Apple Valley’s $21 million nightmare, the transit station which spans both sides of Cedar and probably has been closed more than it has been open due to various stages of construction and has a roof which is bubbling and an expensive and useless security system, may soon gain a cousin at the planned station at 147th and Cedar. While the transit stations themselves are a forgone conclusion, according to the StarTribune, the Apple Valley City Council desperately wants another skyway to (dis)grace the Cedar landscape.
From the article:
Construction of the stations at 140th and 147th Streets — including equipping them with security cameras, security phones, ticketing machines and connections to control centers — will determine the opening date, said Patrick Jones, assistant director of facilities engineering at Metro Transit. “It’s just not a simple project.”
Construction bids from firms competing to build the stations will be opened Sept. 10 before the Metropolitan Council, Jones said. The bids will show the cost of the stations with and without a skyway over Cedar at the 147th Street station.
If Apple Valley finds the price right, it will pick up the cost of the skyway at 147th.
As someone who opted for mass transit from Apple Valley to downtown Minneapolis every single day for nearly four years while believing that mass transit is a very important part of our transportation system, let me be the first to say, “this is a complete and utter waste of time, money and energy.” Yes, I understand the City Council’s desire to pretend that they will gain ridership and use of the system if there are precautions taken to increase the level of safety and visibility of the stations; even at the detriment to the already tacky looking stretch of roadway, but the City and the County are quite confused if they really believe they are going to get the transit numbers they claim when the cities along the route and the MVTA simply do not have the infrastructure available to properly support BRT.
While I have, for years, been speaking out against BRT and the massive waste of money that it is as well as the fact that they will, and you can mark my words here people, get rid of almost every single express route downtown in order to get ridership numbers up on this disgusting failure all while tripling the amount of time it takes to get downtown (45 minutes to MOA and 45 minutes to Downtown as opposed to the 35 minutes it now takes), Sank takes a more lighthearted approach in his critique of the hellhole this miserable project has become, however he makes a phenomenal point about the second planned skyway over Cedar:
The Star Tribune reported this week that the project is running almost a year behind, the current hold up is the construction of the stations along the route. Apparently, our city council and the Met Council are very concerned about the esthetics of the stations along the route;
“Apple Valley’s view is that to attract riders, the busway must be an attractive, safe and pleasant experience — and from the beginning if possible, City Administrator Tom Lawell said”
And now I believe I’ve found the root of the problem. Our elected officials are enamored with the majesty of the project and not the practical application of it. With all due respect, the key to attracting riders is providing them with reliable and fast service to destinations that make sense. Back in the day when the Apple Valley Transit Station was nothing more than a Plexiglas shelter in an abandoned parking lot, it was always packed. Packed because the primary transit users in town, commuters, were looking for a fast convenient way to get downtown, and the bus provides this service. No one takes the bus simply because the station is neat.
No one takes the bus simply because the station is neat. This. Full stop. What people want are what the article claims they will have the opportunity to use BRT to do: “…go to jobs, stores and restaurants along the busway or ride all the way to the Mall of America,” however, aside from the Mall of America, the items listed simply do not exist at any of the planned station locations and only one restaurant currently exists within close proximity to the line. Yeah, someone could work at Cub Foods, Red Robin, or Batteries Plus but I really just don’t see those being jobs which attract many out of town individuals as employees. So let’s say someone does want to use this route to get to some future fastfood restaurant which will inevitably open along the route, something like the-never-open-Subway which exists at the 28th Ave LRT station. They have to potentially drive or walk some ungodly distance to a “nearby” transit station and then wait 15 minutes for the next bus to take them to their final destination of Raising Cane’s – Cedar Grove – Eagan for the culinary delight of their life: two chicken fingers or three? Then they have to walk back to the transit station, wait for 15 minutes, ride back to the station nearest to their house, and then walk or drive back home. Figure, on a good day, this exercise in ridiculousness will cost the average person at least an hour between walking/driving/waiting/riding and will set them back at least $1.75 during off-peak times and $2.25 during on-peak plus the $8 they’re going to pay for the MSG-covered, fried chicken goop. These people would be better off driving themselves the entire way, saving us millions on inevitably empty buses painted to look like trains.
Listen, Dakota County didn’t need BRT and it certainly doesn’t need yet another skyway over Cedar to get people to ride these empty buses. What we needed was someone with a brain to say, “this is a completely idiotic idea and we should have spent our money to create a more viable mass transit system in the county which people who live more than 1000 feet from the traffic and street-light congested hell that is Cedar would be able to utilize without wasting more time and money than they will be by using the system.” Unfortunately we didn’t and now we have to have a bunch of politicians deciding to waste even more money because the first round wasn’t enough and obviously the only barrier to the success of the plan is that we don’t have enough bridges over Cedar.
I really wish someone would tell these total morons to stop messing around with tax dollars. Sorry folks, when my home value decreases by nearly 50% in 8 years and my taxes don’t drop at all I have a serious problem with the City Council even considering spending another dime on something like this. Don’t you?