Sustain Ward 3 is a group of neighbors in Ward 3 who seek to build a welcoming community that emphasizes environmental, fiscal and community sustainability. These three tenets lead us to recommend the locally preferred alternative for the Riverview Corridor be modern streetcar on the Highway 5 alignment, along with a recommendation for an arterial Bus Rapid Transit (aBRT) service to the Ford Site.
The addition of improved and more frequent public transit decreases the need for car based travel, which is neither environmentally friendly nor efficient in an urban setting. Since streetcars run on electricity, streetcars are very quiet and emit no vehicle exhaust – unlike cars and buses. Additionally, streetcars can carry more people per trip than a car or bus ensuring a more efficient use of energy. Streetcars and their level boarding platforms are more convenient and accessible for younger children, seniors, and people with disabilities. The dramatic increase in ridership and stability that streetcar infrastructure provides, down a highly public transit dependent corridor, makes rail a sound investment.
While streetcar infrastructure and operation cost more initially, the potential for increased development along the Riverview Corridor is tremendous. The presence of rail transit is an incredible incentive for economic development due to its permanence and popularity among riders. The Green Line corridor has seen $5 billion in investment in its first few years of operation. Streetcars often have a lower cost per rider than buses, particularly if the route exceeds ridership estimates as the Green Line has done.
The Highway 5 alignment is the best choice because it requires less travel time than the Ford Site alignment, which to some degree will already be served by the A Line and may require its own independent study and transit project. The high reliance of area residents on public transit through the Highway 5 and West 7th corridor also makes it the most equitable route.
Sustain Ward 3 believes the benefits of a more accessible and transit-oriented Saint Paul are crucial to a more equitable, financially successful, and environmentally sustainable future. Because of this we feel strongly that a “no build” option is unacceptable and that streetcar over Highway 5 is the best mode and route for the Riverview Corridor.