Hearings start today for bus, rail fare hikeby Tom Weber, Minnesota Public Radio
The agency that runs bus and light rail lines in the Twin Cities metropolitan area wants to raise fares, and will ask the public about that idea at eight public hearings over the next eight days.
St. Paul, Minn. — The Metropolitan Council says its fuel costs have more than doubled since the agency last raised bus and light rail fares, in 2005.
If approved, Metro Transit fares would increase by 25 cents per ride on Oct. 1, and the morning rush hours would be extended by 30 minutes. It costs more to ride during those peak hours.
Met Council spokesman Steve Dornfeld says higher gas prices have been a mixed bag.
"On the one hand, we've had the highest ridership in 25 years. On the other hand, as more people demand service, that increases our operating costs as well," said Dornfeld.
Dornfeld says the Met Council is also considering a second, 50-cent fare increase for next year, but won't act on that until it sees what funding it gets from the state, and whether gas prices improve.
"We don't have any taxing authority for transit operating purposes, so we can't just raise taxes," Dornfeld added. "We have to live on what we receive from the state and what we get from the fare box, and the only alternatives are to cut service or raise fares. And we don't want to cut service."
The fare increase would be 50 cents for riders who use Metro Mobility, a service that provides rides for people who cannot use existing transit due to a disability or health condition.
The first public hearing is Monday night at 5:30 at Northtown Mall in Blaine.