MINNEAPOLIS (WCCO) – With the threat of a government shutdown looming, the Metropolitan Council has planned a series of public hearings to collect input regarding possible reductions in transit service and fare increases.
The council said both of these factors could be necessary as they plan for shortfalls in the regional transit operations budget.
A portion of the budget for transit services comes from state funding but the council says services will continue for a period of time in the event of a government shutdown. Still, the long-term effects on the transit budget are less certain.
Without a state budget, the council said they must begin looking at adjusting services and/or increasing rates — starting with holding public hearings on the possible impacts.
The council said they are looking at a possible $110 million reduction, which was previously proposed by the legislature.
Council Chair Susan Haigh said they are “preparing and planning for a significant impact on the transit service.”
Two public hearings have been scheduled for July 6 and 7 to discuss possible impacts, give an overview of the situation and allow residents to ask questions and give feedback. Preliminary information will be available at the meetings, however specific information on routes that could be affected or exact rate increases will not be.
The July 6 meeting will be held from 5:30 p.m. to 6:30 p.m. at the Metropolitan Council Offices at 390 N. Robert St. in St. Paul. The July 7 meeting will be from 11:30 a.m. to 1 p.m. at the Minneapolis Central Library in the Doty Board Room, 300 Nicollet Mall in Minneapolis.
Additional public hearings will be held from Aug. 8 to 18. Those meeting will provide the specific details regarding any rate changes and service reductions.
The seven public hearings are as follows:
Monday, Aug. 8 – 6:30 p.m. to 7:30 p.m.
Bloomington Civic Plaza, Council Chambers
1800 W. Old Shakopee Road, Bloomington
Served by Routes 535, 539
Tuesday, Aug. 9 – 6:30 p.m. to 7:30 p.m.
Hopkins Center for the Arts, Community Room
111 Main St., Hopkins
Served by Route 12, 615, 664
Wednesday, Aug. 10 – Noon to 1 p.m.
Minneapolis Central Library, Doty Board Room
300 Nicollet Mall, Minneapolis
Served by many transit routes
Thursday, Aug. 11, 5:30 p.m. to 6:30 p.m.
Maplewood Library, Large Meeting Room
3025 Southlawn Drive, Maplewood
Served by Routes 64, 80, 219, 223
Monday, Aug. 15 – 6:30 p.m. to 7:30 p.m.
Brookdale Library, Large Meeting Room
6125 Shingle Creek Pkwy., Brooklyn Center
Served by Route 722
Tuesday, Aug. 16 – 5:30 p.m. to 6:30 p.m.
Metro Transit Offices – Chambers
560 – Sixth Ave. N., Minneapolis
Served by routes 5, 19, 22 & 55 (Hiawatha LRT)
Thursday, Aug. 18 – Noon to 1 p.m.
Metropolitan Council Offices – Chambers
390 North Robert St., St. Paul
Served by many transit routes
The specific proposals for rate increases and service adjustments will be available on the Council’s website no later than July 29.
Public comments will be accepted starting July 5 through 5 p.m. on Aug. 29. Written comments can be sent to Metropolitan Council Data Center at 390 N. Robert St., St. Paul, 55101. Fax comments to Data Center at (651) 602-1464, text TTY comments to Data Center at (651) 291-0904, email to firstname.lastname@example.org and leave a message with comments on the public comment line at (651) 602-1500.
In the event that a budget agreement comes to fruition, the council may reschedule the public hearings. If that happens, the revised proposals will be available 10 days before the first rescheduled meeting.