Transit cuts are avoided in large

The transportation budget for 2012-13 includes a $51 million cut to the Met Council’s general fund, but hiking bus fares and reducing services was avoided.

Bus Driver Gary Merchant drives the Westbound 3 at 3:10 p.m. on Friday.

Jules Ameel, Daily File Photo

Bus Driver Gary Merchant drives the Westbound 3 at 3:10 p.m. on Friday.

by John Hageman

 

Twin Cities transit riders got a bit of good news Tuesday night.

The Metropolitan Council will avoid hiking bus fares and reducing services on Metro Transit buses thanks to the transportation budget, which passed through the Legislature and onto Gov. Mark Dayton on Tuesday night.

The transportation budget for 2012-13 includes a $51 million cut to the Met CouncilâÄôs general fund âÄî bringing their funding to $78 million for the biennium.

The LegislatureâÄôs previous budget, which Dayton vetoed before the government shutdown, appropriated just $20 million to the council, a $109 million cut.

The bill will become law after Dayton signs it along with the remainder of the budget bills.

Met Council officials previously warned that budget cuts could force cutting of commuter routes, including those that run to the University of Minnesota campus, and a fare increase as high as 50 cents.

Instead, the council will shift administrative funds, take from the Counties Transit Improvement Board fund and reduce funding to suburban transit providers.

The Met Council held two public meetings in early July outlining what funding cuts could mean to riders. Seven more meetings are still scheduled for August, pending legislative approval of the bill, Met Council spokeswoman Bonnie Kollodge said.