It’s a good thing to ride the bus and/or train in the Twin Cities: It gives you time to read, ponder, catch up on work. It’s better for the environment. It eliminates road rage and helps cut back on congestion.
And, starting this fall, it’s going to more expensive. The cost of riding Metro Transit buses and trains is going up. This is the first time in almost a decade (2008) that fares have increased.
The Met Council voted last Wednesday, July 26, to raise the per-ride cost of riding city bus or light rail by 25 cents.
Starting this fall (October 1), fares will increase from $1.75 to $2.00, and $2.25 to $2.50 during rush hour. Metro Mobility riders will see an increase by 50 cents, and an added charge for trips farther than 15 miles away.
For more information on all expected per-ride increases, straight from the horse’s (Met Council’s) mouth: Metropolitan Council votes to increase regional transit fares, in face of upcoming fiscal cliff
The public is footing the bill, because, at least according to Met Council Chair Adam Duinick, the Minnesota Legislature was unwilling to allocate the funds to cover rising costs, and a projected $110 million shortfall during the 2020-21 budget cycle.
Plus, the population is aging: There will be rising demands for Metro Mobility’s services, as MM is the only line catering directly to older, disabled, infirm populations.
And, with a certain sense of irony, the car sales tax that has provided one of the major sources of funding, hasn’t been meeting expectations: Fewer people are buying cars.
(They’re maybe taking public transit instead?)
There was also concern that the hike will affect most those living below the poverty line; one of the groups it is ultimately designed to benefit. But this was one of the first issues addressed by the Council. As Duinick said in a statement,
“I do recognize that some low-income individuals who are dependent on transit may not be able to afford an increase at all. Therefore, I’m pleased that the Council was able to mitigate the impact of a fare increase on low-come income people, by making permanent the Transit Assistance Program.”
The Transit Assistance Program allows low-income passengers to ride for only a dollar to offset the differential. Formerly in a testing phase, the prgram was approved for permanent implementation by the Met Council during the same voting session.
Why do I care?
Metro Transit provided 96 million rides in 2016, and 98 million rides in 2015. While the number is expected to dip slightly as the public absorbs the price increase, the price hike is expected to bring in an extra $6.8 billion in revenue.
Research shows that 80% of riders are going to either work or school.
Nearly 100 million rides on public transit in the Twin Cities metro. And those numbers are but a snapshot of public transit’s true impact: Across America, public transit ridership has been outpacing population growth, up 34% since 1995.
And according to further studies done by the American Public Transit Association (APTA),
- Public transportation offers individuals access to jobs.
- 87 percent of public transit trips impact the economy.
- Every $1 invested in public transportation generates approximately $4 in economic returns.
- Every $1 billion invested in public transportation supports and creates more than 50,000 jobs.
These price increases will keep buses on roads and trains on track.
“This was not an easy vote, but one that was necessary to strengthen the future of transit in our region,” Duinick said.