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Fares Good Question

Good Question: Why no sales tax on fares? 

| Tuesday, January 07, 2014 9:26:00 AM

This 'Good Question' comes from Candace Seidl, who e-mailed to ask why sales tax do not apply to fares.

Similar to cab fares or parking fees, sales taxes are not charged on transit fares. Generally speaking, such services are not taxed in Minnesota.

While sales taxes do not apply to fares, they are a common source of revenue for transit agencies across the country and are an important source of revenue for Metro Transit.

Nearly half of Metro Transit’s operating revenue comes from the Motor Vehicle Sales Tax, which applies to new and used car sales. The Counties Transit Improvement Board, which provides around 7 percent of Metro Transit’s operating revenue, is funded by a $20 motor vehicle sales tax and a quarter-cent sales tax that has been levied in Anoka, Dakota, Hennepin, Ramsey and Washington counties since 2008.

Metro Transit’s other sources of revenue include customer fares, state and regional funding and federal grants.

    > Fares & Passes

    > Metro Transit Fact Book

    > Facts and funding for the METRO Blue Line

    > Facts and funding for the Northstar Commuter Rail Line

    > Ready, Set, Go-To

Bus Fares Good Question METRO Blue Line METRO Green Line METRO Red Line

Good Question: How much will it cost to ride the Green Line? 

| Tuesday, January 07, 2014 12:00:00 AM

The answer to this ‘Good Question’ comes in response to customer inquires about fares on the METRO Green Line.

Fares on the METRO Green Line will match existing fares on the METRO Blue Line, METRO Red Line and local bus routes. That means adult customers will pay $1.75 to ride during off-peak hours and $2.25 to ride during rush hour (6 a.m. to 9 a.m. and 3 p.m. to 6:30 p.m. Monday through Friday).

Seniors (65+), youth (ages 6- to 12-years-old) and Medicare card holders pay 75 cents to ride a regular route bus or train during non-rush hours. Those fares will also be unchanged for the Green Line. Customers traveling within Downtown Zones in Minneapolis and St. Paul will be able to ride for 50 cents. (See a complete fare chart here.) 

Fares can be paid with Go-To Cards, passes or cash.

As is the case with the Blue Line, customers transferring between the Green Line and a connecting bus route, Blue Line or Northstar train will be able to continue their trip without paying an additional fare provided it is taken with 2 ½ hours of the initial fare payment (additional fare may be required if a higher fare is required for the second portion of a trip). More than one-third of those who will ride the Green Line are expected to arrive by a connecting bus route.

Transfers are accepted from Metro Transit routes as well those operated by other regional providers (Minnesota Valley Transit Authority, Maple Grove Transit, Plymouth Metrolink, SouthWest Transit).

The fare structure for Metro Transit’s planned network of arterial Bus Rapid Transit Lines, including the A Line (Snelling Avenue BRT), is also slated to match that of local routes and the METRO network.

    > Fares & Passes

    > Good Question: Why offer transfers?

    > Good Question: Why does it cost more to ride during rush hour?

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Bus Community Good Question Rider Information

Rider's Almanac: Insights and Inspiration 

| Friday, January 03, 2014 12:00:00 AM

Unless you’re a regular rider of Route 23, you probably wouldn’t know Melanie Benson. You also wouldn’t know that she’s been driving for nearly 40 years, celebrating milestones and mourning losses with customers she has come to regard as family.

Thanks to Rider's Almanac, readers can get a glimpse into Benson's world.

The ability to tell the backstories of those who dedicate their lives to transit is just one of the reasons we created this blog a year ago. The 120 stories that have appeared here over the last 12 months are intended to provide a more complete picture of what Metro Transit does, why it does it and the customers and communities we do it for. I hope the picture is better coming into focus. It is for me.

Before I joined Metro Transit and took over the blog six months ago, I used the same bus route to get to work each morning and took occasional trips on the METRO Blue Line. Because I had previously reported about transit and regional development, I had also boarded the Northstar Commuter Rail Line before dawn, followed construction of the METRO Green Line and was familiar with plans to build out new transitways like the Green Line Extension and A Line (Snelling Avenue Bus Rapid Transit).

But there's a lot more I didn't know. I didn’t know about bus operators like Randy Finch who dedicate their careers to making sure their peers are prepared to handle anything they encounter on the road. I didn’t know about the track maintainers who manually inspect every inch of the METRO Blue Line every week. I didn’t know that someone could spend 50 years making sure buses get from A to B – or just how well it was working. I didn’t know that Metro Transit promoted carpooling and vanpooling. And I didn't know that Minneapolis high schoolers had ridden buses more than 2 million times thanks to the Student Pass program.

These are stories that can't be told merely through a fact book. But they are also the kind of stories that are invaluable to understanding the benefits transit brings to Twin Cities. As I look forward to 2014 -- one of the most exciting years in this organization’s 138-year history -- I will continue to share what I learn here so that the understanding of what we do becomes even richer.

The Green Line’s opening is a milestone that I and many others are looking forward to. You'll no doubt hear plenty about this landmark project, the development it's inspiring and the lives it's changing. But it’s not the only story you’ll find here.

In the year ahead, I will continue spotlighting routes through our growing collection of Route of the Week stories, to continue introducing readers to operators like Benson through our Know Your Operator series and to find many other ways of putting customers behind the scenes of our operation. I will also answer more of your Good Questions, share the stories of the Metro Transit Police Department and highlight the ways our services continue to evolve to meet customers’ needs.

As the blog enters its second year, I’d like to ask for your help in making this space as insightful and valuable as it can be. Ask questions on Twitter, Facebook or e-mail us at Tell us about your favorite driver. One-up the story of the couple that met and became engaged on Route 6. In short: engage.

Thank you for reading Rider’s Almanac in 2013. It’s been a fun ride but it’s hardly over yet.

-Drew Kerr, Public Relations Specialist

Five posts to revisit from 2013

    > Know Your Operator: Melanie Benson

    > Route 21: A crosstown with culture, community

    > Using ‘Keys’ to put safety first

    > Good Question: Why offer transfers?

    > The Love Bus

Bus Express Bus Good Question

Good Question: Why use a 40- or 60-foot bus? 

| Friday, January 03, 2014 12:00:00 AM

This week’s Good Question comes in response to customer Amity Foster, who asked why 60-foot articulated buses are not used on more local routes, such as Route 5.                                 

Buses are assigned to specific routes based on a number of factors, including frequency (how often they run) and span of service (how early and late in the day the route operates).

To best match vehicle type with demand, higher capacity 60-foot buses are typically used on express routes that operate only during the busiest times of day (rush hours) and make fewer stops. Because more customers ride each trip and travel longer distances, the additional seats on 60-foot buses provide customers with a more comfortable trip. Operationally, using 60-foot buses is also more efficient because it reduces the total number of trips, drivers and vehicles needed to operate the route. Metro Transit also operates some coach buses  these are assigned to the longest-distance express routes that customers generally board at only one point (such as a Park & Ride).

Local routes that have a high frequency of service throughout the day – in some cases up to every 5 minutes during rush hour – use 40-foot buses because there are more trips with customers traveling shorter distances and getting on and off more frequently throughout the route. Even though there are fewer seats than a 60-foot bus, the seats become free more often and the frequent customer circulation increases the overall carrying capacity on a 40-foot bus.

Some articulated buses are assigned to a few urban routes throughout the day, such as those serving University of Minnesota students traveling during peak class times, but 40- and 60-foot buses are not generally used interchangeably on the same route.

Metro Transit continually evaluates route capacity, level of service and schedule performance to determine which vehicles are most effective on which routes. These considerations are also considered when making new bus purchases.

Future Bus Rapid Transit lines are expected to use both 40- and 60-foot buses. The A Line (Snelling Avenue BRT) is expected to use 40-foot buses with the ability to carry 400 customers an hour because of faster trip times and increased service levels.

Metro Transit currently has more than 900 buses in its existing fleet. The majority of these buses are 40-foot diesel-fueled and hybrid models. There are roughly 170 60-foot articulated buses.

Have a “Good Question” that you want answered? Email it to

Bus Community Minneapolis Safety

When disaster strikes, buses serve as shelter 

| Friday, January 03, 2014 12:00:00 AM

In 2013, Metro Transit dispatched more than seventy buses throughout the Twin Cities in support of emergency responses to fires, gas leaks and other hazardous situations. Buses provide climate-controlled shelter and comfort for the displaced and also can be used as staging or relief areas for emergency response teams. 

On Jan. 1, at the request of the Minneapolis Fire Department, Metro Transit dispatched buses to house fire fighters and victims of a devastating explosion and blaze in the Cedar-Riverside neighborhood of Minneapolis. Metro Transit Police also assisted at the scene.

In past years, buses have been on-scene to assist during events such as powerful storms in north Minneapolis and Hugo as well as the collapse of the Interstate 35W bridge.

“In these types of situations, having a safe place to take shelter is immensely important,” said Vince Pellegrin, Metro Transit’s Chief Operating Officer and a former volunteer fire fighter. “We’re happy we can work side-by-side with emergency responders to provide this service to our community.”

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