How Much Will Southwest LRT Really Help Hopkins Students?

With Hopkins High School so far from the planned light rail line, School Board Director Kris Newcomer questioned whether students would actually be able to use LRT to travel to courses offered at the University of Minnesota.

One of the benefits of the proposed Southwest Light Rail Transit line, promoters say, is that west metro high schoolers could use the line to take college classes at the University of Minnesota.

School Board Director Kris Newcomer was skeptical, though. Hopkins High School is about four miles from the nearest station. At a joint meeting with the City Council on Tuesday, she wondered how the students are going to get there.

The discussion centers on Southwest’s green line extension,which would allow riders to get all the way from Eden Prairie to the University of Minnesota and on to St. Paul.

That’s a perfect fit for the state’s Post-Secondary Enrollment Options program, light rail advocates say. That program allows high school juniors and seniors to take classes for both college and high school credit—with the cost of tuition and textbooks subsidized by the state.

Metro Transit plans to rearrange bus routes once Southwest trains are running—using LRT as a spine that bus routes along the line connect to.

But Newcomer’s worry isn’t an idle one.

The school district’s Legislative Action Coalition has urged the public to ask Metro Transit to redirect Route 615 around Hillside Lane to pass Hopkins High School and expand hours of operation so students and parents can attend evening events. As it stands, the nearest stop is two to three blocks away from the high school and buses only run from 8 a.m. to 5 p.m.—making it difficult for families to use public transportation for school events.

Officials say they’ve heard those concerns. Plus, districts could always route their own buses to the stations. But if a solution isn’t found, it’s hard to see how students could take advantage of light rail the way planners envision.


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Dave Lloyd November 03, 2012 at 03:43 AM
Thank you Kris! These item by item attempts to make SW LRT sound like ridership will be terrific and useful will continue and fortunately people like Kris have stepped up to question usefullness. Plus, comments that the operating hours of public transportation are not so beneficial. Of course, there are no estimates of how much it will cost to extend the hours of bus service if SW LRT is built. That will be an additional cost beyond the $33 million of operating costs for SW LRT that will not be paid much by fares.
Dave Lloyd November 03, 2012 at 03:45 AM
But, I have more to report. Earlier this week someone involved with the SW LRT wrote to say that LRT funding will not affect other government spending, like education. He said the items aren't related as though there is a separate money pocket for the train and another for schools. He may also still believe in Al Gore's Social Security Lock Box. Remember, that? The lock on that box was long broken open and is probably pretty rusty.
Dave Lloyd November 03, 2012 at 03:53 AM
Still, it gets better. The Voter ID "No" people called today and told me that the cost of Voter ID passing would take money away from schools. Ah, now, we find that there aren't separate money pockets. For some reason, I doubt the 60,000 jobs will appear, either. At least, not because of a train. The DFL SD 44 Senate candidate says 3000 companies want the train....which the annual operating cost per business would be $11,000.....a total of $33 million. So, it would seem pretty affordable for each of those businesses to put $11,000 in the kitty to build it and guarantee the ridership to $33 million of operating costs less fares collected.
Dave Lloyd November 03, 2012 at 03:57 AM
School Districts in MN have at least $12 billion in total debt and according the state, it's growing. The state owes $8 billion in debt. Unfunded pensions for public employees....well, $12 billion, $19 billion, or a lot more...stay tuned. Yet, the train folks want to build one train line at a time so people don't realize how many billions it will take to build all of them and how many millions it will take to pay the annual operating costs. Any increase in revenues need to very, very soon go to reducing government debt.
Dave Lloyd November 03, 2012 at 04:01 AM
In this election the candidates who say they are "moderate" want to spend more and borrow more. They offer no plans to reduce expenses, prioritize spending and pay back borrowing with limited resources or ever say they respect and appreciate the taxpayer. Moderates try to villify those who want a much stronger financial structure by calling them names. What is interesting as those moderates will not make change. They will keep spending, borrowing and taxing.
Dave Lloyd November 03, 2012 at 04:08 AM
Ultimately, those trying to financially reshape and strongly fiscally manage government are more likely to save public schools and union workers. Those two groups will always say they are not paid enough and will exercise their political activities to support "Moderates." It's unfortunate. But, resources are not unlimited. I urge you to support the candidates concerned about excessively growing state budgets, rapidly increaseing local government borrowing, and spending that is not prioritized. You can save the system now, or you can deal with the massive pain should the system fail to be able to support all the spending and borrowing. Greece, Spain, France, Italy, all come to mind. There's no way to "responsibly" reduce trillion plus annual deficits. Voting for those that have already shown they know how to keep spending and debt in check is very important this year. Also, those that understand regulations are going to choke out small business development must be given a positive look. It's that important.
Political Mama November 03, 2012 at 05:14 PM
LRT is a waste of taxpayers money. SW METRO does a great job of getting people where they need to be and has the ability to add and subtract routes based on riders needs and can easily change routes based on road construction. LRT cannot. Lets keep more money in the pockets of minnesotas!
Beavis Friesl November 03, 2012 at 08:23 PM
So sayeth Political Mimi, our resident tea party piñata. Now go back to sleep Mimi while the rest of us figure out how to fix the damage done by your fellow tea party extremists.
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