Light rail begins in Minneapolis!

/ 27 June 2004

Yesterday was a great day in Minneapolis — our first light rail line, the Hiawatha, opened up for business! It’s only a start, and in some ways we’re way behind in this region on public transit, but it IS a start, and a good one. I enjoyed a couple of hours staffing one of the TLC tables, and talking with people about transportation choices. We’re interested in people understanding that what would serve us best is transit for livable communities. Transit, that is, that engages multiple modes (bus, train, bike, car, pedestrian, and so on) and is appropriate to the context. That also means accessible and public, and with costs shared fairly. One of the statistics that never ceases to amaze me, is that “in the Twin Cities metropolitan region, more money is invested annually in parking and driveways by government, individuals, and businesses than is invested in streets and roads.” (More info in the Free Parking report.)

There was a piece in the StarTrib yesterday, where one of the opponents of light rail tried to make the case that it would be cheaper to lease a BMW for a year, than pay for light rail on a per capita basis. But what that specious claim neglected to make clear, is that such a comparison does not include what it would cost to provide insurance on that leased car, or adequately paved roads, or enough gasoline to fuel it, or enough clean-up to deal with the toxic gases released, and so on and on. Light rail makes more transit choices available to people, it conserves our natural resources better than most other transit options, it makes it possible for people to get around more easily, and so on and so on.

Those of us who support public transit have a vision for our region (available at the MetCo resources site, and then click on the 2025 transitways map), and it's both exciting and possible. The advent of this single line will help to make the vision more real to people.