Editor’s Note: The following guest column comes from Mark Purdy, owner of Blackstone Manor Clock Repair on Hopkins’ Mainstreet.
As an owner of a small business in Hopkins, I have an opinion about the effects the Southwest Light Rail Transit project (SWLRT) will have or not have on my business and other Hopkins businesses.
The SWLRT is being sold as a good thing for all the citizens and the businesses along the proposed route.
So far I have not seen anything that encourages me and my business to look forward to this plan. IF riders get on the train at the far west end and ride the train to work in downtown Minneapolis, what makes anyone think they will get off the train to make a stop to shop? They will not be bringing their shirts to drop off at the cleaners. They will not be bringing their shoes to drop off at the shoe repair shop. They will not be bringing their clock or watch to drop off to get repaired or a battery changed. They will not be stopping for breakfast.
Today when these same people drive to work, this does happen in Hopkins every day.
I still remember Mayor Belton of Minneapolis telling all of us that when The Hiawatha line is running, people will be able to stop at the Cabooze and Whiskey Junction and all the other mom and pop restaurants and shops. They can ride the train all the way to The Mall of America and shop. This will be such a great thing for ALL the business along this line. Did any of this happen? What did happen has not been good for the mom and pop businesses along the route.
Every time I hear someone talking about the Hiawatha line, it is complaining about the traffic congestion caused by the light rail.
We all know mass transit never pays for itself. But neither do all the highways and byways of the U.S. But the roads do allow ALL of us to get around and shop as it fits into our schedule. The train does NOT allow the ridership to spend their money along the way to and from work and home.
My questions is: IS the SWLRT worth the large subsidies it will require for eternity?