Report: Twin Cities transit governance needs overhaul

A new report says the governance of Twin Cities transit is confusing, because nearly two dozen elected and unelected bodies plan and fund transit in the region.

The Legislative Auditor's report recommends streamlining the system. It also recommends a mix of elected and appointed members to serve on the Metropolitan Council.

"There are several bodies that help to plan for the system, help to fund the system, and that's what leads to the complexity," explained Susan Haigh, the new Met Council chairwoman appointed by Gov. Mark Dayton.

Haigh agrees with the report's recommendation to incorporate a mix of elected and appointed officials, but fears it could lose a regional view of transit planning if that were to occur.

State Rep. Mike Beard, R-Shakopee, is chair of the House transportation committee and agrees with the recommendation to restructure. But he admits the politics of agreeing how to do that will be complicated.

"I can just see the smaller counties or townships or smaller communities having this same kind of discussion with the 800-pound gorilla in the room, Minneapolis, and its 400-hundred pound cousin, St. Paul," Beard said. "So we're going to have to weigh those things out so that the representation and the strength of that representation is spread somewhat equally."

The Metropolitan Council oversees Metro Transit, the region's largest transit operator. The Counties Transit Improvement Board, six separate suburban transit operators and seven county regional rail authorities are among the other groups that have a hand in transit issues.

The report also says Twin Cities transit users get good service compared to other cities in the country.