In typical fashion, Dakota County is pushing forward with plans for Cedar Ave’s Bus Rapid Transit corridor even though there is nearly a 20% financial hole that has yet to be filled. I’m not quite sure why they’re so flustered about where this funding is going to come from as they know exactly where to find the money…via additional taxes on everyone, especially bus riders.
According to this article via the MNSun, the legislators are well aware of the extensive budget deficit affecting our fine state and they know that there just won’t be any additional funding available for transit even with the newly enacted gas tax that went into affect last year. In addition they expect Metro Transit and thus MVTA fares to go up this year — again. Apparently even though they raised the rates last year due to rising fuel costs, the complete reversal of that issue still doesn’t give them enough money. Give them an inch and they want a mile.
But even without any money, Dakota County is absolutely confident in the final plans for their $76 million pet project to bring BRT to Cedar Ave between Lakeville and Bloomington’s Mall of America which will do nothing but double the amount of time it takes for people to get downtown because they are going to drop you off at the Mall of America and expect you to take the LRT from there. I still haven’t heard one single reason why planners feel that this is a good idea.
Aside from the shortfalls in funding and the hikes in transit fares to pay for whatever it is that happens to be hemorrhaging money this year, the Cedar Ave BRT is still short nearly fourteen million dollars. With no one knowing exactly where it will come from in the next two years that they expect it to be before BRT gets going South of the River, it wouldn’t surprise me at all if we hear cries for more sales taxes, higher fare prices, and possibly even parking passes required at the new transit stations they plan to build this spring.
Nearly two million dollars of the total needs to come from some mutual agreement between Lakeville and Apple Valley and another twelve million might come from the quarter percent sales tax hike but being that the county has yet to even ask for it, who knows if that will ever happen — I’m going to guess no. Neither Lakeville nor Apple Valley has stepped up to the plate to get the ball rolling on the two million and the twelve additional? Well, there are some plans for that but they are quite thin on details at this time.
So, in the mean time, even though we don’t have all the funding together and there really are no clear answers as to where it might come from, they are forging ahead with this half-wit, hair-brained idea which is terrible to begin with. Not only are they claiming that they’re at least 10 years ahead of some fictitious schedule, they are planning on starting to build both the additional Apple Valley and the new Lakeville transit stations when a newly completed one across from Apple Valley’s second Target and third liquor store sits nearly dormant with very few routes to/from anywhere. Maybe it would have been a better idea to just make that one into a gigantic parking lot and leave the building for later — like 10 years from now when that area might actually have something more than an open pit mine and some cookie-cutter houses surrounding a muddy puddle with a gazebo in the middle?
So, we have talked about BRT in the past and many of you said that you do support building now due to the low land and building costs but what do you think about requiring additional taxation and fee collection to fund it? Don’t you think we’re being taxed enough between higher fees (originally for fuel surcharges) and the quarter percent sales tax? Is it really fair to raise rates even higher to put half a band-aid on a problem that won’t be solved by the plan that’s been proposed? Whatever your feelings are on this subject, comment on, I’m interested in hearing what you have to say.