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 Response Page  -  Conrad deFiebre  Interview  -  Transit Issues    

These comments are responses to the questions listed below,
which were generated in regard to the
Conrad deFiebre Interview of 05-23-08.

The questions:

1. _7.7 average___ On a scale of (0) strong disagreement, to (5) neutral, to (10) strong agreement, what is your view on whether suburb-to-downtown transit is receiving more emphasis than suburb-to-suburb transit, regardless of congestion levels?

2. _7.4 average___ On a scale of (0) strong disagreement, to (5) neutral, to (10) strong agreement, what is your view on whether substantially more dollars are needed for transportation in Minnesota, beyond what was provided by the 2008 Legislature?

Bob Brown (7) (5)
I don't think we should pour substantially more money into transportation until there is some kind of coherent statewide planning for transportation and its relationship with other governmental functions and activities. Spending without sufficient planning can be wasteful and merely enrich certain special interest groups at the expense of the public.

Charles Lutz (9) (9)

John R. Finnegan, Sr. (3) (10)
It is clear to me that more attention must be given to suburb-to-suburb transit once the metro area gets sufficient transit lines. It also is obvious to me that more money for transportation in Minnesota is essential. Many of our roads are in terrible shape and our transit needs require more cash.

Joe Lampe (10) (10)

Robert A. Freeman (5) (3)
I'm neutral on Question 1 (5 out of 10) and slightly disagree (3 out of 10) that more dollars are needed - more dollars are always "needed", it is a question of prioritizing how the state spends its money.

I don't have any other comments on this save that it should also be recognized that at some point there is a diminishing return on plowing more dollars into transportation funding.

These updates are hugely useful to me in helping me understand policy arguments and I very much appreciate receiving them.

Elaine Voss (9) (10)
When in the Secretary of State Office I worked with Conrad deFiebre often. He was always fair and accessible to following news items from election matters to State Board of Investment information. He is a strong member of the community of interests in providing access and looking for solutions for the problems we, as a community, face. You are providing a real service for this community as a whole. Thank you.

Clarence Shallbetter (10) (8)
More dollars are needed but they should largely come from users and those who benefit from the investments, not the general taxpayers, ie. those who pay sales taxes, income taxes and property taxes for facilities that do more than access property.

Dennis Johnson (8) (2)

Ed Dirkswager (10) (7)

Al Quie
The only way we are going to solve the financial problem for highways is to index the gas tax. If the Legislature only had courage enough to first set the tax high enough as they did in 1988. At least the gas tax now, at a minimum, ought to be where it would have been if we had indexed it in 1988. My highest is where it would have been if we raised it to 20 cents in 1982, my last year as Governor. Do the math.

Scott Halstead (10) (10)
There isn't hardly any suburb to suburb transit and there are minimal plans. The present county financing system minimizes broad transit plans and funding. Hennepin and Ramsey County will dominate rail transit until the other metro counties populations grow to exceed Ramsey County. A single lane of 494/694 and 35E/W should be congestion priced and reserved for transit and car pools. Buses not needed for the Central Corridor could be utilized on the new routes and as circulators along the freeways. Park and rides should be constructed or contracts made with firms that have excess parking facilities.

Carolyn Ring (_) (3)
All of a sudden street cars disappeared with little discussion or planning . Now "mass transit" is the buzz word. Let's do a thorough, extensive, comprehensive analysis before we do a piece meal job to satisfy different interests. Money is not the answer to everything!

Paul Hauge (7) (9)

Bill Frenzel (8) (8)

Donna Anderson (6) (8)

David Broden (8) (5)
The information and communication to the public certainly suggests almost total emphasis on the suburb to downtown transit and almost none suburb to suburb. This likely reflects reality in the planning communities as well. This is a unfortunate issue because as the comments below state the transit needs to move workers to locations and material to/form businesses in clearly in the exterior areas. The need for suburb to suburb transit should begin with a well defined communication and statement from state and regional leaders making it clear to the citizens that this must be part of the solution and activity. For the transit and road issue to move in a positive direction the elected officials must show responsiveness to the overall issue and then act accordingly--clearly some of the resistance to more funding or transit in general is the location of the plans in focus. As we broaden the vision the public will see greater value and come forward to be supporters. Minnesota has a record of effective regional and statewide acceptance of well defined solutions but in this case the message has not been established and the even discussion of a plan or partial suburb to suburb link seems to be missing. Perhaps the only things close are the North train and talk of a train from Red Wing/Hastings to St.
Paul--these while suburb to downtown also do have a suburb to suburb link in some respects. Now we need thoughts of how to connect Maple Grove with Bloomington, and perhaps Woodbury with Roseville and north to Forest Lake etc. That leaves Woodbury to Eagan and Burnsville to Shakopee etc. Bottom line lets get the suburb to suburb transit info into the discussion and debate. Solutions and action will follow by reasonable people working a visible concern. By the above I do not suggest that suburb to downtown should be dropped or changes only that there is a what I will call a critical need to effectively articulate that the transit problems of our area include both and both are getting the attention. This should not fuel we--they debate but a Us debate.

I find it hard to believe that anyone would not agree that more money could be used. The issue however is not funding or money but how to use it effectively. Just gathering funds with a clear purpose gets no where if however a well defined vision of change in transit and need for infrastructure upgrade is defined then the process can work. A balanced approach is thus needed.

Lyall Schwarzkopf (7) (6)

Greer Lockhart (5) (10)

Matt Kane (9) (10)
Suburban to downtown transit is receiving more attention, but that makes sense given the factors necessary for successful transit. As a general rule, transit succeeds when the destination point is one with a high concentration of jobs and one where parking fees are imposed. Suburban job locations, even where they are concentrated, generally fall short of the density needed for viable transit service. This is clear in data from the Met Council, which shows that the jobs counts and density are as follows for several concentrations in the Twin Cities area: 1) Mpls downtown jobs = 139,500 for jobs per acre of 78; St. Paul downtown jobs = 64,000 (not counting government jobs because unemployment insurance database is used), for jobs per acre of 63; and 3) I-494 Golden Triangle (triangle of land between Interstate 494 and highways 212 and 169) jobs = 49,000, for jobs per acre of 10. It's not for lack of awareness that the Met Council and Metro Transit have not focused on the increasing trend toward suburb-to-suburb travel, but rather because of the operational difficulties of establishing cost-effective transit service in areas of low job densities. Probably worth noting, too, that transit service within densely developed areas -- the central cities and close-in suburbs -- also gets more attention for similar reasons: the density of the potential population of riders greatly affects the viability of transit services.

It's worth noting that prior to passage of the 2008 transportation package, Minnesota's Transportation Department noted that projected state transportation funding would fall almost $23 billion short of what's needed to meet key performance standards through 2030.


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, 
Paul Gilje,  Jim Hetland,  John Mooty,  Jim Olson,  Wayne Popham  and  John Rollwagen.  

The Civic Caucus, 01-01-2008
8301 Creekside Circle #920,   Bloomington, MN 55437.
Verne C. Johnson, chair, 952-835-4549,       Paul A. Gilje, coordinator, 952-890-5220.

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