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Most don't want Metro Transit fare increase; Met Council to vote next week



The Metropolitan Council's proposal to raise bus fares drew more than 6,000 comments, and not surprisingly, the majority were against a plan to tack on another 25 or 50 cents per ride on regular-route bus service and light- and commuter- rail service.

Metro Mobility, the federally mandated transportation service for disabled people, and dial-a-ride transit services also would see an increase of 50 cents or 75 cents under plans presented last spring.

During a 10-week public comment period between April and June, the council received more than 4,400 emails, letters and postcards. Another 1,600 people filled out an online survey.

Those comments will be part of the discussion July 24 when the Transportation Committee meets to vote on a potential fare hike that would impact Metro Transit riders and those on other regional transit systems. If approved, the measure would move onto the full council for a vote on July 26.

The topic of raising bus fares rose last year when the council revealed it faced a $74 million shortfall and needed to raise revenue and possibly cut services to help balance the budget.

A 25-cent increase in regular-route transit fares would provide an additional $6.7 million in revenues during the first 12 months, the Met Council said. But the price would be a loss of an estimated 3.8 million riders. A 50-cent increase in Metro Mobility fares would raise $1.3 million in additional revenue during the first year.

Any fare increase could cost the average commuter who takes 40 rides a month $10 to $20 more per month.

Commenters expressed concern that a fare hike would hurt low-income riders. Commenters who classified themselves as low income said they would struggle to pay for transit and would likely take fewer trips.

Others said they could afford an increase but would choose other transportation options such as biking, walking or driving when possible. Some worried that if too many people ditched public transportation, the roads would become more congested and diminish environmental benefits transit delivers.

For those okay with a fare increase, many said there should not be any service cuts if they are enacted.

Transit fares were last raised in 2008.

The council also is grappling with how to cover more expenses with revenue at the fare box. Currently it is capturing a lower percentage of revenue through transit fares than it has historically, and that rate has fallen below the Council’s operating goal of 28.5 percent.


Uber goes national with tipping on Tuesday

For the past month, Uber users in Minneapolis, Seattle and Houston have been able to tip their drivers. Starting Tuesday, passengers in the rest of the country can do the same.

For those feeling generous, gratuities added for rides taken on Tuesday will be matched dollar for dollar by the San Francisco-based company to mark the nationwide launch of tipping.

"We’ll let your riders know any tip added within 24 hours will go twice as far, so you can focus on providing great service," the company said in an email sent to drivers Monday. "To thank our drivers, we're matching every tip on every ride in the U.S this Tuesday, July 18."

Riders can select from preset tip amounts of $1, $2 or $5 or they can the amount of their choice, said spokeswoman Charity Jackson.


After complaints by drivers and passengers, Uber last month launched what it is calling "180 Days of Change for Drivers" to meaningfully fix and improve the driving experience.

Along with allowing tipping, the company also announced that drivers will receive a fee if a rider cancels after more than two minutes (previously it was five), and that Uber will pay drivers a per-minute rate when they have to wait more than two minutes for a passenger

With the move to allow in-app tipping, Uber has joined its biggest rival, Lyft, which had already allowed passengers to tip drivers through its app.

This could be good news for the 6,000 Uber drivers in the Twin Cities if those who take trips on Uber are as generous as those who use its chief competitor, Lyft.

Last month, Lyft put out a ranking of the U.S. cities where passengers tip the most and the Twin Cities came in 10th. The most generous passengers were in Salt Lake City, Lincoln, Neb. and Portland, Oregon.

Nationwide, Lyft drivers have earned more than $250 million in tips, with $50 million of that in the past three months, according to the company.

“Since our earliest days, Lyft has offered in-app tipping because it’s the right thing to do,” said Lyft spokesperson Scott Coriell. “The fact that they have collected over a quarter billion dollars in tips is a testament to their hard work and their passengers’ appreciation.”