Two years ago, streets.mn published a piece with the catchy title “The A Line Works, Let’s Build More.” Since then we have built more; the C Line opened, with the exact same result as the A Line: People loved it, and ridership jumped.
Since then, of course, the COVID-19 response has included asking people not to ride transit. In addition to doing extraordinary work responding to COVID, everyone I know is asking how we as a region can emerge from this even stronger. We’re not going to — nor should we — go back to a previous “normal.” We can and should build on what worked before. And that includes quality transit like the A and C Lines.
One of the reasons we know we will still need good transit post-COVID is that we need it now. Metro Transit carries a lot of essential workers, including to healthcare facilities. As the director of Transportation for America, Beth Osborne, put it on Tuesday, “We’re all transit dependent because it doesn’t help to get to the hospital and not have care.”
Higher frequencies and more reliable arrival times have always boosted ridership, and they now produce another benefit: They help minimize the number of people waiting and riding together, allowing the physical distancing that we will need for some time.
If you’re a streets.mn reader, you may not need convincing about the value of bus rapid transit (BRT). The legislators who have the power to fund more BRT do need convincing.
Rep. Frank Hornstein (DFL-Minneapolis) and Sen. Sandy Pappas (DFL-St. Paul) each has proposed $75 million in bonding for more BRT. This would build the D and B lines, and fund planning for the next set.
The D Line would serve roughly the route of Metro Transit’s #5 bus, the busiest bus line in Minnesota. The B Line would connect Minneapolis along Lake Street with Marshall and Selby avenues in St. Paul, the current route of the #21, the second-busiest bus line.
With some of the most pressing COVID work out of the way, the legislature is now beginning to debate bonding in earnest. This is the perfect time to tell your representative and senator that you want to see more fast, comfortable, reliable buses in the Cities.
You can also remind them that we make the buses for BRT right here in Minnesota, at the New Flyer of America operations in St. Cloud and Crookston, so they can put Minnesotans to work across the state. There’s a great map showing all the transit manufacturing in Minnesota here: https://bit.ly/2EwspZS.
The legislative session ends May 18. The time to let them know is now.
(In the interest of full disclosure, and keeping with the streets.mn editorial guidelines: I’m the executive director of East Metro Strong but writing as myself. This post takes no position on a specific piece of legislation, but simply points out that the bonding bill that emerges needs to contain $75 million for BRT.)