COMMUNITY VOICES | SWLRT – Not a good plan for Minneapolis

The Southwest LRT is frequently touted as making significant improvements to racial and economic equity. I would argue that it does nothing of the sort.  In fact, if not done right, this rail line will actually contribute to inequity rather than address it.Racial and economic equity had little to do with the selection of the South West light rail alignment. In fact, SWLRT was developed under the “Cost Effectiveness Rating” criteria set forth by the George W. Bush administration. Foremost in those criteria was for rail service to provide time saving, direct, no transferring needed, rides to people living in suburbs and exurbs into downtown. Neither urban communities nor environmental impacts were prioritized in Federal criteria until after President Obama took office, and the alignment had already been selected.  As a result, SWLRT is suburban-centric and avoids urban density and economically stressed communities in the city. It will do what it was designed to do, promote suburban development and enter and exit the city quickly.  It is not an equity train, far from it.If the SWLRT were actually an equitable transit project, what would it look like?If it were an equitable project, the biggest transit project in the state’s history would begin by directly serving parts of the city where congestion is a serious need, where ridership would be highest, and where revitalization most impactful. The SWLRT project would begin by addressing existing transportation needs in the city.  By addressing this congestion ridership would be stronger because density drives ridership. Continue Reading