Strong Towns is hosting a discussion at the Piazza on the Mall next to the Westminster Presbyterian Church, between 12th and 13th streets on Nicollet Mall in downtown Minneapolis on Tuesday September 23 at 5:45 PM. Join us to be a part of forging a new approach to transit.

Here at Strong Towns, we have always held the belief that financially productive places can support a transit system - whether it is a one route circulator or a multi-modal regional system.  But too often in this country over the last 60 years, the prevailing use of transit has been to lure people out of their cars during rush hour on major roads and freeways in the name of reducing congestion.  This objective has its place in large metropolitan areas, but it is not the only objective of transit.  Unfortunately, based on the system of governing, funding and operating transit which has evolved over time, it seems to be the objective that gets the highest amount of resources with the lowest return on the investment.

Furthermore, as we have tried to spread the footprint of transit service outward further and further, we find transit in places where the surrounding land use is inhospitable to walking and biking - traditionally the primary means of first and last mile of a transit trip. Whether it is new transit infrastructure or improving existing operations, it appears that we have wholly transformed our focus and processes to optimize the reduction of congestion during peak commuting periods at the expense of serving any other goal.  It is an auto-scaled and auto-centric mindset which also tends to reward financially unproductive projects and create transit-stroads where there is neither fast moving service nor one that reflects value on surrounding land use. It is not how transit should operate in a Strong Town, which begs the question: What should be?

With many of our most transit minded friends in Minneapolis for Railvolution this week, we decided to put on a panel to continue the ongoing conversation of the development of the Transportation in the Next American City initiative.  We think the starting point for new approach to transit is a system which:

  • Better serves people trying to quickly reach their destinations via transit
  • Focuses on building a robust transit network that connects productive places
  • Creates a relationship with land use that would support long term financial resiliency for both maintenance of the infrastructure and operation of high quality service.
  • Repairs the broken feedback loops in governance, funding and operation that blurs the lines between local, state and federal objectives of transit.

This event will be right across the street from the Hyatt in a beautiful public space known locally as the Piazza on the Mall next to the Westminster Presbyterian Church.

Joining Jim Kumon and Chuck Marohn from Strong Towns will be panelists Jeff Wood from San Francisco, Christof Spieler of Houston, and Yonah Freemark of Chicago.

Besides technical issues, we also may get into issues surrounding the culture of using transit, like this article asking: "Why people in charge of transit systems should be required to ride transit?"