Metro Transit promises more, better shelters; Community members remain skeptical

A new goal to construct and renovate bus shelters in low-income neighborhoods has been met with skepticism rather than excitement from some community members.Metro Transit announced through Metro Council last week that they are the recipients of a $3.2 million Ladders of Opportunity grant — part of which will be used to construct and renovate bus shelters in Minneapolis and St. Paul by the end of 2015. Officials said with more and better shelters, they hope to increase ridership, and improve safety and comfort.“The goal is to install up to 150 new shelters, add amenities such as heat and light at up to 75 existing locations and to replace 75 to 100 shelters in Minneapolis that were privately owned and maintained until earlier this year,” said Metro Transit Public Relations Specialist Drew Kerr.Kerr said that the grant will be combined with a local match of $815,000 from Metro Transit, contributions from state legislature, and money left over from the Green Line Project. Altogether, he said, they should have $5.8 million to fund shelter improvements.According to the Metro Council website, that money will be focused on Racially Concentrated Areas of Poverty (RCAPs), a term that refers to areas where more than half the residents are people of color, and more than 40 percent of the residents have family incomes less than 185 percent of the federal poverty threshold.Kerr said Metro Transit has identified north Minneapolis and east St. Paul as areas to focus on. Continue Reading

Riding the bus, worrying about transit deficit, fare hikes

Sarah Sevcik works as an employment developer with Lifetrack Resources. In one year, she helped nearly 100 clients get work. Of those, one third were unable to take their jobs because they didn’t have a car or because public transit didn’t go to the job. In one case, a St. Paul woman couldn’t take a hotel housekeeping job because the earliest Saturday bus did not get her to work on time. Continue Reading