By Daniel Tikk
Volunteer with MN350’s Clean Transportation Team

Imagine a future in which, instead of sitting in our cars, stuck in traffic, we could get everywhere we needed to go on electric buses, on trains, or by walking or riding our bikes in safe, separated lanes. Imagine a future where you don’t need to fill your tank at a gas station every week, or worry about gas prices, because cheaper transportation alternatives are readily available. This future also includes cleaner air and better health outcomes for all of us. The benefits are manifold.

Image: Barbara Norblom.

This is the possibility of a clean transportation future that prioritizes the mobility needs of all of our citizens and also helps solve climate change. Transportation is the largest source of greenhouse gas emissions in Minnesota, and the state has struggled to lower emissions from this sector. But we have the power to reduce emissions and transform our transportation system from one that prioritizes personal car usage above all else to one that provides a myriad of safe, clean, and reliable mobility options for all Minnesotans.

A critical first step toward this clean transportation future is the bonding bill, the focus of this upcoming legislative session. The bill represents the state’s planned investments in infrastructure and other critical projects to ensure a prosperous future for all. A budget is a statement of our values, and we need our legislators to make a statement about our commitment to solving the climate crisis.

Governor Walz’s proposed $2 billion bonding bill includes a package of key projects put forth by Transportation Forward, a coalition dedicated to funding transportation infrastructure that will help put a dent in emissions from transportation. But not only that: These projects would also provide essential mobility options for all communities, including children, seniors, under-resourced individuals unable to afford a personal car, and those who simply do not want to own one. These citizens have as much right to meet their transportation needs as everyone else, and they deserve a system that can provide safe and reliable options.

The list of projects included in the Governor’s proposal includes:

  • $55 million for the Busway Capital Improvement Program for bus rapid transit lines
  • $14 million for the Community Electric Vehicle Infrastructure Grant Program for charging stations
  • $10 million for the Greater MN Transit Program, which funds rural and small urban transit providers
  • $10 million for the Safe Routes to School Program, which provides students safe walking and biking routes to and from school
  • $10 million for the Passenger Rail Program to offer a second daily passenger rail line from the Twin Cities to Chicago
  • $30 million for assorted trail projects around the state

To ensure that these projects are prioritized and included in a final bonding bill—which MN350 and its coalition partners are calling for—these projects must be at the forefront of the minds of legislators throughout the session. You can help make that a reality.

During this session, MN350’s Clean Transportation Team plans to coordinate in-person meetings with legislators, organize constituents, and help drive public discussion of transit issues through social media and letters to the editor. It’s time to create a clean transportation system that works for all Minnesotans.This is an essential step to fund that future.

Daniel Tikk is a financial analyst and a volunteer with MN350’s Clean Transportation Team. He lives in St. Paul with his wife, and the two of them devote their time and energy to trying to keep up with their toddler. He loves reading, swimming, exploring the Twin Cities food scene, and learning about how to be a better human, bit by bit.