Twin Cities to Host Rail~Volution in 2014!

by: Phil Eckhert, Chair, Conference Management Team
November 21, 2013

Rail~Volution is the nation’s preeminent transit and transit oriented development conference.  It attracts up to 1,500 engineers, planners, architects, designers, developers, consultants, federal, state, regional and local government officials, foundations and community and non-profit organizations from throughout the country, all of whom share a common commitment to developing sustainable communities through transit.  The Twin Cities has been selected as the conference site for 2014.  The event is being jointly sponsored by MnDOT, The Metropolitan Council and the Counties Transit Improvement Board (CTIB). 

2014 is a perfect time for the Twin Cities to host Rail~Volution as it will be a banner year for transit and TOD in the region.  The Green Line will begin operations in 2014, Target Field Station will be complete and fully activated and Amtrak service will begin to the Union Depot which will continue to celebrate its rejuvenation.

The conference will be held from Sunday, September 21 through Wednesday, September 24.   The Hyatt Hotel in downtown Minneapolis will be the conference hotel.  Unlike many other professional conferences, Rail~Volution has many conference activities throughout the host community including 20 or more Mobile Workshops that take conference participants into the community to see and experience what has been done locally to advance all modes of transit and use transit as the cornerstone for livable, sustainable communities.  The conference also features an opening gala reception which will be held next year at the historic Union Depot in St. Paul.  Most attendees will arrive there via the Green Line.  The trip will provide a terrific overview of the Green Line for conference participants at the front end of the conference.  It is expected that transit and development features along the Green Line will also be highlighted in various Mobile Workshops during the week.

Conference planning is being overseen by a conference Executive Committee comprised of Minnesota Commissioner of Transportation Charles Zelle, Metropolitan Council Chair Sue Haigh and CTIB Chair Peter McLaughlin.  A staff team representing the sponsoring agencies has also been established to guide planning activities.   Committees to advance various elements of the conference are now being established with broad based membership.  Here’s how you can get involved:

Volunteer to serve on a committee or assist in conference presentation.  If interested, please fill out a volunteer card and forward to  

Self-Guided Tours:  We’ll be creating a booklet and map identifying self-guided tours that either conference attendees or family members may be interested in taking.  It will be a great way to showcase Twin Cities communities, arts and culture, parks and natural amenities, education and employment facilities beyond those featured in the conference itself.  If you have an idea for inclusion, please complete a self-guided tour suggestion form and e-mail it to Katie Caskey (

Mobile Workshops:  We have a beginning list of potential tours but are looking for more ideas that meet the following conference requirements for mobile workshops:  You can see it (built projects rather than plans or planning activities); It is unique to our region (innovations or regional attractions); It includes transit, livable communities or preferably both; the workshop utilizes multiple transit modes (walk, bike, bus, rail, boat, etc.).  If you have ideas for either a full tour or a site to include in one of the tours, please e-mail your suggestion to Robin Caufman at by December 5.

Sponsorships:  There are opportunities at a variety of levels to be a financial sponsor of the 2014 conference.  If your organization is interested in learning more about sponsorship opportunities, contact Mary Richardson at

Presentation At Conference Sessions:  Start thinking about presentation ideas for sharing our stories and experiences with a national audience.  Rail~Volution will issue a call for speakers in Spring 2014 with selection of speakers to be made by the Rail~Volution National Steering Committee next summer.  Look for future notices when the call for speakers is announced.

Rail~Volution is a great opportunity for the state and region to showcase what we are and how we work.  We’re committed to making it an eye-opening experience for those who may think of the Twin Cities as nothing more than a re-fueling stop between New York and Seattle. Check out the video invitation our Executive Committee extended at the 2013 conference in Seattle: