Transit cuts would have local impact

To the editor:

At a time when the state has a $1.6 billion budget surplus, it’s difficult to understand why the Minnesota House passed cuts to transit that would force a 40 percent cut to basic, local bus service. State funding for transit has been flat for years, while costs to provide the service have grown by 3 percent annually. As our population ages, the cost of providing Metro Mobility service has been increasing by 5 to 8 percent a year.

Although the impact cannot be fully known until such proposals become law, what is clear is that Metro Mobility and Transit Link service will suffer alongside regular route bus services. The House bill requires fare increases across all modes of transit well above the fare increases already under consideration, making services like Transit Link and Metro Mobility unaffordable to some riders on fixed incomes. Metro Mobility includes premium services like Same-Day Taxi Service and Supplemental Service that are costly to operate and could be eliminated due to this budget cut. Transit Link, a service to connect people in suburban and rural areas to the regular transit system, faces the potential of total elimination.

The House bill picks winners and losers amongst neighboring communities. Some of our region’s suburbs run their own separate transit system and the House bill takes funding from Metro Transit to increase their funding. If you live in communities served by Metro Transit like Lakeville, you will see big cuts in service. In Eagan, there will be no cuts. Regionalism is at the foundation of the Twin Cities and this bill divides our region into have and have-not communities.

If passed, this legislation will devastate the region’s dominant transit system and force thousands more cars onto the roads. Regionally, our transit system provides 100 million trips a year and 80 percent of those trips are either people going to work or school. At this critical junction, it is more important than ever that we tell the Legislature why well funded transit service is important for all our communities.

Steven Chávez
Metropolitan Council member — District 15, representing Burnsville, Eagan, Inver Grove Heights, and Rosemount