Transit options to Minnesota State Fair should be increased, 2 lawmakers say

The Minnesota State Fair seems to be as popular as ever.

But a pair of state lawmakers say getting to the Great Minnesota Get-Together seems to be more of a challenge every year.

"The fair is something that all Minnesotans come to from all over the state. How can we make this a better experience," said Rep. Rick Hansen, DFL-South St. Paul, who co-sponsored the bill.

The lawmakers have sponsored a bill to make the State Agricultural Society, which oversees the State Fair, develop a transportation plan along with the Metropolitan Council by Aug. 1, 2024. 

The plan would double the level of bus service and the number of park-and-ride locations due to what the bill refers to as a lack of reliable transit options this year.

"The need is that we have still had people at the fair that had to wait an hour or two to get transit here, and that cuts down on their time that they can spend here. It's frustrating. It's time-consuming," said Rep Frank Hornstein, DFL-Minneapolis, who co-sponsored the bill.

In addition to more bus service, the lawmakers want more defined areas for rideshare pick-ups and drop-offs and more places for people to lock up their bicycles if they bike to the fair.

But Metro Transit says it already has room for more riders at the four park-and-ride lots it operates, as well as, on the rapid transit and regular bus routes that serve the fairgrounds.

"I think we have an excellent arrangement here with buses, but I think there is room for improvement and that's what we aim to do," said Rep. Hornstein.

The lawmakers say the fair, which already broke one attendance record this year, will continue to grow.

They want a long-term plan on how to make getting to the fair a more positive experience for everyone for years to come.

"So let's make an effort. If that takes a little bit of money. Let's try to make that work so we can plan for the future," said Rep. Hansen.