To the Editor:
The transportation proposal passed by the Minnesota House of Republicans will have serious impacts to thousands of Minnesotans who depend on transit every day. The House Transportation Omnibus Bill contains cuts to Metro Transit that will balloon our budget deficit from $74 million over the next two years to $125 million. At a time when the state has a $1.6 billion budget surplus, legislators are considering cuts that will force a 40 percent reduction in basic bus service.
This bill specifically harms multiple populations for which transit is a daily necessity. There are many people in our region who are transit dependent for whom taking a car to work, school or for errands is not an option. Half of local bus riders don’t have a driver’s license, while 58 percent don’t have access to a car. In addition to the steep service cuts, the House bill requires fare increases well above the increases already under consideration, effectively pricing those transit-dependent riders out of the system.
Even for those with a choice, a cut in bus service of this size will put thousands more cars on the road every day, adding to rush hour congestion everywhere. At rush hour, a bus can take 40 cars off the road and a light rail train can take up to 600 cars off the road. Without transit, I-35W would require an additional 1.5 lanes of traffic flow to move the same number of users during rush hour. Regionally, our transit system provides 100 million trips a year – you can’t build enough roads to efficiently move that many more cars in our already congested metro.
Eighty percent of all transit riders are either traveling to work or school, meaning that hundreds of families and businesses would be negatively impacted by this service reduction. It’s difficult to understand why lawmakers who claim to value public transit would cut this essential service and leave so many transit dependent residents on the curb.
Munt serves on the Metropolitan Council for District 3, representing Eden Prairie, Excelsior, Minnetonka, Shorewood, Wayzata, Chanhassen, Deephaven, Greenwood, Tonka Bay and Woodland.