul. 

I have written 58 columns, one each month since March 2017. One thing I’ve learned is there isn’t always enough Phillips-specific transit news to justify a monthly column. Therefore, as of January 2022, this column will only appear in the alley when there is sufficient local transit news to justify it. That will be a minimum of once every three months, as that’s how often Metro Transit enacts “picks” or schedule changes. I may start using other means to publish my thoughts on transit in non-Phillips contexts, and I will let you know if I do.

Thank you for being loyal readers.

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