Counties Transit Improvement Board (CTIB)

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Re: Counties Transit Improvement Board (CTIB)

Postby twincitizen » September 18th, 2016, 9:55 am


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Re: Counties Transit Improvement Board (CTIB)

Postby mulad » September 18th, 2016, 10:01 am

I was pretty surprised by the comment about potentially not funding Red Rock corridor (likely BRT at this point) due to this -- It runs mostly in Ramsey and Washington counties, and would only cross over to Dakota County to reach Hastings. That strengthens a feeling that regional leaders are more concerned about the endpoints of transit corridors rather than where they go along the way.

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Re: Counties Transit Improvement Board (CTIB)

Postby Anondson » September 18th, 2016, 10:06 am

So many thoughts.

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Re: Counties Transit Improvement Board (CTIB)

Postby intercomnut » September 18th, 2016, 11:44 am

I was pretty surprised by the comment about potentially not funding Red Rock corridor (likely BRT at this point) due to this -- It runs mostly in Ramsey and Washington counties, and would only cross over to Dakota County to reach Hastings. That strengthens a feeling that regional leaders are more concerned about the endpoints of transit corridors rather than where they go along the way.
I think it's more about having to make tough choices about which projects to fund. Remember that CTIB is losing 13% of their funding because of Dakota county, so they need to make cuts. How do you decide which projects to cut? And how to you make it look good politically? Pick one that ends in Dakota County and cut it. Then blame Dakota County for it.

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Re: Counties Transit Improvement Board (CTIB)

Postby Tcmetro » September 18th, 2016, 12:24 pm

From what I've understood from recent Red Rock agenda packets is that the actual BRT service is going to be a longer-term project, whereas interim steps are going to focus on expansion of existing service to off-peak.

With regards to CTIB, I wonder what Washington County is going to expect in the future and if they will stay. They will get a few stations on the Gold Line, and maybe the Red Rock BRT, but there aren't any other projects that are going to serve them (unless they start pushing for TH 36 BRT). Even less benefiting is Anoka County, with the Northstar rail. The Highway BRT projects on 35W and 65 seem like other distant projects, unlikely to happen with CTIB funding.

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Re: Counties Transit Improvement Board (CTIB)

Postby intercomnut » September 18th, 2016, 1:04 pm

From what I've understood from recent Red Rock agenda packets is that the actual BRT service is going to be a longer-term project, whereas interim steps are going to focus on expansion of existing service to off-peak.
And even that isn't going to be funded by CTIB. I think it was going to be a regional solicitation grant that wouldn't happen until 2020 at the earliest (if it's even funded).

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Re: Counties Transit Improvement Board (CTIB)

Postby Tiller » September 18th, 2016, 1:23 pm

Re: Washington County, I would expect them to place BRT on 36 next on their request docket. If there's still a positive money flow after that, the gold line, and red rock get built, then they could start pooling their money for capacity upgrades.

Things like a piecemeal upgrading of the gold line to LRT (first to 3M, then to Woodbury?). Maybe first extending it as a bus service to Minneapolis via the 94's route. Upgrading the 36 corridor to LRT could be a thing. There could also be some commuter rail proposals.

Funding will probably remain the limitation still.

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Re: Counties Transit Improvement Board (CTIB)

Postby talindsay » September 18th, 2016, 3:12 pm

Funny thing is, Washington County probably continues to be the winner here - the 3% guarantee, along with the Board's desire to demonstrate that they aren't ignoring the suburban counties, pretty much ensure a lot of attention for Washington County. And that's okay, because they're not being tools.

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Re: Counties Transit Improvement Board (CTIB)

Postby Silophant » September 19th, 2016, 7:42 am

Really, Hwy 36 BRT and a Gold Line extension to Minneapolis via 94 are perfect CTIB projects - they would benefit three of the four remaining CTIB counties. (Or all three remaining, if Anoka follows Dakota's lead.)

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Re: Counties Transit Improvement Board (CTIB)

Postby twincitizen » September 19th, 2016, 8:44 am

The Highway 36 BRT has real potential, as it was one of the highest scoring in the recent study: http://www.metrocouncil.org/Transportat ... Memo3.aspx

Lower total ridership and lower growth projections that some of the other BRT study corridors (namely 394 & 169), but it scored the highest in cost-effectiveness, as far as I can tell from a glimpse at that document. It was studied as ending at Hadley Avenue, just barely east of Century/MN-120, which is the Ramsey/Washington County border: "End of line station would be at future park and ride location
west of Hadley Ave, north of Hwy 36 in vacant grass field." (aka the vacant land around Fleet Farm and Marcus Cinema)

So yeah, it would technically serve Washington County with 1-2 stations, but would by and large be a Ramsey County project. I doubt it will get off the ground anytime soon if they are waiting around for Ramsey County to take the planning lead (current priorities being Riverview & Rush LRT/BRT). But your point still stands that it would be a shining example of a Hennepin-Ramsey-Washington joint project. As would Gateway if extended via HOT lanes on a rebuilt I-94 between the downtowns.

Also, it's entirely possibly that the balance of power on the Washington County board will shift in November, making a future exit from CTIB more likely. 4 of the 5 seats are on the ballot this year (3 regular and 1 special election). The good news is that Lisa Weik (CTIB rep and Gateway chair) is running unchallenged. The special election is for the Oakdale area, and the candidate most likely to win is the current Oakdale mayor, so fingers crossed that he's not a crazy person, I guess.

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Re: Counties Transit Improvement Board (CTIB)

Postby Tiller » September 19th, 2016, 10:50 am

So yeah, it would technically serve Washington County with 1-2 stations, but would by and large be a Ramsey County project.
I'd envision it continuing along 36 to Stillwater, with a park & ride station (A "North Manning Ave" P&R anyone?) and a few normal stations elsewhere (ie downtown Stillwater). Interurban services are still a thing, even if not to the extent they used to be. There probably wouldn't be a need for adding HOT lanes (until Lake Elmo decides to become a suburb), though I'd imagine they'd gradually add diamond interchanges (as they've already been doing).

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Re: Counties Transit Improvement Board (CTIB)

Postby twincitizen » September 19th, 2016, 11:10 am

Envision whatever you want, but the study says what it says. There's just too much "nothing" between 694 and Stillwater for BRT to make sense. It would be a complete disaster, operationally. The per-ride subsidy would be astronomical. At best there should be an hourly shuttle service between Stillwater and the BRT terminal station, but even that probably isn't worth it.

SMH at the idea that we should fund Red Rock to Hastings when Hastings doesn't even have rush hour express service yet. Let's err on the side of taking baby steps when planning transit to far-flung locations. Any potential freeway BRT lines should first be rock-solid, bursting-at-the-seams express bus corridors with proven demand for off-peak service. Only a handful of the study corridors meet this criteria today (35W south, 394, 35W/36 to Roseville, 35W to Blaine/95th, etc.)

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Re: Counties Transit Improvement Board (CTIB)

Postby mattaudio » September 19th, 2016, 12:21 pm

But shouldn't we view this as interurban/regional transit, rather than local transit? It seems like they have different travel demands and different operations, but there is value in connecting walkable places to each other. Stillwater and Hastings are walkable places, once connected by passenger rail to St. Paul and Minneapolis. Park and rides are not walkable places.

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Re: Counties Transit Improvement Board (CTIB)

Postby masstrlk67 » September 19th, 2016, 1:07 pm

Yeah, without emphasizing walkable stations as a goal, I'm worried that we'll end up with a whole network of Red Lines.

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Re: Counties Transit Improvement Board (CTIB)

Postby Tcmetro » September 19th, 2016, 1:57 pm

I am of the concern that Highway BRT is more or less going to be stymied, thanks to a well-established disconnect between highway and transit planning. For instance, the 35W North MnPass reconstruction that does not attempt to accommodate any kind of BRT service, despite being the subject of two studies in the better part of the last decade.

Similarly, there hasn't been a lot of concern from the various transit agencies about building up service in anticipation of new lines. Hence the example of the Red Rock Corridor, where (some watered-down version) of high-capacity transit is being planned in a corridor that only sees a handful of peak hour bus trips (and had much better service 20 years ago).

The Sept 2016 CTIB packet is available: http://www.mnrides.org/sites/default/fi ... _final.pdf

Inside, it mentions that CY2017 will be the last of CTIB operations funding for the Red Line, the 35W express (467-Lakeville), and the expanded Cedar Ave service on the 475 and 477 lines. Also mentioned is the last minute save of the Orange Line for the 2016 FTA application, and how CTIB has not committed to providing funding for operations of the Orange line.

With regards to reduced operational funding, I wonder, will Met Council pick up the tab? Dakota County? MVTA? I wonder if we will see service cuts. the 467 is doing quite well, and it is to my understanding that Metro Transit wishes to expand service. The added Cedar Ave service (to Cedar/181st park and ride) is performing quite poorly, and would be an obvious cut. Red Line doesn't perform too well, but considering all the capital put into the line (and the "METRO" branding), perhaps it should keep its frequent service.

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Re: Counties Transit Improvement Board (CTIB)

Postby mulad » September 19th, 2016, 2:48 pm

I hope I'm thinking along the same lines as mattaudio -- We're well-accustomed to local bus service that stops every block or every few blocks, but we've been lacking good examples of services that stop every few miles and either leapfrog built-up areas or skip through the farmland that separates towns from each other once you start reaching into the outer parts of the metro and into outstate regions. Northstar has that sort of stop layout, though it has insufficient hours of service to really work properly.

Red Rock got bumped from being a commuter rail service to some sort of bus line, but I've often thought that was a mistake. Rail service is well-suited to having relatively long stretches of "empty" space between stops, especially since commuter- or regional-style services often have fares based on the distance traveled. It doesn't matter how dense the area is that you travel through, just that you get enough people at/near the places where the stops do exist, and there are enough people wanting to travel in the same direction at the same time. The U.S. 10/61 corridor is pretty constrained, with limited alternatives, so it concentrates a lot of traffic even in areas that don't have a lot of population.

Considering that outstate cities such as Red Wing (pop. 16,000) and Faribault (23,000) have local fixed-route bus service (and there are many smaller places that have dial-a-ride), I find it pretty strange that metro-area suburbs like Hastings (22,000), Stillwater (19,000), and Woodbury (68,000) don't really have local service to speak of. It would be best to expand the number of cities offering local buses, and add a layer of regional/intercity service on top of that to link the whole region/state together.

I think there are a lot of places where people would be pretty happy with just a few trips per day for going between cities, as long as the runs were spaced out enough and not all concentrated in peak hours (there is a lot of value in peak-hour service, but Metro Transit and other providers have undervalued off-peak service), but we could probably have a lot of lines where there's one bus or train per hour for much of the day and half-hourly service during peak times.

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Re: Counties Transit Improvement Board (CTIB)

Postby Tiller » September 19th, 2016, 4:22 pm

Perhaps I should clarify. There would be no stations in Lake Elmo unless someone decides to actually build something there. It would only pass through.

The intersections that currently exist could be relatively cheaply optimized for hBRT via signalization (if not currently signalized) and giving the buses signal priority for passing through. The interchanges would just be a continuation of our current road-building regime, though planners/politicians may decide to build some in places as part of this project. None of this (including HOT lanes) was assumed to contribute to the corridors in the study, however, and is thus irrelevant to the whole "data of the study" thing.

A Park and Ride would more likely than not be built somewhere near the outskirts of Stillwater (No moral judgement involved here, it's how our planning system currently works), with a few more stations in Stillwater, ideally in more walkable places (IE downtown, as I mentioned before.) If you doubt me when I say that's how things currently work, There's a Manning Ave P&R that disagrees with you (and a theoretical Hadley Ave P&R too).

I don't know whether or not having it extent to Stillwater would be cost-effective, because that was outside the scope of Metro Transit's study. However, it's only 6 miles between Hadley Ave and Stillwater Blvd, or 6 minutes at 60mph. Doesn't sound like much to me.

Considering Gateway included Eau Claire/Hudson, and Rush included Hinckley, Stillwater being included in any kind of hwy 36 corridor study seems likely. Whether as part of the initial buildout, or as an extension, is anyone's guess.

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Re: Counties Transit Improvement Board (CTIB)

Postby twincitizen » September 26th, 2016, 10:36 am

Steve Dornfield on CTIB, counties' regional railroad authorities, and how they have failed to provide a consisent, equitable vision for transit: https://www.minnpost.com/community-voic ... usly-track

Basically his recommendation is that CTIB should be abolished and the tax revenue should be given to the Met Council, which should be directly elected by voters. Met Council should be the sole body responsible for *planning* transit.

That scenario would have worked back in 2008 (instead of forming CTIB), but now with Dakota (and possibly Anoka in the future) looking at leaving CTIB and doing their own thing, the whole "give the money to the Met Council" piece of his solution doesn't really work anymore. But the other suggestion is still sound: 1. CTIB and the various CRRAs are completely unnecessary layers of government and should go away as soon as possible.

That said, with the recent CTIB-related turmoil, I have to wonder if a future DFL-controlled legislature might be more likely to consider abolishing CTIB and instead raising a sales tax (0.5% or .75%) that would go directly to Met Council. The legislature could even require that each county involved got appropriate shares of money over a 20- or 30-year transit expansion period. The thorny issue is that Met Council oversees the entire 7-county area, and I don't know how this could work without including all 7 counties, or at least using the existing but lesser known Transit Capital Levy District

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Re: Counties Transit Improvement Board (CTIB)

Postby DanPatchToget » September 26th, 2016, 10:56 am

Steve Dornfield on CTIB, counties' regional railroad authorities, and how they have failed to provide a consisent, equitable vision for transit: https://www.minnpost.com/community-voic ... usly-track

Basically his recommendation is that CTIB should be abolished and the tax revenue should be given to the Met Council, which should be directly elected by voters. Met Council should be the sole body responsible for *planning* transit.

That scenario would have worked back in 2008 (instead of forming CTIB), but now with Dakota (and possibly Anoka in the future) looking at leaving CTIB and doing their own thing, the whole "give the money to the Met Council" piece of his solution doesn't really work anymore. But the other suggestion is still sound: 1. CTIB and the various CRRAs are completely unnecessary layers of government and should go away as soon as possible.
The regional rail authorities protect rail corridors for trail and future transit use. And even they have a tough time doing that as was shown with the Kenilworth Corridor rail vs. trail.

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Re: Counties Transit Improvement Board (CTIB)

Postby mulad » September 26th, 2016, 1:48 pm

There probably isn't any reason why the various county-level regional rail authorities couldn't be merged, though. For instance, there's the Minnesota Valley Regional Railroad Authority, which spans five counties and owns a 94-mile stretch of track from Norwood Young America out to Hanley Falls that is operated by the Minnesota Prairie Line, a subsidiary of the Twin Cities & Western RR.


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