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 Response Page - Gilje / Shallbetter Interview -      
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These comments are responses to the statements listed below,
which were generated in regard to the 
Paul Gilje / Clarence Shallbetter  Interview of

Getting to work in the metro area: nothing to it for many; big obstacle for some.


Some, mainly low-income, people experience enormous difficulty in arranging trips between home and work. That they struggle with such difficulty is completely unapparent to many who never give the work trip a second thought, simply because for them getting to and from work is so easy. Those more fortunate workers open the doors to their attached garages, hop in their cars, and drive directly to a parking lot next to their jobs. Or they walk to a nearby transit stop and are delivered within easy walking distance of their jobs. However, because homes and jobs are so widely dispersed in the metro area (about 80 percent of jobs are in the suburbs), neither of those choices is readily available to significant numbers of less privileged workers.
No one, least of all lower-income persons, should be penalized in seeking or accepting jobs in the Twin Cities area simply because they don't have ready access to transportation. Many options are available to help, including better use of now-empty passenger seats in cars on the freeway every day. Action to alleviate such transportation problems will help the state solve a shortage in human capital, help employers broaden their pool of qualified job applicants, and combat poverty by making living wage jobs more accessible.

For the complete interview summary see:  Shallbetter-Gilje interview

Response Summary: Average response ratings shown below are simply the mean of all readers’ zero-to-ten responses to the ideas proposed and should not be considered an accurate reflection of a scientifically structured poll.

To assist the Civic Caucus in planning upcoming interviews, readers rated these statements about the topic on a scale of 0 (strongly disagree) to 5 (neutral) to 10 (strongly agree): 

1. Topic is of value. (8.6 average response) The interview summarized today provides valuable information or insight.

2. Further study warranted. (7.5 average response) It would be helpful to schedule additional interviews on this topic.

Readers rated the following points discussed during the meeting on a scale of 0 (strongly disagree) to 5 (neutral) to 10 (strongly agree): 

3. Employment limited by transportation. (8.7 average response) Because jobs and homes are widely dispersed in the metro area, many individuals, particularly those without cars or nearby transit service, are severely limited by where they can seek or accept employment.

4. More options will solve many problems. (8.0 average response) More options for getting to work and back should be available to relieve a shortage of human capital, to help employers broaden their pool of job applicants, and to combat poverty by making more living wage jobs accessible.

5. Work trips key to economic well being. (8.5 average response) Although work trips are but a fraction (about 17 percent) of all trips in the metro area, they merit special attention because they are critical to everyone's economic well being.

6. Future high density won't help problem now. (6.8 average response) Higher density development might bring homes and jobs closer together in the future, but that won't reduce the need to serve existing job and home locations.

7. Use new technology to ease problem. (8.1 average response) ew technologies that make it easier to connect drivers and riders need to be adopted.

Response Distribution:

Strongly disagree

Moderately disagree


Moderately agree

Strongly agree

Total Responses

1. Topic is of value.







2. Further study warranted.







3. Employment limited by transportation.







4. More options will solve many problems.







5. Work trips key to economic well being.







6. Future high density won't help problem now.







7. Use new technology to ease problem.







Individual Responses:

Dave Broden  (7.5)  (7.5)  (7.5)  (5)  (10)  (10)  (7.5)

1. Topic is of value. The availability of the database was significant. How to connect with jobs and skills remains a valid topic but needs further … specifics.

2. Further study warranted. Dependent on content and focus.  Some hard considerations to be addressed.

3. Employment limited by transportation. The argument seems correct, but [whether] it is the barrier remains unclear. How does MSP compare with other cities and what is the evolution that is occurring ?

4. More options will solve many problems. Is it more options, or is it more and smarter use of the existing transportation?

5. Work trips key to economic wellbeing. Agree but this must be studied with consideration of skills, job types and requirements, etc.

6. Future high density won't help problem now. This is correct and gets to the core of the issue. What are the key driving factors?

7. Use new technology to ease problem. New technologies will help but the social network and social norms are likely more critical. How do we get people to want to use the available transportation and not consider it a limiter?

Don Anderson  (5)  (5)  (10)  (10)  (5)  (5)  (10)

6. Future high density won't help problem now. There always has been a problem, in metropolitan areas, of home locations being on the opposite side of job locations and transit service, if available, being a very indirect way of reaching job locations.

Melissa Madison  (10)  (10)  (10)  (10)  (10)  (7.5)  (7.5)

1. Topic is of value. I work for the I-494 Corridor Commission and our study of commute behavior along the I-494 corridor indicated 95% drive alone to work.

4. More options will solve many problems. 79% of people who participated in the regional Commuter Challenge indicated they would be more likely to use an alternative form of transportation for their commute if their employer offered commuting programs.

5. Work trips key to economic wellbeing. Traffic congestion creates a lot of air pollution and the Twin Cities is flirting with air quality non-attainment, which will trigger a lot of costly affects.

Scott Halstead  (10)  (10)  (10)  (7.5)  (10)  (5)  (10)

4. More options will solve many problems. Work-at-home opportunities [are]…very feasible option[s] for some.  During the recent recession and decline in housing costs, many lower income families moved to the suburbs to be near employment.  Flexible work schedules may also be beneficial.

5. Work trips key to economic wellbeing. The Twin Cities job scene has changed greatly. There are plenty of minimum wage low job skills positions available without benefits.  Most of the good jobs require technical training or higher education.

6. Future high density won't help problem now. Most employers have little interest in locating their firms in the Central Cities. More densely populated central cities without increases in jobs may actually exacerbate the problem.  Affordable housing, increasing the housing density and creation of job centers in the suburbs are the best answers.  The very large investments in rail transit are transporting very few new riders and the increase in jobs is [zero]. 

7. Use new technology to ease problem. Major employers in the suburbs with the support of Met Transit should be able to identify individuals that live in certain areas and incentify ridesharing.

Bright Dornblaser  (10)  (7.5)  (10)  (7.5)  (10)  (10)  (10)

Michael Martens  (10)  (7.5)  (10)  (7.5)  (10)  (2.5)  (5)

6. Future high density won't help problem now. Higher density housing will concentrate housing but will probably not concentrate jobs.  For many businesses the cost for rent (including real estate tax) is an important cost of doing businesses.  Which means they will not locate in the central cities, etc.  The central cities, [University] and [state] capital have a high concentration of "knowledge worker" jobs. For these jobs the cost or rent… is a much small[er] [percentage] of business than for service and manufacturing. Therefore they can afford to pay the high cost of rent in the central cities.  There are not a lot of low and moderate income job[s] in the central cities. More of these jobs are located in the suburbs. Even though the population in downtown Minneapolis has increased greatly in the past decade, and these are affluent customers, it has been very difficult to get grocery stores to locate in downtown.

7. Use new technology to ease problem. The young and the affluent will adopt the use of smart phones to connect to transportation options.  I believe that adoption by low-income people will be much slower, including [that by the]young living in low income neighborhoods.

Vici Oshiro  (10)  (7.5)  (10)  (10)  (10)  (10)  (7.5)

7. Use new technology to ease problem. New technologies need to be considered and maybe adopted.  Very interesting summary. Congratulations to Clarence and Paul.

Bob Brown  (10)  (8)  (10)  (8)  (10)  (10)  (10)

I am too old and ready to give up on this problem. I commute less than half as far as I did 20 years ago, but it takes me longer to get to the office.   I still think if they [had] listened to Dr. Anderson and his PRT in the 70s we would have spent less money and had a cheaper, more efficient system than we have now and are building with LRT.  Or even better, if they [had not] torn up the streetcar lines we would have had a cheaper system.

Chuck Lutz  (9)  (6)  (9)  (10)  (9)  (7)  (8)

Mina Harrigan  (8)  (4)  (10)  (10)  (8)  (8)  (5)

Donald Mark Ritchie  (na)  (na)  (na)  (na)  (na)  (na)  (na)

Another great interview. Thanks for all of this great work.

Someday you should do a session on our plans to host the 2023 World’s Fair here in MN with a focus on Health and Wellness

Paul Hauge  (9)  (8)  (8)  (9)  (8)  (7)  (9)

The options are well defined but the solutions are more difficult to decipher. The answers must come from the area wide agency, the Met Council.

Fred Zimmerman  (10)  (10)  (8)  (6)  (7)  (1)  (5)

Jobs and industry are moving away from major cities because most major cities have very high costs, poor service, poor schools, rigidly repulsive permitting systems, and an unappealing work force that is not connected to race. The ineptitude of cities, not transportation systems, are at the root of the problems regarding the matter of getting people to work.

We should remember that [although] Minnesota reports relatively favorable unemployment statistics, a substantial portion of the population is very part time or under employed. Part of this is because school systems and family life do so little to prepare people for what employers are looking for.

Fix the cities and fix the families and at least some of the transportation and employment problems will be solved.

David Therkelsen  (na)  (na)  (na)  (na)  (na)  (na)  (na)

The sixth "solution" mentioned especially resonated with me.

When I was head of American Red Cross in east metro area, we had a large, operationally sophisticated, and financially successful senior transportation program. Its goal was to support independent living. It especially aimed to serve those with mobility limitations, yet not eligible for Metro Mobility. A large corps of volunteer drivers drove a fleet of agency-owned vehicles.

Why wouldn't a model along very similar lines be effective to support lower-income people getting and keeping jobs? The cause is equally compelling and would likely attract the support of funders, community leaders and volunteer drivers.

Very interesting discussion.

Wayne Jennings  (10)  (10)  (9)  (10)  (10)  (10)  (10)

Tom Spitznagle  (6)  (4)  (6)  (6)  (6)  (5)  (6)

Roger A. Wacek  (na)  (10)  (5)  (5)  (5)  (0)  (10)

We already have the technology to connect drivers & riders! I told Dick Day when he was in the State Senate that our bus system wasn't very flexible & adding a fleet of (hybrid) minivans would complement our mass transit system to work much better with our sprawling cities. 

Scott Halstead  (na)  (na)  (na)  (na)  (na)  (na)  (na)

I suggest the topics of metropolitan government and reduction in the number of cities and school districts as topics for further exploration.  Also, rail transportation of materials in and through Minnesota and the Twin Cities.

Lyall Schwarzkopf  (6)  (6)  (8)  (8)  (8)  (8)  (8)

Paul Hauge  (7)  (7)  (8)  (6)  (9)  (9)  (9)


The Civic Caucus   is a non-partisan, tax-exempt educational organization.   The Interview Group  includes persons of varying political persuasions,
reflecting years of leadership in politics and business. Click here  to see a short personal background of each.

  John S. Adams, David Broden, Audrey Clay, Janis Clay, Pat Davies, Bill Frenzel, Paul Gilje (executive director), Randy Johnson, Sallie Kemper, Ted Kolderie, Dan Loritz (chair),
Tim McDonald, Bruce Mooty, John Mooty, Jim Olson, Paul Ostrow, Wayne Popham, Dana Schroeder, Clarence Shallbetter, and Fred Zimmerman

The Civic Caucus, 01-01-2008
2104 Girard Avenue South, Minneapolis, MN 55405.
Dan Loritz, chair, 612-791-1919   ~   Paul A. Gilje, coordinator, 952-890-5220.

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