Tim Pawlenty keeps spending money on personal rapid transit

Categories: T-Paw

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Podcars: Coming to Winona?
The Pawlenty administration has approved at least $150,000 since the start of the year on personal rapid transit system studies.

That's despite the fact that key state lawmakers have told MnDOT not to waste taxpayer dollars on PRT and podcars.

Isn't it usually the governor who brags about stopping the Legislature from spending money on pointless projects during tough economic times?

Nevertheless, according to an audit obtained by City Pages, the state now has three contracts with the University of Minnesota to explore the technology.

  • The Humphrey Institute: $46,000 to study PRT statewide.
  • The Humphrey Instutute: $19,000 to study PRT at Minneapolis St. Paul airport
  • The Center for Transportation Studies: $35,509 for PRT workshops in Rochester and Minneapolis

In addition, Mukhtar Thakur, who heads the state Office of Multimodal Innovation and enjoys a salary of $104,000, estimates he spends almost half his time on PRT studies.

And his office spent $94,155.36 on multimodal initiatives, including PRT, from Jan. to Aug. 31 this year.

Winona's mayor, who wants the city by the Mississippi to look like Disneyland, entwined by a network of rails and podcars and rails, made a pitch to be the test bed and commercial center for PRT at the Rochester meeting.

But Rep. Frank Hornstein, who heads the transit subcommittee in the House, calls PRT funding a waste, especially as the state tries to climb out of debt.

"If people in the private sector want to pursue it, fine," he told Minnesota 2020. "But even a penny spent on it in these tough budget times is problematic."

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