University of Minnesota: MSA, University in talks for fare-free LRT zone


University of Minnesota students might ride between the East and West banks for free when the Central Corridor light rail is completed in 2014.

The Minnesota Student Association will propose an official resolution next month in support of a free zone on the Central Corridor light-rail line currently under construction.

Although there has been no “substantive discussion about the idea” between Metro Transit and the University, Metro Transit spokesman John Siqveland said the free zone would allow passengers to ride the light rail between East and West bank stops without purchasing a ticket or pass.

Currently, light-rail tickets are $1.75 to $2.25 for adults.

Siqveland said the University has brought up the idea of a free-fare zone in past meetings with Metro Transit staff.

MSA has negotiated student transportation with the University and Metro Transit in the past by establishing the U-Pass in 2000 and reinstating the 10th Avenue Bridge Circulator shortly before that.

The idea for the free zone started with the University’s Board of Regents, which encouraged MSA to pursue the issue, according to MSA president Taylor Williams.

Since then, MSA has been working with University’s Parking and Transportation Services.

PTS spokeswoman Jacqueline Brudlos said the office has been “involved in these preliminary discussions, and negotiations are ongoing.”

Tim Busse with University Services said the project is “in the discussion phase” but would be “a convenience” for students.

He said the University will continue discussion with the Metropolitan Council as Central Corridor construction continues.

Students have been in support of the idea.

Sonja Stojic, a freshman studying architecture, said a light-rail free zone “would be really nice and convenient, especially in the winter.”

A free zone currently exists between the Lindbergh and Humphrey airport terminals on the Hiawatha light-rail line. Passengers can ride freely between terminals without any type of ticket or pass.

The campus free zone on the Central Corridor line “would be essentially the same thing,” Williams said.

Animal science sophomore Olivia Cox supported the idea, saying “it would be a lot of extra effort to go buy a ticket or a U-Pass.”

MSA will propose an official resolution at its Oct. 2 meeting in support of the free zone, which Williams expects to “pass with flying colors.”