Northstar Commuter Rail

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FISHMANPET
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Re: Northstar Commuter Rail

Postby FISHMANPET » April 23rd, 2015, 2:41 pm

If you've got the guy that thinks car = freedom, then yeah, there's no hope there.

But there's a conservative case to be made for transit. And it's not "help poor people get to their low paying jobs." But that's really the only case being made. Although I'm not sure if I have much hope for conservative and their positions on cities and urban issues. There are very real conservative solutions (and not Laissez-faire Libertarian solutions, but mid century conservative) to many urban issues (liberalizing land use and zoning, cheap and cost effective bus improvements, cutting back on road expansion, raising gas taxes, etc etc) but instead conservatives have built themselves up around this rhetoric that freedom is a half acre lot with at least a single car for every household member 16 and above. So I don't know.

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Anondson
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Re: Northstar Commuter Rail

Postby Anondson » April 23rd, 2015, 2:57 pm

Whoa, that book is selling for hundreds of dollars! Is that a book for a professor's class? ;)

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Re: Northstar Commuter Rail

Postby twincitizen » April 23rd, 2015, 3:12 pm

FISHMANPET wrote:but instead conservatives have built themselves up around this rhetoric that freedom is hating everything that liberals like.
FTFY.

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Nick
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Re: Northstar Commuter Rail

Postby Nick » April 23rd, 2015, 3:25 pm

I wrote half a post to this effect but it ended up pretty shitty and callous (I am shitty and callous) so I scrapped it. There isn't agreement over the definition of concepts like sustainability or equity in Seward, let alone agreement over solutions for those things, so it's hard to see how super helpful that is when you're talking to whoever representative or voter from rural wherever. We really ought to consider sticking to financial arguments, everything else will end up as feelings.

(Financial arguments will also mostly end up this way)

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Re: Northstar Commuter Rail

Postby David Greene » April 23rd, 2015, 9:18 pm

mulad wrote:We don't need "to be fair" to Rep. Newberger here. He made an idiotic statement. In my viewing of the clip, he's also casting St. Cloud in a pretty bad light, so I'm just as offended for folks in that city as I am for anyone in Minneapolis.
It wasn't "to be fair" to Rep. Newberger. I was responding to the general statement that "people like him" view transit as welfare. It's not just "people like him" either. Plenty of ordinary non-racist people misunderstand the purpose of transit and that's because by and large transit supporters are terrible at messaging.

Other unhelpful (in general) messaging we need to move away from:

- Transit reduces/holds back congestion
- Transit makes space on the road for drivers
- Transit is subsidized? So are roads!
- We need to keep up with city X

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Re: Northstar Commuter Rail

Postby David Greene » April 23rd, 2015, 9:23 pm

xandrex wrote:I don't know you'll sell them on getting Middle-Class Joe from his South Minneapolis home to his downtown job either, though.
Not as such, but tell an outstate Republican that it costs 10x as much to expand freeways in the metro over outsate and that more $ for transit means more $$$ for outstate roads, they'll probably listen a bit more.
xandrex wrote:After all, this is America. If Joe is middle class, shouldn't he be driving a car? Like a REAL 'MURICAN!
There's "freedom" and then there's money. Lots of people like money. Get money to some people and they tend to downplay their other bits of worldview.

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Re: Northstar Commuter Rail

Postby RailBaronYarr » April 24th, 2015, 8:04 am

David Greene wrote:Other unhelpful (in general) messaging we need to move away from:

- Transit reduces/holds back congestion
- Transit makes space on the road for drivers
- Transit is subsidized? So are roads!
- We need to keep up with city X
I guess, *every* message (including ones you didn't list) has a pitfall that a very large % of the state (and even metro) will just argue to death based on their own biases. Environmentalism? Enables compact & less costly land uses? Moves people most efficiently where space is at a premium? Allows people the choice of living car-free to build personal wealth? Allows people who can't afford cars to access jobs/opportunity? Enables safer streetscapes for all users? I can think of 2-3 responses to each and every one of those that someone with a bias will make, and they've got their JoelKotkin/WendellCox/RandalO'Tooles to give them just enough misguided info to make them feel sciency. Beyond those reasons, others seem pretty thin, even to me as a transit supporter (economic development? sense of community?).

Transit supporters aren't terrible at messaging. Underpriced roads, unpriced pollution, underpriced safety costs, and $billions in advertising telling us how great cars are.. that's tough to beat.

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Re: Northstar Commuter Rail

Postby David Greene » April 24th, 2015, 8:36 am

RailBaronYarr wrote:I guess, *every* message (including ones you didn't list) has a pitfall that a very large % of the state (and even metro) will just argue to death based on their own biases. Environmentalism? Enables compact & less costly land uses? Moves people most efficiently where space is at a premium? Allows people the choice of living car-free to build personal wealth? Allows people who can't afford cars to access jobs/opportunity? Enables safer streetscapes for all users? I can think of 2-3 responses to each and every one of those that someone with a bias will make, and they've got their JoelKotkin/WendellCox/RandalO'Tooles to give them just enough misguided info to make them feel sciency. Beyond those reasons, others seem pretty thin, even to me as a transit supporter (economic development? sense of community?).
That's all true to some extent but there are some messages that are more widely effective than others. Prosperity seems to be one, things like your car-free message above or the fact that transit attracts young talent. Business-related messages go over better than some others with policy makers. That's not to say that we should focus exclusively on business but right now that message is lost among others put forward by transit advocates. It's more of a both-and than either-or. Another one I have found to be effective with the average lay person is to tilt the congestion message on its head when talking about transitways. I'll tell people, "No, it's not guaranteed that transitways will affect congestion but what it *will* do is provide you a way to avoid that congestion altogether."

Anecdote: The only time I've seen Republican legislators actually pay attention to me when testifying about transit is when I crafted a message about how Cray has its roots in WWII codebreakers, does important work on strategic defense and moved to downtown St. Paul because of the transit access in order to attract young talent. I hit the patriotic note and tied it to real business concerns. I felt kind of dirty afterward but it was kind of a fun experience too as I tailored the message to a group I'd never really intentionally targeted before. I don't claim that my testimony suddenly made those legislators favor transit but the fact that they listened intently meant that at least I was giving them a view they hadn't heard before. That's got to count for something.

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Re: Northstar Commuter Rail

Postby xandrex » April 24th, 2015, 8:41 am

David Greene wrote:
xandrex wrote:I don't know you'll sell them on getting Middle-Class Joe from his South Minneapolis home to his downtown job either, though.
Not as such, but tell an outstate Republican that it costs 10x as much to expand freeways in the metro over outsate and that more $ for transit means more $$$ for outstate roads, they'll probably listen a bit more.
Except that that said Greater Minnesota GOPer probably doesn't see it like that. My talks with folks outside the metro boil down to them generally seeing the metro as having an unfair share of resources - many of them think it's their highways, not metro highways, that are crumbling because every time they drive to Mall of America, they get caught in a traffic jam due to construction.

They see it as "you're going to get our highway money anyway, so why would I give you extra money for your choo-choo?"
David Greene wrote:
xandrex wrote:After all, this is America. If Joe is middle class, shouldn't he be driving a car? Like a REAL 'MURICAN!
There's "freedom" and then there's money. Lots of people like money. Get money to some people and they tend to downplay their other bits of worldview.
The problem is that it really isn't just money. We've tied up so many emotions into politics and funding of pretty much anything that using logic at times is nearly pointless.

I had a debate with my dad during a road trip one time as we drove from Duluth to southern Minnesota. As far as he was concerned, any investment in transit was a waste of his tax dollars. He thought he had already paid his fair share for the roads, and who wants to get on a train anyway (I said I really enjoyed taking the light rail, perhaps more so than driving...the look I got was priceless)?

Facts didn't matter. My father, a conservative but pragmatic man, couldn't possibly twist his mind around transit over roads. And this was using none of the arguments you mentioned above. They boiled down to two things: highway construction is expensive (and the more we build, the more we need to maintain) and that expansions leave a lot of lanes open during most hours of the day. Isn't 35W south of downtown something like 12 lanes at one point? He didn't really care - to him it was a social agreement made amongst the drivers of Minnesota, all other forms of transportation be damned.

Okay, I did actually get angry at one point and told him I was paying for his roads through property taxes. Then he told me I got a property tax refund, so apparently that didn't count. Ha.

So yeah, it's just one data point. But I think it pretty much sums up every conversation I've had where I tried to be dispassionate and lay out the facts.

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Re: Northstar Commuter Rail

Postby David Greene » April 24th, 2015, 8:47 am

xandrex wrote:So yeah, it's just one data point. But I think it pretty much sums up every conversation I've had where I tried to be dispassionate and lay out the facts.
You're absolutely right that facts alone will not win a political debate. But the facts are important, so it seems best to combine it with values-based conversation. I mean, yeah, it's not like one conversation is going to change someone's mind. This has to be done over a period of years.

I think we're basically in agreement. I won't give up talking to people who don't support transit today because we're going to need some of those people to get what we want.

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Re: Northstar Commuter Rail

Postby xandrex » April 24th, 2015, 8:49 am

Agreed there. It's an ongoing conversation. The fact that my family still looks at me in the eye knowing that I ride the bus every day is a good sign. Though if I gave up my car completely... ;)

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Re: Northstar Commuter Rail

Postby nate » April 24th, 2015, 9:37 am

Cities crush rural areas in so many quality of life and economic indicators that I can understand why outstaters feel the deck is stacked against them.

I have five different grocery stores within a mile or two of my house. My in-laws have to drive 45 minutes to get to Hy-Vee.
I can send my kid to dozens of different schools. My in-laws have to make do with one school that scarcely has enough kids to keep going, despite pooling three different towns.
Minneapolis can lose 1,700 jobs in a single day and scarcely blink. There probably aren't 1700 jobs in the whole county where my inlaws live, and most of them pay pretty poorly.

From my perch, it is easy to say that cities are economically efficient and better generators of wealth and opportunity, but if I lived in a dying small town, that would be cold comfort. If I remembered the 1970s when there were two grocery stores, a dentist, restaurants, and so forth on my now empty main street, it would be hard not to feel completely left behind.

There has to be a better way to talk about the urban/rural divide that exists in this country. I don't know what the solution is, but I feel like it has gotten dangerously poisonous.

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Re: Northstar Commuter Rail

Postby mattaudio » April 24th, 2015, 10:29 am

Maybe we can move this to a non-transportation forum?

Anyways, we need to reframe this debate around land use and way of life rather than metro vs outstate. Granted many small farming towns are dying on the vine, but there are plenty of regional centers, county seats, and other "medium" small towns with over a few thousand residents that are generally doing OK in terms of employment and services. They also have good urban bones. Yet people don't think of these places as urban or walkable for some reason.

Car culture has really "democratized" land use in anything other than the most dense and urban of areas, and not for the better. These towns let their good bones rot to the core. The wealth that was produced and passed onto future generations in the previous centuries is cast aside, since it's cheaper to build auto-only accessible pole barn buildings out on the fringe. The problem is that the majority of rural (and suburban) Minnesotans see this as a natural way of life rather than something we've subsidized and socially engineered. Yet they wonder why their downtowns are vacant and rotting away, and only the fringes of the largest towns seem to be getting *growth.* We've subsidized a different way of life in Greater MN, where the new norm is to live on a large hobby farm lot out of town, work far from home likely in an unwalkable place of employment, shop in disparate auto-oriented WalMarts and HyVees and outlot strip malls with chain stores, and long distances of paved roadway and expensive car ownership in between. This may seem natural to people who live this every day, but it is not natural in any sense of the word. It's not a natural way for humans to live, it's not a natural way for the market to allocate land and resources, and it's not a natural way to ensure the future prosperity of small towns and rural Minnesota.

The frame of urban vs rural, metro vs outstate, is inaccurate and tired. We need a frame that allows for the existence of "places" outside of the metro beltway. We need a frame that values traditional land use even in the 500 person town or the 5,000 person town.

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Re: Northstar Commuter Rail

Postby mulad » August 25th, 2015, 6:55 pm

The second item in this news round-up mentions that Northstar's on-time performance went up to 95.8% in June and 92.7% in July. It had gotten as bad as 66% late last year. Ridership is down 2.3% for the first six months of the year compared to 2014. Does anyone know what sort of penalties BNSF may have had because of the on-time performance? As I recall, the contract with Metro Transit mandates an on-time percentage somewhere in the mid-90s.

http://www.startribune.com/north-metro- ... 322846281/

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Re: Northstar Commuter Rail

Postby mulad » October 10th, 2015, 3:09 pm

Starting Monday (October 12), Northstar Link buses between Big Lake and St. Cloud will begin accepting payments with Go-To cards.

http://www.masstransitmag.com/press_rel ... ent-option

I don't see any mention of Go-To cards on the St. Cloud Metro Bus website, so I assume you still have to resort to cash or Metro Bus passes for the city buses up there.

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Re: Northstar Commuter Rail

Postby acs » October 13th, 2015, 10:14 pm

Jim Knoblach (R-St.Cloud) has come out in support of extending Northstar to St. Cloud and studying the cost of doing so. Big round of applause to GRIP/Isaiah for pushing this and getting people from across the aisle on board.

http://www.sctimes.com/story/news/local ... /73892960/

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Re: Northstar Commuter Rail

Postby mattaudio » October 14th, 2015, 8:23 am

Hopefully if this extends to St. Cloud, it can be re-envisioned as a regional rail service rather than a glorified park&ride express bus.

As it stands right now, I have no idea why ISAIAH, etc are concerned with a $15+/day round trip service for people commuting from Becker to Downtown Minneapolis (and only for regular office hours).

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Re: Northstar Commuter Rail

Postby David Greene » October 14th, 2015, 11:04 am

The ISAIAH staff person working on Northstar is my counsin's cousin.

Long term, I believe they are indeed thinking of a regional rail setup. But in the meantime, it's important to get a connection established. They've heard lots of stories of people wanting to work jobs in the Twin Cities. Lots of students want to be able to access the Cities for cultural amenities. The airport connection is a big deal.

This is going to be a long-term effort.

So I would say it's not one reason, it's many and to meet those needs we'll need more service hours than we currently have.

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Re: Northstar Commuter Rail

Postby Tcmetro » October 14th, 2015, 12:27 pm

With a 90 minute travel time between Minneapolis and St. Cloud and a 15 minute layover on each end, the Northstar could operate a 105-minute frequency with two trainsets. A more liberal 80 minute travel time and 10 minute layover would result in a 90-minute frequency. Certainly feasible to some extent, and definitely desirable.

Other new commuter rail lines provide significant midday service (Miami, SLC, Denver) and others are looking into more robust all-day service (Seattle, LA, DFW). IMO, Minneapolis needs to provide an all-day service, for one, because the St. Cloud-Minneapolis pair is probably the most important intercity link in the state, and two, to create a culture that is receptive to using trains and buses for intercity travel.

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Re: Northstar Commuter Rail

Postby HiawathaGuy » October 14th, 2015, 2:08 pm

Tcmetro wrote:With a 90 minute travel time between Minneapolis and St. Cloud and a 15 minute layover on each end, the Northstar could operate a 105-minute frequency with two trainsets. A more liberal 80 minute travel time and 10 minute layover would result in a 90-minute frequency. Certainly feasible to some extent, and definitely desirable.

Other new commuter rail lines provide significant midday service (Miami, SLC, Denver) and others are looking into more robust all-day service (Seattle, LA, DFW). IMO, Minneapolis needs to provide an all-day service, for one, because the St. Cloud-Minneapolis pair is probably the most important intercity link in the state, and two, to create a culture that is receptive to using trains and buses for intercity travel.
I couldn't agree more. I also think it's important to note that there are no plans to significantly change 94 or 10 between the NW suburbs and St. Cloud, so adding frequent regional rail will help alleviate the demand a bit. Or at the very least, help promote more urban development in that corridor.


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