Link Rapid Transit gets nod as deal talks continue – Reuters
ROCHESTER — The next step for a planned rapid transit system will be to enter into an operating agreement with the Mayo Clinic.
Deputy City of Rochester Administrator Cindy Steinhauser said final negotiations are underway for Link Rapid Transit operations, with a focus on funding operations once the proposed 143.5 system million dollars will be in place.
“It’s been a very productive conversation,” she said of the agreement which will also define whether a fare is charged for driving the dedicated buses on the route.
The Rochester City Council unanimously approved improvement plans for the original proposed $114.9 million project to include station improvements along Second Street Road, a new endpoint near the intersection of Southeast Third Avenue and Sixth Street, and infrastructure at the west end, which is expected to include public parking and private development.
Board members asked Steinhauser to let them know as soon as the agreement with the Mayo Clinic is finalized.
“For me, finalizing these deals is what will make them a reality,” said board member Nick Campion.
Steinhauser said the deal should be presented to an internal Mayo Clinic board for review in July and to city council in August, so it can be included with a federal funding application this fall.
The city plans to seek approximately $84 million in federal funds to pay for the project, with the remaining cost covered by transit funding from Destination Medical Center.
With plans for the Link Rapid Transit system to connect two existing Mayo Clinic employee parking lots, as well as stops near clinic facilities, Steinhauser said about 95% of initial users are expected to be Mayo Clinic employees. Mayo Clinic fundraising discussions is why Mayo Clinic pays most of the cost.
How much could depend on whether riders will have to pay to board buses serving the planned 2.8-mile route.
“If it’s free, we’ll want them to pay 100%,” Steinhauser said.
If a fee is charged, she said Mayo Clinic is still expected to pay about 95% of operating costs to match initial usage by its employees.
She told city council that the goal will be to expand use by other Rochester residents over time, noting that 14,000 residents currently live within a 10-minute walk of one of the planned stops. .
“It’s about efficient mobility with a fast and reliable service,” she said of the proposed system which will feature stops at stations every 5 minutes to move people around the city centre.
With the route expansion plan, construction of the system is expected to be completed in 2026, if federal funding is approved with the city’s application this fall.
What happened: The Rochester City Council has approved the rapid transit project expansion plan, raising the estimated cost to $143.5 million.
Why is this important: The system is expected to provide frequent stops along the route through the city center with end points in areas targeted for future development
And after: City staff continue to work on an operating agreement with the Mayo Clinic as part of plans to apply for federal funding to provide approximately $84 million for the project, with DMC transportation funds covering the remainder.