Monday, April 30, 2012

City Council Votes to Support Streetcar Study

Post by the Hawthorne Hawkman, photo from the MN DOT website.

In Mayor Rybak's recent state of the city address that focused primarily on north Minneapolis, he highlighted an amenity that has received much promotion on this blog:  Streetcars along the West Broadway corridor.  Specifically, Rybak announced city council support for an application for federal funding of a streetcar study.  This however, is such a wonkish move that many people either don't know about it, dismiss it out of hand, or believe that streetcars simply won't happen in today's hyper-partisan political environment.

And there is a part of me that tries to picture how this might have gone down..."Streetcars are vital to West Broadway's economic development, and I say we need to take IMMEDIATE action!  I therefore propose we take a non-binding voice vote in support of applying for funding for a feasibility study, with two other local partners as well, providing they support the application, so that we can then ask the federal government for funding that could potentially allow us to maybe keep on thinking about the issue."

On the other end of the spectrum, the Southwest Corridor LRT system is still bogged down in partisan bickering and concerns over a contractor that are actually quite valid.  It's easy to be the cynic and say either that the proposed action is so minimal it amounts to very little, or that even steps in the right direction will get stonewalled in today's political and economic climate.

I would contend that regardless of the current political landscape, this kind of a study is one of the required steps towards a streetcar line along West Broadway.  The study would help to demonstrate the economic benefits of streetcars; it would show how they might interact with other forms of transit on the northside such as LRT, BRT, bikes, pedestrians, and cars; and having two local partners in the Met Council and Hennepin County adds credence to the viability of this form of transit.

"Modern streetcars build vibrant streets.  We need that on West Broadway," said Rybak.


  1. The council announcement was old enough that I had considered not writing this post until there was a new development. Then people started asking about streetcars over on the North Talk Facebook page and another friend of mine who follows the issue had not heard the council's announcement. So I decided to get the info out there even if a few weeks have gone by since its initial release.

  2. My husband and I were just in Memphis, TN where Main Street is a streetcar route (some sections are mixed traffic, other stretches are street car only) and we really enjoyed it from a visitor's perspective. Walking place to place and eating outdoors was very peaceful, the birds were audible, the pace less frantic. Historic photos of Memphis showed a street car available every other block--the idea transit could be that silent and convenient is very attractive. But I suppose an entire system would need to be in place across Minneapolis for a "car-less" option to work. On the other hand, sharing the road with a street car line means drivers on Broadway would have to learn that a yellow light doesn't mean "speed through the intersection as fast as you can" and a red turn signal doesn't mean "turn left into oncoming traffic".

  3. I have an old laptop with a very touchy mousepad. Every once in a while the cursor winds up over a different part of a blog's text, and seemingly random letters wind up in the wrong place as a result. Thanks to an alert reader who picked up on that and pointed out a typo in need of correction.

    Stupid mousepad! Damn cursor!

  4. Once again we have a supposed meeting of the minds and nobody shows up. Streetcars in North Minneapolis? What kind of bullshit facade is being thrust in our direction? Got Milk? Can't find better ideas on how to spend money? Reminiscing about days you do not remember when the peaceful trolley's breezed through the tree lined and mostly civil parts of this city and not having to worry about the uncivilized and no-holds barred fucked up attitudes of the numb asshole's that like to flash mob and terrorize people with the ever present pack-mentality that exists these days. "Can" the damn trolley pipedreams and get the hell back down to earth and stop the fanciful and fantasical bullshit and invest in small business loans so people can help themselves and their respective communities. Our public transportation works and is one of the finest and most affordable in the country and also one where the buses and trains run on time. We do not need trolley service so quit with the superficial "we're improving things" bogus line, and the cosmopolitan city crap. Try some goddamn common sense and quit scratching our backs with hacksaws. Good Day.

  5. Agreed...I see lots of opportunity for improvement in North Minneapolis, but replacing the buses with streetcars is like putting lipstick on a pig!


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