Author

Henry Pan

Henry Pan

Henry Pan (pronouns: They/He/佢/他) is a Twin Cities-based journalist, cartographer and photographer passionate about human interests and all things transportation. They have a background in urban planning, a disdain for Minnesota Nice, and a penchant for solitude, transit and bicycle joyrides.

Self-driving car, you’re about to meet Minnesota winter

By: - October 19, 2021

ROCHESTER — By the time the twee orange-painted vehicles officially made their debut in Rochester on a sunny morning in late September, Akec Garang had already ridden them twice. Garang, who lives in downtown Rochester, was captivated by the vehicles and how they can handle varying traffic conditions. He stepped on about half an hour […]

COMMENTARY

Living with rent control, from someone who grew up in rent-controlled housing | Column

By: - October 13, 2021

I grew up in San Francisco, raised by low-income Chinese immigrants in a building where every unit is rent-controlled. San Francisco has had rent control since the late 1970s. Last year, California adopted rent control statewide, covering buildings built within the past 15 years. Although I struggled with growing up in a rent-controlled unit, I […]

Metro Transit has an excellent low income, reduced fare program, but people aren’t using it

By: - September 22, 2021

A little known transit assistance program that offers train and bus fare for a buck remains largely untapped by the more than 600,000 metro Minnesotans who are currently eligible.  People who are on an array of public assistance programs like Medical Assistance, MinnesotaCare, unemployment, food stamps, energy assistance, free or reduced lunch or live in […]

The great outdoors: Not just for white people

By: - September 9, 2021

Mai Nhia Xiong-Chan almost didn’t go to the Boundary Waters with her friends this year. Xiong-Chan, who is the vice president of admissions at Hamline University, had some experience camping, but not the strenuous portaging and canoeing for which the Boundary Waters are famous.   But Xiong-Chan was glad she went. She was honoring the wishes […]

Reliability problems stall transition to electric buses

By: - August 31, 2021

DULUTH — Ambitious plans to electrify Minnesota transit bus fleets have thus far run headlong into technological problems. For several years, Duluth and the Twin Cities transit systems have been testing electric buses in an effort to reduce their carbon footprint and air pollution. For the most part, they’re a hit among riders and drivers. […]

Spotty transit access keeps the carless out of vaunted state park system

By: - August 19, 2021

For the three years Lee Oglesby lived in Minnesota, she went to Minnesota State Parks twice. Oglesby, who got to know the outdoors as a Girl Scout in Florida before relocating to Minnesota to work in publishing, didn’t have a car and hesitated to rely on others to get outdoors. “I don’t wanna impose on […]

As riders return, transit system again faces safety, nuisance issues

By: - August 12, 2021

Cynthia Stuen appeared visibly distraught after getting off of the 721 bus and venturing into Brooklyn Center Transit Center recently. Stuen and her fiancé said they were threatened just before getting off.  “They threatened to kill my fiancé. We got off the bus here, (then) he stole a bike and ran that way,” Stuen said, […]

After hiatus, Met Council again enforcing transit fare

By: - June 25, 2021

The Metropolitan Council said in an email to the Reformer on Wednesday that Metro Transit, which they oversee, will resume using their police force to enforce fares on transit vehicles after a 15-month pandemic hiatus. The message came after House Republicans lamented the $7 billion transportation budget bill, which passed Wednesday, does nothing to address […]

What’s in Minnesota’s $7 billion transportation bill?

By: - June 23, 2021

Legislative leaders and the administration of Gov. Tim Walz came to an agreement on a $7 billion transportation bill that will fund transportation projects and decide transportation policy across the state over the next two years. The bill is a compromise between the Republican-controlled Senate, which favors directing most transportation dollars to roads and bridges, […]

Activists stand athwart highway expansion, yelling stop

By: - June 16, 2021

DULUTH — Jordan van der Hagen, a landscape designer, wants I-35 through downtown Duluth replaced with a boulevard. The freeway, he argues, is a massive tangle of concrete shuttling fewer cars than it was intended for, while inhibiting opportunities for downtown development and more human-centered — as opposed to autocentric — movement. The idea was […]

Asian Minnesotans say discrimination is on the rise, push to make prosecuting hate crimes easier

By: - June 7, 2021

At the start of the pandemic, Yaoyao Chen, a materials research engineer, was an early adopter of mask-wearing.  One day in March, she was at a Woodbury intersection when someone yelled at her, “Your mask is a piece of [expletive].” She was so frightened by the exchange that she stayed home for a week.  Then […]

Legislature debating decriminalizing fare evasion, allowing Metro Transit to focus on more serious crimes

By: - May 28, 2021

An attempt to reform how Minnesota enforces transit fare and deals with a concerning rise in serious crime on trains and buses in recent years hangs in the balance as the Legislature nears a self-imposed deadline to finish their work for the year.  People who ride without paying the $2.50 fare pay a $180 fine […]