Metro Council Chair Responds

EDITOR’S NOTE: The following is an excerpt from a letter distributed by the Metropolitan Council, the governing body for Metro Mobility and Metro Transit systems, to individuals and organizations expressing concern in relation to the then proposed increased fares and service reductions. The proposal to raise fares was passed by the Council during their May 25, 2005 meeting. The Council will re-visit the proposal to reduce service after the state’s legislative session has concluded. Please see this edition’s related article entitled “MetroMobility Fare Increases Approved.”

I understand your concerns about increasing fares and reducing service. It is the opposite of what we would like to do as well. Our own long-range Transportation Policy Plan adopted late last year calls for expanding the transit system and doubling ridership by 2030.

The Governor’s transportation plan would increase funding for transit (by providing transit with a greater share of motor vehicle sales tax revenue) beginning in state fiscal year 2008, so we believe this funding gap—while very detrimental in the near term—is temporary.

I do not minimize the impact of the proposal on our customers. Our primary goal as we assessed which service to reduce was to affect the fewest number of customers possible. We believe we have achieved that. By looking at routes, route segments and individual trips, we have identified services with the fewest riders and highest costs. We estimate that cutting service by 10 percent will result in a 3.7 percent loss of ridership.

The fare adjustment—a 25-cent increase—not only provides added revenue to address the $60 million problem but it also moves us closer to our goal of having Metro Transit customers pay about one-third of the agency’s operating costs.

Sincerely, Peter Bell
Metropolitan Council Chair