Hornstein tracks carbon footprint during legislative session

Rep. Frank Hornstein, a leading transit advocate at the state Capitol, had Metro Transit calculate his carbon footprint and savings from taking the bus and light rail to St. Paul from his home in Linden Hills instead of his car during the 2015 legislative session.

By ditching his car, Hornstein reduced greenhouse gas emissions from his commute by 2,359 pounds from early January to mid-May, according to Metro Transit’s analysis.

He also saved an estimated $939.20 because he didn’t have to pay for gas, parking or other car-related expenses.

“I am much more relaxed when I’m not driving in rush hour to St. Paul,” Hornstein said. “There are just a lot of benefits to taking transit — for the environment, for climate change, for clean air. The cost is less than driving. You also have intangibles like reducing your stress level.”

Hornstein took the number 6 bus to downtown where he switched to the Green Line to get to the Capitol. While it took more planning and time than driving, he said the benefits far outweigh the negatives and he plans to keep relying on transit and biking for most of his transportation needs.

“I ran into lots of constituents and had wonderful conversations with people at the bus stop in the morning — people who I didn’t know. So it creates a nice sense of community as well,” he said.

Hornstein and a broad coalition of transportation advocates had pushed for a major transportation funding package that includes $6 billion in new revenue for the state’s transportation system over the next 10 years and $567 million for roads and bridges during the recent session.

The Legislature failed to pass a major spending boost for transportation and instead passed what has been described as a “lights-on” transportation budget bill for the next biennium.

Hornstein said Metro Transit, while a strong and efficient system, needs new funding to improve service for riders.

In the winter months, he often waited for the bus in sub-zero temps at stops without shelters.

“If we’re going to increase ridership, we need to boost frequency and have adequate bus shelters,” he said.