It should not be surprising that homelessness is increasing (“Homelessness increases 10%,” front page, March 21). How can it not, when the cost of housing is ridiculously expensive? (Let’s not compare the Twin Cities to New York, Los Angeles, Miami, Portland or San Francisco — we are a remote city in the middle of the American tundra surrounded by a lot of flat land.) How can homelessness not be rising when developers (and city officials in Minneapolis) are touting “affordable rentals” starting at $1,000 per month plus utilities for a studio or a “cozy” one-bedroom?
I have a graduate degree. I work for the University of Minnesota. I am without student debt. I don’t have a car payment. I cannot afford “affordable rentals.” I am, as the article quotes, “ ‘living one paycheck away from a crisis or one health problem away from a crisis.’ ”
Bryan Pekel, Minneapolis
How pleasant it is may matter, but have you looked lately at costs?
Perhaps Metro Transit’s research indicates that people are riding transit less because people are tired of pot-smoking train riders and buses filled with litter (“With ridership down, transit gears up,” front page, March 20, and “The path to cleaner, safer buses and trains,” editorial, March 21). I won’t dispute that those annoyances might drive someone to find other means of transportation, but I find it interesting that the article announcing the agency’s desire to improve service talks a lot about train issues but goes on to note that train use is up 9 percent while bus use is down 4 percent.
One key reason for that shift might be that the train is more reliable than the bus, but as a one-time regular transit user and now a sometime transit user, I would suggest that the biggest driver in this shift away from transit is the large fare increase that means my daily round-trip express-bus commute now costs $6.50. Even the slow bus would cost me $5 per day. Compare this with my current cost to carpool: $20 per month to park in the C Ramp! My carpool buddy pays for the gas, which probably amounts to $20 to $30 per month. If we both rode the bus, after one week we would be spending more than we do in a month of carpooling.
That last fare increase was, for many people, a bridge too far. Obviously, even slightly lower fares could not compete with the ridiculously low cost of carpooling, but a 50-cent-per-ride increase was a real poke in the eye to those of us who would like to use sustainable transportation more frequently. My bus commute would now cost me more than $130 per month, which is not sustainable in the face of other rising costs. The Legislature needs to step up and financially support transit if we really want to see more people using mass transit.
Eric Blodgett, St. Louis Park
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I respectfully disagree with Metro Transit general manager Wes Kooistra’s approach. While he is right in conceding this winter “was one of the worst in recent memory,” his proposal to reward passengers for good behavior and place Metro Transit officers on troublesome routes will likely do little to address the decadeslong inadequacies of our public transportation system. Apathetic Republicans in the Senate and the upper-level management of the Metro Transit are the problem, not the homeless people on the light rail or the disgruntled rider on the bus. Maintaining and encouraging “choice riders” requires more than implementing an anti-harassment policy; it calls for a coherent vision. The people who depend on public transportation (and those who are willing to leave their cars at home for routine trips) deserve a reliable system after years of subpar service.
Jesse Noltimier, Minneapolis
GETTING AROUND IN MINNEAPOLIS
This winter should have been a wake-up call for the density vision
There are signs that the “winter of our discontent” will soon be over, but have Minneapolis leaders finally observed just how unwalkable the city is during a winter such as the one just experienced?
Even now as the snow melts, the water refreezes on many nights, causing endless accidents the next morning for those pedestrians who bravely attempt or are forced to use the sidewalks.
As leaders have zoned the city for even more density without requiring sufficient off-street parking, coupled with a poor mass transit system and months of unwalkable sidewalks and poorly plowed streets due to all of the parked cars, the citizens of Minneapolis face an ever-growing nightmare of congestion and accidents in the years ahead.
Jeanne Long, Minneapolis
ST. PAUL SCHOOLS
We need more information to know if discipline gap is a true problem
Once again we are reading that St. Paul schools’ discipline gap is still wide (Minnesota section, March 20). We are told that 73 percent of the students suspended in the first quarter of the 2018-19 school year were black and that 9 percent were white. However, we are given no context. There is no information in the article that tells the reader if standards have been clearly communicated to the students. There is no information identifying the behaviors that led to the suspensions. There is no information that indicates if there is any correlation between the number/color of offenders and the number/color of suspensions. If the suspensions correlate equitably to clearly defined offenses, there is no problem. If every student who commits a suspension-worthy behavior is suspended, then the punishment is equitable. The behavior should dictate the punishment; the punishment should be colorblind. But we don’t know — the disparity, in and of itself, is presented as the problem. The Star Tribune needs to go back and give the information to allow us to determine if we need to be concerned.
Kathy Meinhardt, Bloomington
TRUMP TRASHES MCCAIN
There you go again, mr. president
The Amazing Shrinking President keeps getting smaller (“Trump’s fresh attack on McCain rebuked,” March 21). Proving over and over that his shallow-mindedness rules his life and, unfortunately, now ours, President Donald Trump insists on continually belittling anyone with whom he has even a small ax to grind. A dyed-in-the-wool bully, this petty and vindictive man shows his true colors at every opportunity. And they ain’t pretty. He masquerades these characteristics as toughness when they are nothing of the sort. This is a truly small-minded man in a job that requires a big man (or woman!). It’s painfully obvious that Trump has never had the chops for it and is being eaten up by the demands of the job, which are well above his pay grade. He could simply shut up but can’t seem to keep his thumbs off Twitter. As the saying goes: “Blessed are they who have nothing to say and can’t be persuaded to say it.” Trump has obviously never heard this and, if he has, has not taken it to heart. Please, could one of you Republicans convince him to simply resign and go play golf?
Mike Thornton, Plymouth
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If only it were possible to trade what we have for Jacinda Ardern.
Deb Nelson, Stacy, Minn.
New Zealand and U.S., compared
The difference between a country where the NRA has political and financial power and one with no NRA:
• After one mass shooting in which 50 people were shot down in cold blood, New Zealand Prime Minister Jacinda Ardern vowed that semiautomatic, military-style firearms would be banned, and it happened.
• In the U.S., we have an average of one mass shooting (defined as four or more victims either killed or wounded) a day. In 2017, after the mass shooting in Las Vegas, President Trump initially said that he would ban “bump stocks,” but then the NRA pressured him to drop even that small move.
JoAnn Pasternack, Mendota Heights
Opinion editor’s note: The Trump administration banned the rapid-fire rifle attachments known as bump stocks in December. Gun-rights groups sought to block the policy, but in February, a federal judge ruled that it can stand.