Back from the dead–and back in Minnesota

It’s been a while since I’ve written, largely because I’ve been working on and thinking about a lot of non-transit things.  That said, I’ve still had transit heavily on the brain, especially today, as I return for treatment to the Mayo Clinic in Rochester, Minnesota.

Minneapolis has a pretty great transit system, for my money.  As I’ve written before here, buses and trains (which can be found on Google Maps and the agency’s own website) arrive on-time and frequently, including late at night.  We rode light rail from our airport hotel to the heart of downtown Minneapolis in about 40 minutes for about $4.50–compared to a 13-mile morning rush-hour traffic ride in a taxi ($35+) or a rental car.  No contest–particularly because the light rail is in dedicated right of way nearly the entire way, which obviously shortens rides and lessens inconvenience for drivers.  The ride was smooth, clean, quiet, and pleasant.

They function on an “honor system” for fares, which is obviously nice for riders but I wonder about how much the agency may be leaving on the table.  And speaking of fares, I was perplexed that I couldn’t buy one of their “Go-To Cards” at the kiosk where I could buy just about every other kind of fare or fare card AND charge an existing Go-To Card. I am, though, glad such a Card (a more rigid plastic card that can be reused more often and preserved longer than, say, stored fare cards I’ve seen in New York and Washington.

But on an even more encouraging note, Minneapolis today started disclosing projections for a new light rail line that would run out to southwest suburbs.  Here’s more.  Obviously, they’ll have to make sure it’s going to be cost-effective.  But I’m very encouraged that Minneapolis is talking expansion after just five years with their initial light rail line.

Also, in Rochester where the Mayo Clinic is, city officials are asking for state funding to buy right of way for connecting a trail to a recreation area–potentially for light rail or bus rapid transit.


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