"Can we afford these things? Not really, but who cares? They look pretty and shiny!"
Of all the shiny new toys were have today, we seem to like trains the best. Why? The answer really escapes me. If trains were truly the better mousetrap to solve our traffic problems, the allure of the choo choo might be more logical. But they are not. After we have built three lines (blue line, green line and Northstar), reality is now settling in. All the promises we received from the central planners have not come to fruition. In fact, trains have proven to be lemons.
Some might stop reading right now and think the old Bird is on one of his favorite rants once again. Just because I am conservative, I hate trains. Au contraire Mon frere! I love trains where they make sense. Yesterday, one of our proudest liberals, a man who lived and served in Minnesota's CD5, weighed in on the newest shiny toy - the SWLRT.
Knowing Martin Sabo, and how liberal he is, one would think he was lock step in line with the other loons who really want this $2B boondoggle. Nope! He came out dead set against it. In a rare act of being totally honest with the masses, Martin said, "For $2B what you are getting is only a marginal improvement in transportation, and is not worth the investment." Knock me over with a feather! Rather than come up with a pack of lies like the Met Council often does, Martin told the truth. It is a boondoggle.
I remember back in the day when the planners talked about why we needed Northstar. Back then of course, it was to be the wonder line going from St. Cloud down to the Target Field station. Those tens of thousands of people who live in St. Cloud and work in Minneapolis would now be able to leave their cars at home and be whisked off to work in this wonderful train. Highway 10 would then become a very easy commute for the rest of us with all those cars off the roads. What a pile of crap.
Here are the facts about the Northstar:
- Never did make to St. Cloud as the money ran out for transit hubs. Good thing too.
- Highway 10 is just as messed up as it always has been, maybe even more so.
- Every ride taken since inception has been subsidized by the tax payer. And it will be so until the train is sunsetted.
- It does however, look pretty and shiny!
So as the visions of more LRT dance around in Euphorian heads, some are still hopeful we can build the "Mother of all lemons" - the Northern Lights Express. Thank goodness the county I live in long ago pulled any financial support away from this thing. No, we need to take a long, hard look at the three trains we already have and ascertain if they are worth the investment. If the answer comes up "NO", as I know it will, we should stop. Take the $2B for SWLRT and use it to improve the 494/694 beltway. Take the money for NLX and improve I-35 heading north to Duluth. In other words, lets us start taking our transit money and doing things that make sense!
A shiny penny found in the street is still only a penny. We can no longer afford to be fooled by appearances and promises. We need people to govern us who are based in reality and know how to get the best bang for the buck. We need honest solutions to real problems. We need to eschew trains now and forever, and focus on our real transit problem - not enough good roads.