Council votes to increase regional transit fares, in face of upcoming fiscal cliff

Date: Thursday, July 27, 2017

Following months of deliberation and public engagement, the Metropolitan Council voted Wednesday to raise regular route bus and rail fares by 25 cents and Metro Mobility fares by 50 cents, effective October 1, 2017.

The Council also voted to make permanent the Transit Assistance Program (TAP) that provides a discounted fare of $1.00 per ride at all times to qualifying low-income riders. A number of other adjustments were also approved.
It is the first time transit fares have been raised in the Twin Cities region since late 2008.

In 2016, ridership was 96.3 million rides. On an average weekday, ridership is more than 250,000 rides. Research shows 80 percent of riders are going to work or school.

“This was not an easy vote, but one that was necessary to strengthen the future of transit in our region.” said Metropolitan Council Chair Adam Duininck. “Transit connects hundreds of thousands Minnesotans with jobs, school, and with their communities. This is the first fare adjustment we have made in nearly a decade. I do recognize that some low-income individuals who are dependent on transit may not be able to afford an increase at all. Therefore, I’m pleased that the Council was able to mitigate the impact of a fare increase on low-come income people, by making permanent the Transit Assistance Program.”

The decision follows significant discussion and public feedback related to pressures on the Council’s transit budget. Regional transit services face significant challenges, including inflationary pressures, growth in demand for Metro Mobility service, and a primary funding source for transit – the Motor Vehicle Sales Tax – that is continually not meeting expectations. The 2017 Legislature funded operations with an infusion of one-time money of $75 million; and zero dollars for FY 2020-2021 which will result in the region facing a transit deficit projected at $110 million.

“The reality is that transit services are getting more expensive, and the legislature isn’t doing its part to provide a long-term, stable funding source,” continued Chair Duininck. “Our riders depend on this service, and our business leaders clearly recognize transit services play a critical role in our regional economy. Despite overwhelming public support for transit, leaders in the House and Senate chose a short-term fix and ignored transit’s on-going needs. Raising fares is the responsible thing to do and preferable to cutting services – but I want to be clear, we can’t solve our budget problem with fare increases alone. The Legislature must act to create sustainable, dedicated transit funding.”

The Council action will result in an estimated $6.8 million in additional revenue per year.

The Council’s action affects all regional transit services, including those operated by Metro Transit, Metro Mobility, the Metropolitan Council (Transit Link and suburban service), and suburban transit providers (Maple Grove Transit, Minnesota Valley Transit Authority, Plymouth MetroLink, and SouthWest Transit). Transit fares, under state law and regional policy, must be set on a regional basis and be consistent across providers.

Metro Transit fares – effective October 1, 2017                                         


Current Rate

New Rate (Oct. 1)

Local (bus/rail) Off-Peak   $1.75    $2.00
Local (bus/rail) Peak $2.25    $2.50
Express bus Off-Peak $2.25 $2.50
Express bus Peak $3.00   $3.25
Senior/Youth/Medicare Peak (local)  $2.25 $2.50
Senior/Youth/Medicare Peak (express)  $3.00  $3.25
Metro Mobility Off-Peak   $3.00 $3.50
Metro Mobility Peak $4.00 $4.50
Surcharge for trips over 15 miles (non-ADA mandated trips) None $0.75
Transit Link Off-Peak $2.25 - $6.75 (distance-based)   $3.50
Transit Link Peak  $2.25 - $6.75 (distance-based) $4.50
Surcharge for trips over 15 miles  None   $0.75
Northstar (to/from Minneapolis)    
 - Big Lake $6.00 $6.25
 - Elk River $4.50 $4.75
 - Ramsey $3.50 $3.75
 - Anoka $3.00  $3.25
 - Coon Rapids/Riverdale $3.00 $3.25
 - Fridley $3.00 $3.25
 - Station-to-Station $3.00 $3.25




Additional adjustments

Fares for the Transit Link service, the region's on-demand, dial-a-ride transit service, will now be aligned with Mobility fares, given the similarity of the services. In addition, only cash or stored value Go-To cards will be accepted on Transit Link and Metro Mobility.

Additionally, the Council action eliminated the bonus for stored value Go-To Card purchases. Several other passes will also have different prices related to the increased base fares.  See the full fare proposal.

Study on future fare adjustments

In addition, the Council directed staff to study and respond to the following:

  • When best to consider future fare adjustments (including factors of ridership, subsidy, impacts on transit-dependent communities, people of color, people with disabilities, youth, seniors)

  • Role of travel distances in fare policy

  • Potential ways to implement a fare for “reverse commute” express service, to grow ridership

  • Progress on the TAP program to address potential opportunities for expansion

  • Suggestions from the Equity Advisory Committee recommendation from July 18, 2017


Posted In: Planning, Transportation

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