Thursday, November 11, 2010

Clean, cheap transportation – why Minneapolis has it right

Dear Friends,
I am re-posting Adarsha's Nov 9th blog entry from ACE's blog: Hot and Bothered about his trip to Minnesota conference. Adarsha established new contacts which will help us in future. His next post will be about the conference itself.

Minneapolis Light Rail

Last Sunday through Tuesday, I represented ACE and attended the 1st Annual Green Schools National Conference in Minneapolis, Minnesota.

Upon arriving at Minneapolis, the first thing that struck me was the rail system. I live in California, and specifically, the Bay Area. BART is the public transit system, but many people have legitimate gripes with it-it’s rather costly (going from the San Francisco airport to the general area of SF can cost $8), not aesthetically pleasing and often delayed. Perhaps that’s why I found the Minneapolis public transit system to be nothing short of impressive.

The trams themselves are well-designed, with specific vertical racks for bikes that are convenient, and a general openness that makes them more pleasing to ride on. The trams came on time and frequently, which would help explain the large number of people riding them. Stops were placed throughout the city and clearly marked off- I also noted that by putting them literally in the middle of the streets, they were the center of attention, rather than an afterthought.

The most stunning aspect of the Minneapolis public transit system is how cheap it is comparatively. To take me and Emily from the airport to a mere 10 blocks from our hotel cost a grand total of $3.50. This is by far the cheapest fare I’ve payed for traveling the distance we did.

By making mass transit so accessible, so cheap, and rather attractive, Minneapolis is setting a good example of how public transit should be done in this country.

Another example of how Minneapolis is really quite admirable is their system of bikes around the entire city. There are dozens of stations where green bikes (literally green!) are located. You can pay a small rental fee and take the bikes wherever you want in the city and drop them off at any other station. If I remember correctly, the fee was around $5 per month, and $50 per year-a very small amount, especially if a person bikes frequently in the city (and Minneapolis is a bike-friendly city it seems).

The stations are located in convenient locales, like near libraries, gyms, and large buildings. Biking in Minneapolis is also really enjoyable due to the nice weather (which I unfortunately did not experience much of), and the accessibility of bikes definitely results in more of the population taking cleaner forms of transportation.

All in all, even before the actual conference, I was very impressed by Minneapolis. It’s really a city that’s trying, and so far succeeding, in becoming more green, and more energy efficient. Not only that, but the streets are far less congested because of the use of mass transit and bikes. It seems to me that in terms of transportation, Minneapolis is a model city.

More to come on the conference itself…


1 comment:

  1. Hey Adarsha,
    I lived in Minneapolis for 13 years. I love the city. I am very happy that Michelle made a very interesting blog post. Look forward to reading about the actual summit.