Public meetings will outline possible transit service cuts and fare increases

The Metropolitan Council will hold a series of public hearings to collect public input regarding potential transit service reductions and fare increases being considered in response to proposals for major cuts to metro-area transit funding. The funding cut could result in the elimination of dozens of transit routes as well as a reduction in the frequency or hours of operation on most routes. These potential cuts impact not only the central cities and first-ring suburbs, but also most regions of the metropolitan area, from Anoka and Coon Rapids to Lakeville and Stillwater.

Many of the express commuter routes bringing people to and from downtown are under consideration to be eliminated. While these routes have strong ridership, they are among the most costly to operate because of higher fuel costs due to longer distances traveled and the fact that ridership is typically one-way. (In the morning, buses are full headed into the downtowns but are mostly empty as they return outbound. The same is true in reverse in the evening — buses full outbound, but empty coming back.)

The specific proposals for fare and service adjustments will be available on the Metropolitan Council website no later than July 29.

Public meetings July 6 and 7

Two public meetings are set for July 6 and 7 to provide an initial overview of potential impacts, allow attendees to ask questions, and accept public comment. (Specific information about routes affected and specific fare increases will not be available at these meetings, although preliminary information will be available.)

Wednesday, July 6 – 5:30 to 6:30 p.m.
Metropolitan Council Offices – Chambers
390 North Robert Street, St. Paul

Thursday, July 7 – 11:30 a.m. to 1 p.m.
Minneapolis Central Library, Doty Board Room
300 Nicollet Mall, Minneapolis

Public hearings August 8 - 18

In addition, seven formal public hearings have been scheduled throughout the metropolitan area, beginning Aug. 8. These meetings will provide specific details about the service adjustments planned and any proposed fare increase.

Monday, Aug. 8 – 6:30 to 7:30 p.m.
Bloomington Civic Plaza, Council Chambers
1800 W. Old Shakopee Road, Bloomington

Tuesday, Aug. 9 – 6:30 to 7:30 p.m.
Hopkins Center for the Arts, Community Room
111 Main Street, Hopkins

Wednesday, Aug. 10 – noon to 1 p.m.
Minneapolis Central Library, Doty Board Room
300 Nicollet Mall, Minneapolis

Thursday, Aug. 11, 5:30 to 6:30 p.m.
Maplewood Library, Large Meeting Room
3025 Southlawn Drive, Maplewood

Monday, Aug. 15 – 6:30 to 7:30 p.m.
Brookdale Library, Large Meeting Room
6125 Shingle Creek Pkwy., Brooklyn Center

Tuesday, Aug. 16 – 5:30 to 6:30 p.m.
Metro Transit Offices – Chambers
560 - 6th Avenue North, Minneapolis

Thursday, Aug. 18 – noon to 1 p.m.
Metropolitan Council Offices – Chambers
390 North Robert Street, St. Paul

Public Comments accepted July 5 through Aug. 29

A public comment period will open July 5 and comments will be accepted through 5 p.m. on Aug. 29 by the following methods:

In the event that budget negotiations produce a different fiscal outlook for the transit budget, the Metropolitan Council Chair has the authority to reschedule the public hearings to allow time to review the service and fare proposals. If this happens, the proposals will be available at least 10 days before the first rescheduled public hearing. The public comment period will also be extended to end 10 days after the last public hearing.

The Metropolitan Council may also conduct public meetings ahead of the public hearings in August to provide general information about the current budget situation and the impacts that a significant reduction will have on regional transit services and fares.

Transit services are funded in part with state appropriations. Though transit services — including Metro Transit bus and rail, Metro Mobility, and Transit Link — will continue for a period of time during the State government shutdown, the long-term outlook for the transit budget is less certain. The hearings are in response to a proposal to reduce the state’s general fund commitment to transit. Metro Transit, a service of the Metropolitan Council, provides the majority of mass transit service in the Twin Cities region. Their operational funding is provided by four primary sources: the state’s general fund, a portion of the Motor Vehicle Sales Tax revenues, federal funding, and fares paid by riders. The State Legislature proposes to reduce general fund support for metro-area transit by 85 percent. This is a cut of $109 million over the two year budget period.

July 6, 2011

Published Jul. 6, 2011