Light rail will help the city flourish

Daily Editorial Board

Public transportation makes a difference to Minnesotans. This was validated when 100,000 people were recorded to have ridden light rail lines on Sept. 3 and when the Minneapolis City Council granted consent (again) for the new Southwest light-rail line on Friday.
The Southwest light rail project, which would connect downtown Minneapolis with Eden Prairie, has faced significant opposition. Routing passenger light rails near freight trains carrying ethanol has some people questioning the project’s safety, and the project’s increased cost was the impetus behind the city council’s second vote.
We agree with the City Council that the benefits of a new light rail line will outweigh location and cost concerns, especially for students. A light rail connecting the southwest suburbs could potentially help students commute to school, as well as to jobs or internships. The mobility of students who do not own cars will significantly increase with the opening of the new line.
Moreover, a light rail line that connects the suburbs with downtown could also provide the city’s low-income residents with access to better-paying suburban jobs, without an increased cost of living. In this way, increased public transportation infrastructure could help alleviate Minnesota’s disturbing racial income disparity.
Increased support for and use of Minneapolis public transportation projects is encouraging, and we hope the city continues prioritizing public transportation infrastructure.
September’s record-breaking numbers on the Blue and Green Lines indicate the increasing value of the light rail to Twin Cities residents. We’re glad the City Council is paying attention to them.