Skip to main content

Streetcars are the best fit for St. Paul, a panel says

A panel says a streetcar line is the best way to connect downtown and the airport.

They've been looking at the options for years and now an advisory committee in St. Paul is telling the city they should build a streetcar line to connect downtown with the airport and Mall of America. 

It's just a recommendation, nothing final, and it was handed this week to the Riverview Corridor's Policy Advisory Committee. 

That group plans to decide by the end of the year whether to go after the approvals – and the money – it would take to build the line.

Why streetcars? 

This summer planners ruled out the idea of trying to squeeze a light rail line onto West Seventh Street, which is St. Paul's main route connecting downtown with the airport.

Since then they've been looking at three options: a streetcar line, a Bus Rapid Transit line like the one in place along Snelling Avenue, or doing nothing and just going with the existing bus lines.

Backers of the streetcar idea like the fact that it doesn't need its own lane, like light rail does. The streetcars would run on tracks built into the street. 

The recommendation points out that the tracks don't interfere with cars, which can drive over them when no streetcars are around. They also say the streetcars move more people than buses. 

"Expensive and unnecessary"

The streetcar project would cost $1.2 billion, the Pioneer Press reports, and one member of the advisory panel who disagreed with their recommendation called it "expensive and unnecessary," the paper says. 

That committee wanted to go with the Bus Rapid Transit option, but some business owners along West Seventh prefer the don't-build-anything one. 

Dave Cossetta, who own's Cossetta's Restaurant, told KSTP this summer: "West 7th Street is not wide enough and can't even handle the traffic it has now. You add another element in there, and it will absolutely stop business as we know it today."

Today's streetcars 

For some of us the word "streetcar" brings to mind something that's pulled by a horse. 

But cities including Seattle, Portland, and Kansas City have been using "modern" streetcars for years. 

Members of St. Paul's Riverview Corridor group visited the Kansas City one and were impressed. They posted a video explaining some of the basics of today's streetcars, which are smaller and more nimble than light rail trains. 

Metro Magazine says while train passengers are typically traveling 10 or 20 miles, streetcar users are usually only going two to five miles in an area where driving and parking are not convenient.

You can comment on the streetcar idea at a public hearing the Riverview Corridor is holding at St. Paul's Highland Park High School on November 9.

Next Up

Semi truck

Driver dies after crashing into semi-tractor that tipped over into his path

The crash happened on Hwy. 212 west of the Twin Cities Monday morning.

Screen Shot 2022-09-03 at 10.43.09 PM

Scott Jensen repeats right-wing hoax about cat litter in schools

The candidate made the comments at a recent campaign event.


Ringo Starr's late cancellation of MN show was because he has COVID-19

The Beatles drummer was due to perform in Minnesota Sunday.

Screen Shot 2022-10-03 at 4.32.58 PM

Fire destroys cafe, two other business properties in downtown Fairfax

A former pizza joint was also destroyed, while two other properties were damaged.

Hennepin County Medical Center, HCMC

Woman dies from injuries in crash that killed her husband, another man

The couple in their 80s died in the collision near Lake Lillian.

CPAP masks

2 Park Nicollet employees convicted of embezzling $500,000

The pair worked at a CPAP clinic in St. Louis Park.


No Jingle Ball this year? Twin Cities left off iHeartRadio holiday tour

The annual touring event usually visits the Xcel Energy Center.

Target store

Target gives first look at some of its Deal Days discounts

The Minneapolis retailer is holding its Deal Days event earlier than ever, in an attempt to drive sales after a turbulent year.

Screen Shot 2022-10-03 at 11.03.12 AM

Man dies after crashing truck into western Wisconsin lake

The victim was unable to make it to shore despite being able to get out of his truck.

ATV, all-terrain vehicle

Sheriff: Man who didn't return to campsite died in ATV crash

It happened at the Foothills State Forest and Spider Lake ATV Recreation Area

Richard Liu, aka Liu Qiangdong

Chinese billionaire settles lawsuit over alleged rape in Minneapolis

The tech billionaire was accused of sexually assaulting a University of Minnesota student in 2018.


St. Paul driving toward streetcars

Four decades after streetcars vanished, St. Paul is in the initial phases of exploring a plan to bring them back to the city to spur development and offer more transit options, Finance and Commerce reports. Already in the middle of an ambitious light-rail project, the city is also working with consultants to come up with a list of workable streetcar corridors and establish a cost estimate.

Crashed Ice + Winter Carnival + Rodeo = 200K people in St. Paul

A bus or shuttle is recommended for getting in and out of downtown St. Paul Saturday evening.

Crashed Ice + Winter Carnival + Rodeo = 200K people in St. Paul

A bus or shuttle is recommended for getting in and out of downtown St. Paul Saturday evening.

St. Paul police union says it never meant to 're-victimize' Melvin Carter

But they're offended that Melvin Carter's campaign said the criticism was about race.

Police and Wild will be neighbors in St. Paul's old Macy's building

A police station will move in downstairs from the Wild's new practice home.

Soccer's arrival is pushing bowling out of a St. Paul neighborhood

A St. Paul bowling alley is pushed out after 57 years

St. Paul feeds its appetite for business awards

The winners of the newly-created St. Paul Business Awards include a bunch of eating and drinking spots.