Transportation Policy & Funding

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Growing transit, bicycling, and walking options puts jobs and opportunity, health and sustainability, within reach for more Minnesota families. TLC is leading the movement to increase funding for transitways and local bus service, and win the first-ever dedicated funding for bicycling and pedestrian projects in the metro and across the state. We’re also working to change policies at the state, regional, and local levels to improve the everyday realities of getting around. 

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Our work on Transportation Policy & Funding includes:
• Campaigns to increase funding for transit, bicycling and walking
• State and local policy affecting transit, bicycling, and walking
• Metropolitan Council policy and funding
• Research and education

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TLC-staff-and-volunteer-talking-transportation-funding-with-Minnesotans-at-State-Fair-credit-AFSCMEWe’ve been working on funding for a long time—in coalitions and campaigns, at festivals and fairs, park & rides and bus stops, phone banks and hearing rooms.

Since 2004, we have convened the Transit Partners coalition, a group of organizations that have been there year in and year out, putting their resources in the ring for transportation finding campaigns including:
Move MN. We are co-chairs of this statewide campaign to increase transportation funding for all modes.
Transit for a Stronger Economy
• Transportation Choices 2020

What we have won (so far)

In 2008, Transit Partners successfully advocated for the first-ever dedicated funding for transit—a 1/4-cent sales tax in five metro counties to build a regional system of transitways (e.g., light rail and bus-rapid-transit) and to contribute to yearly operating costs.

In January 2010, TLC and Transit Partners hosted the first ever Governor’s Candidate Forum focused on transportation, land use and the environment. Not only were three parties represented, more than 500 people attended the event.

We also work on defense, protecting existing funding. In 2011, we fought off efforts to cut bus service and increase fares. We work year-round to build support by talking to individuals, community and business leaders, and elected officials. We are committed to having our facts straight (see Resources) and being aware of what’s happening in transportation all across the nation (see our Blog).

In addition to state funding, each year approximately $500 million in federal funding comes to Minnesota for transportation projects. This money is spent on a variety of road, bridge, transit, pedestrian, bicycle, safety, and other projects. The Minnesota Department of Transportation, Minnesota Department of Public Safety, Metropolitan Council, and regional planning districts are responsible for allocating a portion of this funding.

Transit for Livable Communities is a member of Transportation for America, a national coalition focused on transportation policy at the federal and state levels.

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In 2013, we held the only bike/ped/transit advocacy seat on the statewide steering committee developing a new Strategic Highway Safety Plan (SHSP). The plan is part of Toward Zero Deaths, an ongoing collaboration of Minnesota Department of Transportation (MnDOT) and the Minnesota Department of Public Safety (DPS) that aims to reduce death and injury on Minnesota roads. Through our advocacy, bicycle and pedestrian safety were elevated in the plan.

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Transit for Livable Communities worked with a statewide coalition to pass a strong complete streets policy in 2010. We then served on MnDOT’s External Complete Streets Advisory Committee focused on policies for implementation. Complete Streets policy allows state transportation planners to consider safety and accessibility for all users of our roadways: pedestrians, transit riders, bicyclists, and drivers, regardless of age or ability.

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We’ve worked (often in coalition) to push the Met Council to adopt long-range regional transportation plans that preserve open space and save money by focusing growth in housing and jobs near existing or planned transit service. The new plan, Thrive MSP 2040, was adopted in 2014. The goal of the plan is to ensure the orderly, economical development of the seven-county area and the efficient use of regional systems: transportation, aviation, water resources (including wastewater collection and treatment) and regional parks and open space.

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Every two years, the Metropolitan Council allocates (through the Regional Solicitation) approximately $150 million in flexible federal transportation funds. The Transportation Advisory Board recommends the funding decisions. Transit for Livable Communities holds one of the transit seats on the TAB. Our goal is to see a bigger allocation of federal funds toward transit, bicycling, and walking. In 2014, the TAB took an historic vote to include social equity considerations in its scoring of project funding applications.

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The Metropolitan Council operates Metro Transit bus service as well as LRT and BRT lines. It also oversees new transitway projects. See more about this under Projects and Corridors. Transit for Livable Communities testifies in support of transit investments, serves on community outreach committees, and advocates for safe, accessible connections to transit for people with disabilities and those bicycling and walking.

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From policy briefs to the reports below, Transit for Livable Communities produces educational materials to expand understanding of transportation policy and funding. See our Resources page for results of our recent research.
• Bike Walk Twin Cities Bicycling and Walking Count Reports
• Planning to Succeed? An Assessment of Transportation and Land Use Decision-Making in the Twin Cities Region
• Transportation Performance in the Twin Cities Region
• Citizens’ Agenda for Transportation in the Twin Cities Region
• The Myth of Free Parking
• Sharing the Road: Encouraging Bicycling and Walking in Minnesota

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