Author Archive | Mike Hicks

The Stagnant Investment in Amtrak, by Station Count

Amtrak, the country’s intercity passenger rail company, has had its funding stuck in the doldrums ever since it was founded in 1971. There have been sporadic bursts of money to the government-sponsored company, mostly to invest in new locomotives and train cars and the occasional upgrade to the tracks on particular routes. However, there hasn’t […]

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Potential Paths for Passenger Rail in North Dakota

My last few posts have looked at the rail networks in Minnesota and Wisconsin to look for opportunities for adding passenger service where little or none exists today. I also examined the system in Norway, a country with a similar population to Minnesota and Wisconsin, yet with a much more functional and robust intercity public […]

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Many Prospects for Passenger Rail in Wisconsin

  In my most recent two posts I looked first at the opportunities I see for passenger rail in Minnesota, followed by an entry examining Norway’s passenger rail network to make some comparisons. There are similarities between the two such as the fact that Minnesota and Norway have about the same population and have been growing […]

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A Norwegian State Railways train near the town of Støren on the line to Trondheim.

Lessons from Norway for Minnesota Passenger Rail

When talking about expanding passenger train service in Minnesota and other parts of the U.S., it’s common to be told that our area of the country has cities that are too small and spread out for it to ever work. Supposedly, only the Northeast and a few other heavily-populated areas have the population and travel […]

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A potential rail map connecting cities over 5,000

A Broader Look At Passenger Rail Opportunities in Minnesota

I’ve spent a lot of time on mapping projects over the past several years, focusing in particular on rail lines through Minnesota and nearby regions. Since the state and national rail networks peaked in the 1920s, and have been shrinking ever since, a lot of that mapping has been a bit depressing. There have been […]

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A Police Shooting at the Crossroads of Minnesota

My Thursday morning had a strange start when I checked my Twitter feed and saw news that an African-American man, Philando Castile, had been shot and killed shortly before I’d gone to bed, and it had happened in a place I knew pretty well. Disturbing live video taken by his girlfriend in the moments immediately after […]

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Map of possible passenger rail lines from the 2010 state rail plan

Taking the “Transit” Sales Tax Statewide

As I write this, the 2016 Minnesota legislative session is coming to a close, and last-minute discussions are taking place to try and sort out transportation funding. One of the major options is the possibility of a 0.5% metro-area sales tax for transit, an increase from the 0.25% currently collected for the Counties Transit Improvement Board. […]

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A map of city blocks in Rochester, Minnesota

Getting Around the Block: Metro vs. Outstate

In my last few articles, I’ve looked at the city block layouts of Minneapolis and Saint Paul (both downtown and citywide) and compared them to a few suburbs. I thought it would be useful to also make some comparisons with cities outside of the metro area, to see what they’re like. Above, I have a […]

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A map of city blocks in Bloomington.

Getting Around the Block: City vs. Suburb

In my last two posts, I looked at the city block structures in Minneapolis and Saint Paul, first zooming in to the respective downtowns, then pulling out to look all the way to the cities’ borders and slightly beyond. Now I’d like to turn to a few suburbs and see how they compare. First, let’s […]

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A map of city blocks in Saint Paul.

Getting Around the Block: City vs. City

In my previous post, I compared the city block layouts of the downtowns of Minneapolis and Saint Paul. This time, I thought I’d zoom out and compare the whole cities. Above is the map for Saint Paul, a city of about 300,000 residents. Blocks that are green, yellow, and dark red are smaller in size, […]

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