Metro Transit bus, LRT fare hikes proposed

minneapolis, bus, snow, storm
Commuters wait for Metro Transit buses during a snowstorm on Dec. 4, 2013.
Luke Taylor | MPR 2013

Twin Cities transit advocates are speaking out against a proposed fare increase for bus and light rail service.

The Met Council is considering hikes of 25 cents for light rail and local buses and as much as $1.25 for express buses. Northstar commuter rail fares could rise as much as 50 cents.

At a Met Council Transportation Committee meeting Monday, Metro Transit revenue operations manager Nick Eull said the increases would help put a dent in the agency's $74 million transportation deficit. He said the agency is studying three different fare scenarios.

"In the end, what we end up with may be a combination of those options, it may be one of those options, it may be something completely different based off the public coming back and having an opportunity to provide feedback," Eull said.

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If the proposals move forward, the Met Council will hold public hearings beginning in April, with final approval expected in the summer.

At the meeting, advocates with the group Transit for Livable Communities told council members that elderly and low-income people will bear the brunt of any fare hikes.

Amity Foster of Minneapolis does not drive because of a medical condition, and said a 25-cent fare hike would add at least $40 to an already tight household budget.

She urged council members to lobby Minnesota lawmakers to use some of the state's budget surplus to provide additional funds for public transit.

"The Legislature really needs to hear from the Met Council," Foster said. "They need to hear from transit riders. We are the ones who can have an impact and get that money where it needs to be."

Metro Transit last raised rates in 2005 and 2008.