For years the Saint Paul Area Chamber of Commerce has been a leader in supporting the expansion of transit in the East Metro. Our members know that without a world-class transit system, the Twin Cities will be unable to compete on a global scale. Transit is critical for employees to get to work and remains a key factor in attracting and retaining talent. It is imperative that we as region find ways to expand our transit system and do it in an accelerated manner. These reasons are exactly why the current legislative session is so important.
However, what often gets lost in the debate over how to pay for transportation is the simple question of where is the funding going once we have it? A quick look at the Metropolitan Council’s Planned Transitway map makes the answer crystal clear. With two multi-billion dollar Light Rail lines going into place in the West Metro compared to $400 million dollars for BRT and a bunch of dotted lines in the East Metro, it’s easy to feel frustrated. As Sen. Bev Scalze, DFL-Little Canada puts it, "The transit lines that have been funded or are in complete or in preliminary engineering are ... on the left side of the map. The dotted lines on the right side of the map are the east-metro lines that are not yet complete."
We are in complete agreement with Senator Scalze. The disparity in funding cannot continue any longer if the Twin Cities region as a whole is to prosper. Home to 40% of the population and many major universities, hospitals, and employers, the East Metro is vital to the success of our region. The need for more funding and an accelerated build-out of the transit system is clear, but if all the funding continues to flow west of the Mississippi we will have missed the opportunity to benefit the entire region; and we will all be worse off because of it.
To read the entire article featuring Senator Scalze’s comments and explaining the funding gap further click here.