Messages from the Council Chair

Investing for future generations

February 2019

A budget can serve as a roadmap to a person’s values and priorities.

Council Chair Nora SlawikIn February, I joined Governor Tim Walz and Lt. Governor Peggy Flanagan as they laid out their first budget proposal. It’s clear they understand the importance of transit as part of a comprehensive transportation system and a way to build community prosperity.

Their transit proposal is based upon a hard look at the data and the facts, a desire for lasting solutions, and is soundly rooted in their vision of One Minnesota.

As a result, this proposal represents a generational and transformational investment in the future of our region’s transit system.

The proposal recognizes that Metro Mobility is a vital federal- and state-mandated service that should have its own funding, independent of the rest of the transit system. By ensuring Metro Mobility gets its own budget allocation, the Governor’s budget clearly defines the moral responsibility we have to provide this service to our most vulnerable residents. And, when funded separately, Metro Mobility will no longer be forced to compete with the bus system.

This proposal creates a sustainable, reliable funding stream through a transit package that will allow us to open one Bus Rapid Transit line every year for the next 10 years. It will allow us to increase ridership by 30% to 40% through an investment in our bus system this region has never before seen. It will allow us to accelerate our progress towards electrifying the bus fleet and improve the transit customer experience for everyone.

As our regional population grows, we simply haven’t been keeping up with the growing demand for mobility and transportation options. That growth, added to the increasing demand on Metro Mobility, has seriously constrained our ability to maintain the system we have today, much less the system we need for tomorrow.

One-time funding solutions only temporarily provided relief. And while the Council was able to manage some of the deficit with one-time savings and smart fiscal management, without new investment our region is facing a structural deficit in transit funding of over $250 million over the next 10 years.

This proposal is a bold, forward-looking vision. It invests in all aspects of the transit experience, including capital and operations; bus rapid transit, regular-route bus, and suburban transit; and the overall customer experience.

I look forward to talking about this proposal with people across the region in the coming weeks. I’ll be embarking on a tour of all 16 Metropolitan Council districts with the newly appointed Council Members that will take us to communities across all seven counties. I look forward to the opportunity to hear your thoughts about this proposal and how we can work together to build prosperity for our region.

Nora Slawik

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