A Dakota County commissioner will no longer sit on the board of the Minnesota Valley Transit Authority (MVTA), following a vote Tuesday of the County Board to dissolve its joint powers agreement with the south suburban transit agency.
Riders won't see any impact on service as a result of the 4-3 vote, and there shouldn't be any financial ramifications, said MVTA spokesman Richard Crawford.
But the withdrawal means Dakota County will lose direct input as MVTA makes decisions about policies and service plans.
The County Board had already decided not to appoint a commissioner to the transit agency's board in 2021, leaving the seat unfilled, but the county needed to take formal action to cease being a member of the MVTA effective at the end of the year.
"We are not abandoning transit," said County Board Chairwoman Mary Liz Holberg. "This puts the board in a stronger position to move the county agenda for transit forward, not that of any particular transit provider."
Tuesday's decision came after MVTA contemplated suing the Metropolitan Council for awarding operations of the Red Line to Metro Transit, which took over the route in December. MVTA had operated the rapid bus line that runs between Apple Valley and the Mall of America since its inception in 2013.
It wasn't the first time people asked if Dakota County should withdraw from MVTA. But the recent events brought up the issue again, with some wondering if it was proper for a commissioner to belong to a transit agency's board.
"We need to sit in a place of neutrality" and make transit decisions for the county as a whole, Holberg said, "not one provider vs. another."
The Dakota County Regional Chamber of Commerce, the Apple Valley Chamber of Commerce, and Uponor, one of Apple Valley's largest employers, sent letters urging the County Board to remain a member of the MVTA. They feared the county's withdrawal would harm collaboration and future transit initiatives.
MVTA CEO Luther Wynder said having a Dakota County commissioner on his board brought a "wide lens" when it came to long-range planning.
MVTA will move ahead with a systemwide study, Wynder said. "We look forward to working closely with Dakota County to provide the benefits that come with effective and efficient public transportation."
Tim Harlow • 612-673-7768