Recently, posts about the Riverview Corridor have been generating a LOT of comments on streets.mn. One of these posts suggested that, in order to ensure the old Ford factory in Highland Park develops in a way that would not be thoroughly suburban, that the Riverview Corridor should be rerouted through Highland Park on the old freight line which served the factory. This in and of itself was not the worst idea, but several commenters started remarking about why the line should even go to the airport? Some have declared that the only reason the goal is the airport is because the bourgeois who are planning this line would never see themselves on transit unless they were trying to skip out on a cab fare to or from the airport. This is a horribly inaccurate sentiment. The reason for serving the MSP Airport and the Mall of America is that transit dependent, lower income ($10/hr) and existing riders have jobs in these locations, go shopping in these locations and commute from lower income housing along West Seventh, especially those JUST across the river, such as West 7that Maynard or Madison.
The next map shows the low and moderate income housing surrounding the Sibley Plaza shopping center at West 7th and Maynard Drive.
Going from the Mall of America towards Downtown Saint Paul, the chart shows there are about 1450 riders who need to get from south of the river across to Saint Paul. There’s some major turnover at each stop, so this number is beat by a few segments around Grand Avenue and Saint Clair. But it’s pretty clear from looking here that if we want to avoid serving an area, let’s not run to Union Depot. Once the bus passes Minnesota Street there is no one riding it anymore, but we cannot avoid running to the Airport and MOA.
If we want to run to the Ford site, it will be an extra 7 minutes (that number is from thin air) or so for workers to get to the airport from Saint Paul. Maybe the Ford site redeveloping densely is worth it. But when all is said and done, the line MUST continue south to serve the riders who already rely on the 54. Let’s amplify their service, not go chasing other markets. Let’s serve those who actually need transit. Those of us with the means to not ride it can make it work when we decide to do so.