Public Transit in the Twin Cities – good or bad and why.

m3857

Minneapolis Collection, M3857.

In a previous post our captain of Minneapolis Metblogs was asking for more writers and in suggestions for a writing topic he suggested about ranting about how idiotic our public transportation is.

I have been taking the bus all winter after we decided it wasn’t worth the time or the money to keep two cars going all the time. If I ride the bus everyday for the month it costs about $80 per month. $4 per day mainly because I get on the bus in the morning before peak times and save .50 cents.

I haven’t had any problems and even if my car is running perfectly with insurance and gas the cost is about the same. Of course the car I have is paid off so there isn’t any monthly payment. One large repair though makes the bus seem a lot cheaper.

I think we can owe a big chunk of our transit problems to History – in the picture above you can see the infamous Fred Osanna accepting a check in front of a burning street car. Osanna went to jail for committing fraud because of taking money from companies installing bus lines.

There was a great documentary on this on TPT, I think it is in their lost Twin Cities series. I will try to track that down, or if anyone knows what it is – post it.

Otherwise – any ideas for helping our current system without breaking the bank and making sure it gets used?

7 Comments so far

  1. greg on March 25th, 2009 @ 10:23 am

    It rocks the bus works for you.

    494 congestion is epic. The morning and evening traffic reports don’t even mention it anymore. Meanwhile, we subsidize millions into a light rail train system that only a fraction of commuters could even use and metro transit buses don’t go east and west down 494.

    More personally, my issue is I live next to a bus depot and there’s a bus stop outside my office door, but because buses don’t go down 494, you have to go through downtown Minneapolis and super extend an otherwise quick drive (albeit adding one more one-drive car to 494 congestion).

    Because buses don’t go down 494, it turns a 14 mile drive into a 1 hour bus ride through downtown Minneapolis. If I worked in Eagan, it would be worse. Seems idiotic to me.


  2. jacobean on March 25th, 2009 @ 12:55 pm

    Greg,

    What is more idiotic is to think that public transit will work in an efficient way for suburb to suburb commutes. It just doesnt, plain and simple. Residential trip origins and commercial trip destinations are far too spread out to be well-connected by transit. You complain about the money being put into light rail, and at the same time complain that there is a lack of transit service along routes that would constitute an even less efficient use of public transportation dollars.

    If you are truly concerned about your drive to work, I suggest you move closer to your job, find a job closer to your home, or find a job in downtown which is easily reachable by transit.


  3. greg on March 25th, 2009 @ 4:53 pm

    Wow, somebody didn’t eat their Wheaties this morning.

    I’m not really all that "concerned about my drive to work," and I actually just moved to the suburbs to be closer to my job.

    I just wish some of that light rail subsidy could help folks who must "drive" on 494 because the buses don’t go east/west.


  4. Rich Horton (riftyrich) on March 26th, 2009 @ 6:34 am

    I think with how complicated our government makes everything, it’s really hard to know where money is coming from and what is available for.

    I didn’t think about the East West bus situation until I thought I might have to bus to Plymouth for my job. Which doesn’t seem to exist, even though Plymouth has it’s own bus system that connects with Metro Transit. I will just have to dig a little deeper. I am all for city living and working in Minneapolis. It makes my life so much easier.


  5. Robert Moffitt (justpbob) on March 30th, 2009 @ 3:11 pm

    "What is more idiotic is to think that public transit will work in an efficient way for suburb to suburb commutes. It just doesnt, plain and simple."

    It used to. They were called streetcars. You could go almost anywhere in the Twin Cities on one, including the suburbs.


  6. Robert Moffitt (justpbob) on March 30th, 2009 @ 3:12 pm

    You know, the things burning in the photo…


  7. jacobean on April 5th, 2009 @ 7:11 pm

    "It used to. They were called streetcars. You could go almost anywhere in the Twin Cities on one, including the suburbs."

    Yes and no. Streetcar suburbs and the modern day highway suburbs around the 494 ring are two totally different animals. Both were shaped by the predominant form of transportation at the time they were developed (streetcars in the former case, automobiles in the latter). Due to the low densities and disconnected manner in which automobile era suburbs developed, it is extremely difficult to come back in and attempt to retrofit them for transit service. Virtually the only form of transit that is successful in these areas is express park and ride service to downtown job centers during the peak commute periods. Like I said before, suburb-to-suburb transit between these types of suburbs doesn’t tend to work.



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