Streams

What happens when a community decides to get bold on transit?

Thursday, April 29, 2010 - 04:21 PM

(St. Paul, Minnesota-- Laura Yuen, MPR News) MPR's four-part series on the travails of the Minneapolis-St. Paul light rail project has begun. It's a terrific, in-depth look at what happens when a community decides to re-organize its street space.

From the story --

And now we hear, 'It's a development project; it's not really a transit project at all,'" anti-Central Corridor blogger Eric Hare tells MPR. "So, in the process of being all things for all people -- and making julienne fries on the side -- what is this thing really trying to accomplish? As we get closer to construction, people who believed the project is one of those three things suddenly find that there are all these compromises made along the way, and it's not what they expected."

But proponents point to another line's success.

After that line -- the Hiawatha line -- was built, skeptics who didn't believe Minnesotans would ride big-city trains finally had an on-the-ground example to draw from, said Karri Plowman, director of the Central Corridor Partnership. It's the business coalition that came together six years ago to advance the project.

Just two years after trains started rolling along Hiawatha, the line carried an average weekday ridership of 26,270 -- well above the original projections for the year 2020.

"Very quickly, the numbers in terms of ridership and success became evident," Plowman said.

Listen to part one here.

Part two examines the University of Minnesota's opposition to the line.

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