We've thankfully escaped Seattle's incessant rain and made it to Minneapolis, where we had our book event last at Kingman Studios (check out the Team page for reports soon). There's plenty of interesting stuff going on here and a sense of momentum and energy in the city post-election. We spoke with some locals (including our publisher, Leif Utne) and learned about a bunch of noteworthy organizations. One that stands out is Transit for Livable Communities, a non-profit founded in 1996 to promote transit, walking, biking, and transit-oriented development. We've talked about other similar organizations in the past, but TLC has a particular successful model. As Jay Walljasper from Ode Magazine told us, is that TLC is such an accomplished organization that they've been charged to administrate a $25 million federal grant that would ordinarily be managed by the Department of Transportation.
Like so many other ambitious improvement groups, TLC has an initiative which they launched this year called Transportation Choices 2020 (TC2020) which aims, by the year 2020, to double bus services, create better transit facilities and new Park & Ride capacity, construct eight dedicated bus and rail transitways, and provide revenue to local governments for transit, bicycle & pedestrian projects. The goal emerges from the success of the Hiawatha Light Rail (pictured here), which opened last June with partial service and continues to expand its range. Light rail has proven in many cities to be one of the most effective ways to get the public using transit, as well as a powerful factor in improving communities and development projects.
The growing commitment to light rail transit is not a trendy craze over a new technology. In certain high capacity corridors LRT is proven to provide real benefits over building more lanes or adding bus service. LRT offers a much more pleasant ride than the hassle of negotiating traffic in a car or on a bus, attracting many more riders than a bus would on the same route. These riders will increase the foot traffic around stations and will, with community support, attract compact, mixed use developments that are more efficient and pedestrian-friendly.
TLC also has a Transportation Choices Network, which calls on Minnesotans to become actively involved in accelerating the creation of better transit infrastructure and safe, efficient pathways for pedestrians and bikes.
And on election day, as currently noted on TLC's front page, Minnesotans passed an Amendment that establishes our first dedicated source of transit funding. We live just a few blocks from the Hiawatha light rail. We love our LRT, and we love all the new higher-density and mixed-use development it's spurred.
Hopefully that line will extend to St. Cloud. The Twin Cities may be on the way to nire transit orientation and pedestrian friendlyness, but It's too expansive and too cold for large parts of the year to not use a large amound of rail and bus.
I live in Tempe, Arizona and we have a light rail scheduled to begin service in 2 years. I, for one, am extremely excited about all the mixed-use development planned near the train's route. Kudos to our local government for providing the necessary zoning changes to encourage pedestrian friendly development.