Roads and Transit tie the knot

We’re proud of you, Roads. We’re proud that you finally did right by Transit.

>Not to say that there won’t be some bumps down the road, but you’ll have our support. We Minnesotans are one big family and most of us agreed that it was time for this transportation relationship to become legal. We were sick and tired of Roads’ same old boring bumper-tobumper jokes every night during rush hour. For years we’d been gently encouraging Roads to propose to Transit. We had even set up romantic dates at the legislature but time and again, Roads left Transit hanging at the altar. Last year, Transit had even chosen a dress by the time Roads came down with a bad case of cold feet and black ice and ran off with his drinking buddy, the Governor. But, finally, even the Governor realized that Roads had to change lanes or be stuck in a rut for the next decade. Otherwise, next thing you knew, Roads would have been lamenting on the rural route to nowhere with a potbelly to match his potholes, wondering where he took a wrong turn.

Luckily for Roads, his aunts the business executives, his uncles the environmentalists, and even some of his city and country legislative cousins got together with his voters and demanded a shotgun wedding last Nov. 7. No one likes to tie the knot this way, and frankly, Transit found the whole thing humiliating. But what a few friends knew and most suspected was that Transit, with her ridership at a 22-year-high, her “park and ride” lots at capacity, was ready to start expanding her family. She had even started to adopt a few suburban bus lines. But she truly wanted a lifelong commitment with Roads.

As with all new couples, you are going to get a lot of free advice. You had that “deer in the headlights” look at the wedding banquet (with perhaps a bit too much E85 in your tank), so here’s a recap from the marriage toasts.

Roads and Transit, you two have both been living hand-to-mouth for too long. Now that you are married and have your own amendment, you can finally get some stability in your life. Fix up the old place and maybe even build a bridge or develop a statewide infrastructure. Lord knows you need it. Although you shouldn’t totally mortgage your future, you should probably take out some more bonds. Your construction expenses will only get higher and you might as well tackle them sooner rather than later.

Your circle of friends forced you into this thing, and they’ll support you through your growing pains. A few family connections, thrown in with some public forums and stakeholder meetings, will get you an increase in the gas tax. According to the state constitution, this won’t directly help Transit, but you are now part of the extended transportation family. What helps Roads, helps Transit. If nothing else, higher gas prices will push riders to Transit so both of you win.

This one is going to hurt just a little, but as you know, “no pain, no gain.” You’ve got to enact a wheelage tax. Five bucks for every wheel sounds about right. You’ll have a few legal hurdles to leap before you can make this one work and might even have a fender bender or two at the Legislature. Enact a wheelage tax and split the proceeds 60-40 with Transit – just like you promised on your wedding day last Nov. 7.

Look into toll lanes. New York does it, Chicago does it, and even Kansas City does it. Let’s fall in love. Your friends in the Metro will shell out most of the dough for this one but make those quarters add up to be part of a statewide solution. Toll revenue should also be split 60-40 for Roads and Transit – throw those rural relatives a spare tire. After all, they have to suffer through your grandiose stories about the money you plan to lavish on Transit’s light rail expansion.

Expand the lottery to include some funds for Transit. The lottery is set up to benefit the environment and what could be better for our environment than getting folks out of their cars. To be honest, Roads, your tailpipe emissions have Earth all hot and bothered. Now that you are married, you’ve got to stop this flirtation, which will only lead to her global warming. Soon, the Lakes (all 10,000 of them, brother) will be blaming you for their vanishing species.

Roads, we’re proud that you finally did right by Transit.

Brenda Diethelm-Okita, Joseph R. Goldman, Jocelyn Hale and Connie Rutledge are University Humphrey Institute graduate school classmates. Please send comments to [email protected]