Despite strong public opposition, the cost of riding a Metro Transit regular-route bus or the Hiawatha Light Rail will go up 25 cents starting October 1, 2008.
The new rates will be $1.75 for non-rush-hour, regular-route service and $2.25 for non-rush hour express bus service. Rush-hour service on regular routes will jump to $2.25 and rush-hour express bus service will climb to $3. Disabled riders who use Metro Mobility will pay 50 cents more, seeing fares rise to $3 for non-rush hour trips and $4 for rush hour travel. The fare increases also will apply to suburban transit providers such as SouthWest Transit and the Minnesota Valley Transit Authority.
The new fare increases give the Twin Cities region some of the highest transit fares in the country for a transit system that is relatively small. Still, this may be only the first round of fare increases. The Met Council's Peter Bell said another 50-cent increase could go into effect sometime in 2009. The Met Council said it would face a $15 million shortfall for 2009 without additional funding for the bus system.
“These fare increases are designed to plug part of the hole in a much bigger problem: the lack of a reliable source of funding for our bus system,” says Dave Van Hattum, Policy and Advocacy Program Manager at Transit for Livable Communities. “The Metropolitan Council has long planned to expand our region’s bus systems, believing that an expanded system is needed to address our state’s growing population. This expansion has been delayed every year since 2000, and (despite any fare increases) will be delayed once again. We need to do better.”
There is a reason that the Metropolitan Council looked at fare increases: the primary source of funding for our bus system is the sales tax on cars. With rising gas prices and a tough economy, fewer people are purchasing cars and more people are turning to transit…which, oddly enough, means less money for the bus system.
Transit for Livable Communities presented several alternatives to fare increases, which were ultimately rejected by the Metropolitan Council. Moving forward, we plan to work with the state legislature to creatively address the long-term problems that are causing the Council to seek these fare increases.
With your help, we'll continue to fight against future increases in bus and light rail fares. Thanks for your support!