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Jean Wagenius > The Issues > Transportation      


The decisions we make in transportation will determine where jobs and new housing are located, who has access to those jobs and how affordable that housing really is. Together these decisions have huge impacts on air quality and climate change. Jean believes we should promote real choices for commuters and improve mobility and access for everyone at all times of day. This includes seniors who can’t drive, people who can’t afford to drive and people who choose not to drive to reduce their carbon footprint, and many others. In 1970, the average household spent 10% of their income on transportation, but today that has doubled. Providing real transportation alternatives for people increases access to jobs and allows more families to invest more of their household income in other needs. This is why transit investment is an essential component of a real equity agenda.

Minneapolis and Richfield have made real strides in providing safe facilities for walking and bicycling, but the whole metro region is too far behind our peer regions in providing transit options. Jean believes we must pass an “all of the above” transportation bill that includes a “fix it first” approach to maintain roads in good condition, a large expansion of more frequent transit options, especially improvements to increase speed, safety and reliability like Bus Rapid Transit (BRT) in multiple forms. The bus fleet should be increasingly electrified to minimize carbon emissions. Jean believes expensive improvements for transit commuters at the outer rim of the region should not come at the expense of common sense and cost-effective improvements for bus riders in core communities like Minneapolis and Richfield who are the backbone of the current transit system. Orange Line Highway BRT and “arterial BRT” projects like the D-Line on Chicago and Portland Avenues here in Richfield and Minneapolis should just be the first investments in a comprehensive system upgrade.

2017: Republicans Shift Cost of Roads to Property Taxes, Impose Draconian Transit Cuts

The transportation bill that passed in the 2017 special session was a step backward and Jean voted no. Less than one-tenth of what is needed for road and bridge maintenance was approved, leaving state roads in poor condition and pushing property taxes higher to pick up the slack. Any so-called “new money” for roads and bridges is taken from the General Fund, away from schools, nursing homes, property tax relief, and other priorities.

The 2017 Bill created a $110 million structural deficit looming for Metro Transit. Without a solution, starting in 2020 regular bus service will be forced to dismantle a full one-third of its system. This biennium transit service in the Metro Area is forced to make up a deficit through fare increases on those least able to afford them. If not for Governor Dayton, these cuts would have happened sooner, so there is time to prevent them.

Coming Up in 2018 & 2019: Jean believes that the Legislature should work on a responsible transportation funding package in the 2018 session. If Republicans prevent a real solution from passing in 2018, Jean will push DFLers to pass a comprehensive transportation bill in 2019 after the November election.

More About Jean’s Record:

  • In 2014, the Legislature enacted new laws that began to address the growing safety concerns raised by the transportation of oil by rail and pipeline. Most of the laws addressed training responders and providing the necessary equipment. Jean believes that the Legislature needs to take substantial additional steps focusing on prevention.
  • When she was a member of the Capitol Investment Committee, Jean sucessfully pushed for the matching funds necessary to begin building Orange Line Bus Rapid Transit (BRT) on 35W (now under construction) and held firm for funds for the Green Line (Central Corridor) LRT.
  • When she chaired the Transportation and Transit Committee, she built the House coalition that provided the first funding for the Blue Line (Hiawatha) LRT and increased funding for buses.
  • Jean believes the state should move more quickly to build more rail transit in the metro area and a faster train to Chicago. In the near term, she supports the current proposal for a second daily Amtrak train to Chicago.
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