SOUTHWEST LRT

Sales tax plan further complicates the issue

As ballooning costs and community opposition dog the troubled Southwest Corridor light-rail proposal, the DFL Party now urges tripling the metro transit sales tax to raise an extra $200 million per year to help fund it.

But commuters from southwest suburbs already have fabulous bus service through SouthWest Transit. Buses from Eden Prairie are so convenient, comfortable and clean, that those who would choose mass transit already do. For the rest, offering a train instead of a bus will make no difference.

At peak times, buses from Eden Prairie to downtown Minneapolis average 35 to 40 minutes, with departures every five to 10 minutes. Proposed Southwest light-rail schedules, stopping at 17 stations, don’t (and can’t) beat that. Further, whereas buses run the length of downtown, with stops every other block, light-rail riders would disembark at Target Field, lengthening the walk for most and increasing total commute time.

Admittedly, not all bus service is equal. A light-rail supporter at a recent Metropolitan Council meeting complained that Metro Transit buses take 35 minutes from Uptown to downtown, printed schedules notwithstanding.

Yet the light-rail plan bypasses the heart of Uptown and does nothing for those in poorer ZIP codes who rely on public transit as a primary mode of transportation. Preposterously, the DFL and Met Council (whose buzzword is equity) want to raise everyone’s taxes and sink $1.6 billion into a train for well-heeled suburban commuters who already have the best bus service in the state.

KIMLINH BUI, Eden Prairie

• • •

As I sat in the endless traffic heading into Minneapolis at 6 p.m. on a recent Friday, I envisioned how great it would be to take light rail downtown. Granted, it was snowing, but a one-hour-15-minute trek for a trip from Eden Prairie that usually takes 20 to 25 minutes further convinced me that light rail is a necessity.

An increase in the metro sales tax to fund the project is a responsible solution to a communitywide issue. The Southwest line is one of several transportation projects that would be possible, benefiting most metro citizens, if the tax is approved. The “no new taxes” folks wouldn’t ride light rail anyway.

Quibble with the route, but understand that this line will be heavily used as a means to get into Minneapolis for jobs, shopping or sporting events. Anyone who is part of the 7 a.m. “Southwest freight train” that surges up Hwys. 212 and the Crosstown onto either Hwy. 100 or Interstate 35W might agree that any way to lessen the daily chaos would be worth it.

Outstate folks don’t care, nor should they. This is a metro issue, and metro citizens should both pay for and benefit from forward-­thinking mass transit.

JOE CARR, Eden Prairie

 

‘GREEN’ GOLF COURSES

Know your ‘Audubon’ designations, impacts

I’m sure that Sarah Barker was thinking of birds when she gushed that the Town & Country Club is an Audubon Sanctuary and that most of her readers thought the same (“Snowshoeing outside the lines,” Outdoors Weekend, Jan. 24). It should be noted that Audubon Sanctuary designation is conferred by an organization calling itself Audubon International, which is not related to the National Audubon Society. Audubon International has an admirable goal of making golf courses less damaging to the environment, but the operative word is “less.” Even a “green” golf course is, from a bird’s perspective, a pesticide-intensive place. A cynic might find the use of Audubon in the name a deliberate way to gloss over that fact.

SUSAN MCCALLUM, Minneapolis

ACTORS’ EQUITY

Union’s role positive for touring productions

“Actors’ Equity members discuss two-tier wages” (Jan. 30) addressed some of the complexities of the market for tours of Broadway musicals, but it wrongly implied that the union’s contracts led to an increase in lower-wage Equity tours. In fact, our 2004 contract ensured that the shocking increase in nonunion productions was reversed.

By the early 2000s, 40 percent of the one-week touring market was nonunion. The Actors’ Equity Association negotiated a tiered contract that recognized the different economic models of the road and that has allowed us to recapture the majority of that lost work, at wages and benefit contributions significantly higher than nonunion productions.

When Twin Cities audiences see an Equity touring production, the price they pay for their ticket goes to support a production in which the performers are treated respectfully and compensated fairly for their talent and hard work. With each successive negotiation, we have made improvements to all of our touring contracts. We look forward to working with our members as we prepare for negotiations in 2015.

MARY MCCOLL, New York

 

The writer is executive director of the Actors’ Equity Association.