Minnesota Transportation Funding (General)

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HiawathaGuy
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Re: Minnesota Transportation Funding (General)

Postby HiawathaGuy » February 26th, 2016, 1:22 pm

twincitizen wrote:Ol Marty Sabo just savaged SWLRT. Said he won't support a transportation funding bill until SWLRT (as designed) is taken off the table
Confused why anyone *cares* if Sabo supports SWLRT or not?! He's retired. He may have had pull at one point - but nowadays... he's the guy with a bike bridge over Hiawatha named after him.

amiller92
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Re: Minnesota Transportation Funding (General)

Postby amiller92 » February 26th, 2016, 1:38 pm

HiawathaGuy wrote:Confused why anyone *cares* if Sabo supports SWLRT or not?! He's retired. He may have had pull at one point - but nowadays... he's the guy with a bike bridge over Hiawatha named after him.
I honestly thought, "He's still alive?"

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FISHMANPET
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Re: Minnesota Transportation Funding (General)

Postby FISHMANPET » February 26th, 2016, 2:11 pm

amiller92 wrote: I honestly thought, "He's still alive?"
ME TOO!

I saw a picture Phyllyis Kahn tweeted with him and I was like :shock:
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EOst
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Re: Minnesota Transportation Funding (General)

Postby EOst » March 13th, 2016, 9:12 am

amiller92 wrote:
HiawathaGuy wrote:Confused why anyone *cares* if Sabo supports SWLRT or not?! He's retired. He may have had pull at one point - but nowadays... he's the guy with a bike bridge over Hiawatha named after him.
I honestly thought, "He's still alive?"
Not anymore! http://www.twincities.com/2016/03/13/ma ... -has-died/

amiller92
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Re: Minnesota Transportation Funding (General)

Postby amiller92 » March 14th, 2016, 9:00 am

EOst wrote:
amiller92 wrote:
HiawathaGuy wrote:Confused why anyone *cares* if Sabo supports SWLRT or not?! He's retired. He may have had pull at one point - but nowadays... he's the guy with a bike bridge over Hiawatha named after him.
I honestly thought, "He's still alive?"
Not anymore! http://www.twincities.com/2016/03/13/ma ... -has-died/
I feel like I need to apologize to his family!

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Nathan
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Re: Minnesota Transportation Funding (General)

Postby Nathan » March 14th, 2016, 9:04 am

I think you do!

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Re: Minnesota Transportation Funding (General)

Postby Qhaberl » March 16th, 2016, 6:48 pm

Just out of curiosity, let's say the state legislature is unable to come up with a means of raising revenue for public transportation. Are there other ways in which metro transit, and other suburban providers generate revenue, besides raising fares. As I'm sure all of you reading this now, public transportation is the smartest investment we can make.

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VacantLuxuries
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Re: Minnesota Transportation Funding (General)

Postby VacantLuxuries » March 16th, 2016, 6:51 pm

More innovative/higher priced advertising would be one.

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Tiller
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Re: Minnesota Transportation Funding (General)

Postby Tiller » April 6th, 2016, 6:59 am

What would be a good (and ideally, somewhat politically possible) source of revenue that MN could dedicate to building out and operating a regional/state-wide passenger rail system? A state-wide sales tax? Rededicating license fees? Maybe a carbon tax if support for one were to gain traction here? Ect.

If many areas of outstate were also in line for passenger rail, it could help reduce the political opposition we face building it in the metro. Additionally it seems that we're building up a queue of different regional rail lines that will probably never be funded unless we establish a dedicated funding source.

mattaudio
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Re: Minnesota Transportation Funding (General)

Postby mattaudio » April 6th, 2016, 9:19 am

While I like the idea of a statewide revenue stream, I think this would be the problems of CTIB on a massive scale.

Why not just let individual cities/counties have more flexibility to tax themselves for these amenities? Example: If Stearns County said "We want to raise a 1/8c local option sales tax to build a new passenger rail facility, and contribute $5 million a year towards operation of regional rail meeting X service standard" and the legislature actually let them do it... then why not?

intercomnut
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Re: Minnesota Transportation Funding (General)

Postby intercomnut » April 6th, 2016, 9:28 am

mattaudio wrote:While I like the idea of a statewide revenue stream, I think this would be the problems of CTIB on a massive scale.

Why not just let individual cities/counties have more flexibility to tax themselves for these amenities? Example: If Stearns County said "We want to raise a 1/8c local option sales tax to build a new passenger rail facility, and contribute $5 million a year towards operation of regional rail meeting X service standard" and the legislature actually let them do it... then why not?
The problem with that, as pointed out by my representative when I lobbied for more funding on Monday, was that a lot of counties don't have much commercial activity. But maybe there could be an assortment of taxes counties could raise or something to give them flexibility.

mattaudio
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Re: Minnesota Transportation Funding (General)

Postby mattaudio » April 6th, 2016, 9:37 am

It reasons that counties without much commercial activity are also the counties least likely to benefit from or push for a regional rail connection. Even if passenger rail happens to pass through them, it's not the raison d'etre nor should we charge them as such. I can't imagine Sibley or Le Seuer Counties wishing to pay for rail to Mankato, just as Dodge and Goodhue are the biggest obstacles for NAHSRG/ZipRail. It's going to be burdensome enough to convince these places that more trains should pass through them without stopping each day, let alone convincing them to pay.

intercomnut
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Re: Minnesota Transportation Funding (General)

Postby intercomnut » April 6th, 2016, 11:34 am

mattaudio wrote:It reasons that counties without much commercial activity are also the counties least likely to benefit from or push for a regional rail connection. Even if passenger rail happens to pass through them, it's not the raison d'etre nor should we charge them as such. I can't imagine Sibley or Le Seuer Counties wishing to pay for rail to Mankato, just as Dodge and Goodhue are the biggest obstacles for NAHSRG/ZipRail. It's going to be burdensome enough to convince these places that more trains should pass through them without stopping each day, let alone convincing them to pay.
That makes sense!

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Tiller
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Re: Minnesota Transportation Funding (General)

Postby Tiller » April 6th, 2016, 11:51 am

I agree that it would have some of the problems CTIB has, but it would also come with the positives, namely actually being able to get things done.

Say what you will about the CTIB, but our transit problems stem more from counties (those local governments you want to give more control) leading the planning process early on (being more easily swayed by local NIMBYs), and limitations induced by limited funding (ie We can't tunnel to uptown, too expensive!). Thus why we should have a dedicated funding stream and a state passenger rail agency (or a separate department inside MN/DOT).

If we didn't need that final 10% funding from the state (and if the initial funding stream was a bit larger), then we'll have built out 3-5 light rail lines, half a commuter rail line, and 5-10 BRT lines under the CTIB within 20 years. Why not get most of the routes in the state rail plan built out in 20 years, or by 2036?

As for getting those counties in the middle to go along with it, the solution is simple. Run 1 train per day each way as a local service that stops at most of the towns it passes. That should be a minimum, basic, service we provide on every existing rail line, (not just those potential routes outlined in the state rail plan, but generally every functional heavy rail line in the state) even if it requires some subsidy. Just like how government provides a basic level of necessities such as education and Healthcare insurance, there should be a basic level of transportation service allowing those who live in small towns to live car-free. Doing so could even help some struggling outstate towns by reducing their dependence on cars, and thus allowing them to densify into the urban form most of them used to have.

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Re: Minnesota Transportation Funding (General)

Postby alleycat » April 6th, 2016, 12:07 pm

Intercomnut, Were you in the meeting with Rep. Dehn? If so, I didn't get his response to my question on offering outstate MN a carrot. I'd think the Duluths, St. Clouds and Rochesters (well, their counties) of the state have plenty of tax base to serve their transit needs to a certain extent.

Now that I look at it, outstate counties have the right to institute a 1/2 cent sales tax already. That was a part of 2008 bill and in 2013 the legislature made it so it didn't have to go to a referendum.
Any county that is not part of the Metropolitan Transportation Area may singly or through a joint powers agreement, impose a local sales and use tax of up to one-half of 1 percent and a $20 excise tax on commercial sales of motor vehicles to fund a transportation or transit project. In order to impose the tax, the county or counties must specify a project to be funded by the proceeds. Originally the tax had to be approved by the voters at a general election, but in 2013 this was changed to only require a county resolution to impose the tax. In 2013 the use of the tax was also expanded to allow it to pay for transit capital and operating costs and capital costs for a safe routes to school program, as well as specified transportation capital projects. Except in the cases where the tax is funding transit operating costs, the tax expires when the specific project is completed.
It seems like targeting regional rail (or whatever transportation needs they have) for an outstate sales tax would be a good sweetener to get outstate votes on a transportation bill. Not sure how many Republicans would bite.
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mattaudio
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Re: Minnesota Transportation Funding (General)

Postby mattaudio » April 6th, 2016, 12:15 pm

I'm convinced regional rail, even heavily subsidized, even one or two trains per day each way, would be a big change for mobility in rural Minnesota. It would suddenly create an incentive for proximity to and walkability within small towns, just as it was when those towns were founded. It would help tip the scales away from large institutions and employers ending up in a 50 acre parcel miles outside of town. Ever so slightly, I must be realistic. But still. It would have a far more transformational effect on the average resident of these towns than paratransit or flex route services. Not that we can or should get rid of "safety net" transit, but this is transit at a whole new level.

I consider moving to a small, "urban" town someday and the presence of rail serving a walkable core is quite appealing. Right now the only cities which have this appeal are Red Wing or Winona (and natural riverfront beauty to match) as the stations northwest of Mpls do not have appealing departure/arrival times for the Empire Builder.

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Re: Minnesota Transportation Funding (General)

Postby David Greene » April 6th, 2016, 12:21 pm

Tiller wrote:Say what you will about the CTIB, but our transit problems stem more from ... and limitations induced by limited funding (ie We can't tunnel to uptown, too expensive!).
Lack of local funding is not what kills tunnels. Federal requirements are the larger issue.

Sure, if we forgo federal funding entirely we can do whatever we want but then you're talking a MAJOR increase in state funding, which isn't gonna happen any time soon.

RailBaronYarr
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Re: Minnesota Transportation Funding (General)

Postby RailBaronYarr » April 6th, 2016, 1:16 pm

I'm not convinced federal standards are holding us back from tunneling. What is Seattle doing differently from us that they can secure $830m from the FTA for a $1.9bn, 3 mile tunnel with 2 stations? I know the SWLRT cost estimates are literally everyone's favorite whipping boy, but the Uptown routing didn't add more than, what, $300m to the project's estimate? Plz to be not bringing up 3A v 3C arguments or cost details of the actual route that was proposed. My point is that an Uptown-ish route wasn't killed by cost or likely FTA funding, but by other political decisions.

And, while I'm all about higher levels of government having a little say in things (in this case, keeping local governments from building truly crappy transit projects via a complicated set of formulas used to rank projects to dole money to), maybe they should reform said requirements/formulas a bit, which haven't exactly kept local governments across the country from building disastrously wasteful transit projects. There's a strong case to be made (IMO!!!!) that we were overly-conservative on the CC Green Line - adding some points of grade separation along the line (UMN, Snelling, a few others) in addition to either downtown (also beneficial to existing and planned lines!) would have been totally worth it knowing what we do about ridership.

In any case. I'm really on a kick right now that we keep talking about ways to fund better transit, relying on legislatively-approved sales taxes or other such schemes, but cities like Minneapolis could really do a lot to improve local transit via annual budgeting. We're talking about potentially passing a guaranteed levy for the (much needed!) park and/or street capital backlog, the latter of which moves people around our city in cars. We're talking about spending $200m on a streetcar project that we'd hand over to the Met Council to operate. There's no reason we couldn't increase our levy by a percent and dedicate that money to bus shelters or buying extra buses and giving cash to MT to run more of them (start with routes identified in the SIP!) or build the aBRT infrastructure we're all so steamy for.

None of which helps answer the original question of more regional transit investment funding. Just that I think we're shortchanging our opportunities in all sorts of ways.

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Re: Minnesota Transportation Funding (General)

Postby twincitizen » April 11th, 2016, 10:48 am

At some Tea Party event, Speaker Daudt said this about the GOP House transportation bill. While his admission may not necessarily hurt them in GOP circles, it sure as hell doesn't help them convince any DFLers to favor the GOP plan. If anything, his statement put in very simple terms what the GOP has tried to shield from the public - that their plan will take money from the general fund on a permanent basis, crowding out existing funding commitments (education, HHS, etc.)




EDIT: Also, this PiPress article from a month ago was really good. I don't think much has changed in the last month, so it's all still fairly current for anyone that needs to get caught up. David Montgomery is a great political writer and data nerd. Enough so that I can tolerate him being a Cubs fan on Twitter.

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VacantLuxuries
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Re: Minnesota Transportation Funding (General)

Postby VacantLuxuries » April 11th, 2016, 11:05 am

How is it not completely obvious that the plan is to manufacture a budget crisis in the near future to force harsh spending cuts? Or is making a big mess so you get more brownie points for cleaning it up considered 'fiscally responsible' these days?


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