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Snowguy716

Your public transportation dream for Minnesota

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I've always thought that public transportation was lacking in Minnesota (the U.S in general). So, I thought I'd dream a little.

First of all, I would support street cars in all of the bigger cities. (Duluth, the Twin Cities, Rochester, Saint Cloud, and to a lesser extent, regional centers like Brainerd, Bemidji, Mankato). This could run alongside a more extensive bus system.

The bus system in my city is great because if you don't have a stop near your house, it will come pick you up and bring you where you need to go. The system is very cheap and people rely on it.

The light rail system should be expanded in the Twin Cities by pushing lines out in all directions (West, SW, South, SE, East, NE, North, and NW)... and promote lines to focus on city streets rather than along freeways. This would promote redevelopment of those areas. Also, a monorail between MInneapolis and Saint Paul would be ideal in getting people from one city to the other.

On a broader level, we could have regular speed train systems linking cities with existing rail lines. (Like the NorthStar rail project from Minneapolis to Saint Cloud).

And ultimately, a high speed train system linking the centers of the state: Marshall, Mankato, Rochester, the Twin Cities, Brainerd, Saint Cloud, Bemidji, Grand Forks, Fargo.

Of course that would be very expensive.. but remember this is a dream system.

Also, I think it is important to remember if we can get people to use the transport systems much more and cars less, it will be more cost effective. Rather than people packing up the car and driving north, they could take the train. It would also link the state together and promote growth in areas where economic development has been less than stellar (Duluth, the Iron Range, western MN).

(One must keep in mind that rail lines run between Minneapolis and Duluth, across to Grand Forks).. the use of existing lines is a possibility and it would make the project even easier to implement.

To help with the problem of stops making the trip longer.. ahve express trains stopping only at important centers, and have small, local trains stopping in smaller towns. Much like the rest of hte world.

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2 subway lines going south from downtown minneapolis through uptown (terminating in St Louis Park) and a central corridor subway line. (can use smaller subway cars to reduce tunneling cost)

2 modern streetcar routes along bus routes 17 and 18

downtown streetcar network

Numerous diagnonal light rail lines with multiple transfer nodes outside of the downtown area. Eventual circle line subway line to provide for suburb-suburb service and to allow for easy line transfers.

As for high speed rail, links to Chicago, Duluth, and Milwalkee are pretty much a given.

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As for high speed rail, links to Chicago, Duluth, and Milwalkee are pretty much a given.

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I really like your thinking here. I lived in Italy most of my life and there, public transit is essential for living. Imagine high speed trains competing with planes for Minneapolis/Chicago connections. Unfortunately minneapolis does not have a central transit/train station.

In Italy I'd always take the train from Rome to Milan. Typical train ride would be 3:30 hours. Flying is about 2:45. But with the trains you don't get many delays, if any at all and when you get off the train you're right downtown as opposed to being 15-20 miles away at the airport.

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The plan with the Midwest High Speed Rail Initiative was to place the train station in St Paul, at the old Grand Central Station.

There would be connections from there to the Central Corridor and several Commuter Trains out to the suburbs.

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I like K6-III's suggestion about subway lines. The success of the Hiawatha line has made me question my opinion a bit, but I've long believed that our harsh climate and suburban skepticism about transit would require transit stations that are fully protected from the elements. People who can afford not to wait outside for a bus or train on a subzero January morning or a sweltering July afternoon will choose their cars.

The biggest lingering complaint about the Hiawatha line is managing car traffic around rail crossings and an underground line fixes that, too. I would love to see the entire central corridor go underground, but with the funding troubles that project is facing, it is hard to strongly advocate for such a costly upgrade from the existing plan. At this point, the Twin Cities region needs to commit to a significant transit infrastructure investment if we hope to stay competitive in the domestic and global marketplace.

Regional high-speed rail to Duluth, Rochester, Fargo via St. Cloud, Sioux Falls via Mankato, and Milwaukee and Chicago via Madison are other essential links in that transit system. Republicans can argue that transit investment is good for business development and state competitiveness, Democrats can argue that transit expands access to opportunity for underserved communities-- with some obvious common ground where is the bipartisan political leadership to actually fund a broad plan for transit in our state?

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You have some good points there K6-III and MrMojangles.

It would be good to have a wide variety of transit options, from buses and maybe old fashioned street cars to light rail and maybe subway. To get any of that done, or for that matter begun, we need designated transit sources that are there for the long term and not some quick fix that falls of the table after a couple of years because our political representatives are not able to collectively see would our region could be like in the future.

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There is another way to make decent transit a reality: private financing.

Real estate developers can use the transit lines to boost values of their property. Thus, they can buy in to paying for the line, and run it at break-even, as the old Twin City Lines were run, and make money off real estate.

The prerequisite for this is that the government quit competing and stop building freeways.

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It just amazes me the difference between a large city in Europe (Cologne, Germany) and a good sized city in the U.S (Minneapolis/St. Paul).

Here they have "S-Bahn" which is slower speed heavy rail train that runs out into the smaller surrounding communities like a commuter rail.

They have "Light rail" which they call "Strassenbahn" or streetcar. That actually runs underground in some places but is like a traditional streetcar in other areas. this system is pretty extensive with something like 15 lines.

Then, they also have an extensive bus system that goes pretty much anywhere else you might need to be. And from there, you walk.

Americans are so afraid to even walk 200 feet from the back of a parking lot to the store. They'll spend 10 minutes driving around waiting for a close parking spot.

Then we always kill transit projects in favor of building more unneeded oversized freeways. Freeways take up so much room, it's unbelievable. It's no wonder cities have lost so many residents... they've had to tear down houses like crazy.

We need to get moving on the ideas that have been listed here. And remind people that they do in fact have 2 feet and a heartbeat.

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And remind people that they do in fact have 2 feet and a heartbeat.

That's not the mentality of this country. People don't want to be around other people much. It's more comfortable to be in our own cars, on wide freeways with access to our fenced in houses and yards. I think we're trained to think "what's mine is mine, and what's yours is yours". And let the two never mix. That bleeds right into transit, housing etc a lot.

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I think that is changing more with younger generations. But maybe that's just me. I grew up on a resort where there were alwas guests and what was "mine" I always had to share with the guests. A hard lesson to learn for a kid, but a very important one, indeed.

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And you can see a different mentality in some of the downtown residents. For instance, the empty nesters who've already "been there, done that" with amassing bigger houses, yards, cars etc. I think they just get to the point where its exhausting and want to downscale and explore living in a more dense, urban environment. Although, I'm pretty young and went straight into that direction. I guess it helps to be single with no kids, too. It's easier to put up with some of the tribulations of mass transit and other urban aspects.

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