Golden Turkey Nominee: $6.45 Million for an Empty Bus Stop
For the first time, the Golden Turkey award committee allowed nominations from the public and Minnesotans did not disappoint with their ideas. The most popular category of the public nominees was wasteful transit projects such as the Rush Line in White Bear Lake or Southwest light rail in Eden Prairie. Representing all wasteful transit boondoggles, we present the Newport Transit Station as a 2021 Golden Turkey nominee.
The Newport Transit Station cost taxpayers $6.45 million and opened in November 2014. In July 2017 the Pioneer Press called it the “Hilton Hotel of bus stops” in an article titled “The east metro’s most expensive park-and-ride station is also the least used.” At that time, the Met Council boasted ridership of eight passengers a day on the bus line serving the Newport Transit Station. We could only dream of such high numbers today because in the post-COVID world, there are no busses serving this sprawling transit stop.
As in all of these transit projects, urban planners sitting in their office cubicles dreamed of “transit-oriented development” along the line to boost ridership and attract people to new high-density neighborhoods with coffee shops and brewpubs. Except commuters in Washington County, like every other suburban area served by the Met Council, like to drive cars and don’t work in the downtowns, especially post-COVID.
The bottom fell out of transit ridership during the pandemic and while highway traffic has returned to pre-COVID levels, the same cannot be said for busses and trains. Which leaves the Newport Transit Station with an empty 150-car parking lot and a Golden Turkey nomination.