By Whitney Lawrence, Member Engagement/Senior Organizer
On December 13th, TLC members and allies gathered at our office in Saint Paul to catch up over dinner, take action by writing letters to Governor Dayton, and get a sneak peek at our legislative agenda for 2013. There were many familiar faces at the year-end event. We were especially excited to see Senator Jim Carlson from District 38 and Representative Ron Erhardt from District 49A at the meeting. There were also new faces, including Wynfred Russell, the executive director of African Career Education Resources (ACER). Wynfred is a leader in his community of Brooklyn Park and TLC is very lucky to have him and his organization on board this year. In total, there were about 40 TLC members in attendance. Thanks for all your valuable input and thoughtful questions, and thank you to everyone who was able to make it on a snowy evening! It was nice to finally meet many of you!
TLC’s Legislative Agenda in 2013
At TLC, we are very excited for the 2013 legislative session because this year brings the opportunity to make real, lasting improvements to transportation in Minnesota. We believe that Minnesota families deserve more transit now – and safe connections by walking, bicycling, and for people using a wheelchair. Transit projects create good jobs, provide access to jobs, and make our region a more affordable place to live and work. Currently, only 25% of metro households and 10% of metro jobs are conveniently served by transit. Some counties in Greater Minnesota still have no transit service. And, by 2040, we’ll have 900,000 more people in the region. The time for increased investment in transit, bicycling, and walking options is now!
As it stands today, the state and metro region have no money to expand the bus system, the Southwest light rail line is not fully funded, there is no money for planned additional transit lines, and no money has been designated for safe walking or bicycling connections. The limited funding for transit and affordable fares are at risk every budget cycle.
In 2013, TLC and the Transit Partners coalition will be advocating for an additional $300 million in funding per year for increased transit investments. This additional funding will allow Minnesota to build out our regional transit system in 15 years instead of 30, 40, or 50, including:
- An expanded system of light rail transit (LRT) and bus rapid transit (BRT)
- NEW rapid bus service and expanded regular route bus with faster, more frequent, and longer hours of service
- Improvements to shelters, lighting, and technology to make using transit safe and easier
- Fares that remain affordable, and
- A local share for local needs, including bicycling and walking connections, ADA compliance, and streetcar corridors.
However, TLC cannot do it alone—we need the support of our members, allied organizations, and champions at the state capitol to win in 2013.
How You Can Help TLC and Transit Partners Win in 2013
Members who attended the event on December 13th wrote over three dozen letters to Governor Dayton encouraging him to increase Minnesota’s investment in transit. Thank you to everyone who participated for taking the time to hand-write these letters—they truly make a difference when we are fighting for funding at the state Capitol! If you weren’t able to come to our year-end member event, please take a moment to send Governor Dayton an e-mail here.
Three easy ways to help TLC grow options for light rail, bus, bicycling, and walking throughout the coming year:
- Talk to your elected officials: elected officials on the state, county and city level need to hear from you!
- Tell your friends and family: host a house party, or invite your friends to the next TLC event.
- Write a note: send a letter to the editor or speak out on social media.
If you are interested in being an active advocate for TLC this upcoming session please reach out and contact me at email@example.com or 651-789-1406.
We hope to see you soon at our next happy hour member event—Transit on Tap—at Republic in Minneapolis (Seven Corners location) on Tuesday, January 29th. Come together from 6:00 to 7:30 p.m. to enjoy light appetizers and to talk bike, walk, bus, and rail with other TLC members and featured guests. Space will be limited! For details and to RSVP, visit TLC’s calendar of events.