Pushing for smarter transit

Twin Cities elected officials should use transit as a development tool to attract more people to the metro.

This New Year brought with it a new Minneapolis mayor who is intent on making public transit in the Twin Cities a pivotal focus during her term.

While at a meeting with the St. Paul and Minneapolis chambers of commerce last week, Minneapolis Mayor Betsy Hodges stressed the importance of transit investment for bringing new residents to the Twin Cities.

Hodges noted the value of efficient transit systems and suggested that an ideal mass transit system would allow residents to live in the area without a car. 

Hodges told business leaders she would like further expansion of light-rail lines and streetcars, in addition to a “true bus rapid transit network,” according to a Star Tribune report.

Investment in efficient and affordable transit systems is necessary to attract new residents and to retain students who have considered the Twin Cities merely a temporary home. This is certainly something we hope the Green Line light rail that runs through the University of Minnesota campus, which is 98 percent complete and scheduled to open in June 2014, will achieve.

However, the goal of transit investment should be twofold: In addition to making life without a car in the Twin Cities possible, it should be used as a development tool to spur economic growth and create density.

Any smart investment in transit is an investment in future growth and development. Additional rail lines and bus routes should be added in areas that will directly benefit residents and business development.