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Featured videoHow the founding of the Minneapolis Park System brought about revolutionary change by coordinating public sector and private sector interests.
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Or... in person... I'm often at Kenilworth Trail & Cedar Lake Pkwy, about7:40 to 8:30 AM weekdays
Download recent news releases (.pdf files listed below)
Download: Frequently Asked Questions (.pdf)
Brief Legislative Session Report
|Download Met Council 5-6-15 meeting slide deck (.pdf)|
Download 5-6-2015 News Release: "We the People" Lobbyist and "Candidate/Journalist" calls on Legislature to hold immediate hearing on Southwest Light Rail; announces independent "We the People" hearings for next Monday at 3 locations, including "Tree #1" at Legislature
Download 5-1-2015 News Release: "We the People" Lobbyist and "Candidate/Journalist" says: "Minnesota is at risk of spending an additional $121.8 million on Southwest Light Rail this year – the Legislature must immediately enact a freeze on SWLRT spending"
A much more full account is to follow, for now, here is a brief report.
My extensive lobbying activity at the Legislature had two main and complimentary objectives:
First: stop continuing to spend money on the Southwest Light Rail plan until a real, full, honest review can be completed.
Second: ensure Metro Transit is, at a minimum, “held harmless”, no service cuts and no layoffs for the coming two year budget.
I am happy to report both objectives were achieved; as for “hold harmless”, the final result may even be somewhat better than before the agreement was reached. More study is needed to assess this.
While it is unfortunate a major Transportation bill was not completed, the limited “lights on” bill included this agreement by Legislative leaders Sen. Tom Baak and House Speaker Kurt Daudt: $30 million in scheduled future spending by the State on Southwest Light Rail has been cancelled. Almost all of that money was reallocated to the Metropolitan Council for general operating purposes. As a result, there is NO future spending being provided at the State level for Southwest Light Rail. The total of past State money spent is about $14 million.
I continue to favor either stopping or rerouting the project; either option is acceptable. I am ready, willing, able, and in fact eager to work with the Metropolitan Council to consider any reroute that, at a minimum, reaches Uptown, and routes that could extend East as far as the I-35W corridor, reaching the Convention Center, and then continuing along one of the earlier proposed alignments to the interchange near Target Field.
However, the current plan to go through the Kenilworth corridor is such a bad idea that it is preferable for the project to not go forward at all, rather than to allow that to happen.
As noted, the almost $30 million that was scheduled to be spent on Southwest Light Rail is now available for other operating and transit costs. When presenting the bill to the Senate, Sen. Scott Dibble detailed several items this reallocation will make possible.
The Senate approved the “lights on” Transportation bill unanimously: 65 in favor, with 2 not voting. The House approved on a divided vote: 75 in favor (including a few DFLeres, with 59 opposed.
During the debates in both chambers, inquiries were made about the $30 million reallocation from SWLRT to Transit operations. I didn't hear anyone in either chamber express any objection to eliminating future funding for SWLRT.
In summary: there appears to be a solid, bi-partisan consensus at the Legislature that a fundamental review is needed for SWLRT, including consideration of a route to or beyond Uptown, and that no more money should be spent until that review is complete.
Challenge and Opportunity: A Minnesota Public/Private Transit Revolution By: Bob “Again” Carney Jr.
Whatever this year's Legislature cooks up, we can't -- simply can't -- keep doing Transportation As Usual, or so chants the Light Rail “Conventional Wisdom Chorus”.
Let me suggest that doing Light Rail as any kind of a linear, continuous extension of the past might be just as bad, or worse, than doing nothing. We are not Shanghai, London, or New York, and never will be. Retrofitting our lagging, “losing-to-Portland” Twin Cities with nineteenth century rail at twenty second century prices is a bad idea whose time has come... and gone!
Instead, let's try something Minnesota used to do really well. Let's organize and channel our long established political freedom to Demand a Public/Private Transit Revolution, right here in Minnesota. Let's use something China doesn't have: our dormant, doormat, but still-real ability to make State and Local Governments respond to us.
Coordinating the Public and Private sectors to actually “promote the general welfare” instead of special interests has always been tough. Our American System was designed from the get-go to prefer stability to efficiency; future Revolutions were to be peaceful and Private Sector Only.
But in Minneapolis, and Minnesota, we have at least one truly amazing historical example of a successful Public/Private Revolution: the founding of the Minneapolis Park System, and it is a carefully and deliberately planned and organized System. We need to think Transit Revolution with the same hundred year time frame, the same stewardship and breadth of vision, and let me be blunt: the same speculative savvy taken by the civic leaders who founded our Park System.
Whatever the next Century brings, we know it will be automated. The 19th Century was Rail, the 20th was Cars... Freeways... Buses -- the 21st will be Automated Everything. This is our planning touchstone.
Republicans in the State House should probe the assumptions behind the Conventional Wisdom chant: twenty years of a $1 billion annual budget gap. Republicans should also challenge the Metro Council's congested “Managed Growth” mindset. When cars “know” what adjacent vehicles will do, is congestion necessary? Might we plan for zero slowdowns and delays, and for the competitive advantages that would come from that?
Our real “knowledge gap” isn't just automated driving per se. Our biggest gap, practically a vacuum, is in thinking through what automated driving will mean for Public/Private Transportation and Transit Systems, again with the emphasis on System. What new opportunities, and yes, what kind of Revolution, might be possible?
Here's the bare bones of Automated-Everything Transit Revolution:
* Promote the General Welfare” = make everyone better off = Uber-Equity;"
* A massive jobs program, using thousands of Metro Mobility size buses;
* A point-to-point service grid, not just a downtown centered hub-and-spoke system;
* Five minute service or better, no schedules;
* Real-time vehicle dispatch as needed;
* Transit is a utility, Driver's License = Go-To card
* Property tax pays the base rate;
* Automate everything ASAP;
* Car2Go, Uber, bikes and beyond (shhh!... patentable stuff) for “last mile” gaps as needed.
Post-1776 American Revolutions have been centered in the Private sector because it is designed to be disruptive... to produce “Creative Destruction.” A little capitalism goes a long way, but too much can be fatal, that's why we have a mixed economy. The Public and Non-profit sectors are in a real sense the “anti-” to an ever upthrusting ATV Private sector that wants to run over anything in its way. It's fair and probably inevitable to ask: how can the Public sector be part of a Revolution?! when its essential character seems to be more like “Uncreative Self-preservation.”
Here's the reality: the size and scope of existing public sector glaciers... sorry... entities, is essentially a given. These entities are somewhat reformable, and they could melt slowly given enough time (decades). This means for transportation and transit, the existing Metro Transit and Metro Council can and will cooperate only if they are convinced no one's job, or pay, is threatened.
However, “hold-harmless” is only for current employees. Unions can and have accommodated to necessary compensation and other caps for new hires. Here's a deal that will work for Metro Transit: first, no threats to existing jobs or pay, in fact we'll launch a giant jobs program. However, it's with this understanding: at some point, all the thousands of newbie-driven Metro Mobility size buses will be automated. That's why the new jobs will be mostly or entirely part time. They might last for decades, but some or most could be gone in as soon as ten year.
By the way, isn't this essentially what Obama did with Obamacare? Lesson one: you have to accommodate all existing interest groups to make any major change in the public sector. Lesson two: let's be honest about what we're doing.
With this approach, a Public/Private Transit Revolution is possible. Now let's blend in our special Minnesota-made Creative Destruction secret sauce: intellectual property. With massive, deliberate, organized Public/Private coordination, not only does Transit Revolution become possible, industrial-scale inventing is needed, for new ________'s that will make sense only or mostly in the context of Public/Private coordination. The State that spawns this (hint: starts with an “M”) will have a first mover advantage as the hub of a new global industrial sector.
I've made a start... my patent-pending “Transit Cloverleaf” enables bus transfers at a Freeway Cloverleaf... impossible today due to the inner loops. The “Transit Cloverleaf” includes a quick, inexpensive start-up configuration, with staged upgrade paths to something unique and amazing. I've got many more ideas in mind, and I'm eager to work with people on all of them. Let's launch Transit Revolution right here in Minnesota. Let's create thousands of new jobs -- tens of thousands -- including jobs ideal for people now working at Public sector entities, such as, say, the Metro Council.
I'll be working on this at the 2015 Legislative session. Step one is a petition I'm circulating, with fifty or sixty signatures so far, calling on MNDOT, Metro Transit, Hennepin/Ramsey and Minneapolis/St. Paul to come to an all day Transit Revolution presentation, including two alternative plans for Southwest LRT. “Plan A”is buses only, “Plan B” modifies and improves the Southwest plan, and preserves Kenilworth.)
Let's approach Transportation and Transit with the same approach, and the same hundred year time frame, that launched our amazing Minneapolis Park System.
Download "Plan A": Southwest Light Rail Alternative -- 4-9-2014 edition