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For Immediate Release  May 20, 2011
Contact: Hilary Reeves, Transit for Livable Communities, 651-789-1415; 612-554-1795 (evenings);
Jenna Wade, Fresh Energy, 651-726-7568 (days); 612-819-7282 (cell);

(Saint Paul, Minn.), May 20, 2011—A coalition of organizations agrees that the transportation bill passed by the House and Senate last night moves Minnesota backwards and should be vetoed by Governor Dayton.

“With $4.00 per gallon gas, more people are turning to transit to get work and make their own budgets balance,” said Barb Thoman, executive director of Transit for Livable Communities. “Cutting transit is not smart for Minnesota, for today or tomorrow. Governor Dayton should veto this bill.”

The transportation bill cuts $109.3 million from metro area transit and $7.6 million from Greater Minnesota transit. In the metro area, the bill would make people pay more for a smaller bus system. The Metropolitan Council says the cuts would lead to a 30% reduction in regular route service and a 50 cent fare increase.

The resulting base fare of $2.25 would make Metro Transit fares the highest in the country, deterring ridership and stressing household budgets. More than 100,000 people get to work every day on metro area transit. According to the Met Council, 27,000 of these riders would be lost, either back driving on increasingly congested roads or unable to get to work, school, and other key destinations each day.

Representative Terry Morrow (DFL, Saint Peter), said, “Today's Transportation budget bill throws Greater Minnesota's transit systems into reverse. Bus and dial-a-ride service will suffer---as will the seniors, students, disabled persons, workers and others who rely upon transit for getting to work, school, the doctor, church, grocery stores, and family and friends.”

Cuts to Transit out of Step with Business, Gen Y, and the Market

Throughout the legislative session, business leaders have challenged the cuts to transit. “Bold investment in transit attracts business. We see transit as critical to retain employees and businesses,” said Charlie Zelle, representing the Minneapolis Regional Chamber, at a transportation hearing earlier this session.

Yet, the Twin Cities lags behind competing cities, such as Denver and Seattle, in transit funding and ridership. The Twin Cities region also ranks 39th in the nation among metropolitan areas in extent of transit service to jobs, according to “Missed Opportunities,” a Brookings Institution report.

According to the Wall Street Journal, Generation Y (aged 30 and younger) are the largest demographic of homebuyers and increasingly desire walkable neighborhoods with convenient transit. Real estate forecasters indicate, too, that when the economy recovers, growth will no longer be at the edge of the metro but in areas where there are opportunities to connect housing and jobs. The 2010 Census already suggests that young families are moving back into inner ring suburbs. 

As the Governor and legislature work to find a solution to the state’s budget deficit, there are solutions that preserve vital transit service:

  • As the Governor has indicated, the solution should include increased revenue to preserve vital services and position Minnesota for a strong future.
  • The legislature could vote for an equal 50/50 allocation of revenues from the motor vehicle sales tax (MVST) to roads and transit. Transit currently receives 40% of this revenue. A fair split would raise close to $50 million per year, offsetting most of the $117 million biennium cuts to transit statewide included in HF 1140. Closing various exemptions to the MVST tax would also raise significant revenue.

Transit is a critical lifeline for seniors and the disabled throughout the state. Transit also benefits all road users by moving people far more efficiently than cars, thereby reducing the need for costly road expansion. Minnesotans deserve a transportation finance bill that moves the state forward, not backward.  

# # #

Sent on behalf of Transit Partners:

Alliance for Metropolitan Stability, Amalgamated Transit Union, Local 1005,Consortium for Citizens with Disabilities, Envision Minnesota, Fresh Energy, Isaiah, Twin Cities LISC, Minnesota Center for Environmental Advocacy, Minnesota Housing Partnership, MPIRG, Sierra Club, Transit for Livable Communities


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