Statewide Investment in Transportation Options
Minnesota’s transportation system has been neglected for too long. Increased investment is urgently needed to expand public transportation, create safe bicycling and walking options, and fix aging roads and deficient bridges.
Our current transportation system harms our economic competitiveness and quality of life, makes it difficult for people in both rural and urban communities to access jobs and other critical destinations, and exacerbates long-standing racial disparities and income inequality.
Transportation also generates 25% of the carbon pollution in Minnesota, second only to the power sector.1 Air quality is often worst near areas with bad traffic and congestion, creating an increase in asthma attacks and a variety of other health problems. Research shows that communities of color are exposed to nearly 40 percent more air pollution than white residents, putting them at higher risk for these adverse health effects.2 Demand is growing for transportation options that are more affordable, more efficient, healthier, and less resource-intensive, like safe biking and walking.
- Building out the metro region’s public transportation system would save $185 to $395 million in reduced emissions.3
- Bus transit produces 33% less carbon pollution per passenger mile than the average single-occupancy vehicle.
- Inadequate funding is the biggest challenge faced by 94% of Greater Minnesota transit providers.5
- In the Twin Cities metro area, only 8% of jobs are reachable by transit in 60 minutes.6
- More than 50 communities across Minnesota have unfunded Main Street enhancement projects, and statewide in 2013 MnDOT received proposals for nearly four times as many Safe Routes to Schools projects as it could fund.7
- Minnesota’s roads are in poor condition, costing the average motorist $396.25 per year in extra vehicle repairs and operating expenses.8
It is time for the Minnesota Legislature to pass balanced, comprehensive transportation funding that addresses these urgent needs. Increasing long-term statewide investment in all modes of transportation — bus, rail, bicycling, walking, roads, and bridges — will pay valuable health and environmental dividends, spur economic development, and support communities where everyone has equal access to opportunity. These investments can and should positively impact the people who have struggled the most during the recent Great Recession — communities of color, the elderly, low-income families, and people with disabilities.
1 Minnesota Pollution Control Agency, January 2015. https://www.pca.state.mn.us/sites/default/files/lraq-2sy15.pdf
2 Lara P. Clark, et al. (University of Minnesota), National Patterns in Environmental Injustice and Inequality: Outdoor NO2 Air Pollution in the United States. PLOS ONE, April 15, 2014.
3 Itasca Project. 2012. Regional Transit System Return on Investment Assessment. http://www.corridorsofopportunity.org/sites/default/files/Transit_ROI_Executive_Summary.pdf
4 Federal Transportation Administration, Public Transportation’s Role in Responding to Climate Change. January 2010. https://www.transit.dot.gov/sites/fta.dot.gov/files/docs/PublicTransportationsRoleInRespondingToClimateChange2010.pdf
5 MnDOT. Greater Minnesota Transit Plan 2010-2030. Dec. 2009.
6 Andrew Owen et al., (University of Minnesota), Access Across America: Transit 2015. January 5, 2017. http://www.cts.umn.edu/Publications/ResearchReports/reportdetail.html?id=2554
7 MnDOT. MnDOT Safe Routes to School grants support 101 Minnesota schools. News Release. February 10, 2015.
8 American Society of Civil Engineers, Report Card for America’s Infrastructure, 2013. http://www.infrastructurereportcard.org/minnesota/minnesota-overview/