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Can Congress Over-Ride FTA Recommendation Against Funding Light Rail and Bus Rapid Transit? Maybe.

It is possible that our two U.S. Senators and perhaps other members of the delegation, will prevail on the president and the FTA to make these transit projects happen. But Congress must first pass appropriations bills to get the money flowing and spent. If the FTA does not want to approve a project, it has the power to ignore Congress. Got it? ...

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Reading the Federal Tea Leaves: No Funds for Light Rail Expansion?

According to the Wall Street Journal yesterday, Trump wants to "save more than $1.4 billion by eliminating the Federal Transit Administration’s New Start's program, though it would permit projects that already have signed agreements to be funded through those grants to proceed." This has been the President’s position since he came into office. Neither of the Met Council's New Start’s projects, Southwest or Bottineau LRT, have signed agreements with the FTA. ...

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Light Rail Expansion Comes to Screeching Halt: BNSF Says No To Met Council

The Met Council got some very bad news. A freight line, BNSF, told the Met Council that it did not want to co-locate its freight line with the proposed 13-mile light rail expansion called Bottineau. And while the Met Council put a happy face on this bad news, and elected officials who want the LRT expansion suggested that BNSF was just engaged in hard-knuckle negotiations, it does not sound like BNSF is still at the negotiating table. You be the judge. ...

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Just Say No: Increase in Gas Tax Would Fuel More Congestion, Reward Bad Policy

The Center joined a national coalition of policy organizations in the letter below which will be sent to Congress next week. Given the terrible congestion in the metro area, and the pot holes in our roads, some might argue that raising the gas tax is a good idea. The problem is the policies that gave us terrible congestion would not change with more gas tax money; more gas tax money would just “fuel” those bad policies. ...

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Met Council: If it is such a great regional model, why is it the only one after 50 years?

Mondale has thrown down the legislative gauntlet, again. While annoying and not correct that the Council is acting under actual authority, he is correct that the legislature created the creature that is the Council and the legislature must take it out, breaking it up into its constituent parts and spinning them off where they can do more good and no harm. Will the 2018 Legislature take him up the dare? ...

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Will Transit Ridership Decline Mean End of Light Rail Boondoggles?

The Met Council's controversial $2 billion Southwest Light Rail Transit line still hangs on by a thread. So do proposed LRT lines in Nashville, San Antonio and Tampa, among other cities. At the same time, overall transit ridership continues to decline or even implode in many metro areas. The Cato transit expert who authored American Experiment's report on Twin Cities traffic congestion earlier this year, Randal O'Toole, emphasizes just how dramatic the drop-off has been in the Wall Street Journal. These proposals are questionable at best and reckless at worst, given that transit ridership—including bus and what little rail these regions have—is...

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Met Council Attempts to Explain Away OLA Audit Findings: Will the FTA Care?

For all I know, the FTA’s New Starts grant program tells applicants, “Lie to me, tell me what I want to hear so I can give you the billions in funds appropriated by Congress. Oh, and I am not going to require you to put away funds to replace the system when it wears out.” That would explain why the nation's transit system operates in the red, fails to relieve congestion and does not have the ridership it projected. How else did we get LRT in Minnesota?...

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OLA Jim Nobles Releases Critical Met Council Transit Audit: Legislative Leaders React

“Metropolitan Council staff told us they use one set of assumptions (based on historical state and local funding) when preparing their federal transportation financial plans, and different assumptions (based on current appropriations law) when preparing internal reports and information for the Minnesota Legislature.” OLA ...

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Read it and Grin: Minneapolis officials call for Environmental Review of SWLRT Crash Wall

Look on the bright side Minneapolis: the wall could be passed off as an expansion of the nearby Walker Art Museum’s Sculpture Garden. Think of the wall as a giant canvas. The Walker could provide spray paint to aspiring local artists to encourage self-expression, sponsoring an annual "We Love Our Wall" contest. Imagine how much the residents of Bryn Mawr will enjoy looking at their art. The Met Council could even save some bucks here; with all the graffiti, surely the train stations will not need any more “public art.”...

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