Comments on the Metropolitan Council’s Draft Transportation Policy Plan

Planned transitways under current revenue scenario

Planned transitways under current revenue scenario

The Metropolitan Council held a public hearing tonight on their draft Transportation Policy Plan. If you care about transit or transportation issues in the region, you should comment (you can do so through October 1). Here are four comments I have on the plan:

  1. Our urban areas are significantly underserved by this plan. Even under the “increased revenue scenario”, we will spend $5 on transit to serve suburban commuters for every $1 we spend on transit improvements to places where transit makes economic sense (see here for my attempt at a geographic breakdown of projects). The Met Council, in the Thrive 2040 plan, has said they want to match transit service to the number of riders and intensity of land use. This plan does not do that.
  2. The plan currently prioritizes projects like Gateway BRT (9,000 riders at $50,000 per rider) over projects like Hennepin Ave BRT (23,000 riders at $896 per rider). This is an example of how our urban areas (that are expected to grow significantly) are underrepresented in this plan.
  3. The Transportation Policy Plan, as an implementation plan of Thrive 2040, should identify how our transportation system will be planned to reduce greenhouse gas emissions (another goal of Thrive). While the plan mentions “reducing vehicle trips”, there is no analysis in the plan of whether the scenarios presented will increase or decrease emissions from our regional transportation system. We can’t wait another 10 years for the next update of the regional plan to take significant action on climate change.
  4. It’s definitely not all bad. The Met Council for the first time has identified regional priorities for a bicycle network, which will give communities the ability to apply for funds to upgrade their local network if it matches the regional plan. Many of the transit projects identified are much needed improvements (Hennepin, Chicago, West Broadway), but are simply not adequately prioritized.

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7 Responses to Comments on the Metropolitan Council’s Draft Transportation Policy Plan

  1. Dave Baur September 19, 2014 at 8:09 am #

    Those per rider costs are staggering. The Gateway project has the highest per rider cost of any project listed, including SW LRT! It’s hard not to feel a little insulted that that Hennepin BRT costs less than 2% per rider compared to Gateway and is ONLY shown in the increased revenue scenario.

    It also noticed on page 165 of the Transportation Finance doc in the table that they are proposing “Mobility and Expansion” for state highways of $4-5B under the increased revenue scenario as well as $3.3-3.8B of additional preservation. Doesn’t this imply we’re already $3.3-3.8B short of what we need? Yet we’re proposing to expand the system further by even more than we’d use toward existing preservation? Am I reading that correctly? Because it sounds insane to me, and I’m hoping there’s some nuance I’ve missed.

    • Monte Castleman September 19, 2014 at 10:39 pm #

      That is my interpretation also: at present funding levels the roads will deteriorate somewhat and and there will be a lot more quick fixes like overlays and pothole patching with a pittance (less than a billion) for high cost/benefit expansion and safety improvement (which often go together). This of course doesn’t count “popup projects” where special funding materializes, like all those new interchanges on US 52 and MN 36 through North Saint Paul, so the future isn’t quite as bleak to us car lovers as it seems. With the increase revenue scenario I think there will be more proactive approaches, like reconstructing a road in 60 year concrete instead of another asphalt overlay lasting a few years. By the time the new roads come due for major maintenance it will be pushing 2100, and we’ll probably all have flying cars by then so it won’t matter…

      • Matt Steele
        Matt Steele September 20, 2014 at 9:25 am #

        Oh, the future is bleak for car lovers. We’ll make sure of that.

  2. Minneapolisite September 19, 2014 at 8:32 pm #

    Where do they get the nerve to do the opposite of what cities with have proven works with real mass transit and high ridership, like NYC? Their plan effectively states that they know better than NYC: they are officially out of their frickin’ minds. Not only that, but they don’t even have the ridership ratios now to justify shifting even more over to a suburban biased (un-)mass transit system. If built, this would further cripple already lacking urban routes and possibly even the “hi-freqeuncy” ones with how much these routes would be burdened by the extremely lengthy suburban LRT and BRT lines with much lower ridership revenue which cannot at all contribute a meaningful amount back into the system.

    • Monte Castleman September 19, 2014 at 10:40 pm #

      Doesn’t NYC also have a bunch of rail lines out to the suburbs?

      • Matt Steele
        Matt Steele September 20, 2014 at 9:24 am #

        Have you ever been to a suburb that was built around a rail line rather than a freeway interchange? Not the same at all.


  1. Sunday Summary – September 21, 2014 | - September 21, 2014

    […] input needed: Comments on the Metropolitan Council’s Draft Transportation Policy Plan provides four comments on the draft plan with some additional criticism in the comments; you can […]

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