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Chair of Met Council Decries Proposed Cuts to Mass Transit, Light Rail

April 14, 2017 06:27 PM

House and Senate transportation proposals aim to drastically cut money for mass transit in Minnesota, including taking away operational funding for future light rail projects. The Chair of the Metropolitan Council says these proposed cuts could lead to fewer routes and increased fares for riders.

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The Chair of the Metropolitan Council is voicing concerns about proposed cuts to light rail and mass transit funding in the Metro and across Greater Minnesota. 

Transportation budget bills in both the House and Senate provide almost no funding for mass transit, and seek to strip future operational funding from light rail.

RELATED: House GOP Transportation Funding Plan Raises Transit Concerns

Speaking on a recent edition of KSTP's "At Issue," Adam Duininck said it was unfortunate to see the House and Senate propose such drastic reductions in funding, despite a budget surplus of $1.65 billion.

He said that could lead to fewer routes and increased fares.

Duininck argued lawmakers need to view roads, bridges and mass transit as a comprehensive and linked system. And that cuts to one area could have a damaging effect on trying to provide effective transit options overall.

RELATED: Light Rail Debate Continues to Divide

In addition to proposing to cut light rail operational funding, several Republican lawmakers have also signed a letter to Elaine Chao, the U.S. Secretary of Transportation. It seeks to stop the federal government from approving $900 million in federal funding for the Southwest Light Rail project.

Those lawmakers call it a "wasteful" project. 

Duininck said $160 million has already been spent on SWLRT. He said it would be wasteful to scrap the project this far along in the process. 

And he believes the project will move forward, despite outcry from Republicans.

RELATED: Met Council Chair Says Resolution is Misguided

Duininck also discussed proposed rate increases for riders of buses and light rail.

The last time the Met Council increased fares was 2008. Opponents of any transit rate increase say that would be hurt people who rely on public transit to get to work and/or school.

The Met Council is gathering public input about the proposed rate increase through an online survey and at public meetings set to start in a few weeks. 

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