Metro Transit grapples with projected deficit under House budget bill

Minnesota House Republicans are looking to increase state control over public transit dollars, meaning deep cuts to programs and fare increases for riders in an attempt to make up a projected $74 million Metro Transit budget deficit next year.

For many who use Metro Transit, other transportation is not an option--and any cuts to services or increase in fares means a bigger burden on those disproportionately poor who use those programs.

Under the current House budget Metro Transit is facing service cuts of 15-40 percent and an upcoming battle over price increases. The Metropolitan Council Wednesday night scheduled a series of public hearings to discuss raising fares by either 25 or 30 cents a ride.

But even by the Met Council's best estimates, those fare increases won't even put a dent in the budget deficit, raising less than a third of the shortfall. 

"That's something we've been pretty clear with the legislature about," Met Council Chair Adam Duininck said. "You cannot raise fares to cover the operating difficulties that we face today."