For Immediate Release March 25, 2011
Hilary Reeves, Transit for Livable Communities
651-767-0298 x115 (days); 612-554-1795 (evenings)< email@example.com
Jenna Wade, Fresh Energy
651-726-7568 (days); 612-819-7282 (cell), firstname.lastname@example.org
Saint Paul, MN (March 25, 2011)—The upshot of a week of hearings at the Legislature about transit funding is that if House measures prevail there will be a $4.00 fare increase or a 45% reduction in service and 550 layoffs, according to a letter from the Metropolitan Council to Rep. Beard, Chair of the House Transportation Finance Committee. The House bill goes to a floor vote Monday.
“While much of the coverage at the Legislature this week has focused on the Health and Human Service bill, transportation and housing costs make up more than 50% of the average household budget,” said Dave Van Hattum of Transit for Livable Communities. “These cuts will hit everyone very hard,” he said, “noting that 63% of Metro Transit riders are going to work.”
The transportation committees heard powerful testimony from a wide variety of voices in support of transit. Charlie Zelle, representing the Minneapolis Regional Chamber, spoke of corporate site selectors and the factors that determine where businesses locate. “Bold investment in transit attracts business,” Zelle said. “We see transit as critical to retain employees and businesses.”
Transit riders from the Metro—many of whom arrived by transit—and from out-state spoke passionately about the place of transit in their lives and the affect of cuts on their communities’ quality of life. Legislators also heard that rising fuel prices and dependence on oil are concerns.
Gary Ludwig, who runs the regional bus system in New Ulm, Minnesota, said legislators could cut funds, but they would end up trading “a $5 fare for a $500 ambulance,” speaking of local residents who use his service to get to medical appointments. A student from Apple Valley said she relies on Metro Transit to get to her job. Another student, originally from Indiana, said she chose the Twin Cities because of the transit system and said other friends do the same.
On Friday, the Met Council outlined what the House cuts would mean in practical terms. Using a “fares only” approach to solving the $130 million, 2-year, cut would mean a $4.00 increase in fares, bringing regular route fares to between $5.75 and $7.00 per ride. This would lead to a 50-60% loss in rides provided, or 40-48 million fewer rides per year
An alternative, system-wide approach to dealing with the $130 million cut would include a range of measures, including
- laying off approximately 550 drivers and related staff
- cutting nearly 45% of regular route bus service
- cutting 240 peak rush hour bus trips per day
- reducing Metro Mobility operating hours
- Saturday and Sunday regular route and all dial-a-ride programs may be eliminated
- a $.25 cent fare increase, resulting in 22 million fewer rides in 2012 and 2013.
The Senate bill cuts $32 million from the general fund allocation for transit for the biennium, with directions to the Met Council to fill the cut with the Livable Communities fund, fare increases and service cuts. The Senate taxes committee will hear the bill Friday afternoon; the Senate bill will go to the floor later next week. The budget proposed by Governor Dayton preserves general fund allocations to transit.
Sent on behalf of Transit Partners:
1000 Friends of Minnesota, Alliance for Metropolitan Stability, Consortium for Citizens with Disabilities, Fresh Energy, Isaiah, LISC, Minnesota Citizens for Environmental Advocacy, Minnesota Housing Partnership , MPIRG , MPTA, Sierra Club, Transit for Livable Communities