The high cost of getting to work

Although often left on the sideline in the political discussion on how to improve the economy, public transportation has a major role in getting Minnesotans back to work.  Gov. Mark Dayton, in his May 24 veto of a spending bill, explains: “My budget spared transit funding from cuts due to the critical nature of public transportation and its connection to jobs and the economy.” Recent transit research, including a large-scale study of US transportation by the Brookings Institute, corroborates the vital connection between public transportation investment and economic recovery.  Public transportation development will improve the lives of commuters, by providing better ways to work for those who use it, and by reducing traffic on highways and streets for those commuting by car. Public transportation development will also help the region “get” back to work by creating more opportunities for the unemployed. Researchers at the Brookings Institute revealed that a typical Twin Cities resident is able to reach only 30 percent of jobs in the entire region in 90 minutes on public transit. Continue Reading

How to save on public transportation — don’t cut the budget

In coming to a budget agreement, Minnesota legislators debated how to close the $5 billion budget gap. The dispute boiled down to the central schism between the two parties: DFLers want to generate new revenue by raising taxes on the wealthy and Republicans believe that cutting government services, including transportation, is the only way to balance the budget. A close examination of the costs of cutting public transit reveals that there are actually cost savings to be had by not cutting the budget. Metro Transit has a $375 million yearly operating budget. In 2010, those funds provided for 78 million rides, and they are on track to increase that number by at least three percent for 2011. Continue Reading