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Letter: Hastings needs public transportation access

To the editor,

Getting in and out of Hastings without access to an automobile is an almost impossible feat for both residents and visitors alike. Local and state officials have tossed around the idea of a public transportation line since at least 2007. Back in 2010 Washington County Commissioner Gary Kriesel was amongst a group of people in Washington D.C to help promote and participate in the Minnesota Transportation Alliance and Congressional “fly-in.” They wanted to support ideas of transportation in the state of Minnesota such as the Red Rock Corridor. The Red Rock Corridor plan was initially slated as a light rail train to be in service sometime around 2018. That plan changed late last fall when it was determined that the commuter train was not financially feasible and replaced it with a bus rapid transit line running from Hastings to Cottage Grove and then tying in with Twin Cities’ lines. That bus rapid transit plan is estimated to cost $45 million with no firm dates in sight.

In the meantime, there is literally no way into and out of Hastings unless you want to hail a taxi from a neighboring city and pay the prohibitively high fare to get to your destination. Hastings needs bus service connecting it with MTC lines in Cottage Grove and our neighboring cities to the west. Hastings is the county seat and the site of a large jail. Citizens need to be able to get here to attend court hearings, receive services from county offices, and inmates need a way to leave once they are released.

Hastings is also a commuter community. Residents need a public transportation option to their jobs in the Twin Cities. On days the weather makes commuting difficult at best, a bus is a welcome form of transportation. While waiting for implementation of the grand plan, is it possible to get a simple bus route? I know our mayor and elected officials recognize this as a real concern. It’s time for the city and the county to revisit the simple solution of getting Hastings into the MTC system.