Met Council approves July 1 bus fare hike

Maggie Hessel-Mial

University students and faculty will see an increase in bus fares starting July 1 after the Metropolitan Council’s approval of the increase Wednesday.

The council approved an additional 25 cents to be charged to riders due to the lack of a decision by the state Senate and House on transportation funding. Metro Mobility, a service for riders with disabilities, will not see an increase.

The Legislature is in conference committee to come up with a compromise between two proposed plans. The House proposed $114 million for transportation, and the Senate offered $136 million, with the possibility of an extra $18 million to buy out the rate increase.

“If the Legislature designates less than $136 million to transportation, there will be a service cut along with the bus fare increases,” said Bob Gibbons, director of customer service for Metro Transit.

This is the first increase Metro Transit has made since December 1993, and it said it is necessary due to the increase in operating costs.

If the Senate’s plan were to be approved, the rate increase might be canceled.

This is unlikely, Gibbons said, because the final allotment will likely be a compromise between the two proposals.

“No one at the Capitol thinks that the $18 million buyout of the fare increase will occur,” he said.

The fate of those affiliated with the University is still in question. Metro Transit and the University’s Parking and Transportation units are discussing whether or not the University’s U-Pass and Metropass will be affected, Gibbons said.

Metropolitan Council Chairman Ted Mondale said he thinks of the rate increase as a necessary evil.

“As much as we dislike the idea of increasing fares, we think it’s a modest increase that will help address issues of rising costs, like fuel,” he said.

 

Maggie Hessel-Mial covers the environment and transportation and welcomes comments at [email protected]