The Metropolitan Council, the governing body for Metro Transit, voted May 14 to approve a modified proposal of fare increases and bus service cuts for Metro Transit in the wake of Gov. Tim Pawlenty\'s proposed $18.8 million transit cut.
Earlier this spring, Metro Transit had proposed cutting four downtown routes, but in the end cut two - the 94E and the 662, according to Metro Transit spokesperson Bob Gibbons. The cuts will take place in September.
Gibbons said the agency also made smaller cuts to more existing routes to avoid many proposed route eliminations while still reaching their budget goal. (See chart.) All told, Gibbons said 5 percent of Metro Transit service would be cut this year.
Rush-hour fares will rise as much as 50 cents by July 1, and Metro Transit has ended all radio and TV advertising for at least a year. Even with this year\'s cuts, the agency estimates it will have a $30.6 million budget gap to be made up from future service cuts, fare increases, layoffs and programming reductions.
Gibbons said 2,245 public comments were received about the just-announced budget cuts, which Metro Transit tried to incorporate into its plan. Gibbons said that\'s a huge change from the 225 public comments they received about 1996 bus fare increases. He said he attributes the increased participation to Web and e-mail technology, in addition to their flyering and legwork informing the public.
After absorbing this summer\'s fare hike and this fall\'s route changes, Gibbons said bus riders should rest easy until the January 2005 legislative session, where again they\'ll fight for state aid. \"Hopefully the economic picture for the state will be sunshiny and robust,\" he said.
For more information and details about specific route and fare changes, see www.metrotransit.org.