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Monday, January 23, 2017

Red Rock Corridor Plan Falls Apart Now Wants to be Called Route 363

1/2017: Check out my interview on HastingsTV where I talk about the Red Rock Corridor, Route 363, and what modes of public transit actually work for South Washington County: Tom Bullington's Everybody Loves Politics: Matt Behning
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The Red Rock Corridor. A 30 mile Bus Rapid Transit (BRT) corridor from Hastings to St. Paul 
Faces Delays as 7 Facts Become Undeniable, as one of our original articles state. In the article you see the corridor's planning history filled with evidence of attempts to manipulate the public's understanding of the corridor. Whether it's being deceptive on the cost of the corridor, to approving a plan to double the number of station stops in attempt to get ridership numbers to build on paper. This last ploy, was titled the "implementation plan" it cost tax payers $550,000 and apparently it's being thrown out the window for the latest change.

The newest plan ditches the 12 stop corridor plan and even the original 6 stop plan in favor of turning the Red Rock Corridor into a local bus route. Millions have been invested in planning and re-planning this "Bus Rapid Transit" corridor to try to make the plan work to gain coveted federal funding. But no matter how they twisted the numbers they weren't even close to the feds who'd like ridership over 2,000 riders a day. So now the new plan is to re-brand and look under any rock they can for funds to keep the corpse of this terrible corridor idea moving forward. (read on to see why it's so bad) The BRT plan is now a "long term" design for the year 2040!

At the  September 2016 Corridor Commission meeting they explain since they can't get the Red Rock Corridor built they should get funding for a bus route they can later rename the Red Rock Corridor: 
"The proposed Route 363 is a local bus route acting as a precursor to BRT implementation in this corridor."

Route 363:
By doing this the corridor, if you can call it that anymore, can apply for funding from all new sources that have no idea how bad the corridor idea is. The plan was set and they applied  to the Met Council for $5.9 million to go towards building the $7.8 million dollar route. On the application it is called Route 363 which is a bus route will run with existing express bus routes 361, 364, and 365 that currently serve the Cottage Grove area. This new Route is planning to have 1,200 riders a day and is a ridiculous prediction as route 361, 364, and 365 have a combined ridership of just 475 riders a day!  (sourced here under number 5 from Metro Transit's latest study)

Read more about Route 363 on the Metro Transit's Service Improvement Plan (SIP) just hit "ctrl + f" on the key board and search "363." It was such a bad idea that Metro Transit even passed up investing in it last year. 

Funding denied From Met Council:
On January 18th the Met Council denied the funding request for the route according to Elaine Koutsoukos head of the Met Council's TAB (Transportation Advisory Board). It serves an embarrassing failure to the Corridor planners who were hoping to pull off pushing the Red Rock Corridor forward in butchered down form. It marks the second denial from the Met Council to invest in the corridor after they were denied funding to build low income housing by the Newport Transit Station. You know a transit corridor is a terrible idea when the Met Council turns you down time and time again.

Newport Transit Station will hurt Route 363:
The least popular of the three routes is route 364 which has the longest ride time since it stops at the Newport Transit Station which is isolated and has no direct connection to the Highway. This evidenced in the ridership which is a dismal 37 rides a day or just 18 riders a day (same Metro Transit source as above). Route 363 will incorporate the unpopular Newport Transit Station. 

Ridership predictions we can't trust:
In the October 2016 Corridor Commission meeting they claim 1,200 riders a day will be using route 363. This ridership prediction is ridiculous as it's Two and a half times the combined amount of our 3 current express bus routes as stated earlier. We know ridership predictions from corridor planners are extremely off. In 2012, the year before the Red Line Corridor was built just 20 miles south, they predicted 1800 riders a day OVER the express bus ridership... turns out they were 1,000 riders a day short! The Northstar Corridor expected 12,000 riders a day and only got 2,000. 

But they're going to run all day service and have more buses they say. 
Surely if we simply send enough buses back and forth from relatively rural South Washington County all day long the ridership will multiply two and a half times.... False! We can say this with certainty because for 3 years the Red Line has been staring us in the face with the evidence of only 835 riders a day.

The Red Line in Apple Valley as evidence:
We know route 363 will fail because this experiment has already been tried with the Red Line Corridor. Finished in 2013 the corridor has just 835 riders a day according the latest 2015 MNDOT Guideways status report. This is Solid evidence because the population there is three times more dense, serving a road with twice even the 2030 volume of hwy 61 for route 363, and they have more concentrated shopping centers and housing down there. (sourced here under number 4)

$5.5 million a year to operate:
Worst of all the operating costs for Route 363 will be higher than the Red Line Corridor. Local tax payers will be on the hook to cover the $5.5 million a year to operate the bus line burning diesel. Not to mention the wear and tear on the local streets caused by the heavy buses. How much damage? Take the example of just one dump truck to operate in Washington County in our state they have to pay over $4,000 a year to city, state, and counties to cover road damage.

How bad is this Route 363 that will become the Red Rock Corridor? Here's all Seven massive reasons the corridor will be a failure and the evidence to prove it is sourced (I only shared two of seven):

How do we know the Corridor will be so terrible? How about the fact none of the 40 planners can answer just One question:
Over 40 Red Rock Corridor Decision Makers Unable to Provide Answers About New Route

Stay tuned for updates as Senator Dan Schoen has a bill to fund this corridor despite all the evidence it's a terrible idea.

-Matt Behning