CHS Field is a lovely new addition to Lowertown, well served by transit of all modes, from bus to slightly faster bus to slightly faster light rail with a dedicated right-of-way.
And the Saint Paul Saints are rightly famous for their wide range of non-baseball entertainment. They have a ball-pig. They have humorous announcers. They pick a player on the opposing team and call him the “K-man,” so that if he strikes out, everyone in the stands gets some free swag. They have a whole bunch of amusing “ushertainers” like the French Chef, the Nerd, the Coach, and the Stepford Wife.
They also run different races in between innings. In one of them, people spin a tractor tire around the basepaths. In another, people race with giant bodies on stretchers (sponsored by a hospital).
And in each game, in a race sponsored by Metro Transit, people holding giant cardboard cut-outs of Twin Cities transit options have to “pick up passengers” and run around the bases. The race always pits two cardboard light rail trains against one cardboard bus. (
To my untrained eyes it’s an articulated express-style bus, like the 94 or the 144. It’s just a regular bus.)
Here’s the problem: the bus never wins.
I sat down recently with longtime urban design advocate, Lowertown resident, and Saints season ticket holder Jim Ivey to discuss the anti-bus conspiracy. Here’s what I found out.
Bill Lindeke (BL): Tell me about the obvious conspiracy about the bus races.
Jim Ivey (JI): It’s not a conspiracy; it’s biased propaganda. It’s biased propaganda when multiple entities are all working together behind the scenes.
BL: When did you first notice what was going on?
JI: I’d been to a few games and it seemed like the trains were always winning. I started taking note of how they always stacked the equation against the bus. There’s two trains and one bus…
JI: So that’s already the odds are against you. [In the real world,] there are hundreds of buses and only a couple of trains. So they’ve clearly got a bias against buses right there. They clearly put the smallest kid in there, and then get in the way of the bus. They do everything possible. One of the trains always wins. Usually both of the trains win.
BL: How many games have you been to so far?
JI: Probably three-quarters of the games. I’ve seen the bus win once.
BL: I’ve seen the bus win once, too. I texted you about it.
JI: And a couple of games now, the last few I went to on Sunday and Monday, they were using buses and trains as obstacles for paramedics taking people to the hospital. You were supposed to be a paramedic taking people to the hospital, and to get there you had to jump over the bus and the train.
BL: It’s quickly spiraling out of control.
JI: Clearly a bias against transit. What are we going to do about this?
BL: Raise awareness?
JI: We should raise awareness. Is there a bias on the part of Metro Transit? Are they sick of having buses?
BL: There’s this thing called rail bias. You heard of that? You think it’s real?
JI: There’s an aspect of that. The reason people like the Green Line is they walk up and it’s always there. I know where it is, and where its going, and that it will take me to my destination.
BL: I think a big part of rail bias is overcoming the kinds of misinformation that’s being purveyed by the Saint Paul Saints’ organization right at this very moment.
JI: Absolutely. Why do they hate buses?
BL: If you ask me they’re preying on our children. They know the children our the future. They’re teaching them well and letting them lead the way… to rail bias. Jim are you gonna boycott the Saints?
JI: I’m totally not going to boycott the Saints. I spend most of my evenings there. What we should do is ask to participate in the bus vs. train bonanza and we should win.
BL: Jim, my final question is what is this world coming to?
JI: Um, more parking.