Protestors rally, slam proposed fare increase

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Despite scorching hot weather, a group of transit advocates and community members gathered July 15 outside Metropolitan Council offices, protesting a fare increase proposal.

The protest took place prior to the Met Council’s final public hearing. “We’re aiming to attract people who ride the bus,” explained Katie Eukel, TLC’s communications manager. “It’s important to make sure people most affected are heard.”

Several organizations including Transit for Livable Communities (TLC), the Sierra Club, ISAIAH, and St. Stephen’s Human Rights committee voiced concerns.

Protestors calling for transit expansion declared the metro area needs a larger system to meet demands of the growing population. Dave Van Hattum, TLC’s policy and advocacy program manager, repeatedly stressed that “we need a bigger transit system, not a bigger fare,” drawing cheers and applause. According to TLC, the Twin Cities and surrounding communities expect as many as one million new residents by 2030.

In addition to calling for transit expansion, protestors said a fare increase would put pressure on the homeless and the poor, and unfairly burden people dependent on transit for jobs, doctor appointments, and meetings with addiction counselors.

The proposal would raise fares by 25 cents on October 1, with the possibility of another 50 cent increase sometime during 2009. Tuesday’s hearings were the last of a round that started last week on Monday, July 7.

Matt Roznowski is a senior at the University of Minnesota-Twin Cities, studying political science and mass communications.