April 24, 2014
City of Saint Paul
15 Kellogg Blvd., West
Saint Paul, MN 55102
Dear City of St. Paul,
I’m writing on behalf of St. Paul Smart Trips to express our support for the recently completed Streetcar Feasibility Study. St. Paul Smart Trips is a 501(c)(3) non-profit organization with the mission to improve access and mobility for those who travel in and around Saint Paul. To fulfill this mission, we partner with individuals, organizations and government across Saint Paul and maintain a 15-member board of directors that reflects this diversity of interests.
We support efforts by city staff to improve economic development opportunities while increasing access and mobility for those traveling in and around St. Paul. Streetcars are a safe, efficient and accessible transportation option that encourage walkability and traffic calming. Like light rail, Streetcars are often seen as a more attractive transportation option for new and existing riders, increasing ridership on already developed urban transit lines. Increases in transit ridership lightens congestion in the surrounding community, improving access and mobility for everyone while mitigating the effects of air pollution emitted for cars idling on the street.
Not only does a streetcar network provide community benefits by increasing transit ridership, it can be built for a fraction of the cost and impact of light rail. Further, modern streetcar lines have less long term impact than light rail because they do not require exclusive right of way on the street, freeing up traffic and access to the community.
Beyond increasing access, emission reductions and lower construction costs as compared to light rail, streetcars are good for business. They provide access between major activity centers, jobs and businesses, residential neighborhoods and the downtown core. Additionally, streetcars reduce the need for surface or structured parking along commercial corridors, allowing for denser, more productive land use patterns.
We support the elements in the City of St. Paul’s final phase of the feasibility study, identifying East and West 7th Streets, from Arcade to Randolph traveling through downtown Saint Paul, as the recommended starter line. We encourage city leaders to continue further studies of the potential for this 4.1 mile starter line and allocate additional resources toward further analysis of a citywide streetcar network, given the potential for transit-oriented economic impact and increased efficiencies in our transportation network.