Counties Transit Improvement Board (CTIB)

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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

Tcmetro wrote: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 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

twincitizen wrote: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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Re: Counties Transit Improvement Board (CTIB)

Postby twincitizen » December 2nd, 2016, 9:58 am

CTIB meets to discuss disbanding: http://www.startribune.com/transit-fund ... 404066436/
In so doing, the Counties Transit Improvement Board (CTIB) may be able to raise as much, or perhaps more, money for mass transit in the Twin Cities while bypassing the Legislature, which has been reluctant to fund expensive projects.

“This would remove us from the contentious debate in the Legislature and it would allow us to move forward,” said CTIB Chairman Peter McLaughlin

Dissolution of CTIB would permit each of the five member CTIB counties to increase the transit tax to a half-cent, although it’s unlikely all will opt to do so. As of Jan. 1, 26 outstate Minnesota counties will have levied a half-cent sales tax for transportation purposes.
Some of us have been saying this since Dakota County left, if not earlier. They should have done this the minute a transportation bill failed at the legislature.

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Re: Counties Transit Improvement Board (CTIB)

Postby Anondson » December 2nd, 2016, 10:07 am

At the street.mn fundraiser last night I thought Adam mentioning CTIB separation was just rumormongering, then I got home and caught up on my twitter feed only to see earlier in the day CTIB breaking up was something under serious talk.

I'm still conflicted, though leaning gradually for it.

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Re: Counties Transit Improvement Board (CTIB)

Postby Tiller » December 2nd, 2016, 10:23 am

So i would venture a guess that Hennepin, Ramsey, and Washington counties will all levy their transit sales taxes, while Anoka and Dakota use theirs to mostly fund freeways (though Anoka probably has to keep funding Northstar, and Dakota may chip in a bit to help fund the Orange Line/Red Line/Red Rock).

I can live with it for now, as it should be enough to build out our current slate of projects. Once the DFL is in charge again we can raise the sales tax, but until then more transportation funding from the legislature doesn't seem likely.

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Re: Counties Transit Improvement Board (CTIB)

Postby twincitizen » December 2nd, 2016, 10:43 am

Here's my (way too long) comment that I left on the Strib article:

If this goes through and CTIB is disbanded, here are my predictions:

Hennepin and Ramsey Counties will immediately vote to go up to 0.5%, and with any luck at the county boards**, the money will be 100% dedicated to transit funding (covering capital and operations). Both counties have a number of LRT and BRT projects in planning, nearing construction (Green Line extension, Blue Line extension, Orange Line BRT, Riverview Corridor, etc.)

Washington County will also go up to 0.5%, but will almost certainly split the pot between roads and transit - the county board REALLY wants to build Gateway / Gold Line BRT and they have strong support for that project in Oakdale and Woodbury. They also have some road projects they'd like to do in the outlying parts of the county.

Dakota County (already voted to leave) will enact the 0.5% tax too, and will spend it on both roads and transit. Their transit projects are fairly inexpensive (south of the river portion of the Orange Line BRT, possible extension and infill stations on the Red Line BRT), relative to the amount of funds they raise. They will have to contribute operating dollars to keep both Orange and Red Lines running, so there is going to have to be ongoing consensus with Hennepin on that.

Anoka County is the tough one to predict. Politically, there is no support for tax increases - the county board there is very fiscally conservative, but not quite to the point of insanity. They would probably just let the 0.25% CTIB tax go away, but they are locked in to paying a major portion of Northstar's operational expenses - the line exists mostly to serve Anoka County, which has all but 2 of the stations. So as much as they'd like, they can't drop the sales tax entirely, because then they'd be paying for Northstar out of property taxes. And they undoubtedly have some road projects they'd like to fund as well. So they could go for 0.25% or they could go up to 0.5%, depending on the board's appetites for big road building projects.

**We gotta keep our eyes on this, bigly. If this CTIB breakup does happen, it's up to us to make sure Hennepin and Ramsey Counties do not let any of the 0.5% tax go to roads. If they allow some of these funds to be used on road projects, there will effectively be zero increase in transit funding, even though we'll all be paying an extra 0.25%. I can't speak for everyone in St. Paul and Minneapolis, but I sure as shit do not want to pay another 0.25% sales tax for stroadbuilding in the exurban parts of the core counties.

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Re: Counties Transit Improvement Board (CTIB)

Postby twincitizen » December 2nd, 2016, 1:20 pm

Scott County was one of the first to enact the 0.5% sales tax. Carver has not. County Boards have the option of doing either 0.25% or 0.5% (or zero, obviously). Counties also have the option of collecting the wheelage tax (paid along with your annual tabs), which was previously $5/year, and only recently increased to $10/year (in the counties that collect it). Beginning in 2017, counties will have the ability to increase that wheelage tax all the way up to $20/year.

Association of MN Counties has a map: http://www.mncounties.org/legislative/l ... /index.php

In the metro, Anoka stands alone in not collecting the wheelage tax. When the state increased it from $5 to 10, the Anoka County board instead chose to stop collecting it. Now that they can charge any amount between $0 and $20, I'm really curious if they will reinstate the tax after a few years off. That would be one way the Anoka County board could avoid increase funding without having to go from 0.25% to 0.5%.

All other metro counties (and a majority statewide) collect the wheelage tax at the current $10 rate. It remains to be seen which (if any) will be so bold as to go up to $20.

By my extremely quick count of that map, 24 counties (not including CTIB counties) have already enacted the sales tax. Many of them extremely conservative places. And many of them low population counties where the sales tax is probably not going to generate much money.


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