Friday, June 13, 2008

When public transit works

Sometimes bridge closings, transit strikes, high gas prices, and construction force commuters to take a new way to work. In Winona, MN that is exactly what's happening. MDOT closed the Highway 43 bridge that commuters would usually take to get to the other side of the Mississippi River to Wisconsin. While they had to close the bridge unexpectedly on June 3, they had ferry service up and running by June 9. The Star Tribune had this to say:
Cities like New York, San Francisco and Sydney are famed for their commuter ferries. And this morning Winona joined their ranks.

With a sweeping river view that included both the closed Hwy. 43 bridge and a dilapidated steamboat replica perched on a levee, several hundred Wisconsin residents made their way across the Mississippi River via a pair of excursion boats that were brought to Winona to help keep the city -- and its economy -- moving.

The ferry is going to carry 2,500 passengers daily and a weekly pass costs $15. I find it exciting that when these opportunities present themselves, people end up taking mass transit as an alternative. Winona is far from the public transit systems we are used to in large American cities, but this small city made it happen when it needed to. I wonder if after the bridge reopens will they continue the ferry service and will ridership stay steady? We can hope.

On a side note, the I-35W St. Anthony Falls Bridge that tragically collapsed back in August of 2007 in Minneapolis is going to be reopened in December of 2008. I know they have been working hard to get it to reopen, but that is a lightning speed pace! The World Trade Center site and New Orleans should take note.

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