Counties Transit Board Dissolution Plan in the Works


CTIB transit vision.

The Counties Transit Improvement Board (CTIB) met on December 21 to discuss the probable voluntary dissolution of CTIB and future funding options for metro rail and bus transit systems.

The 78 page PDF was distributed and was the working document used at the meeting. Pages 3-7 offer a summary of the dissolution proposal as well as a timeline for CTIB dissolution. Please note that two scenarios were presented. One scenario has a complete dissolution of CTIB and the other scenario has four of the five counties withdrawing from CTIB with Washington County remaining behind.

The goal is to remove the legislature and CTIB from the transit capital funding process and replace it with individual county transit taxes or certain counties in conjunction with other counties transit tax funding. Operational costs would also come from county transit taxes along with a legislative appropriation to the Met Council.

Here’s the highlight of the proposal:


It will be interesting to see if county specific transit funding will come to pass. On the one hand you have legislative bodies that appear to be hopelessly deadlocked on transit capital funding and roads and bridges funding issues, which was borne out during the last Minnesota legislative session when the transportation bill in effect blew up the end of the legislative session and prevented a special session during the summer and fall months. On the other hand there are many who believe that removing the state from transit capital funding sets a bad precedent that could spill into other policy areas where there are profound areas of disagreement.

About Bill Dooley

Bill Dooley is a retired lobbyist who is a volunteer transit and bicycle advocate. He is also a member of the group LRT Done Right which supports metro transit initiatives but is adamant that Southwest LRT should not go through the Kenilworth Corridor greenspace.

6 thoughts on “Counties Transit Board Dissolution Plan in the Works

  1. David MarkleDavid Markle

    This partial breakup of a problematical funding and oversight network ought to bring greater scrutiny to bear on problems with the Metropolitan Council as it now exists. We need a level of regional government with a progressive, sensible vision of regional transit, and that government needs the authority to do what needs to be done: based upon accountability to the public.

    At present we have only an appointed Met Council, theoretically accountable to the governor. Some suburban interests have demanded that their elected officials have a place on the Council, which would only make matters worse, in my opinion.

    Meanwhile we see the present Council pushing forward the proposed Gold Line, a project using precious transit funds (around half a billion dollars) whose purpose, backers admit, is to promote development, not satisfy transit needs. Who asked for it? Certainly not those who contend with jammed freeways as they go to and from their daily jobs. Could it be that real estate interests, with support from tax-hungry suburban governments, provide the impetus?

    It seems to me that a reformed Met Council elected directly by voters in regional districts of equal population would help us move forward with much greater accountability, transparency, and responsiveness to actual public needs.

    I urge a reform of the

    1. Matt Brillhart

      Unless you also force the counties to dissolve their individual “regional railroad authorities”, then your changes won’t accomplish much. Currently the counties control the early planning and route selection process, then hand it off to the Met Council for engineering, construction, and operation. No amount of “Met Council reform” (whether that be staggered terms, direct elections, etc.) would change the fact that counties control both the early planning process and the purse strings.

      I favor the breakup of CTIB for a number of reasons (the most obvious being the doubling of funding), but one unspoken benefit is a return of some accountability. CTIB was effectively a well-kept secret and was not remotely accessible or accountable to the public, as its decision making and prioritization process was completely separated from city or county governments (despite being made up exclusively of county officials).

      With the dissolution of CTIB, decisions will be made directly by the county boards themselves, and folks will better be able to inform themselves of meeting times, locations, and form a relationship with their county commissioners (rather than knowing which commissioners specifically were on CTIB, etc.) It removes an unnecessary layer of bureaucracy and secrecy from our transit planning/funding process.

      As an example of how citizens could have a greater voice and effect change in Hennepin County – we could demand that Hennepin County now fund construction of arterial BRT lines, something that CTIB refused to do. Certainly doubling the funding available makes that more possible, but it is much more likely that we can convince 4 members of the Hennepin County board to change their mind on this issue than it would be to change the minds of various commissioners from 5 different counties.

  2. Aaron IsaacsAaron Isaacs

    This is the county transit advocates crafting a work-around, because the legislature has consistently shortchanged transit funding for the past 40 years. With the GOP in charge of both chambers, the chance of getting more funding is nil. In fact, look for them to punish the metro area out of spite by cutting funding levels. Although I hope not, the additional county money may be needed to avoid gutting the present system, let along grow it.

  3. David MarkleDavid Markle

    Then, Matt, the process needs to be changed. There has to be central planning and oversight, otherwise we’ll never get a first-rate regional transit network. Look at what happened to the Green Line: should have been a regional trunk line, but St. Paul and Ramsey County got their way in making into local transit, their purpose being (as with the Gold Line) to promote development, not improve transit.

    1. Nick Minderman

      David, I don’t think it’s the process that needs to be fixed. Trying to prescribe a solution through policy will always fail if the economic indicators are not aligned. That fact that driving in this country is underpriced compared to pretty much every other form of transportation (taking into account time and externalities) means that any attempts to shoehorn alternative modes into a plan will be inefficient. So instead of trying to tune the political process, we should be lobbying for the political process to make the costs of every mode more transparent. Then we might get somewhere.

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