From Dave Van Hattum, Policy and Advocacy Program Manager

Congrats to Metro Transit, Counties Transit Improvement Board (CTIB) and Suburban Transit Providers! The Legislative Auditor’s recent report, Governance of Transit in the Twin Cities Region, is full of accolades for our regional transit systems. The Twin Cities transit system consistently outperforms the majority of peer regions in efficiency, effectiveness, safety, and fuel economy. The auditor defines efficiency as operating expense per hour and effectiveness as passengers per hour.

However, you might have missed the accolades in news coverage of the Auditor report, which frequently highlighted distrust, tension, and complexity in the current transit governance structure. It’s true, there are areas where the region needs to improve. By TLC estimates, we are 7th of 11 peers in ridership per capita.

We have a challenge before us to turn today’s solid regional transit system into one that provides greater access for more of the regions’ employers and residents –or what the auditor’s report calls “impact performance.”

The auditor’s report is an excellent resource for the details and recent history of transit service in the Twin Cities. On Monday, January 24th, 2011, I testified at the Minnesota House Transportation Committee highlighting the pros and cons of the Auditor’s report.

TLC recently released “Planning to Succeed” – a report that takes a broader regional look, assessing governance and outcomes of transportation and land use planning in the Twin Cities. Interestingly, both reports call for having elected officials serve on the Met Council and eliminating the Transportation Advisory Board (TAB). Both reports also identify how the current hybrid Met Council/TAB structure inhibits accountability. In our report, we go a step further by emphasizing that current governance structures, while effectively delivering transit service, come up short in integrating transportation and land use and providing a focal point for transit advocacy.