Sunday January 23rd 2022

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Posts Tagged ‘John Charles Wilson’

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 [...]

Onward, Funding Transit!

By JOHN CHARLES WILSON  METRO TRANSIT  October 2020 has been an excellent month for Twin Cities transit enthusiasts. We are finally getting guaranteed funding for three and a half projects:  ● The Federal Transit Administration made a Full Funding Grant Agreement with the State of Minnesota for the Green Line extension to Eden Prairie. This provides $928.8 million towards the $2,002 million needed for the project, with the remainder being funded locally. Construction has been under way for two years, and completion is expected by 2023.  ● The Minnesota House passed an infrastructure bonding bill which provides funds to start construction of the B and D Lines, which are bus rapid transit. The B Line is planned for Lake Street as a faster version of Route 21, similar to Route 53 except for using Selby Ave. in Saint Paul rather than I-94. The D Line will be a faster version of Route 5, serving the Chicago Ave. S. and Fremont Ave. N. corridors. Construction is expected to begin in 2021 on the D Line and 2022 on the B line. It should take about two years for each line.  ● Included in the bill is funding for preliminary planning and engineering work for the E Line, which is intended as a faster version of Route 6. Assuming that full funding eventually comes, construction could start as early as 2023.  This is definitely good news and a reminder that our transit system isn”™t dead, it”™s just sleeping its way through the COVID-19 pandemic. Though I am personally mad at society for believing in forcing health on people, I will be glad when it”™s over so things go back to normal, like being able to dine in at restaurants, browse books at the library, or just sit down in a public place. 

Where Are We Going?

METRO TRANSIT By JOHN CHARLES WILSON Even though our buses and trains are still running on a greatly reduced schedule, Metro Transit is hard at work behind the scenes building and planning for a COVID-19-free future. That said, I wish to interrupt the good news to tell everyone that Cub Foods is running a FREE shuttle bus between its temporarily ruined Lake and Minnehaha location to their Quarry location at 1540 New Brighton Blvd. in Northeast Minneapolis. Buses leave the Lake Street Cub every hour between 10 AM and 5 PM and leave the Quarry store one half-hour later. Each bus will transport up to 20 people, allowing for social distancing and room for shopping bags. Other rules are similar to Metro Transit. Now, for what is in store for us when this debacle is over: The Green Line Extension (Southwest Light Rail) construction is continuing as normal. It is planned to be ready for use in 2023.The Blue Line Extension (Bottineau Line Light Rail) is anticipated to be done by 2024; however, a snag in negotiations with BNSF Railway for use of their right of way may cause a delay.The D Line bus rapid transit (BRT) (similar to Route 5 but faster) is expected to open in 2022.The B and E (BRT) Lines (similar to Routes 21 and 6 but faster) are expected to be built in 2022 and 2023.The Orange Line (BRT) to Burnsville on I-35W is still under construction and is expected to open near the end of 2021.The Gold Line (BRT) from Saint Paul to Woodbury is expected to open in 2024. All of this excitement gets to happen within the next presidential term, which means we all have something to look forward to no matter who wins in November”™s popularity contest.