Transit at the Capitol

Posted In: Transportation
Date: 4/10/2017

State lawmakers are debating a number of bills this session that would have big implications for metro area public transit. The legislature needs to pass a transportation bill before session is scheduled to adjourn on May 22.

On Wednesday, the House voted 74-54 to approve an updated transportation bill. The bill includes additional one-time funding, which would close the projected deficit and allow the Council to maintain current levels of transit service for the time being. It would also clear the path forward on funding for the Southwest Light Rail project. Major details of that bill can be found below. 
The Senate still needs to vote on the bill, which will then send it to the Governor for his signature or veto. The House and Senate are also finishing work on the remaining budget bills. Legislative leaders have indicated they are hoping the work for this special session will be wrapped up within a couple days.

Major details of House transportation bill

  • One-time appropriation of $70 million total over two years (2018 and 2019) closes the projected $67.5 million budget deficit

  • Retains base funding of $89.82 million from the General Fund for 2020/21; by 2020, the two-year projected budget deficit is estimated at $110 million

  • Includes $1 million on a suburb-to-suburb demonstration project

  • Eliminates state’s 50% share of operating costs of planned Southwest Light Rail line project, shifting those costs to Hennepin County

  • Creates a Metro Mobility Enhancement Task Force, including members from transportation network companies and taxi companies

The final bill does NOT include harmful provisions from original drafts of the bill, including:
  • Funding cuts requiring 40% service cuts

  • Met Council governance reform to a 28-member Council composed of local elected officials

  • Restrictions halting SWLRT construction

    • Restrictions on regional rail authorities, cities, and counties on spending money to construction LRT

    • Restrictions on Met Council issuing certificates of participation to pay for SWLRT

    • Restrictions on Met Council spending money to construct light rail

  • Eliminates state’s 50% share of operating costs for all future light rail lines (now only applies to SWLRT)

  • Punitive language which would have resulted in increased bus service for opt-out providers at the expense of Metro Transit routes

In the News

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  • it moves more people on existing infrastructure

  • it improves our region's quality of life and convenience

  • it supports prosperity and opportunities

  • it helps us compete with other regions for talent and business investments

At rush hour bus move the equivalent of 1 1/2 lanes of traffic.

Posted In: Transportation

Tags: Transit, legislature, Funding, house of representatives, senate

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