Killing The Competition

I read yesterday that the Met Council is going to start whacking bus lines along the Central Corridor, to make sure that the infernal train is the only option the rider has.

I was going to write about it – but Joe Doakes of Como Park beat me to it:

Since we’re already building the Damned Train, this makes half-assed sense, I guess.

Right now, there are three busses to get from downtown St. Paul to downtown Minneapolis:

  • 16 – runs every 10 minutes on University, stops at every corner
  • 50 – runs down University but only stops at major corners
  • 94 – runs on I-94 but gets off a few places on University [and long I94]

We’ll eliminate the 50 entirely because that’s exactly what the train will do – run down University and hit major intersections. Sensible.

We’ll cut back the freeway bus to weekdays only. If you want to rush from downtowns on weekends, take a taxi or ride the train. That makes sense.

We’ll cut back on local bus service to every 20 minutes. This doesn’t make sense.

First, where’s the bus going to drive? In the parking lane? But we took out the middle of the street to install the train and that meant we changed the parking lane to a driving lane. But now we’re going to leave a bus in the parking lane? Why do we need a bus blocking up traffic on University when there’s a perfectly good train right next to it?

Second, as every bus rider knows, 20 minute departures that means the bus departs downtown every 20 minutes but traffic lights and delays make them bunch up on the route. If you want to ride from Frogtown to Walmart, wear warm clothes: the next three busses will all come in a big pack and if you miss them, you’re standing for an hour. Unless you take the train. Which, if you were going to take the train anyway, then why bother with busses?

Do we really need a simultaneous and parallel public transit system to stop at every single corner on University?

Joe Doakes

Como Park

That, of course, is the big problem – well, the second-biggest problem, behind “it’s a huge waste of money that will cost $10 in public money for every $2 ticket that’s sold” – with the Central Corridor:  it’s the wrong kind of train for the street.  “Light Rail” is supposed to zip along at 55mph between stops that are a mile or so apart – not chug along at the speed of traffic along University between stops.  And the “mass transit” traffic along University is not people zipping between downtowns; they mostly drive or take the 94 or the 50.  The traffic along Uni is people going from WalMart or Rainbow or Cub or CVS or Plasma Hut to home, where “Home” isn’t a condo along Washington in Downtown Minneapolis, but a house or apartment on Sherburne or Thomas or Iglehard, tucked away close to University.

It’s the wrong kind of train – it should have been a trolley, if you had to have a train; a “light rail” train should have gone down the median on I94, or ducked through the existing rail rights-of-way between Northeast Minneapolis and Frogtown.

This is what central planning does to peoples’ lives.

7 thoughts on “Killing The Competition

  1. They should have put the train along the existing rail right of way with stops and bus transfer stations at Snelling, Lexington, Dale, Rice, University (twice: east and west crossings). Cheaper construction, less disruption to existing business, would feed the State Fair easier. That makes entirely too much sense for government to have done it.

  2. “This is what central planning does to peoples’ lives.”
    There were many reasons that cities replaced trolley lines with buses after 1930. One of the most compelling was that an LR line couldn’t be moved to accommodate changes in where people chose to live and work. The chaos of individual choice confuses and frightens central planners.
    Note well that these central planners will work very hard to preserve for themselves the life choices — some call it “the pursuit of happiness” — that they would deny other, lesser beings.

  3. Ah, Central Planners. People who went to college, got a degree and can’t wait to implement theories at the expense of society. Worked out real well in the Soviet Union.

  4. But, consider the “economic multiplier,” all those mom and pop businesses which will grow, like weeds, along Univ Ave. Like they have along the Hiawatha Corridor, er, my bad – but this time they’ll get it right!

  5. Let’s not forget the human cost: fatalities. The Hiawatha Line body count is 5 even with its limited exposures though a largely industrial corridor. The “Green Line” will run at grade though the U of M and several miles of University Ave. Also, since we’re dropping bus service no longer needed, why not decommission University Ave itself: no parking, no driving, walking, biking at your peril from Light Rail and the additional crime it will bring.

  6. The Met Council needs to run out of town on a rail, even a light rail will do as long as they are run off!

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