Last week, the Twin Cities hosted the nation’s premier Transit conference, Rail~Volution. If you’re not someone that finds themselves in heated bar debates over the merits of Locally Preferred Alternatives, chances are you aren’t a big transit nerd and may be unfamiliar with this conference. However, if you are like me and can spend hours at a time poring over MAP-21 regulations, then you were counting down the days until you could head over to the HYATT Regency in Downtown Minneapolis and immerse yourself in nothing but transit for three entire days.
Rail~Volution is a gathering of transit professionals from all over the country, featuring workshops about everything from BRT (Bus Rapid Transit), to TOD (Transit Oriented Development), to even a little BBQ (well you know that one). The conference kicked off with a welcoming event Sunday night at Union Depot, followed by three days of speeches and workshops featuring experts from around the country. While I was able to learn a lot during my time at the conference, the work by local planners to showcase all the great things about the Minneapolis-Saint Paul region impressed me the most. There were pre-conference events like a group outing to a Twins game and paddleboat excursions down the Mississippi. Also included were mobile workshops throughout the week that let people from outside the region experience our transit system by taking all of the different modes we have to offer like light-rail, buses, and bike-shares. I heard nothing but amazing reviews from the out-of-towners I spoke with, and it filled me with pride to hear our region so highly praised. As a Saint Paul native, I have been preaching the MSP gospel for years, so it was nice to receive such overwhelming validation.
I learned a ton at this conference and I am confident that all the other attendees did, too. Kudos to all of those who put in the hard work to make this a huge success and show visitors from around the country just how much our region has to offer. If you’re feeling envious about missing out on all the fun this year, don’t fret! Next year’s conference is in Dallas and you know what they say about Texas.