From Dave van Hattum, Policy and Advocacy Program Manager

With a $6.2 billion state budget deficit, transit has been asked to take “its share” of the cuts. Governor Dayton’s proposed budget included a $10.8 million cut over two years to the state general fund contribution for transit in the metro region. Some legislators would like to eliminate general funding for transit all together.

The Governor’s proposed budget directed the Met Council to consider a 25 cent fare increase in order to make up for a $10.8 million cut to metro area transit over the next two years.

TLC is absolutely opposed to service cuts due to the terrible consequences they have for individual riders and the overall effectiveness of the system. TLC also rejects the rush to fare increases. Not only are transit fares in the Twin Cities well above that of peer regions, they have almost doubled ($1.00 to $1.75) since 2000.These increases have outpaced inflation since 2003. Any further increase would be highly regressive and reduce transit ridership (3% by Metro Transit estimates).

Interestingly, state transportation spending on highways, which are funded by the gas tax and tab fees and receive virtually no general fund revenues, is not slated for any cuts.

TLC believes that we should not be expanding and widening highways at a time when we can’t maintain existing service on the region’s modest transit system. Federal transportation funds allocated to Minnesota can be used with some degree of flexibility. These flexible funds should provide the needed revenues to Keep Transit Whole.

The new Met Council appointed by Governor Dayton will be announced on March 2nd. Keeping transit whole should be their first priority!

Read more about possible fare increases in this week’s Star Tribune: