Transit: The Backbone that Provides Essential Support to Members of our Community
During this legislative session, ISAIAH is supporting a $300 million increase in metro transit funding and a $32 million increase for transit in Greater Minnesota. Stable funding for transit operations also is a high priority. This post includes several ISAIAH leader transit stories, as well as excerpts from testimony in support of increased transit funding to help create an equitable Minnesota and presented to both the Minnesota House and Senate Transportation Committees by Sarah Mullins an ISAIAH leader.
A few ISAIAH leader transit stories:
- Max is passionate about mentoring youth into constructive life choices. He works in a Brooklyn Park community center. However, limited transit service makes it hard for youth to get from their homes and schools to the center. In fact, it is hard for Max, too. He is considering moving to Minneapolis where there is more transit density. His boss doesn’t want to lose him. Owning a car should not be a job requirement.
- Pastor Alberts’ church, a member of GRIP-ISAIAH in St. Cloud, runs a “jobs van” that transports church members from their homes in St. Cloud to jobs in Cold Spring. Owning a car is too expensive for these households. Over the last five years, demand for the service has only grown. There is a clear need for regular route service, but the transit budgets are too small.
- Gretchen lives in St. Paul and works with senior citizens. She was in an accident that totaled her car and broke her arm. For five weeks she was unable to drive. Instead she used transit. She had to reduce the number of appointments because of the challenge of reduced mid-day “off peak” route service.
- Tony lives on the East Side of St. Paul and takes the bus to work in Bloomington. On Sundays when he goes to visit his mother in Plymouth, he has long wait times between transfers, because both of the buses are on reduced service schedules.
Excerpts from Testimony to the Minnesota House and Senate Transportation Committees by Sarah Mullins, ISAIAH leader from St. Thomas More Catholic Church in St. Paul, on March 20, 2013
Everyone needs the ability to get around, including those unable to drive. A stable adequate transit system is core to creating a Minnesota that provides opportunity to ALL of its residents. ISAIAH believes that transit can be a powerful, positive force to shape our communities.
Today some destinations, like downtown Minneapolis are easily and quickly accessed. This serves many workers well, but not everyone follows this commute pattern. The bus system needs to be continually improved, so that it meets the unmet and developing needs of all Minnesota residents. Greater MN communities’ transit needs are growing, but funding resources are stagnant.
Metro Transit has done a great job with their existing resources. For example, in 2012 they did an exemplary job of reaching out to St. Paul residents and workers to understand the service needs when redeveloping the bus service to match up with the upcoming Central Corridor (Green Line) LRT. However, many needs remain unmet and no one wants to start a new bus route that is eliminated later because of budget cuts.
A gradual increase in funding for metro area transit operations will enable transit operators to be responsive to the needs of Minnesota residents. Stable, adequate funding is critical to making long term, sustainable service changes. Variability in annual budgets propagates uncertainty about fare hikes or service cuts. This is a strongly destructive force to good intentions in bus service planning.
ISAIAH asks you to support transit as a backbone that provides essential support to members of our community. We hope you will start to envision how increased funding now can propel our transit infrastructure to a new level of service—opening access to transit dependent and choice riders, so that all of our community members can be contributors to the success of our great state.