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 Response Page - Arlene McCarthy  Interview - Transportation    

These comments are responses to the questions listed below,
which were generated in regard to the
Arlene McCarthy Interview of 07/18/08,

The questions:

_4.0 average___ On a scale of (0) strong disagreement, to (5) neutral, to (10) strong
agreement, are responsibilities for deciding transit and highway projects in the
Twin Cities area distributed satisfactorily among the Metro Council and
other agencies?

_3.9 average___ On a scale of (0) strong disagreement, to (5) neutral, to (10) strong
agreement, is light rail transit in the Twin Cities area likely to significantly help
large numbers of lower income persons get to their job locations?

Tim Olson (0) (0)
Thank you for raising my blood pressure.
Two big fat zeros!
Have you seen my web site?
I am THE anti- Met Council candidate.
The Hybrid elected Met Council is something I placed on the Republican party platform in 1998.
(Item F, section 8) and a large part of the reason I'm running.
The transit policies are one more element of the social engineering policies of the Met Council that have devastated Brooklyn Center.
Add to it the affordable housing initiatives, and the neglected infrastructure as part of the demise of the Metro Waste Control Commission under Met Council Environmental Services.
It is my goal to restore the MWCC separate from Met Transit and return all other functions to the city and county levels, and to repeal Metro taxing authority and protect the dedicated revenue stream for waste water only.
Highway decisions are between the legislature and Mndot.
I support providing public transportation for those in need. Anyone exercising "multi-modal transportation options" will need to pay for it and fares need to increase dramatically.
I support the "right sized" bus system and have always opposed Light Rail. ( I did as a candidate in 2000 also)

I strongly encourage everyone to visit my web site and look at Regional issues and Met Council summary where I get in-depth.

Shirley Heaton
This appeared to have been a fantastic meeting. Just wished I could have been there.

John Adams (6) (4)
The Twin Cities Metropolitan Area--as a functioning economic unit--extends over about 25 counties, as defined by daily commuting and business traffic--that is, production- and consumption-related movement. All that movement needs to be planned and operations need to be coordinated as we retrofit what we inherited from the past while building and maintaining what will be required in the years ahead.

Not only are we lacking in a regional vision that is both spatially (25+ counties) and temporally (looking our many years) reasonable and coherent, there continues to be an unwillingness to pay for infrastructure that we are using and using up, and there is an even more serious unwillingness to invest now so that problems in the future are avoided or minimized.

At present, there is too much fragmentation among the various jurisdictions that are responsible for transportation and land use planning. Metro Council staff do as good a job as they are able to do within their political, financial and legal constraints. But the fact remains, we are continuing to grow and spread out as a regional system, while planning and investment proceed in piecemeal fashion.

Rail transit planning cannot succeed unless it anticipates continued growth and forms one element in a comprehensive land use and planning system, looking out 25-40 years, and embraces all forms of movement and the linkages among them.

Tom Swain (6) (3)

Marianne Curry (5) (2)

I thought the purpose of metropolitan planning was to co-locate jobs, transportation, housing, convenience shopping and health care. It appears that the working poor are little better served by that principle than 30 years ago.

Joe Mansky (5) (6)

David Broden (3) (5)
Question No. 1: Based on the various discussions over the past several months and the basic observations, decisions, and struggles on priorities there certainly is not clarity or understanding of who is responsible for what and how the various agencies are to resolve differences and converge on a plan. Each has its parochial view and protects that turf. I understand how difficult it can be to establish a process and assign responsibilities but the overall needs and solutions seem fractured and in need of who does what--it seems that each agency has its own plan done independently and no one is consolidating the needs. Also as it sounds we are not necessarily building a regional solution it seems high density focused--and now as the notes suggests we are tying transit etc. to now housing and business development--perhaps a factor but other issues as well. The debate of responsibility of all agencies for transit and roads etc. seems to be asking for a coordination leader organization.

Question No. 2: The argument as stated says that low income workers will get to jobs in the city along the corridors--this is clearly a benefit and will be realized. The larger is issue is however many jobs are in the suburbs and in the middle and outer ring. Until we find a way to allow the low income people to get to the jobs--we will continue to have problems. I am not sure I agree with the statement that the density for ridership is too low to reach the suburbs. The whole issue of suburban transit--core to suburban etc. and transit for those living in the suburbs etc. is not being challenged effectively. We need some innovation in many ways in this area and it seems the process in not accomplishing this perhaps because of how it is organized.

Robert A. Freeman (8) (8)
Even if they do not use light rail, the resulting decrease in congestion will make it easier for them to use other services.

Clarence Shallbetter (2) (1)
With 85 percent of the jobs outside the downtowns, it's difficult to see how LRT, which is oriented to the downtowns, will be of much help to low income persons who are primarily looking or moderate income manufacturing jobs in the suburbs.

Joe Lampe (0) (1)
The fragmented authority, responsibility and taxing enacted by the Legislature was very unwise and will make an already dysfunctional process even more dysfunctional. Current approaches to transit are "a solution looking for a problem." Current transit planning is conceptually and analytically flawed.

"Transitways" thinking is obsolete and will not solve our transportation quagmire. 85% of metro trips are relatively short and have random origins and destinations. "Corridor" transit is nearly useless in this context.

We need to set a 2030 goal of increasing transit ridership by 10X, not 2X. We need
a network/mesh structured system. New technology makes this possible at a low
cost. Eventually buses and trains will be as common in cities as gas lights
and horse drawn buggies are today. To paraphrase Tom Friedman, "We have a national
political leadership brownout on transportation."

David Pundt
I have a different question; this sounds like an eventual spider's web of light rail across the Metro with costs rivaling the national debt. And nobody talks about cost for the program! 1/4 of a penny ain't gonna do it. No, McCarthy's answers don't indicate it will help low income folks to get to work. Better use the money to buy them all an electric cars and let them drive where they want to.

Carolyn Ring (3) (3)
Some thought should be given to including Scott and Carver Counties to the mix. Many jobs are in those 2 counties. There is a possibility of industry providing bus transportation from the inner city to the site. This was very effectively done by Pillsbury Co.

Lyall Schwarzkopf (4) (6)

Dennis Johnson (2) (2)
Decision making is dispersed among far too many agencies and entities for any kind of coordination. Possibly this is fortunate, because then almost nothing will get done, thus avoiding major boondoggles. Or decisions will fall into the hidden hands of the politicians behind the scenes.

Alan Miller (3) (6)

Wayne Jennings (5) (6)
These are technical issues that I don’t know how to appraise. We were recently in Portland and were impressed with the MAX, a speedy rail network from the airport and other locations to downtown. It seemed to work well. I think we have to move simultaneously on several fronts, rail, highways, buses and be willing to pay the capital costs. If we don’t, we pay it in other ways, frustration, wasted time, and attractiveness of MN.

Charles Lutz (8) (5)

Bob Brown (5) (5)

Steve Alderson (2) (0)

Ray Schmitz (6) (5)
My reading suggests that the issue may not be taxation but the elimination of tax subsidized parking in the congested zones. Currently not only does the government build parking but it also encourages private parking by giving employers deductions for benefits to employees including parking. Eliminating that, while continuing other benefit packages, such as transit passes, should be encouraged.

Mark Ritchie
Excellent summary, thanks again.

Ray Ayotte (8) (5)

Bright Dornblaser (3) (8)

Current structure coordination poses opportunities for conflict and diffuses accountability.
If lower income persons have transfer rights between light rail and bus services the combination could help some to expedite their transportation.

Gregg Iverson (1) (2)

Chris Brazelton (5) (6)

The information and data gathered in the meeting and provided in the summary was not sufficient to analyze and respond to these questions.

While it does not appear that light rail, in and of itself, will make a big difference in helping low income persons get to their job locations, as part of a larger coordinated transit system including other forms of mass transit it does. It gets a person to a major hub (like downtown) much faster where one can then get a bus to a specific site.

Unfortunately, employers are often located in the suburbs (where land for expansion is more available) that don't have good transit systems, except perhaps to/from downtown.

Scott Halstead (_) (0)
The Central Corridor LRT will be a small benefit to some low income individuals and will not be beneficial to some people. New development along the route will produce some additional jobs. It will also drive up real estate values and property taxes, reduce customer access to small businesses because of the lack of parking which will have a significant negative impact on low income residents small businesses in the corridor.

The Metro Council 2030 and interim years projections for St. Paul and Ramsey County border on the ridiculous. In the first seven years of the decade, St. Paul has lost jobs and the population declined. Good paying manufacturing jobs will never return to the area. There is a lot of low paying service and part time jobs and a lot of government and supporting employment. Many low income people are moving to suburbs to be closer to better paying positions. The Central Corridor will have high ridership as bus service is reduced and buses rerouted to feed the Central Corridor. Ridership will peak after development is completed and never change because the service is very slow. The new passenger revenue is going to be very disappointing. Taxpayers will be subsidizing operating and maintenance costs for approximately 90% of the annual costs. Utilizing the new 2030 ridership numbers in the supplementary draft environmental impact statement, an average of $3.50 fare and 3% inflation of operating and maintenance costs, the annual taxpayer subsidy will 90 million dollars in 2030 and increasing thereafter. The Central Corridor will be a financial disaster and burden to the metro area.

Denver performs a total cost and revenue analysis before designing . It is very evident that our transit planners have skipped this vital step on the metro areas first 2 LRT lines.

I have reviewed the 3 primary bus lines serving the Minneapolis/St. Paul Corridor and their schedules that were utilized for the draft environmental impact statement (2001/2002) and the current schedules. The primary increases in time occurred in downtown Minneapolis. What is the cause? Several factors: Increasing use of express buses by opt-out communities; Hiawatha LRT removing a road for use by buses and vehicles increases congestion on other roads and some bus routes have extended routes to get around the LRT and the new twins stadium. Times on I-94 have been very consistent except for a small increase probably attributable to the I-35W bridge collapse.

Construction of an underground transit way in downtown Minneapolis would dramatically improve transit performance in for all routes serving downtown Minneapolis. If our transit designers didn't waste so many dollars on engineers doing myriads of useless paper there would be a lot more funds available to improve transit service.

Craig Westover
Once again, interesting interview. Some observations –

“For transitways to succeed, McCarthy replied, they need a high
concentration of jobs at one end and along the corridor to produce high volumes
of riders in rush hours and for all-day service. It's very difficult to find
such concentrations in other locations, such as suburb-to-suburb, she said.
With transit, everyone wants to go everywhere. The tradeoff is productivity
versus coverage, she said. In other words, do enough people want to make the
same trip to justify the service?”
That paragraph says an awful lot. First, the emphasis on “transitway success,” not mobility – the ability of people to get from where they are to where they want to go, to do what they want to do when they want to do it. The main mobility issue is suburb-to-suburb travel, but we are choosing to spend money where we can build an efficient system – even if it moves few people and solves no problem. This is like looking for the car keys you lost in you yard in the street because the light is better and there’s no grass. McCarthy raises the question, “Do enough people want to make the same trip to justify the service?” Good question, to which rail supporters answer, “yes” without ever offering a justification of the trade-off – is $1 billion for the Central Corridor a better investment than, say, five road projects the size of the unweave the weave?
“Employers in widely scattered sites across the region (e.g. discount
retailers) need a good pool of employee prospects, whose homes also are widely
scattered across the region. One person suggested that lower income
individuals might be provided vouchers to purchase the best transportation
option for themselves, based on their specific trip needs. Such a strategy
might reach more individuals than a strategy of only building transitways, the
person said.”
I’d love to know what McCarthy said to that. I fully support that idea economically and morally – if we really want to help the disadvantaged, it is a far better solution than tearing up their neighborhoods to build transit ways for suburban commuters and Twins and Vikings fans.
“Guiding development--McCarthy suggested that more attention needs to
be given to implications for transit before new employment or housing
developments are approved.”
Here we are already starting down the slippery slope.. The transit policy we are following cannot succeed unless land use is taken into account. Land use on the scale required cannot succeed unless we limit people’s options and manage their behaviors regarding where they live and work. In essence, McCarthy is saying we cannot approve a housing development that someone is willing to risk private capital to build because he believes people want it. People cannot live where they want if that disrupts “the plan.” Is that a trade-off we want in a free society?
“ The Central Corridor in St. Paul is well situated for LRT, McCarthy said, because there's
already a built-in base of transit ridership on the 16, 50, and 94 bus routes in
that corridor.”
In other words, we are spending $1 billion to replace existing transit, not remove cars from the road. CC supporters make the case that buses will not be able to meet the demand on University Avenue in 2020. The missing element in this equation is that demand is always at a price. The LRT will be highly subsidized – not only by government, but many companies are now offering Metro passes as an employee benefit (because the cost is low due to public subsidies). Thus LRT is virtually free to riders – of course at “free” there will be demand, which will spur building more LRT, which require more subsidies. We can’t keep building and running rail transit at an operating loss in the area of 70 percent without extraordinary tax increases or reductions in other services.
Can anyone tell me how this makes economic sense?
Larry and Ann Schluter (2) (4)


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

   Verne C. Johnson, chair;  Lee Canning,  Charles Clay, Bill Frenzel, 
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The Civic Caucus, 01-01-2008
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Verne C. Johnson, chair, 952-835-4549,       Paul A. Gilje, coordinator, 952-890-5220.

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