The free fare pilot program is only partially complete, but even if it is deemed “successful,” it is unclear how — or if — Metro Transit plans to adopt free fare policies for the long term.
The first six months of a 18-month free fare pilot program in the Twin Cities has brought a double-digit increase in ridership, according to a recent Axios article. Since fares were waived on two popular bus routes, ridership along those routes have grown by 38 percent and 18 percent; overall Metro Transit bus ridership grew only 11 percent over the same time period, writes Axois reporter Nick Halter.
The pilot program was mandated by the Minnesota Legislature last year, a natural continuation of a 2021 reduced fare pilot program, according to State Rep. Sydney Jordan. Jordan told Axois the program has gotten good feedback in her district. “There's a lot of good data that shows that we should look more into this," she said.
Those next steps won’t become clear until the transit agency provides a full report once the pilot is over. But, Halter reports, it seems unlikely the Metro Transit will be made a fully free system any time soon. For one, there isn’t enough support at the legislature for that kind of action. The transit agency is also currently implementing a $37.7 million upgrade of its payment system and counts fare enforcement as one of its tools for increasing public safety on light rail trains.
However, some people argue that free fares could be a better long-term approach for safer buses and trains. State Rep. Brad Tabke, who authored a transit safety bill last session, told Axios that having free fares helps get more people on transit, which ultimately makes it safer. Whether that plays out in the final data from the pilot remains to be seen.
Indiana Once Again Considering Ban on Dedicated Transit Lanes
The proposed legislation would impact the construction of planned IndyGo Blue Line, the third phase of the city’s bus rapid transit system.
4 Ways to Use AI in Urban Planning and City Design
With the ability to predict trends, engage citizens, enhance resource allocation, and guide decision-making, artificial intelligence has the potential to serve as planners’ very own multi-tool.
LA’s ‘Spongy’ Infrastructure Captured Almost 9 Billion Gallons of Water
The city is turning away from stormwater management practices that shuttle water to the ocean, building infrastructure that collects and directs it underground instead.
An Affordable Housing Model for Indigenous Americans
Indigenous people make up a disproportionately high percentage of the unhoused population, but many programs designed to assist them don’t reach those most in need.
Oregon Bill Would Ban E-Bikes for Riders Under 16
State lawmakers seek to change Oregon e-bike laws following the death of a 15-year old last summer.
Northeastern Waterways More Polluted After Wet Year
Intense rains washed more runoff into local bodies of water, while warmer temperatures contributed to the growth of an invasive bloom.
Tufts University Department of Urban and Environmental Policy and Planning
City of Grand Forks, North Dakota
HUD's Office of Policy Development and Research
City of Birmingham, Alabama
City of Laramie, Wyoming
Colorado Department of Local Affairs
This six-course series explores essential urban design concepts using open source software and equips planners with the tools they need to participate fully in the urban design process.