Metropolitan Council passes 25-cent fare increases

With fare increases and service reductions coming up for Metro Transit, students who ride the bus and light rail said they are growing concerned about how the changes will affect them.

Last week, the Metropolitan Council approved a proposed 25-cent fare increase that will go into effect July 1.

The fare increase, along with a 70 percent service-reduction proposal that is yet to be voted on by the council, comes as a countermeasure to make up revenue from a projected $60 million dollar deficit Metro Transit will face in the next two years.

Bonnie Kollodge, council spokeswoman, wrote in an e-mail that $30 million of the shortfall is because of lower-than-expected revenues from the Motor Vehicles Sales Tax. $14 million more is because of rising health-care insurance costs for transit employees. $4 million is from rising fuel costs. $12 million is from other inflationary cost increases.

Second-year student Ije Omeoga said she rides the bus all the time and worries about whether the U-Pass would increase as a result of the fare increase.

“If my student bus pass goes up, I’ll be mad,” Omeoga said. “No one wants to pay more to ride the bus. That’s just like tuition going up.”

Graduate student Melanie Fearing said the fare increase doesn’t really bother her because she has a U-Pass.

“(The University) hasn’t really said anything about the U-Pass going up,” Fearing said.

Miguel Vargas, a recent University graduate, said he rides the bus frequently, and with the fare increases, he won’t be able to save any money.

“I’m no longer eligible for the U-Pass since I graduated,” Vargas said. “It’s gonna be hard to save money to ride the bus.”

Fearing said she is concerned about the service cuts because she doesn’t know if the bus routes she rides will be affected.

Scott Brown, a graduate student, said he seldom rides the bus but feels the decisions being made are important.

“They could target other areas instead of the bus routes, I think,” Brown said. “People don’t have money to buy a car and owning one is expensive because of high gas prices.”

Many people depend on the bus to get to and from work, Brown said, and the service cuts disrupt people’s livelihoods.

Peter Bell, council chairman, said it is unknown how deep the route cuts will be because the contents of a transportation bill in the State Legislature have not yet been decided.