Thursday, January 29, 2015

Minnesota Sales Tax and Gas Tax Increases

Gov. Mark Dayton's Transit & Transportation Plan for 2016

• Propose $11 billion for light rail, bridges, & bike paths
• Raise gas tax 16 cents, and more when gas prices rise
• Increase registration & license tab prices
   ($10 + 1.25% vehicle value)
• Increase metro sales tax for riderless transit projects & studies
  (currently .25%, increased .5% to an additional .75% for transit)
• Penalize the Minneapolis Park Board over SW light rail
   ($1.6 billion cut in 2016 and in 2017)
• Hire Adam Duininck to head Metro Council & give job 236% raise
   (Susan Haigh received $61,414. Duininck will make $145,000.)

Light Rail Tax burden

Problems with Dayton's Plan

• Existing money is wasted on: Los Angeles vacations, free rides, the Met Council raise, and streetcar studies.
• Scare tactic of failing bridges.
• Bullying the Park Board by threatening to cut funding.
• Gas taxes and sales taxes (regressive taxes) hurt the poor far more than the wealthy.
•  Raises taxes when Minnesota has a tax surplus.

Gateway Corridor vacation
Money Wasted
There isn't enough money for transportation in the $71 billion budget, they say, but the Gateway Corridor committee had enough money to fly 30 to Los Angeles in June 2014 on a vacation tour. They are looking for more money this year. They want $3 million more to cover their next vacations.

Transit fares don't cover transit costs, but Metro Transit fares are often free.
  Free rides at the airport.
  Free rides on Nicollet Mall. 
  Free rides for Wild games.
  Free rides for Gopher football. 
  Free rides for Minnesota Lynx.
  Free rides for Minnesota Swarm. 
  Free rides for voting. 
  Free rides for the art fairs.
  Free rides for the winter carnival.
  Free rides for the Aquatennial. 
  Free rides to the children's museum.
  Free rides to the Holidazzle village.
  Free rides for the green line opening. 
  Free rides for the Surly beer hall opening.
  Free rides for disabled veterans. 
  Free rides for St. Patrick's Day, New Years Day...

If fares weren't always free, more fares would be collected. When it's not free, the standard rush hour fare is $2.25 and non-rush hour is $1.75. In 2013, Metro Transit collected $91.59 million from 81.4 million riders or an average of $1.13 per rider. Money is there for the taking.

Husband of Dayton's chief of staff, Adam Duininck will head Metro Council. Because Duininck is male works full time, he will get a 236% raise.  (Susan Haigh received $61,414. Duininck will make $145,000.)

And St. Paul's city council wants a streetcar for tourists.  Other cities are tearing out their streetcars or spending $400,000 annually on streetcar insurance like Tampa, but St. Paul's council wants a streetcar to be “competitive.”

The scare tactic of failing bridges is the local version of 9-11 reminders.

In 2007, the 35W bridge over the Mississippi River collapsed, killing 13 people. In the years since, all Minnesota bridges have been inspected. The Lafayette Bridge (US52) over the Mississippi River is being replaced due to a similar design flaw and lack of redundancies.

The transportation bill press conference specifically mentioned the Kellogg-3rd Street bridge. It could be either repaired for less than $8 million or replaced for $40 million with transit upgrades added for streetcars, Gateway Corridor bus rapid transit, Rush line connection, bike paths, and a Saints ballpark scenic overlook.

The Kellogg-3rd Street bridge has 9,900 daily drivers on 4 lanes. It was over-built in 1982. The 2 lane Smith Avenue (High) bridge has 13,900 daily drivers. The Kellogg-3rd bridge needs repairs to be up to federal code (under $8 million), but Gateway Corridor bus transit wants it torn down and replaced for $40 million. Either the company working on the nearby Lafayette Bridge (Lunda Construction) or the company building the nearby Saints Ballpark (Ryan Companies) is probably in line to do the job.

Dayton Bullies Park Board

The Governor also wants to cut funding to the Minneapolis Park Board by $3.7 million (2016-17) in retaliation for slowing progress on the Southwest light rail project. Park Board president Liz Wielinski said the Board is obligated to protect park land and has raised its concerns about SW light rail for three years.

The FTA has listened to the park board and ordered a more extensive review of the environmental impact of the Southwest light rail project.

Update: Governor Dayton is “Shocked and Appalled” by $ 2 Billion Southwest light rail price tag.

Gas and sales taxes are regressive taxes that impact the poor more than the wealthy. All of these taxes and added fees are hidden tax increases that don't show up on tax forms but add up. The Governor's staff estimates the average cost would be $294 annually per driver. More bullying by the Governor.

Minnesota charges a 28.5 cents a gallon gas tax, in addition to the federal 18.4 cents a gallon tax. The plan is to make to the state rate 6.5% with a base amount of 16 cents a gallon on the wholesale price of gas.
Minnesota Light Rail Train Tax on licenses and tabs
The additional transit sales tax currently at .25%, would be increased .5% to an additional .75% sales tax. Plus Carver and Scott counties would have to pay the metro transit sales tax rate.

Governor Dayton's regressive taxes - gas, sales, licenses

Minnesota has a $1.3 billion surplus on a budget of $71 billion (2014-2015) but Gov. Dayton wants to raise taxes.

Other Views

Duluth News Tribune

Minnesota Public Radio - toll bridge for the St. Croix River bridge at Bayport

Star Tribune 

Pioneer Press

Light rail funding from car tabs, licenses, sales taxes

Monday, September 22, 2014

Rail~Volution 2014 and Eminent Domain

Rail~Volution 2014 is a convention at the Hyatt Downtown Minneapolis from September 21-24.

The Rail~Volution mission statement is:  “people from all perspectives who believe strongly in the role of land use and transit as equal partners in the quest for greater livability and greater communities.

It's about land use -- taking and using other people's land -- the American way. Abuse of power.

Eminent Domain is the Latin term meaning Supreme Lordship, representing the high and mighty who decide the winners and losers in urban planning. Eminent domain takes land. It doesn't have to make sense.

Seattle seized a parking lot to turn it into a parking lot. They also tried to seize a little Latvian church for light rail tracks. After they heard opposition, they figured a way to not destroy the church, which had been previously moved for a highway. Sound Transit is also moving 12 business from the 9500 block of First Avenue NE for light rail. In 2005, Seattle tried to use eminent domain to seize John Fujii's parking garage for the Seattle Monorail, which only needed a third of the property temporarily. The Monorail hoped to sell the property for a profit once it was done with it, but the project fell through.

Utah state law says public transit may not acquire property by eminent domain, but they are trying to seize a furniture business (old link) for a new transit garage.

Richfield, Minnesota sounds like the sort of place that has money and doesn't have to take property. But it wanted Best Buy, a business that sounds like it makes money, to build its headquarters in Richfield. So they threatened to apply eminent domain on homeowners and businesses, condemning properties by saying they didn't have enough insulation to meet new laws. Everyone agreed to sell instead of receiving nothing, except a car dealership. Richfield claimed the Walser car dealership made too much noise. Not the nearby airport, the car dealership. After a legal battle, the parties settled. Best Buy got its 1.4 million square foot headquarters with room for 7,500 employees. In July 2012, they had 4,760 employees left and have since went through two sets of layoffs. They have plenty of space to lease (leasing brochure). And Richfield has a 24 year tax incremental financing plan.
TL;DR - Richfield bet on Best Buy over residents and small businesses.

Dakota County, Minnesota tried to seize a 10-acre family home allegedly for a bike path, rejecting the property owner's offers of an easement. The case went to court and was settled in 2014. In early 2008, Eagan rushed to seize properties without a plan or a developer, land banking, because a new law prohibiting taking private land for private developments was about to go into effect.

Atlantic City, New Jersey was a pawn in an eminent domain battle over 127 South Columbia Place. Their Casino Reinvestment Development Authority had seized hundreds of properties to build the Atlantic City casinos, but homeowner Vera Coking did not want to sell her home. The property was desired by Donald Trump as a limousine parking lot for Trump Plaza. Vera Coking said Trump was a maggot. Coking and the Institute for Justice fought off CRDA in court in 1998. Trump Plaza closed September 23, 2014 (the 4th Atlantic City casino to close this year), and the Coking home sold in July 2014 for $530,000.

And the CRDA is still trying to seize more properties for casinos, as if Atlantic City is some giant game of Monopoly®. CRDA wants Charles Birnbaum's Oriental Avenue property. They don't know why. “There’s no plan. There’s no particular thing for which this property is being taken,” said attorney Robert McNamara, representing Birnbaum.

NJ Transit had been seizing land for a proposed ARC tunnel under the Hudson River, even though NJ Gov. Chris Christie cancelled the project in October 2010. Four years later NJ Transit is still taking land for the project, appealing a 2012 verdict valuing the land at $8.15 million. NJ Transit also missed a legal opportunity for $2 million of clean-up costs for the land.

North Kansas City wanted to have it their way by seizing a Burger King. They didn't have a plan. Their developer was bankrupt. The District Court of Appeals found the city (pop. 4,208) did not have the authority to condemn Burger King for the “public purpose of eliminating blight.”

Chicago used eminent domain to seize a cemetery. The fight lasted three years. The area is now being paved over for O'Hare Airport runway 10 Center

Maryland's new $2.43 billion purple line light rail train has a list of 500 properties to be seized, including 170 temporary condemnations that would be returned to the property owners after construction is over.

New London, Connecticut is the most famous case of eminent domain, Kelo v. City of New London. The city and state fought small homeowners to clear land for developments related to Pfizer. Then Pfizer left town.

Canada takes advantage. A rancher in Roseburg, Oregon will have a natural gas pipeline running through his property according to Veresen, a Calgary company. Also, the company owning the Missoula, Montana water supply is selling the rights to Algonquin Power's Liberty Utilities of Canada to prevent Missoula from seizing the water supply through eminent domain.

Civil Rights
Fifty-eight percent of those targeted by local municipalities' exercises of their eminent domain power were minorities, compared to only 45% of people in surrounding neighborhoods that were not similarly targeted, according to a study of 184 eminent domain instances across the country [Victimizing the Vulnerable].

In Richmond Virginia, Longwood University regrets using eminent domain during the civil rights era  to cause “real and lasting offense and pain to our community.”  Longwood University says they “acted with particular insensitivity with regard to the relocation of a house of worship” through the seizure of the Race Street Baptist Church in the mid-1960s through eminent domain, a process that displaced both white and black families in Farmville.

“Forty years ago, eminent domain was used to tear the heart out of many communities.  It displaced residents, tore apart familes, friends and lives.  Some lives and some people never recovered.  The 1960s were a heyday of eminent domain.  We used the tool to acquire land for highways in urban areas.  At times, there was no doubt a tendency to place highways through poor, minority neighborhoods that would have the least ability politically to fight back.  In places like Chicago, highways were just as often used to create a barrier between the ruling Irish and African-American neighborhoods.  The 1960s were the heyday of urban renewal as well. Whole neighborhoods were razed in many cities in an effort to redevelop them.  In St. Paul, this kind of tool was used to clear out the West Side Flats, the Upper Levee, Rondo (through I-94), the Central Park and parts of the Capitol-Cathedral Hill neighborhood. What unites these neighborhoods again - largely not an accident - is that they are largely poor, minority, and immigrant neighborhoods.” - e-Democracy, St. Paul

St. Paul's population peaked in 1960 at 313,411.  Swede Hollow was one of the first neighborhoods of St. Paul and one of the first to be levelled. St. Paul evicted the residents of Swede Hollow on December 11, 1956 and set the homes on fire. Twenty years later in 1976, the city declared Swede Hollow a nature center. In 2014, officials toured Swede Hollow Park to see what they would be destroying for new Rush line train tracks.

Compare that to what was recently done to businesses on University Avenue.

Is this the “greater livability and greater communities” that Rail~Volution wants?

Monday, February 3, 2014

Gateway Corridor summary

Gateway Corridor Fiasco
The Gateway Corridor (gold line) is a needless east-metro transit plan for a slow, expensive bus to replace the existing express buses that already run successfully on I-94 (MetroTransit express 294, limited stop 350, express 351, express 353, express 355, express 375). The existing express buses use the I-94 shoulder to move around traffic and take commuters to downtown St. Paul and Minneapolis without stopping. Gateway Corridor wants $485 million to build a dedicated bus lane that ends at Union Depot. (Metro Transit has a $9 million alternative.)

March 8, 2016 - Gateway Corridor Commission chair Lisa Weik received a $5.4 million grant award from Lisa Weik of the Counties Transit Improvement Board (CTIB) Executive Committee. Gateway Corridor chair Lisa Weik thanked herself for the money. CTIB executive Lisa Weik said it's nothing and promised $9.6 million more. “That's why it's called the Gold Line!” [Woodbury Bull.]

March 6, 2016 - The corruption and deception of Special Districts on Last Week Tonight with John Oliver.

January 13, 2016 - Oakdale residents want to vote down Gold Line (Gateway). [Lillie News]

January 5, 2016 - Lake Elmo votes down Gold Line (Gateway). [Pioneer Press, Star Tribune, Finance-Commerce]

December 18, 2015 - Former advocate turned opponent. Linda Stanton, the vice chairwoman of an advisory committee of the Gateway commission, says, "Stop the waste."  She can drive to St. Paul in 20 minutes or take the bus in 28 minutes. The Gold Line will take at least 34 minutes if not longer. At $485 million, the Gold Line would be more expensive per passenger mile than even the light rail trains. It will run past the cornfields of Lake Elmo and eastern Woodbury, and it will run through residential Fourth Street in Oakdale. [Pioneer Press]

October 15, 2015 - “At Oak Meadows Senior Living in Oakdale, a large group of citizens from Fourth Street in Oakdale rose up and rebelled against plans by Gateway Corridor proponents to destroy their beautiful residential street and neighborhood by jamming down their throats a dedicated-bus-lane project...” [more]

October 7, 2015 - A 3:30pm meeting of the St. Paul City Council at 15 W Kellogg Blvd, 3rd floor will vote to rezone properties along Gateway Corridor.
   •  meeting information: Gold Line station plans & zoning study
   •  list of St. Paul properties to be rezoned (pdf, 6 pages) 
       includes properties north & south of I-94 (homes on Pacific, McLean...)
   •  Sun Ray shopping center complaint & scheme (pdf)
   •  Gateway Corridor - Gold Line station plans & HRA marketing study
   •  East Side Review - October 4, 2015
The rezoning vote was pushed by appointed (unelected) St. Paul city councilor Bill Finney. On November 3rd, a new ward 7 city councilor will be elected.

Inspections are next, then code violations, then condemnations (eminent domain). Thanks to Mr. Finney and the St. Paul City Council.

September 14, 2015 - The Federal Transit Administration announced that the Metropolitan Council will receive $1 million to make a Gateway Corridor - Transit Oriented Development plan. Gateway Corridor has been planning to send as many as 20 people to Washington DC on October 7th. (They took 30 on a trip to Los Angeles in 2014.) With money on the way, maybe they won't spend thousands of dollars flying 20 transit people to DC. They've moved some letters to change their name to Getaway Corridor.

September 8, 2015 - “Gateway Corridor vs Metro Transit: How State's $9 million Route Upgrade Could Replace the Gateway Corridor” - Washington County Watchdog

September 3, 2015 - Lake Elmo wary of Gateway Corridor bus line - Star Tribune

July 24, 2015 - Gold Line SAP meeting Friday, July 24 at 8:30am at St. Paul City Hall.

March 2015 - a Woodbury survey found 52% of residents said they were not too likely or not at all likely to use bus rapid transit. And the price of Gateway Corridor BRT went up $35 million.

March 9, 2015 - Two sets of bills wanted another $3 million for Gateway Corridor:
House File 1616 (status) and Senate File 1464 (status) Gateway Corridor wants $3 million from the general fund
House File 1617 (status) and Senate File 1463 (status) Gateway Corridor wants $3 million from the sale of bonds

January 2015 - Governor Dayton announced a plan to increase the gas tax for roads, bridges, and the 3rd-Kellogg transit bridge. The plan also increases sales taxes, vehicle licenses, and car tabs for light rail and BRT.

December 2014 - Gateway wants more gold. Tans from the Gateway Corridor Commission's June 2014 tour of Los Angeles have faded, so they want more study money from the Minnesota Legislature in 2015. Gateway wants $3 million more. They also say they will ask for 50% of construction costs from the Federal Transit Administration in 2015. (It's always “next year,” isn't it?) But language in the FY2014 federal spending bill limits future federal spending on new starts to 40% (H.R. 83, page 1461, summary) and eliminates funding for local improvements. The $3 million does not include the $40 million they want to tear down the Third Street (Kellogg) bridge instead of repairing the bridge for less than $8 million (details below).

December 2014 - Highway-Rail Grade Crossings and Rail Safety report. Of 683 rail crossings of oil trains in Minnesota, 102 crossings are a high priority for safety improvements.

October 2014 - Another $100,000 study money was thrown at Gateway Corridor from Blue Cross and Blue Shield of Minnesota to explain how the Gateway bus might help the health of the east metro.

September 25, 2014 - Infrastructure Opportunists and the Kellogg Bridge” by Matt Steele at offers a better plan for the Third Street (Kellogg) bridge. The annual average daily traffic (AADT) numbers are:
   •    9,900 for Third Street (Kellogg) 4 lane bridge
   •  13,900 for Smith Avenue 2 lane bridge (High Bridge)
   •  21,200 for Seventh Street bridge over Swede Hollow
   •  31,500 for the Snelling & University avenue intersection
   •  95,000 for Interstate 94 at White Bear Avenue

September 24, 2014 - St. Paul is seeking Federal and state money for the rarely used Third Street (Kellogg) bridge connecting St. Paul's Lowertown and Dayton's Bluff. They say the bridge built in 1982 is not up to Federal code. The code violation was not discovered during the intensive bridge inspections following the I-35W bridge collapse. Bridge repairs would cost up to $8 million. A $40 million replacement bridge could have:
   •  pedestrian walkways
Third Street Bridge (Kellogg) in St. Paul, Minnesota
   •  bike lanes
   •  an ice-melting system
   •  Saints ballpark scenic overlook
   •  bus rapid transit lanes for Gateway Corridor
   •  connections for a potential Rush line train (through the former Bruce Vento Sanctuary and Swede Hollow Park).
Construction businesses parked in Lowertown, having just worked on the green line light rail, Union Depot, the Saints ballpark, and the Lafayette Bridge are looking for the next big government contract in the area.

August 31, 2014 (Sunday) - The ten week old Green Line light rail train hit and killed a woman at the intersection of University Avenue and Emerald Street SE in the Prospect Park neighborhood at 10:15am. The train operator applied some form of brakes but was not able to stop the train in time.

August 28, 2014 (Friday) - Minneapolis City Council voted on Southwest Corridor at 9:30am in room 317 of Minneapolis City Hall, 350 S 5th St, Minneapolis, MN 55415, 612-673-3000. The vote was 10-3 for spending $1.65 billion on a commuter light rail train (before Target layoffs).

July 2014 - Fresh from their vacation in Los Angeles, the Gateway Corridor Commission decided to pick bus rapid transit (BRT). The BRT route they picked runs on the disjointed, residential Hudson Road in St. Paul. The BRT route messes with the one-way traffic in front of the 3M headquarters in Maplewood and takes over 4th Street North in Oakdale and Hudson Blvd in Lake Elmo. After avoiding most of Woodbury, the route jogs inexplicably south to tag the northeast corner of Woodbury and ends before Manning Av (map).

June 2014 - The Federal Transit Administration and the Federal Highway Administration requested that Gateway Corridor proposal be resubmitted with the option of a managed lane on I-94. Meanwhile thirty members of the Gateway Corridor Commission left town and took a fact-finding vacation in Los Angeles (Los Angeles?!? How does LA have anything to do with Woodbury? Transit ridership has declined in Los Angeles over the past 3 decades. Visiting the BRT red line in Apple Valley would have been more appropriate.). [video]

Despite years of taxpayer-funded studies and meetings, the Gateway Corridor Commission can't understand that the existing bus transit is the safest, most flexible, most efficient, and most economical transit for the East Metro.

Are they really wanting to put it on Hudson Road?

► Do they realize Hudson Road is residential in Saint Paul?

► Do they realize Hudson Road is a disconnected street? It stops and starts.

► Has the Gateway Corridor contacted each of the residents and received their willingness to move?

What is the Gateway Corridor -- bus or train?

The Gateway Corridor Commission couldn't decide what type of vehicle they wanted (bus, train, or gondola) or where they should put it, until 30 members took a taxpayer funded vacation to Los Angeles in June 2014.

►   Metro Council and Minnesota Department of Transportation have said that bus rapid transit in managed lanes should be considered for the Gateway Corridor, which might run eastward from Union Depot in St. Paul toward Wisconsin along Interstate 94. Buses would travel on existing pavement and leave the interstate to stop at transit stations. - Pioneer Press 

►   East metro citizens do not want light rail, according to signed petitions, open house meetings, and surveys taken by state representatives. "In a recent survey of her constituents, Rep. Andrea Kieffer, a Republican from Woodbury, [said] most don’t want light rail in the area. Rep. Kathy Lohmer said her survey had similar findings.” - Woodbury Patch

"Residents and business owners voiced their concerns about plans for transit along the Gateway Corridor... All seven audience members who spoke opposed the corridor plan... Tom Giannetti, who owns St. Paul Harley-Davidson, which sits along I-94 near Century Avenue, said the proposed route could cut into his property and poses 'the single biggest threat to my business.'” - Pioneer Press
Light rail would wipe out the 75 space parking lot. - Lilli News 

►   The Gateway Corridor settled on bus rapid transit in fall of 2012. The Minnesota Legislature voted in 2013 to allow Woodbury to create bus rapid transit. - Star Tribune

►  Minneapolis-Saint Paul has the fastest U.S. metropolitan highways according to Texas A&M and Streets.MN. Here is a picture of weekday morning traffic on I-94 on the east side of Saint Paul. The east metro lacks the ridership, congestion, urban density, or population increase to justify bus rapid transit, let alone light capacity rail.

►   Carrying capacity differs between buses, light rail trains (light capacity), and heavy rail trains (heavy capacity). “The willingness of many rail advocates to support high-cost, low-capacity rail lines calls into question the entire rail agenda. Supporters of low-capacity lines are not truly interested in transportation.” - Cato Institute & UTA TRAX response (operating at only 21.8% of capacity)

Is light rail safe? Is light rail good for business?

►  Here is a list of light rail crashes and the causes (with news links)

►  Here is a list of businesses impacted by the Central Corridor (with news links)

►  The National Transportation Safety Board (NTSB) released a list of needed rail safety improvements in January 2014, including:
•  Promote Operational & Developmental Safety in Rail Mass Transit - promote organizational safety culture, training safety, maintenance safety, address and reduce fatigue and human error, adopt close-call reporting systems, and promote operational safety through Federal Transit Administration (FTA) oversight, which should start at development. [html, pdf]
•  Implement Positive Train Control Systems - monitor the location and movement of trains, then slow or stop a train that is not being operated in accordance with signal systems or operating rules. This safety redundancy prevents train-to-train collisions and overspeed derailments, as well as the associated injuries and fatalities to passengers, railway workers, and others. PTC systems are not a dream; they are in use on the Northeast Corridor in the Northeast United States and on the Michigan Line between Chicago, Illinois and Detroit, Michigan. [html, pdf]

►   Minnesota has one rail safety inspector for the entire state. - Star Tribune, Minnesota law

Does the Gateway Corridor contribute to urban sprawl and the Wisconsin Reciprocity Tax Deficit?

►  Younger families are moving to the Minneapolis urban core instead of Woodbury. - Star Tribune (chart)

►  Wisconsin owes millions of tax dollars to Minnesota for its commuter residents. Gateway Corridor wants to increase Wisconsin's debt by providing transit for Wisconsin residents who work in Minnesota. Governor Walker agrees $60 million is owed to Minnesota but will only pay the bill if Wisconsin's employment situation improves. - WXOW-19 LaCrosse, Star Tribune (update

► The Gateway Corridor will not cross the St. Croix River into Wisconsin. - Finance & Commerce

► The Twin Cities Metropolitan Area - Transit System Map 2014 shows some of the bus and train coverage of the Minneapolis - Saint Paul area.
Twin Cities Metropolitan Area Transit System Map 2014
Twin Cities 2014 Transit System Map

Has any money already been spent? Can't more money be flushed away?

CH2M Hill (Englewood, CO)  =  $1.5 million (2011)
Kimley Horn (Raleigh, NC)     <  $3 million (2013)
Jeff Dehler Public Relations (Crystal, MN) = $100,000 (2013)
Jeff Dehler Public Relations (Crystal, MN) = $110,000 (2014)
► Bus rapid transit on Hudson Road would cost over $400 million. Bus rapid transit on a managed lane on I-94 would cost $520 million. Light rail transit on Hudson Road would cost over $1 billion.
► Gateway Corridor received more money from the 2014 legislature and took 30 people on a fact-finding vacation tour of Los Angeles in June 2014.

Should 3M name all the stations on the Gateway Corridor (bus, train, plane)?

►  Scotch® Magic Tape transit station
►  Nexcare™ Steri-Strip™ Skin Closures for injured pedestrians
►  Non-post consumer Post-It® temporary transit station
►  3M™ Littmann® Stethoscopes station
►  Imation™ Floppy Disk terminal (as modern as train technology)
- Star Tribune

Probably not. 3M closed its Saint Paul campus a few years ago. Is 3M planning to close its Maplewood headquarters too? Is Gateway Corridor transit just a tool to help sell the 3M property in Maplewood? 3M held its first annual meeting outside of Minnesota this year. The meeting was in Austin, Texas on May 13, 2014.

►   Gateway Corridor Steering Committee?!? You can't steer light rail. Joke? - Lillie News

The East Metro of Minneapolis-Saint Paul is a good place to live. Saint Paul's east side is a great place to live. It is not a gated community. It's diverse. It has no high profile destinations, no flashy museums or malls or casinos. It has the native Mounds Park, which is great and historic. It has the picturesque Lake Phalen. It has great bus and express bus service. It does not need or want a $1.2 billion light rail line to nowhere.

Make a difference. Make your voice heard. Tell your story.
Minnesota Governor Mark Dayton   651-296-3391
Office of the Governor, 130 State Capitol, 75 Rev. Dr. Martin Luther King Jr. Blvd., St. Paul, MN 55155

Minnesota Representative Tim Kelly, Transportation Policy and Finance Committee Chair   651-296-8635
559 State Office Building, 100 Rev. Dr. Martin Luther King Jr. Blvd., St Paul, MN 55155

Minnesota Representative  Linda Runbeck, Subcommittee on Metropolitan Council Accountability and Transparency  Chair  651-296-2907
417 State Office Building, 100 Rev. Dr. Martin Luther King Jr. Blvd., St Paul, MN 55155

Minnesota Representative Tony Albright (55B)   651-296-5185
387 State Office Building, 100 Rev. Dr. Martin Luther King Jr. Blvd., St Paul, MN 55155

Minnesota Representative Tim Mahoney (67A)   651-296-4277
591 State Office Building, 100 Rev. Dr. Martin Luther King Jr. Blvd., St. Paul, MN 55155

Minnesota Representative Sheldon Johnson (67B)   651-296-4201
549 State Office Building, 100 Rev. Dr. Martin Luther King Jr. Blvd., St. Paul, MN 55155

Minnesota Senator Richard Cohen, Senate Finance Committee Chair
web mail   651-296-5931
121 Capitol, 75 Rev. Dr. Martin Luther King Jr. Blvd., St. Paul, MN 55155

Minnesota Senator D. Scott Dibble, Transportation and Public Safety Committee chair   651-296-4191
111 Capitol, 75 Rev. Dr. Martin Luther King Jr. Blvd., St. Paul, MN 55155-1606

Minnesota Senator Foung Hawj (District 67)
web mail   651-296-5285
Capitol, Room G-24, 75 Rev. Dr. Martin Luther King Jr. Blvd., St. Paul, MN 55155-1606

Find your Minnesota Representative and Minnesota Senator by zip codes

Metropolitan Council Chair Adam Duininck   651-602-1390
  ► Chair, Corridors of Opportunity (aka Partnership of Regional Opportunity

Metropolitan Council District 13 (St. Paul) Richard Kramer   651-774-4971

Metropolitan Council District 14 (St. Paul) Jon Commers   651-645-4644

Metro Transit   651-602-1500, 612-373-3333
560 Sixth Av N, Minneapolis, MN 55411

Ramsey County District 6 Commissioner Jim McDonough   651-266-8350
Ramsey County Board Office, Room 220 Court House, 15 W Kellogg Blvd, St. Paul, MN 55102
  ► Chair, Ramsey County Board
  ► Chair, East Metro Transit Alliance
  ► Member, Minnesota Transportation Alliance (aka Move MN)
  ► Member, Counties Transit Improvement Board (CTIB)
  ► Member, Corridors of Opportunity (aka Partnership of Regional Opportunity)
  ► Member, Ramsey County Regional Rail Authority (RCRRA)

Ramsey County District 5 Commissioner Rafael Ortega   651-266-8361
  ► Chair, Ramsey County Regional Rail Authority (RCRRA)
  ► Vice-chair, Gateway Corridor Commission
  ► Member, Counties Transit Improvement Board (CTIB)

Washington County Commissioner Lisa Weik   651-430-6215
  ► Chair, Gateway Corridor Commission
  ► Member, Counties Transit Improvement Board (CTIB)
  ► Member, Corridors of Opportunity (aka Partnership of Regional Opportunity)

Gateway Corridor Commission   651-430-4300
Washington County Regional Railroad, 11660 Myeron Road N, Stillwater, MN 55082

Peter McLaughlin, Hennepin County 4th District Commissioner   612-348-7884
A-2400 Government Center, 300 South 6th St., Minneapolis, MN 55487
  ► Chair, Counties Transit Improvement Board (CTIB)
  ► Chair, Hennepin County Regional Railroad Authority (HCRRA)
  ►  Member, Solid Waste Management Coordinating Board (SWMCB)
  ►  Member, Corridors of Opportunity (aka Partnership of Regional Opportunity)
  ►  Member, Central Corridor Management Committee (CCMC)
  ►  Member, Southwest LRT Community Works Steering Committee (SWLRTCWSC)
  ►  Member, Metro Transit’s Policy Advisory Committee (PAC)
  ►  Member, MnDOT Transportation Finance Advisory Committee (TFAC)
Peter McLaughlin's “principal aideBrian Shekleton is also the vice president of the Minnehaha Creek Watershed District (conflict of interest)   612-348-5204

Federal Transportation Administration (FTA) Marisol Simon   312-353-2789
200 W Adams St, Suite 2410, Chicago, IL 60606

Federal Transportation Administration (FTA) Elizabeth Zelasko Patel  202-366-0244
1200 New Jersey Av SE, E45-340, Washington, DC 20590
FTA Office of Planning and Environment - projects permitting contact

United States Representative Betty McCollum
web mail   651-224-9191, 202-225-6631
165 Western Avenue North, Suite 17, St. Paul, MN 55102

United States Representative Keith Ellison
web mail   612-522-1212
2100 Plymouth Av N, Minneapolis, MN 55411

United States Senator Amy Klobuchar
web mail (  612-727-5220, 202-224-3244
1200 Washington Av S. Suite 250, Minneapolis, MN 55415

United States Senator Al Franken
web mail (  651-221-1016,  202-224-5641
60 E. Plato Blvd. Suite 220, St. Paul, MN 55107

United States President Barack Obama 
web mail   202-456-1111
The White House, 1600 Pennsylvania Avenue NW, Washington, DC 20500
We The People - the White House petition

Rail~Volution 2014 at the Hyatt Downtown Minneapolis - September 21-24, 2014  612-486-5611

East Side Transit Spotlight

The East Side Transit Spotlight was a Gateway Corridor opposition meeting that took place on Tuesday, April 29, 2014 from 6-8 pm at the Dayton's Bluff Recreation Center, 790 Conway Street in St. Paul. The meeting included a short movie, Is the Gateway Corridor Hudson Road Alignment a Pure Illusion?

The movie shows several congestion-free views of Interstate-94 in the east metro, with highway-level and aerial views, but the narration does not call attention to the lack of congestion. The narration lists many businesses east of Ruth Street that would be impacted by the proposed plan but fails to list the businesses west of Ruth that would be impacted. The video jumps between several disconnected parts of Hudson Road without addressing the problems of making connections. It turns the camera away from showing all the houses that would be impacted by rapid transit on their doorsteps. It fails to mention the bus-or-train indecision, the huge costs, replacing the existing-effective express buses, increasing urban sprawl, and Minnesota funding transit for Wisconsin. The movie was created by Steve Ellenwood & Bob Tatreau.

Tuesday, January 7, 2014

Saint Paul Streetcar Scam

February 2015 - Streetcars: “pricey economic development tools with debatable results.” Metropolitan Council's streetcar study by Parsons Brinckerhoff practically laughs at cities for installing streetcar train tracks, and Parsons is often the installer.

“Measuring the actual impacts of streetcar investments on the local economy versus other city policies and development incentives is elusive and debatable. [A streetcar] does not typically provide appreciable time savings as compared to local bus service yet costs significantly more.”  - Parsons Brinckerhoff - Streetcar Policy Development

January 29, 2015 - The Minnesota Senate and House of Representatives introduced bills prohibiting streetcars: House File 413 (status) and Senate File 366 (status).

July 10, 2014 - The Saint Paul City Council voted 6-0 to continue to study a
7th Street streetcar. Dan Bostrom walked out before the vote after saying that for $250 million, the city could mill and overlay all 873 miles of paved streets within Saint Paul's borders, excluding interstate highways, with $48 million left over. His comments drew widespread applause, the Pioneer Press reported.

Saint Paul city council members Amy Brendmoen, Kathy Lantry, Russ Stark, Dai Thao, Dave Thune, & Chris Tolbert were in favor of the streetcar fiasco

Joe Landsberger, West Seventh Business Association president, said that while he generally supports public transit, "not one business owner of the total of about 120 attendees (at the February 6th streetcar presentation) spoke in favor of streetcars." 

“Who is in favor of streetcars along West 7th?” No one came forward.
“Who leans toward streetcars along West 7th?” Again no response.
“Who is neutral?” Again no response.
“Who is against?” Nearly all raised their hands.

Tim Herman, East Side Area Business Association director, said that his
members want transit. Who are his members?  They are Saint Paul council member Amy Brendmoen, Saint Paul council president Kathy Lantry, Ramsey County commissioner Jim McDonough, Saint Paul Port Authority, and Visit Saint Paul.    - May 30, 2014 members list

One of the few members of Tim Herman's association actually on the potential streetcar tracks has signed a petition against a train on East 7th. Tim Herman doesn't speak for East 7th Street businesses.

Saint Paul city council wants a streetcar. They want a traffic-blocking, empty-tourist train (streetcar) running on 7th Street from Arcade Street to Randolph Avenue. They are being serious (sort of).*

There are some good authentic Mexican restaurants at 7th East and Arcade. Randolph and 7th West has a uh Subway™ sandwich shop and a pizza place. The streetcar plan was presented by San Francisco trolley people (Nelson Nygaard Consulting). Maybe someone in San Francisco thought there was an actual subway at Randolph and 7th.

But it's only half the route Saint Paul wants. They want a pair of train tracks running down 7th Street from White Bear Avenue to the airport (because whenever anyone is going to the airport, they want the slowest, least baggage-friendly mode of transportation).

The problem is the Federal Transit Administration’s (FTA) Capital Investment Grants program, commonly known as “New Starts.” It has rules. In order to get $75 million from the FTA, the transit has to:
► cost less than $250 million (tracks from White Bear Av to the airport would more than double that cost)
► benefit at least 3,000 existing daily transit riders (the 74 bus route has hundreds, not thousands of riders)
► have mobility improvements measured by travel time benefits per passenger mile (streetcars on 7th are not faster or more direct than buses on 7th)
► serve low-income households (usually not going to the airport, not flocking to White Bear Av either)
► has to have employment near stations (the field that was the 3M headquarters & Subway™-eat fresh)
► measured by change in regional pollutant emissions, change in regional energy consumption, and EPA air quality designation (nothing pollutes like the cement industry & street-tracks use tons of cement)
► have operating efficiencies measured by system operating cost per passenger mile (A streetcar has no chance at being more efficient. The only way to be more efficient than the 74 bus route would be to run half-sized buses when ridership doesn't need a full-sized bus.)
► address future patterns (People are moving to the urban core and do not need sprawl-based transit. Saint Paul is a Toledo-sized city that may never regain its 1960 peak population.)

The Saint Paul city council claims the streetcar will cost less than $250 million to get the federal money. That means the project will be only partially built to come in under the dollar cap. Like the Hiawatha light rail, the streetcar project would have to say it's finished and then make additional capital improvements until it's actually complete.

The Saint Paul city council also claims the streetcar will have 3,100 riders, needing to claim at least 3,000 riders for the federal money. Who are they kidding?!? An independent audit of 74 bus weekday riders should prove the 3,100 figure to be an inflated number. Plus, the FTA money must benefit 3,000 riders. Replacing buses with trains does not benefit riders; it's the opposite. Trains cost more, have fewer seats, and do not have the braking and steering abilities of buses. Less safe and more expensive does not benefit riders. Putting trains on roads removes parking, adds overhead wiring, and eliminates truck access to businesses.

Page 6 of the Saint Paul Streetcar Feasibility Study (November 13, 2013) says the streetcars "fills gaps in existing bus services." Here is the 74 bus schedule. What gaps?

The real purpose of the trains has nothing to do with transit. It is to create more condominiums downtown Saint Paul. Everywhere. The old post office? Condos. The old Macy's? Condos.

The other reason the Saint Paul city council wants streetcars is the Minneapolis city council wants streetcars. But according to the Pioneer Press, the Metropolitan Council Chair Sue Haigh sent a letter July 12, 2013 to then Minneapolis Mayor R.T. Rybak saying, "A project pursued primarily for development outcomes should be funded locally and should not compete with other priorities for federal and state transportation funds." The letter was copied to Saint Paul Mayor Coleman. The Pioneer Press took the Met Council letter as meaning there isn't enough money, but that isn't what the letter said.

Ramsey County commissioner Rafael Ortega, vice-chairman of the Gateway Corridor commission, calls trains "investment transit."

Investment transit?!?  Trains for brokers?

Okay. That's it. It's time to get out the Transit planner to English dictionary.

Saint Paul Streetcar sellers & other train track sellers

What They Say: What They Mean:
investment transit real estate turnaround
economic development potential flip low income housing1
balanced funding what Minneapolis gets, St. Paul gets2
construction industry real estate speculators
too late in the process key properties bought or have contracts
fills gaps in existing bus services replaces buses with trains
streetcar, light rail,
tram, trolly, Muni, MAX, TRAX, ...
trains on roads
1  Turnaround cheap property or 3M wants to unload its old headquarters.
2  DNA tests confirm Saint Paul is not a twin of Minneapolis. The cities aren't even related.

The streetcar scam is to bilk federal transit money to sell real estate by putting another train (part of a train) on a street before the reality of the Central Corridor hits. Or to quote the Streetcar study (p.23), spend $246 million in capital costs and $8 million in annual operations to have a potential of $134 million in development.

If you think that's good, give me $246. I may give you $134 back but expect to give me another $8 each year from now onward.

  Putting a pair of train tracks on Seventh Street:

    * removes parking
    * increases dangers (trains don't have the steering or braking abilities of buses)
    * removes seats (trains have more standing room than buses)
    * increases traffic congestion (a train can't move over or get out of the way like buses)
    * adds construction burdens to area businesses and residents
    * adds noise (chimes, the squeal of metal wheels on metal rail, clang-clang-clang...)

Other Voices
Streetcars are overall a less effective means of transportation than buses. That is, centrally-powered steel wheels on steel tracks in the middle of traffic are less efficient across most dimensions than self-powered rubber tires on streets in the middle of traffic.” - David Levinson, University of Minnesota professor of civil engineering  [read more]

Streetcars “isn't really a mobility enhancing technology,” says Marc Scribner, a research fellow at the Competitive Enterprise Institute in Washington, D.C. “This is a government subsidy to property developers.” - NPR

The original sin of every bad streetcar program is this: it doesn't have a dedicated lane. Without a dedicated lane, a streetcar can't really run much faster than a bus under ideal conditions. And since, unlike a bus, a streetcar can't shift out of its lane to avoid an obstacle, in real-world circumstances it's likely to move slower than a bus. ...adding a slower-than-a-bus new vehicle to the curb lane of a street... slows the buses down.” - Matthew Yglesias, DC Streetcars - The Worst Transit Project in America

If the streetcars did attract 3,100 riders a day, does that mean that bus ridership would decline by that number?” - columnist Joe Soucheray, Pioneer Press

You can walk faster than the Portland Streetcar to your destination.Joseph Rose, Oregonian

The Portland 'success story' required hundreds of millions in subsidies, along with the multi-million dollar pricetag of the streetcar itself. Providence doesn’t have the money to buy that kind of success, and even if it did, there are far more cost-effective places to put tax dollars.” - The Providence Streetcar is a Bad Idea by Brian Jencunas, GoLocalProv  also “Trolley Folly” in Providence Journal

An audit of the Portland streetcar system in December found the city had overestimated ridership by 19 percent and falsely claimed a perfect on-time record. In reality, the streetcar was on time only 82 percent of the time.” - Politico

Many streetcar advocates point to Portland’s experience, and then they proceed as if it could be easily replicated elsewhere. But the authors suggest that Portland’s experience, whether in the form of its ridership or its development activity, is the result of a unique combination of external factors (local population and employment patterns, the health of the real estate market) and local decisions (land development policy decisions, financial decisions, other public investments, streetcar alignment location and length, streetcar operations decisions, streetcar fare policy decisions) that may or may not be applicable elsewhere.” - The Purpose, Function, and Performance of Streetcar Transit in the Modern U.S. City: A Multiple-Case-Study Investigation  page 63 (84 of 421)

Even public transit advocates are starting to have their doubts. Jarrett Walker, a transportation consultant in Portland, OR, says while the city's streetcar spurred major investments downtown, it has not lived up to the hype. Portland is widely credited with launching the streetcar revival more than a decade ago. “Streetcar is one of those really problematic words because the real estate industry loves it. But more and more, transit advocates are looking at what's been built in the name of streetcar revival and saying no, this isn't durable, long-term, great public transit,” Walker says. - NPR

Most streetcar projects in the U.S. provide slow, unreliable service that does not serve many people,” said David Bragdon, who ran Portland's Metro Council from 2003 to 2010. “I lived right on the streetcar line... but I rarely rode it because I could walk most places faster.” - Brooklyn Daily

The last of Portland's red trolleys will be shipped off to St. Louis after over 20 years of service.” - KGW 8, Portland

United Streetcar LLC of Clackamas, Oregon dissolved in February 2015. They promised 300 jobs but only employed 59.

If [streetcars] run in dedicated lanes and with high frequencies as part of a wider network, they can perform quite well. It's the way too many new streetcars are being deployed — as economic engines first and mobility tools second (if at all), even after being constructed with painfully limited transportation funding — that's inspiring much of the criticism.” - Eric JaffeU.S. Streetcars Just Aren't Meeting the Standards of Good Transit, Atlantic CityLab

Charlotte streetcar out-of-control: The Charlotte streetcar by Gomaco Trolleyreached the end of its route at Hawthorne Avenue. Instead of stopping to let passengers off at the platform on Hawthorne, the streetcar began “drifting” on Hawthorne back onto Elizabeth Avenue, where it had just traveled. The streetcar operator tried opening the doors multiple times but they wouldn’t work. He didn’t have control over the trolley car. The trolley was shut off and [was] coasting down the hill on Elizabeth Avenue. [The streetcar] went through one green light [but] the light was red at Kings and Elizabeth, and that's where [the streetcar] hit the SUV. The streetcar traveled for about another 200 feet” after hitting the SUV, before stopping.
 - Deon Roberts, Charlotte Observer July 18, 2015 (4 days after the streetcar opened)
[Update: video 1, video 2. The streetcar operator did not switch the controls from one end (cab) of the streetcar to the other. The operator failed to apply the third brake, activated by turning a black knob. CATS failed to provide adequate reminders through signage and on-the-job training.]

Gomaco Trolley of Ida Grove, Iowa also refurbished streetcars for Memphis, which caught on fire November 4, 2013 and April 7, 2014.

Failed U.S. Streetcar Experiment Goes Out With a Whimper” - Sandy Smith, Next City 4-4-2016

Stop Providence's risky, foolish trolley project” - Providence Journal
Former Providence Mayor Blasts Streetcar Proposal” - GoLocalProv

San Antonio pulls support for streetcar.” - mySA
San Antonio puts streetcars and light rail on ballot. - KSAT-12
San Antonio votes to stop streetcars and light rail. - Ord. No. 2015-05-20-0423, § 3 (Prop. 1), 5-20-15

Riverside “Streetcar A Poor Investment” - Press-Enterprise 2015 editorial

Arlington Streetcar Is Dead.” - Next Cities

The plagued DC streetcar line cost “over $200 million to complete over 10 years, takes roughly 26 minutes to make it between its two destinations. Obstacles may add to that time, including street parking. It reportedly took 19 minutes on a bus, 10 minutes on a bike and seven minutes in an Uber to cover the same distance. A pedestrian walking the same path can complete the trip in just 27 minutes, according to The Washington Post.” - Walking Might Be Faster Than DC’s New Streetcar by Steve Birr, Daily Caller
D.C. streetcar hasn’t made good on boosters’ promise” - Charlotte Post
Not-So-Rapid Transit” - Cato Institute
D.C. Streetcar Delayed...Again” - DCist
D.C. officials radically scale back streetcar plans” - Washington Post
This project over 10 years was developed in an unprofessional and haphazard, contradictory and inconsistent manner.” - D.C. Council oversight director Leif Dormsjo(3-6-2015), Washington Times
►  DC Streetcar hits parked police car (10-1-2015) photo
►  DC Streetcar catches fire, sideswipes car (2-21-2015) photo
►  DC Streetcar rear-ends car at stoplight (1-7-2015) photo
►  DC Streetcar hits car in intersection (1-3-2015) photo
►  FTA identified pedestrian crosswalk without signals (2014-12-11)
►  DC Streetcar fabricates safety document (2014-10)
►  The (ridership) Truth about the DC Streetcar (2015-04-05)

Detroit's trolleys are for sale: “Despite no longer being needed many of these pieces of... equipment can serve private contractors or other municipalities well for years to come.” - Detroit Metro Times

Pennsylvania's abandoned streetcars

Streetcar not desired - efforts to resurrect a classic type of transit have derailed.” - Politico

Feds outline concerns over Atlanta Streetcar in stern letter
►  Streetcar manager never read the safety plan.
►  Poorly developed operating procedures.
►  Lack of technical expertise.
►  Failure to report accidents.
►  Defects in overhead catenary electrical system... - Journal-Constitution
AT&T Georgia Sues Atlanta, MARTA Over Streetcar Costs ($5.7 million restitution for moving cables, wires, and conduits)” - 90.1FM WABE
Atlanta’s over-budget and under-utilized streetcar” - Kyle Wingfield, AJC
Atlanta Streetcar’s Early Ridership Numbers Disappoint” - Angie Schmitt, StreetsBlog
Streetcar operators off the rails following Channel 2 investigation” - WSB-TV2
What Atlanta did was a huge mistake,” said Marc Scribner,  Competitive Enterprise Institute. The money could have been better spent by improving the city’s bus system. - WSJ: Streetcars Bumpy Ride

"Auditor  Raises Concerns About Kansas City streetcar" - KCTV-5 & pdf
Affare restaurant complains about streetcar construction. - Pitch, Kansas City
65-year-old streetcar advocate Tom Trabon died. - Kansas City Biz Journal

Lawsuit brings together wide variety of groups wanting studies before construction of the Rampart Street streetcar. - New Orleans Advocate

St. Clair streetcar Toronto’s deadliest for pedestrians” - Toronto Star
TTC issues with Bombardier streetcars also apply to Metrolinx order” - Toronto Star 

Petitions against a Milwaukee streetcar - Citizens For Responsible Government
Opposition to a Milwaukee streetcar - ATU Local 998 letter
Sobelman's Pub & Grill, owner Dave Sobelman says a Milwaukee streetcar doesn't make sense. Milwaukee Alderman Bob Donovan says a streetcar plan is idiotic and a waste of money and calls for a “grassroots effort to once and for all put an end to this nonsense.” - WDJT-CBS58 

“As this throwback technology enjoys its unlikely renaissance, it’s raising the question of whether streetcars -- neither the cheapest nor the fastest way of moving people around cities -- are simply a gimmicky fad or actually the transit mode of both past and future.” - Next City: Why Streetcars Aren't About Transit

Others buy into this myth that light rail and trolleys will somehow elevate their cities to the next level of sophistication... The overwhelming evidence shows that these mass transit projects do little to improve our quality of life, in terms of easing congestion and expanding access to jobs and, despite popular perception, have no significant net environmental benefits since they rarely succeed in their express goal of removing cars from the road or decreasing congestion-induced idle times, a frequently cited contributor to greenhouse-gas emissions.”  - from Georgi Boorman, “Public Transit Is Going Extinct, But Toy Trains Still Snooker Cities

“Grant funding was not determined by rigorous application of DOT’s own evaluation: DOT funded almost as many Recommended projects (25) as Highly Recommended projects (26). Meanwhile, only 23% of the 110 projects ranked Highly Recommended were funded. The Review Team offered no official written explanation of its selections. ...projects selected were no better than the projects not selected... 

“A disproportionately large number of projects were funded in Democratic districts. In TIGER I, TIGER II Capital, TIGER II Planning and TIGER III, Democratic districts were awarded a higher percentage of grants than their overall proportional representation. In TIGER III, districts represented by Democrats received 69% of the funding despite Democrats holding only 47% of the total congressional seats.” - Evaluating TIGER Grants

It’s an amusement park ride for yuppies,” former state representative Tom Brinkman said about Cincinnati's streetcar. Other Cincinnati streetcar critics include Bill Sloat and Michael Patton.
► Cincinnati Mayor John Cranley: Streetcar spending shows 'culture of secrecy'

The Tampa Port Authority voted Tuesday to delay paying a six-figure subsidy to the city's struggling trolley until its nonprofit operator, Tampa Historic Streetcar Inc., shows the board a new business plan to turn around the streetcar system.

Tampa, Florida has a population of 346,037. Saint Paul, with a population of 294,873, is smaller than Tampa. Tampa's tourist streetcar has 296,700 passengers per year and its annual insurance cost is $400,000. - TECO Line Streetcar System, Wikipedia

Streetcar costs up $53 million from original budget. Construction hasn't started. - Sun Sentinel, Fort Lauderdale

Streetcar project is “biggest mistake I’ve ever made,” Oklahoma City councilmember Pete White said. “That’s the biggest mistake I’ve made as a councilman.” The council will now have to “feed the beast.” - KFOR

On September 3, 1902 in Pittsfield, Massachusetts, an electric streetcar crushed the presidential carriage, injuring President Theodore Roosevelt and killing William Craig, the first Secret Service agent killed in the line of duty. Streetcar motorman Euclid Madden plead guilty to manslaughter.
“President Roosevelt was the central figure in a trolley car accident here, in which William Craig, a Secret Service detective, gave up his life in his effort to save the nation’s chief. David J. Pratt, driver of the carriage containing the president, which was smashed by the car, was severely injured. The President was thrown to the ground and cut and bruised about the face and body. George B. Cortelyou, Secretary to the President, was severely bruised. Winthrop Murray Crane, Governor of Massachusetts, and George P. Lawrence, Representative in Congress from the First Massachusetts district, escaped with only a few bruises. All these were in the carriage with Mr. Roosevelt.” - Washington DC Suburban Citizen, September 1902

* Saint Paul City Council Member Dan Bostrom recently called the streetcar plan "obscene."