Metro Transit has a $15 million shortfall in its budget for bus operations. Right now, the primary funding source for our bus system is the sales tax on cars. Since car sales are steeply declining, the funding available for buses is too.

The Metropolitan Council, the agency that oversees Metro Transit, plans to hold hearings from July 7-15, 2008 to determine whether or not to raise transit fares by 25 cents this year, and up to 50 cents more in 2009.

With high gas prices and a slow economy, transit should be as affordable as possible. Further, there are alternatives to raising fares. Options include:

  • The Metropolitan Council’s rainy day fund has $19 million in its reserves. Tapping half of this fund would buy time for the 2009 legislature to decide whether fare increases or service cuts are appropriate or needed.
  • Three percent more of the revenues from the motor vehicle sales tax (some of the funding that currently goes toward funding metropolitan trunk highways) could go to transit in the Twin Cities region. This would require a statutory change during the 2009 legislative session.
  • Increase the regional sales tax to raise sufficient funding to cover the gap Institute a new tax on off-street parking
  • Increase the metro area property tax for transit and target this new money to transit operations (previously, transit operations were funded this way).

Scraping together funding for our bus system is absurd, especially in this time of skyrocketing gas prices, a slow economy and rising concerns about climate change.  People deserve convenient, affordable alternatives to driving, and higher bus fares hurt people who need transit the most. Raising bus fares stands in the way of our larger goal: developing a transit system that ensures more people have access to the transportation they need.

Check out Transit for Livable Communities' newest policy brief, which compares transit fares in the Twin Cities with fares around the country. Many regions have comparable fares to the Twin Cities, but have more extensive systems so a transit fare buys more in those regions.

We need you to tell the Metropolitan Council that there are alternatives to raising transit fares. Speak up at one of the following public hearings! If you have questions, or would like help planning your response, contact Michelle Dibblee, our Organizer, at 651-767-0298 or MichelleD@tlcminnesota.org. Comments can also be made by email/fax/phone to the Regional Data Center: data.center@metrocouncil.org, 390 N Robert Street, St. Paul, MN 55101. Fax: 651-602-1464 or recorded phone messages: 651-602-1500 (TTY 651-291-0904).

The proposed public hearings are:

Monday, July 7: 5:30- 6:30 p.m. Northtown Mall, Community Room, 398 Northtown Dr., Blaine. Served by routes 10, 25, 805, 824, 831, 852, 854, and 860.

Tuesday, July 8: 6:30-7:30 p.m. Hopkins Center for the Arts, 1111 Main Street, Hopkins. Served by routes 12 and 612.

Wednesday, July 9: Noon -1 p.m. Minneapolis City Hall, Conference Room 333, 350 S. 5th St., Minneapolis. Served by routes 3, 5, 7, 9, 14, 16, 19, 22, 24, 50, 55, 94.

Wednesday, July 9: 5:30-6:30 p.m. Burnsville City Hall-Chambers, 100 Civic Center Pkwy., Burnsville. Served by routes 426, shuttle 465.

Thursday, July 10: 6:30-7:30 p.m. Maplewood Community Center, 2100 White Bear Av., Maplewood. Served by routes 64 and 80.

Monday, July 14: 5:30-6:30 p.m. Eden Prairie City Hall-Heritage Room, 8080 Mitchell Road, Eden Prairie.

Tuesday, July 15: Noon-1 p.m. Metropolitan Council offices, 390 N. Robert St., St. Paul. Served by routes 16, 21, 50, 53, 54, 61, 63, 64, 68, 70, 71, 74, and 94.

Tuesday, July 15: 5:30 p.m. Seward Square Apartments-Meeting Room, 2121 South 9th Street, Minneapolis.

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