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Signs at the Capitol—for Transit!

05/10/2011

For Immediate Release  May 10, 2011 

Contact
Hilary Reeves, Transit for Livable Communities, 651-789-1415 (days); 612-554-1795 (evenings); hilaryr@tlcminnesota.org

Amber Collett, Transit for Livable Communities, 651-789-1416 (days), amberc@tlcminnesota.org

 

  TLCTransitAdvocates_AmberCollett

Saint Paul, Minn (May 10, 2011)— At the Capitol today, voices of thousands of transit riders from across the state were heard—in the form of postcards and signs representing cities where people use transit to get where they need to go. A roll call of cities was read in the Capitol Rotunda—Lakeville, Shakopee, Eden Prairie, Brooklyn Center, Osseo, Woodbury, and many more.

House and Senate transportation bills are now in conference committee. The House bill cuts the entire general fund allocation to transit, $130 million. The Senate bill cuts $32 million. The House cuts, if enacted, would lead to significant losses of weekday routes and the end of weekend bus service, according to testimony last week from Metropolitan Council Chair, Sue Haigh. Transit service in counties across the state would also be reduced or eliminated. Jennifer Munt, a member of the Met Council, said, “The cuts proposed by the legislature leave the Met Council with few options. And these are not realistic options. We know and business leaders know and transit riders know that we need transit to get to jobs and attract jobs.”

  Busriderspaytaxes

Many of the transit riders who signed postcards could lose their routes or see bigger crowds waiting at park and ride stations. Helen Duritsa, from White Bear Lake, who rides the bus and sometimes drives to work, said, “Every bus takes 40-50 cars off the road. If these cuts go through more people will be in personal cars. These cuts mean suburban families will pay more to get around and will spend more of their time stuck in traffic.”

Kathleen Murphy, a longtime transit rider from Richfield, depends on the bus and rail to get around. She cannot drive due to a hearing condition. “I have been riding the bus for 30 years. Every summer gas prices go up and then later they go down. Bus fares go up but they don’t go down. We already have seen big fare increases in recent years. If weekend bus service is cut, I and many people I know will be stranded.”

David Greene, a member of Isaiah, and a frequent commuter from Minneapolis to Saint Paul, spoke about the ability of the high tech company where he works to attract key talent if the Twin Cities turns its back on transit. “I’ve seen us lose key hires because they were concerned about livability—the cost of getting around. People are reluctant to move to a place where the only option for getting around is to drive.”

TransitAdvocatesCart_AmberCollett

Reverend Grant Stevenson, president of Isaiah, said “there is a deficit of moral clarity” right alongside the budget deficit. He said that cuts like those proposed for transit cut away at the core of our civilization, the community we all share.

Representative Frank Hornstein, from southwest Minneapolis, said, “This is a critical moment in the legislative session,” with bills in conference committee and nearing resolution. Representative Terry Morrow, from Saint Peter, joined the roll call with the names of cities in Greater Minnesota where more transit service is needed, not less. “This is a statewide issue. Half the people in Greater Minnesota can’t get a ride. In Saint Peter, I see people standing in parking lots waiting for rides that never come. All of Minnesota needs transit. It is a moral issue.”

“This event comes at a time when people across the metro are still looking for jobs. They are seeing gas prices rise to historic levels and now hear that the Legislature wants to cut bus service, making it even harder for families to make their check books balance,” said Barb Thoman of Transit for Livable Communities. “These cuts to transit effectively say to average Minnesotans, working people, seniors, people struggling to make ends meet in this economy, ‘it’s okay if you have to pay more or are stranded, unable to get to work or the doctor. You are not a high priority in this state.’”

As the roll call of cities was completed, transit riders and supporters set off in groups to deliver postcards to legislators. The list of districts with postcards delivered is as follows. Districts 59-67 will be delivered later this week. Copies of all postcards will go to Governor Dayton.:

2A, 2B, 7A, 7B, 10A, 10B, 11A, 11B, 12 B, 14A, 14B, 15A, 15B, 17B, 18A, 19B, 20B, 24A, 24B, 25A, 25B, 25B, 28A, 28B,, 30B, 32A, 32B, 33A, 33B, 34A, 34B, 37A, 37B, 38A, 
39A, 39B, 40A, 40B, 41A, 41B, 42A, 42B, 43A, 43B, 44A, 44B, 45A, 45B, 46A, 47A, 47B, 
49A, 49A, 49B, 50A, 50B, 51A, 51B, 52A, 53A, 53B, 54A, 54B, 55A, 55B, 56A, 56B.

Photo credit: Amber Collett, Transit for Livable Communities

# # #

Sent on behalf of Transit Partners:

Alliance for Metropolitan Stability, Consortium for Citizens with Disabilities, Envision Minnesota, Fresh Energy, Isaiah, LISC, Minnesota Center for Environmental Advocacy, Minnesota Housing Partnership, MPIRG , MPTA, Sierra Club, Transit for Livable Communities

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