On Wednesday, February 4th, leaders of Asamblea de Derechos Civiles (“Asamblea”) met with officials from Dakota County to discuss the Cedar Ave. Bus Rapid Transit (BRT) “Red Line” implementation plan. We have been working closely with the community to connect them with decision makers, in an effort to create a transit line that is equitable for the Latino communities living near the Red Line. We believe that access to public transit is a right for all communities. This includes opening up the Palomino Station in order to provide access to large predominantly Latino neighborhoods nearby. Measures must also be taken to preserve affordable housing that the community not be displaced if and when the line opens up.
According to Joe Morneau, Senior Transit Specialist with Dakota County, funding for Palomino station is not currently included in Dakota County’s budget, but there are discretionary funds that could potentially be used to open up the station. Dakota County is currently conducting a ridership study in order to determine whether there is a need for a Palomino station. Leaders of Asamblea will also be following-up with Dakota County representatives regarding the survey, its uses, and the need to make sure the Latino communities along Cedar Ave are being heard.
“A long time ago when I moved to live in Minnesota, we didn’t have as many transit lines as we do now,” says Antonia Alvarez, Co-Founder of Asamblea, “Today with the work we are doing, we are opening spaces of opportunity that will benefit our Latino community in Minnesota more and more. The struggle for equal rights for all continues.”
The development of the Red Line BRT also opens up the opportunity for economic development for the communities that live near it. Therefore, it is our priority that the Latino community have the opportunity to benefit from the Red Line, whether through job opportunities during construction or by opening up local Latino-owned businesses.
For the last year, Asamblea leaders and organizers have doorknocked in manufactured home communities, visited church congregations, and worked to connect community members with decision-makers at the city, county, state, and national levels. Asamblea believes that transit equity is important and necessary for the Latino community. It increases the opportunity for economic success, connects communities with the resources they need, and provides the opportunity for more successful community-owned businesses.
At Wednesday’s meeting, Asamblea leaders spoke with Apple Valley Mayor Mary Hamman-Rohland,who committed to meeting with Asamblea leaders about the Palomino line and the work that needs to be done to better reach the Latino community. Dakota County representatives in-attendance also agreed to connect Asamblea leaders with Minnesota Valley Transit Authority. Asamblea will continue our work to connect the Latino community near the Red Line with local and regional decision-makers. We will also continue to follow up on the issues raised at Wednesday night’s meeting working for more justice and access for our communities on the Red Line.