Ideas on Funding

Roads - Rails - Sidewalks - Bikeways
Trademark
Metrodome
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Ideas on Funding

Postby Trademark » January 29th, 2021, 11:37 pm

I see a lot of talk on here about new ideas and plans whether they are our own or MnDot's. I want to know what can we do to increase funding for Transit.

In order to truly transform this cit, we need more than small piecemeal additions to our transit. A concentrated network of dedicated transit will allow people to get out of their vehicles and help the area meet it's climate goals.

If this is better to put into the fantasy map section I understand. But I'm not looking at this as a fantasy. I want to find out what's being done to advocate for increased funding! What organizations are doing that right now? What policies are on the table?

One question I've been mulling over lately is if a referendum was to be past in the metro area for a specific tax to support public transit, what cities do you think would join it.

I think for sure Minneapolis, St. Paul, Brooklyn Center, Brooklyn Park, Robbinsdale, St. Louis Park, Richfield, Bloomington, Maplewood and Columbia heights.

My point of asking this question is to consider if we created a new rapid transit organization that would accept free transfers with Metro Transit, and provide rapid transit in the immediate metro area. No long suburban expansions to park and rides. Normal Metro Transit buses can do that. And if they want to at they can still work with the metropolitan council to add commuter rail or brt to Lakeville, Hastings, or Shakopee.

This new organization funded by local taxes can build the greenway both the bike trail to downtown St Paul and a new light rail along side it for the majority of the way. Dedicated lane aBRT on a lot of the arterials. Riverview light rail in a tunnel downtown to cut out the shared lanes. Or whatever the cities in the tax area want to prioritize.

I think that if we can focus our ask to a small amount of area there will be less people wanting something for their constituents which results in bad transit investments. As opposed to a concentration of transit investment to create an area where people can easily live their life without a car.

If it's a similar time to take transit instead of driving many more people will do it. But we need to provide them advantages instead of offering second class service in the sense of it often taking at least 2 times longer to get somewhere taking transit instead of driving.

tmart
Rice Park
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Re: Ideas on Funding

Postby tmart » January 30th, 2021, 12:03 am

I see a lot of talk on here about new ideas and plans whether they are our own or MnDot's. I want to know what can we do to increase funding for Transit.

In order to truly transform this cit, we need more than small piecemeal additions to our transit. A concentrated network of dedicated transit will allow people to get out of their vehicles and help the area meet it's climate goals.

If this is better to put into the fantasy map section I understand. But I'm not looking at this as a fantasy. I want to find out what's being done to advocate for increased funding! What organizations are doing that right now? What policies are on the table?

One question I've been mulling over lately is if a referendum was to be past in the metro area for a specific tax to support public transit, what cities do you think would join it.
The places that have done referenda have generally done so out of a legal obligation. AFAIK Minnesota doesn't have a constitutional requirement to have a vote when introducing a new tax or other special pot of funding, so IMO the best option is regular old legislation. (Also note that MN doesn't allow citizens to bypass the legislature, which is the other reason one might consider a referendum.)

IMO the ideal case--but probably a nightmare politically and certainly not feasible with a GOP state senate--would be a carbon tax with proceeds going to transit expansion. In that case, since CO2 emissions will (god willing) go down over time, we'd probably want another ongoing source like a small income/property/sales/etc tax in the covered counties, to cover operations.
My point of asking this question is to consider if we created a new rapid transit organization that would accept free transfers with Metro Transit, and provide rapid transit in the immediate metro area. No long suburban expansions to park and rides. Normal Metro Transit buses can do that. And if they want to at they can still work with the metropolitan council to add commuter rail or brt to Lakeville, Hastings, or Shakopee.

This new organization funded by local taxes can build the greenway both the bike trail to downtown St Paul and a new light rail along side it for the majority of the way. Dedicated lane aBRT on a lot of the arterials. Riverview light rail in a tunnel downtown to cut out the shared lanes. Or whatever the cities in the tax area want to prioritize.
I guess my question is, what could a new organization offer that Metro Transit/the Met Council couldn't? Just less political pressure to serve outlying areas? I actually think we're better off than, say, San Francisco, with dozens of warring transit fiefdoms based on which county/counties are funding each.

IMO the problem has more to do with outdated planning processes (some of which are imposed by Washington) as well as plans (like SWLRT) that were made in some cases decades ago, that don't reflect the current best ideas in the transit world. I know a lot of us talk about wishing we made more network-focused investments and fewer corridor ones, but do we really think, say, the Hiawatha Line would be planned the same today as it was in the 90s?

Trademark
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Re: Ideas on Funding

Postby Trademark » January 30th, 2021, 2:21 am

The quote thing was messing up tmart. I appreciate the response.

I might write a whole article on this but I'm thinking about ST3 in Seattle versus the current grassroots push for a Seattle only ST4 by seattlesubway. They realized that with a region wide funding source the transit advantages must also be region wide. This is exactly what we're doing with some of our conducted transit studies are on Stillwater via 36 and Shakopee via 169. These projects will be coming soon. While the Midtown Greenway sits empty.

People in the cities are more likely to know that transit is important. They are more likely willing to be taxed more.
People who drive from farther out should still pay in the form of a downtown parking tax, but besides that, let them be. If they want to make an offer to accept the higher tax them they can join in. This is about a sizable investment for a sizable return. One that would be enough to multiply the transit usage rate and make it unnatural to take a car to get to anywhere on the outer cities.

I just moved back from Los Angeles after living there for a year and even with all the problems that LA Transit has. It is functional, it is convenient, and it is (mostly) pretty quick. The Twin Cities can get there. People underestimate how left Minneapolis proper is. We allow the farther out suburbs to keep our transit funding down and make concessions to then.

I know that the referendum policy in MNmakes it difficult. But I think a robust planning process with many different Representatives of the community at the table could bring a clear vision. If these bills didn't have to go through the Minnesota state house and senate and instead just had to make it through Minneapolis, City Council, St Paul City Council, Brooklyn Center city council etc. We would have a very good chance of getting it passed. Especially if there are plans if different cities pass their initiatives or not.

Even if just Minneapolis and St Paul pass a bill. That could allow projects like a BRT on 94 from North Minneapolis thru the Gold Line. Midtown greenway complete to downtown St Paul. Completion of the Minneapolis Grand Rounds for bikers. A bunch of aBRT in dedicated lanes criss crossing the city. Northeast Mpls Light Rail. And many more.

talindsay
Wells Fargo Center
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Re: Ideas on Funding

Postby talindsay » February 1st, 2021, 6:53 am

I apologize if you're suggesting dedicated transit taxes *beyond* the dedicated transit taxes we already have, but our existing guaranteed transit funding is very new - 2008 being the creation of the CTIB. We basically already experienced the benefit and drawback of regional transit funding with the CTIB, and when it disbanded, each county, getting control of their own transit funding, has adjusted the amount. Hennepin and Ramsey are both dedicating .5% sales tax to transit, and they get to control it. Transit *PLANNING* is done at a regional level but the counties control the money, which is a compromise with its own drawbacks, but it does ensure that whatever the counties decide to do has to be vetted as part of a regional system.

I can imagine (and have imagined) various ways to improve our current setup, but from your description it seemed you were describing us starting from the 2007 baseline, as though we hadn't already made the huge headway we've made in the last 13 years.

Trademark
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Re: Ideas on Funding

Postby Trademark » February 1st, 2021, 10:46 pm

Should we be content with the current funding mechanisms only focused on city to suburb commutes? Should we be content with one project every 10 years and one new shared lane abrt every 2 years?

I'm saying keep your original funding and add additional money from the cities, for the cities. This is to build a dense network of high frequency. There is potential for so many good routes but they will be continually pushed behind worse projects for political reasons if we continue to let the current funding be the only funding.

I see it as telling Minneapolis 2040 to put your money where your mouth is on reducing emissions, traffic deaths, and improving multi modal transit. Not every area wants this, but in left leaning cities a high tax would be easier to sell. Any other suburb that is willing to pay the higher premium will get service in order of greatest need. But if you don't want to pay money to expedite transit on the level of Seattle and Los Angeles then you'll have to rely on Metro Transit to do it.

twincitizen
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Re: Ideas on Funding

Postby twincitizen » February 6th, 2021, 1:42 am

We should not be content with one aBRT line every 3 years, but we also shouldn’t be begging the legislature for the money for those lines and delaying them indefinitely when we don’t get it (thankfully we finally did). Hennepin County easily could’ve opted to fully fund the B, D and E lines 5 years ago when the A Line opened (2016) and was an immediate success, but they did not. The money is there in Hennepin county, but the political will to spend it on buses (or Midtown rail) is seemingly not. No doubt, Southwest, Bottineau and paying 30% of Riverview will continue to swallow up nearly all of the .5% sales tax for transit (especially with a yearlong pandemic crushing that funding stream), but these aBRT projects are dirt cheap and Hennepin County could absolutely fund more of them, whether from the dedicated sales tax or general transportation fund. Hennepin’s tax base is enormous. I don’t really know what the problem is. Either Metro Transit isn’t asking the county for the money, and/or the County board (or staff) think that the legislature should pay for them.

To your proposal for a city-only funding pot for city-only transit, I probably wouldn’t support that unless there was a specific list of projects it would build (e.g. a downtown tunnel for buses to remove buses from Marq2 and Nicollet Mall comes to mind)

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Tiller
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Re: Ideas on Funding

Postby Tiller » February 7th, 2021, 3:42 am

The problem isn't the geographic scope of areas we're getting money from. It's a lack of money and political will.

If we were to create a 1% metrowide (7 County) sales tax and give it directly to metro transit to use, there would be huge improvements in our bus network overnight.

DanPatchToget
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Re: Ideas on Funding

Postby DanPatchToget » February 7th, 2021, 9:09 am

I'd like to point out that each cent of the state gas tax brings around $30 million in revenue each year. If we could dedicate a tiny percentage of that to transit we could easily fund an expansion of the aBRT system. Unfortunately dedicating even 1 cent of the gas tax to transit is unconstitutional in our state.

Korh
Nicollet Mall
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Re: Ideas on Funding

Postby Korh » February 7th, 2021, 3:52 pm

This is an idea more suited if/when Metro gets heavy or commuter rail set up but I do wish they could buy/develop land around some stations (and no not just to use it for a dang park and ride). Iirc the Hong Kong metro system which right before the pandemic had a farebox recovery ratio of 180-190%, made around 60% of its revenue though property development, rent, commercial business, etc. and I know brightline in Flordia was making a decent amount through ancillary revenue and their parent company developing around the stations.

Hero
Block E
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Re: Ideas on Funding

Postby Hero » February 14th, 2021, 8:16 pm

I've wondered for years what would happen if transportation funding was allocated on a per capita basis. I would think the more dense an area is the more money could be used for transit or pedestrian/bicycle infrastructure.


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