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Transit helps drive economic growth, officials tell transportation committees

published 1/17/2013
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The heads of some Twin Cities metropolitan area transportation agencies touted mass transit as critical to the region and state’s economic growth before a joint meeting of the House Transportation Finance and Policy committees.

Officials from the Metropolitan Council, Metro Transit, the Counties Transit Improvement Board and the Suburban Transit Association delivered an outline of the Twin Cities-area mass transit operations as the committees continue their early session overview of transportation issues facing lawmakers.

The Minneapolis-St. Paul area’s peer communities, like Denver and Phoenix, have moved ahead in terms of access to a variety of mass transit modes, said Metro Transit General Manager Brian Lamb.

Business leaders, he said, “see continued growth … tied to that access issue, meaning continued investment.”

With the $957 million Central Corridor light rail line between downtown Minneapolis and downtown St. Paul set to open in mid-2014 and plans to construct a rail line from downtown Minneapolis to Eden Prairie moving forward, Lamb and Hennepin County Commissioner Peter McLaughlin  a member of the Counties Transit Improvement Board, a metro-area transit funding consortium — said more investment is needed to keep pace with other regions.

“We’ve had a road system that has had a lot of investment,” McLaughlin said. “Transit hasn’t.”

- Jonathan Avise

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