A lot of discussion at various levels needs to take
place before any specific proposal might be advanced. 
But when I intially learned about the some of the
streetcar concepts, my reaction was admittedly

I belive John Birrenbach is right in that not all of
St. Paul is well-suited for rail transit.  Yet I
strongly believe some parts of the City would not only
support a streetcar, but reach their potential only
with a streetcar or rail.

I guess my core concern is that people are allowed the
*choice* to take the kind of frequent, reliable
service that a streetcar would provide.  Ultimately,
government should not favor one or two alternatives
only, but should provide a variety of alternatives,
where those alternatives are feasible.

And for me, the initial evidence would suggest that it
is feasible.  Let's just conceptually imagine a line
that goes from Union Depot west to the Mississippi
River.  Who would ride?

- A portion of the 20,000 attendees to Xcel Center
events.  Already, several Grand Avenue establishments
use the "mock" tolleys John describes to bring their
diners downtown for the game.

- Downtown will soon have 10,000 residents, all within
walking distance of a streetcar.  A significant
portion of those people will use a streetcar, if only
to get around the downtown area.  Transit, not autos,
is the natural lifeblood of downtown.

- Similarly, my cursory evaluation, based on what I
know of other cities, is that most of Cathedral Hill,
along with most of Selby, Marshall and Grand all have
the kinds of densities that would support fixed rail
transit ridership.  In fact, these densities exist
because of being historically near to transit.  As you
move further south from these corridors, I agree with
John.  I think the housing may be too spread out to
support rail transit. 

- College students & employees.  St. Thomas has about
10,000 students & employees in St. Paul.  Macalester
about 3,000.  William Mitchell, maybe 1,500.  Students
are very likely to use transit.

- Those going to smaller bars, restuarants,
entertainment and shopping.  More transit = a more
convenient destination = access to more shoppers.  

- Convention-goers.

- Those making a connection to Amtrak, LRT, or
commuter rail at Union Depot.

- Some of the 45,000 employees who work downtown.

- The hundreds or thousands of tourists who stay
downtown each night.

Of course, these are the kinds of numbers that we
really need a formal study to pin down.  But a cursory
look is helpful to understand the potential.

I'm glad John brought up these concerns, because I
think these are the kinds of questions that will
either guide us to move forward with streetcars or
rethink them as a concept.  But with the announcements
of these Civic Dialogues next week, the conversation
has begun, and its a conversation that is long


Bob Spaulding
Downtown Resident
To Join:   St. Paul Issues Forum Rules Discussion

St. Paul Topics - This Week: Light Rail
To subscribe, modify subscription, or get your password - visit:

Archive Address:

Reply via email to