Report: Twin Cities faced fifth highest bus fare increase in nation

Briana Bierschbach

The Twin Cities faced the fifth highest increase in bus fares in the country in 2009 – with prices increasing 25 cents over the past ten months, according to a new report released by Transportation for America and the Transportation Equity Network.

According the the report,  such data shows that service cuts and fare increases in Minnesota’s public transportation systems are part of a national "epidemic," making it harder for families and vulnerable citizens to get to work and access essential services.

The report also points to $1.7 million in unalloted funds for Metro Transit from Gov. Tim Pawlenty. "Although this won’t immediately result in service cuts or fare increases, it further demonstrates the lack of a long-term funding plan to maintain, let alone grow, the bus system," the report states.

Also highlighted was the increase in price for unlimited monthly ride passes in Marshall, Minn. Passes increased from $25 for unlimited monthly rides to $80 per month because supporting grant funds ran out.

“Increasing transit fares or cutting service hurts Minnesotans from all walks of life,” Dave Van Hattum, a program manager at Transit for Livable Communities, said in a statement.  “This current crisis is not just a short-term problem. Given the scale of this recession, next year’s transit agency budgets are likely to be little better.  Even in a healthier economy, transit riders will remain caught up in a fluid, unpredictable, and ultimately unhealthy situation.”