I don’t often hope for government funds to go to waste, but in this case…
…I’ll make an exception. According to the Star Tribune, my hometown of Minneapolis has just won a $900,000 federal grant to study the feasibility of streetcar service in Minneapolis:
A jubilant Mayor R.T. Rybak announced Tuesday that Minneapolis has secured a $900,000 federal grant to begin a final study about how it might return commercial streetcar service to the city.
Meanwhile, Dakota County is to get a similar grant of $1.18 million to its rail authority to look at transit options for Robert Street between St. Paul and Rosemount.
In Minneapolis’ case, the Federal Transit Administration grant will help finance a $1.2 million study. It will compare potential streetcar service on Nicollet and Central Avenues with the alternative of beefed-up bus service. The city plans to match the grant with $300,000 reserved from an early streetcar feasibility study.
My desperate appeal to the powers-that-be: please, for the love of God, waste these funds. Make this a study that takes 5 more years than originally planned. Please go over budget. Make your personnel costs astronomical.
Why? Perhaps we can build up enough public resentment that the project dies with a whimper. There’s an off chance that the study will be so shoddily done that it is ignored. There is a glimmer of hope that the study is never completed in the first place.
Minneapolis tore up its streetcar lines in the 1950s because they realized that the mode of transportation was outdated. Fast forward 60 more years, and guess what? It’s still outdated. There is no point in slowing down traffic behind big, inefficient, noisy, costly, and undependable technology that no one really wants except the politicians who dole out the juicy union contracts to build it. On what planet does addressing 21st century traffic issues with 19th century technology make sense?
On the bright side, it might make for some fun new slogans for the Minneapolis tourism board. “Minneapolis: We Know Obselescence!” Or, “Minneapolis: Rejecting Progress Since 2010!” Maybe, “Minneapolis: Come See What Your Grandparents Laughed At!” It’ll be tourism gold, I tell ya.
So please, waste my money. Waste it with impunity. Take advantage, this might be the only time I ask.