Please don't get me wrong with what I am about to write, I am all in favor of Mass Transit and alevieating all of the problems associated with petro-chemically driven vehicles, BUT.....
I think the point I was attempting to make is that unlike alot of other cities, we are very spread out, we gave into roads as our main mode of transportation during horse and buggy days, and MN's for some reason have a real tie to their car.
Unlike cities that, granted because of cars but also delivery trucks, have developed large expansive underground and above ground tansit systems (like New York city), and still have reached grid lock, we have not reach a point where total gridlock has been achieved (yes we are on our way, but it's not like Rush hour in LA yet).
All of which are difficulties to overcome when it comes to mass transit that does what it's designed to do. Get people out of cars and onto buses or rail. They really need a reason to do so. One is cause they see a express bus or train moving past them as they sit in traffic, the other is that it is convenient for them to access.
Yes we do have alot of rail lines in the metro area. Why? because we are also (were also) a major hub for freight transit around the northern corridor of the US. That doesn't mean that they can be used (being heavy rail lines, locations, etc.. ) or that the owners will allow such use (frankly if I was an owner of the right of way I wouldn't be looking to add to the liability to maintain the track for commuter rails).
We are also a continuely changing community. The developments in St Paul on both sides of the River, which at one time were places of business and housing. Then flood plans changed them to industrial and airports, now we are going back to putting housing and business back down there again.
At one time the East side was the place to live and work then not then it was again, Grand Ave at one time was all residential, now it's largely commercial and educational. I recall looking at University Ave and seeing Crack Street, now it's a great street to ride from the Capitol to Mpls, it's thriving. We are a community without any sort of real long term vision of what we want to be, and if we do come up with a vision it only lasts as long as an administration or city council then the vision or focus changes. We are like 7 little cities, each with it's own agenda, crammed into one.
With some few exceptions, in such a place it's really hard to put into place something as locked in as RAIL (be it light or trolly cars).
There are alternatives to buses that run on Petro products, there are hybrid buses, there are natural gas buses, there are buses that could be designed to run on fuel cell technology developed by NASA in the 60's.
For an area that is in a constant state of flux the vast majority of the real transit needs to be in easily changeable routes, that is obtained presently via buses, unobtainable with any sort of rail as the main mode of transportation.
Does anyone remember the "Trolly Cars" (actually fancy old fashioned buses) they had running around DT for awhile a few years back? Are they still running?
There fuel for the fire :-)
W 7th Neighborhood, St Paul MN
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