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Suburban mayors: We need more transit for continued prosperity

Ten Twin Cities suburban mayors say more transit projects are needed in the metro area because they are key to prosperity.

Writing in the Star Tribune, the mayors — including those from Eden Prairie, Minnetonka and Bloomington — say that, because of added transit provisions, they support a more expensive transportation funding plan set forth by Gov. Mark Dayton and the DFL-controlled state Senate, over the state House Republican proposal.

They wrote:

“Effective transit operations in the metro area are critical to the state’s economic success. Transit moves our metro workforce; at present, nearly 40 percent of people who work in downtown Minneapolis or St. Paul depend on it to get to work. The number of people using transit is growing; between 2000 and 2010, transit trips increased by 25 percent as a percentage of all trips in the Twin Cities region, and use of park-and-ride facilities grew by more than 6 percent from 2012 to 2013 alone. This trend is expected to continue, and by 2040 we expect that our transit system will need to provide approximately 180 million rides per year to keep up with demand.”

The mayors say they like plans from Dayton and the Senate which would spend $6 billion over the next 10 years on roads, bridges and rapid-transit ways.

“In contrast, the House proposal addresses some of the need for investment in roads and bridges, but its funding ideas fall short of the levels needed for transit. Under this proposal, metro-area transit operations would be cut by 25 percent in the next five years, and new transit development would be nearly impossible, at the same time our population is growing.”

The letter was signed by these mayors:

  • Jim Hovland of Edina
  • Nora Slawik of Maplewood
  • Nancy Tyra-Lukens of Eden Prairie
  • Terry Schneider of Minnetonka
  • Scott Lund of Fridley
  • Sandy Martin of Shoreview
  • Brad Tabke of Shakopee
  • Debbie Goettel of Richfield
  • Mike Maguire of Eagan
  • Gene Winstead of Bloomington

Comments (8)

  1. Submitted by Richard Callahan on 04/21/2015 - 02:43 pm.

    Wouldn’t it make more sense to repeal restrictive building codes, develop more affordable housing, and let the people who work in these suburbs afford to live there?

    Isn’t it hypocritical to force people to live distantly and then ask the rest of us to bus them in to work their shift?

  2. Submitted by Elsa Mack on 04/21/2015 - 05:30 pm.

    Bussing them in

    My impression is that many suburbanites enjoy living where they do and were not “forced” to live there. In any case, hypocritical or not, busing them into downtown is a lot cheaper for everyone–the suburbanites who aren’t obliged to buy and park individual vehicles, and the city/state that doesn’t have to build giant freeways to carry all those vehicles.

    • Submitted by Richard Callahan on 04/21/2015 - 09:16 pm.

      Elsa, you misunderstood my point. The suburban mayors are asking for transportation to bring workers from the inner city to work in their suburbs. Suburban businesses aren’t paying high enough wages and suburban housing is too expensive for the people that work there to live there. In places like Edina, for example, people who work there like teachers, police, etc., often can’t afford to live there. These suburban areas have building codes that require minimum lot sizes and other restrictions that make it impossible to build affordable housing.

      In effect these mayors are saying, “we don’t want you to live here, but we’d sure like you to work here. Just make sure your out by dark”.

      • Submitted by Joe Schweigert on 04/22/2015 - 08:19 am.

        More mayors should join in

        “Transit moves our metro workforce; at present, nearly 40 percent of people who work in downtown Minneapolis or St. Paul depend on it to get to work.”

        They are asking for transportation to bring their residents downtown, not the other way around. I’m glad they’re coming out in favor of Dayton’s proposal. The metro area is the economic engine of the state, and we need to support its growth. Expanding transit to the core downtowns is a great first step.

      • Submitted by Elsa Mack on 04/22/2015 - 09:13 am.

        Ah, see

        As Joe said, in that case your argument is not supported by the article, which is about mayors wanting to help their residents get downtown more efficiently. But I’d add that even so, my point still stands–you’re assuming that all these people are “forced” to live in the city and work in the suburbs, as if they would definitely move to Edina or wherever if they could. But many people prefer to live in the city and buy homes there because that’s where they want to live.

        Should Edina have more affordable housing? Maybe, I don’t know. But I think that’s really a separate issue.

        • Submitted by Richard Callahan on 04/22/2015 - 06:45 pm.

          This MN Post article is just a snippet of the actual letter written by the 10 mayors that appeared in the Strib and it’s misleading. In the actual letter, the mayors said, “Growing businesses in suburban communities have an increasing need to access a workforce beyond the borders of their cities, and transit provides a way to bring more employees into the suburbs without substantially increasing road traffic.”

          The mayors, in their letter, were very clear that they want to bring workers to THEIR suburbs.

  3. Submitted by Chris Betcher on 04/22/2015 - 08:15 am.

    So you want poor work quality going into suburban homes?

    As a Licensed Electrician I can tell you that if your “Less Government” route of loosening regulations is just going to get a bunch of poor work quality and substandard materials used in the suburban homes. Even if you wanted to ease up the restrictions on house/lot sizes any more than they are you will just get a bunch more oversized boxy houses on tiny lots. This look horrible, and I’m surprised places like Edina have even let the ones recently built go through.

    I can’t tell you how many times I have bid on a job and found out I was underbid by an unlicensed contractor. I will almost always find out later the home owner isn’t happy with the results because the unlicensed contractor was a hack and didn’t do things properly up to code. This ends up costing the homeowner twice as much in the end and leaves a bad taste in their mouth. (And this is the best case scenario, what if they previous contractors work causes structural damage or a fire?)

    Sure, by all means, lets loosen up the regulations that are in place to keep you and your family safe in the home you live in.

  4. Submitted by Beth-Ann Bloom on 04/22/2015 - 09:56 am.


    Sad to see that the mayor of Woodbury did not sign on to this initiative that is essential for our city’s continued prosperity.

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