Thursday, November 1, 2012


A bus driver commented on the previous post to say that I've won.

I have great respect for bus drivers. Bus drivers are the public transit backbone of Minneapolis and Saint Paul. They are the host, cashier, security guard, information desk, and driver with full steering and braking capabilities. Next to teachers and farmers, bus drivers have the most thankless job.

About winning, I respectfully disagree.

The current concept of the Gateway Corridor is a Bus Rapid Transit (BRT) along Hudson Road with light rail as either a secondary choice or a future replacement of the BRT.

The concept is flawed and likely to change.

Hudson Road in Saint Paul is mostly residential, although less residential than previous alternatives (3rd Street East, 7th Street East, & Minnehaha Avenue). Hudson Road has families, kids, and the elderly.

Rapid transit does not belong on residential streets.

Here's a Google satellite view of houses on Hudson Road.

Interstate 94 used to be US Highway 12, a highway that climbed the eastside hills instead of cutting through them. Before it was US Highway 12, it was Hudson Road. Remnants of old Hudson Road are a dashed line. They are incomplete. How would a transit line connect the pieces? How would Hudson Road and Old Hudson Road connect? How would a transit line bridge the Johnson Parkway valley at I-94?

Buses can be steered and are expected to stop on a dime. Buses make sense for residential neighborhoods. But the concept of Bus Rapid Transit is to have the bus lanes separated from other traffic. Picture two lanes with bordering curbs on either side. It has been said that BRT hasn't been done before in Minnesota, but I disagree. The University of Minnesota campus bus runs between the Minneapolis and Saint Paul campuses. It runs on a road with no other traffic south of the State Fairgrounds.

If I were a bus driver, I would like the bus separated from other traffic, yeah, providing the snow plows can differentiate between short curbs and snow piles, and not chop the curbs up into the road. I would want to be able to steer around obstacles, a ball or a kid, and not be forced to hit them like a train would. How fast is Rapid on a residential road?

The Gateway Corridor Commission says the bus will travel 9.8 miles (from Oaks Business Park to Union Depot) in 17 minutes. That's an average of 35 mph. That's too fast for a residential road and too slow for rapid transit. Light rail would take 15 minutes at an average speed of 39 mph. Public transit buses (MTC) currently crisscross the eastside of Saint Paul. Buses drive 55 mph on I-94 (that's bus rapid transit). What is the purpose of the Gateway Corridor?

▼ What is the justification of spending millions of dollars on transit consultants?
▼ What is the justification of a construction project that would disrupt lives and businesses?
▼ What is the justification of half a billion dollars for a bus or a billion dollars for a train?
▼ How could they possibly imagine that rapid transit could be safe on residential streets?!?

Maybe the Gateway Corridor Commission works on commission. It's tough to understand why Lisa Weik, Kathy Lantry, and the others are doing this. Their materials mention Oaks Business Park in Oakdale, at 7755 Third Street North, Oakdale, MN 55128, which is owned by the Carlson Real Estate Company of Minnetonka. What is their connection to the Gateway Corridor? Is this the development that the Gateway Corridor will help?

The latest Gateway Corridor plans estimate 9,000 daily riders whether the vehicle is a bus or a train. The Gateway Corridor Commission says 90,000 vehicles cross the I-94 St. Croix River Bridge every day, but the Gateway Corridor will not cross the I-94 St. Croix River Bridge. The ridership is fictional. Conrad deFiebre says the bus ridership would be closer to 6,000 which sounds closer to actual ridership.

Friday morning traffic on I-94

None of this makes sense. The Gateway Corridor Commission has not inspired confidence that they know what they're doing, like when their leader Lisa Weik confused light rail with 1950s streetcars.

It's like arguing on the Internet. How could anyone win?

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