Friday, June 11, 2010

MnDOT Wastes Federal and State Money Promoting Personal Rapid Transit (PRT)

The MN GOP always says it's for reining in spending, but the Republicans have no problem spending thousands of dollars on a notorious transportation boondoggle - Personal Rapid Transit (PRT).

MnDOT has given me the following statement regarding MnDOT expenditures for PRT:

Currently, we have an Office of Multi-Modal Innovation, under which PRT falls. The annual budget for that office is about $130,000. PRT is one of a number of issues that this office manages. Also, we spent approximately $25,000 on the Rochester PRT event and anticipate spending about $20,000 on a similar event later this summer. Both federal and state dollars fund all of these efforts.

I mentioned the fact that the Legislature does not approve of MnDOT wasting money on PRT. MnDOT responded with this statement:

As to your statement regarding Legislative guidance on PRT, studying innovation and conducting research on all modes of transportation is an important part of what we do as we prepare for future transportation needs and how those needs may affect the highway system. The Legislature understands that. It has never given us specific direction to not study PRT.

That is apparently not true. Here are some quotes stating the contrary:

Both Hornstein and Sen. Scott Dibble, who head the transit subcommittees in each chamber, said the Winona proposal has no chance of state funding. "They're not going to get nickel one of public money while I'm around," Dibble said.

Said Hornstein: "If people in the private sector want to pursue it, fine. But even a penny spent on it in these tough budget times is problematic."

Reporters need to ask MN GOP candidates running for office this year whether they approve of MnDOT wasting taxpayers money on PRT. Michele Bachmann and Tom Emmer have both supported PRT in the MN Legislature. Tim Pawlenty has also said he approves of public funding for PRT. Republicans candidates in Winona are divided.

One DFL candidate, Yvonne Prettner-Solon supported PRT in 2004. Reporters need to ask Senator Prettner-Solon whether she still supports public funding for PRT.

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