Minnesota Senate Democrats recently introduced a bill that would lower Light Rail fares to 25 cents in an effort to increase transit ridership.
As The Minnesota Sun has reported extensively, the Twin Cities Light Rail accounts for just 1.4 percent of all passenger miles, compared to the 95 percent of commuters who drive. As a result, Senate File (SF) 163 was introduced last week to “address traffic congestion and reduce harmful vehicle emissions by increasing transit ridership.”
“Research has shown that decreasing transit fares increases ridership and that increasing transit fares decreases ridership,” the bill states. “Increasing transit ridership through fare reduction is likely the most cost-effective means to address overall traffic congestion in the metropolitan area and to address transportation needs for people in the cities throughout Minnesota.”
The bill, co-sponsored by four DFL state senators, claims that “deep fare reductions have a relatively low impact on overall costs” since “passenger fares currently cover less than one-fourth of total transit costs.”
As it stands, fares for Light Rail are $2.00 during non-peak hours and $2.50 during peak hours, but SF 163 would institute “uniform” 25-cent fares.
“The significant ridership increase resulting from uniform 25-cent fares would likely lead to more frequent service and the addition of transit routes, thereby making transit a viable option for an increased number of people and further increasing ridership,” the bill states. “Dramatically reducing transit fares uses market incentives to add ridership and increase the efficiency and cost-effectiveness of Minnesota’s overall transportation system.”
The bill requires the Twin Cities Metropolitan Council as well as any greater Minnesota area that “receives financial assistance” to “establish and enforce a fare of 25 cents.”
The bill was referred to the Transportation and Finance Policy Committee for a hearing.
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Anthony Gockowski is managing editor of Battleground State News and The Minnesota Sun. Follow Anthony on Twitter. Email tips to [email protected].
Photo “Steve Cwodzinski” by Steve Cwodzinski. Photo “Jim Carlson” by Jim Carlson. Background Photo “Minnesota Light Rail” by Tony Webster. CC BY-SA 2.0.