Legislative Auditor: To Improve Transit Governance, Met Council Should Have Elected And Appointed Members

The Legislative Auditor has released a report, Governance of Transit in the Twin Cities Region, that recommends the Metropolitan Council be restructured to include both appointed members and local elected officials serving staggered terms. According to the report, local electeds would provide accountability, while staggered terms would provide institutional knowledge and “stability in strategic vision”.

Having a combination of local elected and appointed officials would provide the Council with an effective mix of regional and local perspectives. Additionally, having local elected officials on the Council would increase its credibility and accountability with transit stakeholders in the region. Option 2 would also enable the Council to implement regional priorities and provide continuity among its membership for ongoing initiatives.

I find the report to be a little too negative about directly electing Met Council representatives, claiming that it would not “promote consideration of regional perspectives”. Of course, this only applies if all members are elected from small districts, rather than at-large. I also fail to see how local elected officials can be seen to be less parochial than at-large elected members. The report notes that the Portland Metro is composed entirely of directly elected members, and we all know how poorly they do transit governance out there.

The good news from the report:

When compared with 11 peer regions around the country, transit in the Twin Cities region performed favorably. For example, in 2008, the Twin Cities region’s transit system performed better than most of its peers on efficiency measures, including subsidy per passenger and operating costs per passenger. The Twin Cities region also compared favorably when evaluating service-use measures, such as passengers per hour and passenger miles per mile of service.

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