Kudos for “bus rapid transit”

Mindlessly adding car lanes is as futile as trying to hit a Johan Santana fastball.

Traditionally, Minnesota has sought to alleviate traffic congestion by simply adding more lanes to highways. But the Twin Cities metro area’s accelerated growth combined with costs has forced Minnesota to think in terms of the long-term rather than immediate and temporary solutions.

Traffic on Interstate Highway 35W has slowed to a lurch in recent years. Mindlessly adding more car lanes to the interstate would prove as futile as trying to hit a Johan Santana fastball. Thankfully, Minnesota’s leaders endorsed “bus rapid transit” Monday as one key part of solving the traffic problems. For our money, the proposal looks like a home run.

Bus rapid transit for Interstate Highway 35W calls for a bus-only express lane, more bus routes and possible expansion of the service to Lakeville, Minn. The plan has already garnered support from the mayors of the cities directly involved. Transportation Commissioner Carol Molnau should give her support after reviewing the final studies .

Our only qualm with the proposal is that it does not go far enough. The burgeoning communities in the south Metro, such as Prior Lake and Shakopee need better connections to the public transportation system. Still, this proposal is a great start.

Minnesota’s leaders are finally facing the fact that simply adding more lanes to highways without expanding public transit is ineffective and costly. The best aspect of Monday’s proposal is that it will make it easier for more surrounding communities to expand their bus services. The Burnsville Transit Station has proven hugely successful. With time and investment, transit stations in other suburban magnets will prove just as popular.

Monday’s proposal was a bipartisan one. Officials finally seem to start to work together for the common good when it comes to public transportation. We expect good things to come.