Sometimes rapid transit can be a little too rapid

Posted on May 11th, 2008 – 12:25 PM
By Roadguy

Here’s Roadguy’s column from the Sunday paper. If you’ve already read it elsewhere, please skip on down to the comments below. Thanks.

LIFE IN THE FAST LANE

Alert reader Dennis was in the HOV lanes on Interstate 394 last week when an officer pulled over the vehicle he was riding in.

Dennis was surprised, but he wasn’t alone: He was a passenger on a SouthWest Transit bus. “I thought we would have to pass the hat for the driver,” he said.

Len Simich, the transit agency’s CEO, confirmed the incident and said the driver got a warning for going about 5 miles per hour over the 55 mph limit.

“Sometimes the drivers will get going with traffic, but if they’re exceeding the speed limit, they’re subject to being pulled over like you and I,” he said.

Any driver who garners two on-duty traffic convictions in a three-year period would be fired, Simich said, but it’s pretty rare for a bus driver to even get stopped — he couldn’t recall it happening in his 11 years with the agency.

Dennis couldn’t recall it happening in his 10 years of bus commuting, either. “I couldn’t believe it,” he said.

NO PHOTOCOP THIS YEAR

PhotoCop.JPGAfter last week’s column about PhotoCop, I checked in with Rep. Paul Thissen, DFL-Minneapolis, who authored a bill to make red-light cameras legal in Minnesota. He said Thursday that the measure did pretty well — making it through three committees and losing by only one vote in a fourth — but it’s done for this time around.

The legislation would have kept PhotoCop-issued violations off driving records. Thissen expects to try again next year.

In the meantime, the cameras in Minneapolis, which have been turned off for two years because of court rulings, will continue to serve as technological scarecrows: they look like they can get you, but they can’t.

A VERY SPECIAL ROADGUY

On Monday morning, Roadguy will be taking part in the Great Commuter Challenge sponsored by Transit for Livable Communities.

I’ll be driving my car from a park in St. Paul to downtown Minneapolis and will stop for a few mandatory errands along the way.

My competitors are Minneapolis Mayor R.T. Rybak, who will be on a bike, and Ramsey County Commissioner Toni Carter, who will be walking and using transit. (Our modes of transport were chosen before R.T.’s driver’s license thing came up.)

There will be a special-edition Roadguy column in Tuesday’s paper (and at www.startribune.com/roadguy) about the experience — unless I lose terribly and am too depressed to write.

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