Dayton’s plan helps U-area transportation

The governor laid out his goals for improving transit, which include a statewide tax hike.

Benjamin Farniok

Gov. Mark Dayton’s transportation proposal released last week includes a sales tax increase that could improve the transit system around the University of Minnesota.

While the plan includes the whole state, the metro and University areas would see a number of changes to sales taxes and transportation costs if it’s enacted. Dayton’s proposal also includes improvements to bus and light rail systems.

The $2.8 billion plan to fund the transit services over the course of 10 years includes a half-cent sales tax increase for residents in the seven-county Twin Cities metro area.

Frank Douma, a research fellow and associate director of the State and Local Policy Program at the Humphrey School of Public Affairs, said the University is poised to benefit from Dayton’s plan because it is a transit-intensive area.

“Everybody would feel the impact with paying the up-to-half-cent additional sales tax in what they purchase, but it will come back in increased investment in transit,” Douma said.

Part of the governor’s recommendation would improve bus stops, including the addition of 1,000 new bus shelters, many equipped with heating and light.

The improvements are expected to increase metropolitan area transit bus services by 27 percent, aimed at accommodating a growing population that’s becoming more dependent on public transportation.

“We need to keep modernizing the bus system,” said Meredith Vadis, a spokeswoman for the Metropolitan Council.

Vadis also said the proposal could install up to 20 new transitways, 16 of which would be rapid bus systems that would increase outer metro accessibility and extend the Green Line and Blue Line light rail services.

David Levinson, a civil engineering professor and transportation studies expert, said that the proposal could also improve I-35W near the Twin Cities, which includes adding more MnPASS lanes.