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Published: Thursday 19 September, 2013

balenciaga folk bag balenciaga folk bag fare hike couldnt come at a worse time

Maybe thatll make em stop.

The Twin Cities, 20 years behind the ball on public transportation, is cursed with a Metropolitan Council that barely goes through the motions when it comes to planning and funding a transit system to serve the future needs of Minnesota. These guys cant keep the bus on the road.

The only good thing about soaring gas prices is that they have made people leave their cars home, sending ridership for Metro Transit skyrocketing to passenger totals that havent been seen in 25 years. How has the Metro Council reacted?

The council wants to raise the $2 local rush hour fare already one of the highest for a metro area our size by 25 cents this fall and 50 cents more next year.

Thatd be a whopping 37.5percent increase and mean commuters would pay $5.50 for a round trip $7 for those on express buses. All so Metro Transit can cover a $15 million shortfall stemming from higher fuel costs.

Fifteen million is serious money, but its just 5 percent of the $300 million Metro Transit budget, and there are better ways to cover the gas gap ways that could keep riders and expand a system still woefully short of what is needed.

Were looking at a different world right now, with higher gas costs and concerns about greenhouse gases, says Dave Van Hattum, policy manager for Transit for Livable Communities, a nonpartisan, nonprofit group that organizes bus riders and analyzes the true costs of public transportation.

We think fares should stay right where they are.

Today, a quartercent sales tax and a $20 fee on car sales goes into effect in most of the metro area to help pay for new busways and light rail. Those steps approved over Tim Pawlentys veto will help build a more efficient system.

But local bus service, the foundation of any mass transit system, will not benefit directly and will remain undernourished. Expansion to serve local bus riders better is lagging, just as more people search for transportation alternatives.

Result: Raising fares is the wrong idea, at the worst time.

We dont want to be discouraging ridership, says Van Hattum. The problem is the Metro Council doesnt have a plan to expand. So a fare increase sends a confusing signal to the public. The administration is just flatlining funding. Theyre hoping to run a bus system that doesnt grow.

Some fare increases may be necessary in the future to cover inflation and fuel costs, Van Hattum says. But not now.

Polls show Americans considering major changes in their driving habits with gas at $4 a gallon. One survey showed half of Minneapolis residents planning to take alternative means of transportation if gas hits $4.50 a gallon of unleaded cost $4.58 in Los Angeles Monday.

Rainy day fund

Van Hattum says Metro Transit could use a rainy day fund to cove balenciaga folk bag r costs until the 2009 Legislature decides how to close the gap. In the long term, he says, a small addition to the transit sales tax might cover it, or the Legislature could raise the percentage of funds dedicated to transit from the proceeds of the transportation amendment passed by voters in 2006.

Anything is smarter than raising fares as people look for alternatives to driving.

Maybe Metro Transit should stop talking fare hikes and start concentrating on putting more fannies in the seats. More riders mean more revenue. This is the best time in years to get them.

Metro Transit will hold a series of hearings on the increase, beginning next Monday. Jim Oberstar, the Minnesota Democrat who chairs the House Transportation Committee, has responded to higher gas prices with a proposal to give $1.7 billion in grants to cities t balenciaga folk ba balenciaga folk bag g hat expand bus service or reduce bus fares. We should be doing both in the Twin Cities.

If you figure long enough, you may conclude that the people in charge of our public transit the same folks who played chicken with federal funding for the Central Corridor lightrail project dont want to expand our transit system. balenciaga folk bag