NEWS & VIEWS OF PHILLIPS SINCE 1976
Tuesday October 24th 2017

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Transit: Fares Rise: What’s Fair Fare?

BY JOHN CHARLES WILSON

25 Cent Fare Increase Oct. 1

The biggest transit news in Phillips, indeed in the whole Twin Cities, this month is obviously the 25-cent fare increase going into effect October 1st.

Fair Fare Future?

One thing that is interesting about it is that the Met Council is looking at reforming the fare structure to be more equitable. Some things being considered include bringing back distance-based fares (zones) and providing breaks to “reverse” commuters – people who live in the inner city and work in the suburbs. Additionally, a Transit Access Program is now being implemented for people with low incomes. This seems to be an admission that the fares have gotten too high for a major segment of the population.

What’s Fair? Compare to 1970 Fare

There is no cut-and-dried answer to the question of “What’s a fair fare?” but if we compare the current fares with those in 1970, just before the MTC took over Twin City Lines, and adjust for inflation, we find some interesting facts. The base fare in 1970 was 30 cents (equal to $1.88 today). That covered local rides within the city limits of either Minneapolis or Saint Paul. A double fare was charged to go between the two cities. Going to suburbs was an extra 10 cents (equal to 63 cents today) per city boundary crossed. What few express buses existed then had a 5 cent (equal to 31 cents today) tax.

People riding within Minneapolis or Saint Paul, and those taking express buses to the first ring suburbs during rush hour, are paying more now than then. People riding between the two cities or to and from the suburbs (except the limited group mentioned above) are either paying the same or less now (adjusted for inflation) than then. Is this fair to inner-city residents? Does the “temporary” rush-hour tax enacted in 1982 make the fares more or less fair?

Consider what today’s fare structure means in 1970 dollars: The local fare would have been 32 cents non-rush hour and 40 cents rush hour. The express fare would have been 40 cents non-rush hour and 52 cents rush hour. Distance wouldn’t have mattered.

Fare Opinions WANTED!

If you have an opinion on how the fare structure can be more fair, now is the time to get in touch with the Met Council. Their staff is developing a report on this subject which is to be reviewed by the Council in the first quarter of 2018. Let’s hope the results are beneficial to all.

John Charles Wilson is a Whittier Neighborhood resident.

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