Discounted bus passes available online next week

It might be more economical and convenient for University students and staff to hop on city buses this fall, thanks to two new discounted bus passes.
The new, reduced-rate U-Pass for students and Metropass for employees will be available online at a reduced price starting Aug. 15.
The passes can be used on any Twin City metro bus for any route.
Metro Transit and the Minnesota Valley Transit Authority expect that bus ridership will increase by 40 percent because of the passes.
To accommodate the increase in riders, two new University routes will be added. One route will connect the University’s Minneapolis campus with the Rosedale and Maplewood malls. Another route will provide service from the Minneapolis campus to the Quarry, a shopping complex in northeast Minneapolis.
The new U-Pass and Metropass are funded by a $5.5 million grant issued by the Metropolitan Council. The two-year trial program is aimed to decrease congestion at the University and improve air quality. The University will cover 20 percent of the cost of the program.
Students can purchase a semester U-Pass for $50, a savings of 76 percent over the cost of an average bus pass. A $5 fee will also be assessed to help offset the cost.
University employees that work at least 20 hours are eligible to purchase a Metropass through their payroll system. The $35 per month pass will cost $24.50 since it will be deducted on a pre-tax basis.
University students and staff can purchase passes online starting Aug. 15 at http://buspass.umn.edu. Delivery of the passes, which will identify the user by photo, should take about one week after ordering.
— Tess Langfus