Bill to cut light rail money advances

John Hageman

A bill that would divert rail operation funding to buses and could lead to fare increases advanced in the Minnesota House Monday night. 

The bill, authored by Rep. Mary Liz Holber, R-Lakeville, would not allow $69 million from a transit fund to be spent on light rail, commuter rail or bus rapid transit. The fund comes from a quarter-cent sales tax for rail transit. 

The bill passed the Transportation Policy and Finance Committee on its way to the Ways and Means Committee, which Holberg chairs. 

The $69 million would be used to cover the proposed $51 million cut to general funds for bus operations.

Wes Kooistra, chief financial officer of the Metropolitan Council, which oversees Metro Transit, said “this will result require fare increases and service reductions,” according to the Star  Tribune.

Proponents of the bill cite the budget deficit as a reason to explore diverting transit funding and the use of sales tax for the bus system.