Fitness room, check. Community room, check. Transit passes, check? Yes, some apartment and condominium owners will soon add passes that allow residents to ride transit for free to their list of amenities.
After a successful 2019 pilot, Metro Transit is hoping to grow the Residential Pass program to include more multi-family properties located on transit lines. The hope is to make passes available to residents in up to 20 properties this year, and to continue expanding the program in the future.
“Our main amenities are a party room, a theater room and fitness room. But I would say the Residential Pass would be a top one for me. It’s the most valuable,’’ said Randi Myhre, who lives at Oaks Station Place, near the Blue Line’s 46th Street Station.
Myhre uses light rail to get to her job in downtown Minneapolis, the airport, and the Mall of America. Until she got a Residential Pass in 2019, she paid about $80 a month for a Metropass, which was subsidized by her employer.
Residents like her are more likely to ride with a Residential Pass, the pilot showed. After six months:
- Nearly 60% of residents in four buildings used the fare cards they received.
- Renters who already had a Go-To Card or pass took 36% more rides.
- Renters who didn’t already have a monthly pass took 78% more rides.
Residential Passes not only benefit residents like Myhre but can be a way for builders and property owners to avoid building costly parking spaces. Property owners pay $14 a month to buy passes for each building unit; a typical parking stall can cost up to $20,000.
Parking minimums were recently eliminated in Minneapolis and St. Paul. As part of the change, developers of larger multi-family projects must explain how they will encourage walking, biking and transit.
“Giving transit passes and building fewer parking spots are among the best strategies for developers to get a permit to build,’’ said Michael Krantz, a development analyst with Metro Transit’s Transit-Oriented Development Office.
Pilot participant Oaks Properties will resume offering the passes to residents in its buildings near the 46th Street Station and at another new apartment building between the Blue Line’s 50th Street and VA Medical Center stations.
“It ended up saving some of our residents quite a bit of money and encouraged others to try Metro Transit for the first time,’’ said Jennifer Hall, Oaks Properties regional manager.
The idea of offering residents transit passes through building owners is unique, but not unprecedented. Agencies in three California cities – Oakland, San Mateo, and San Jose – also offer bulk residential pass programs.
For more information about the Residential Pass program, please email firstname.lastname@example.org.
Story and photo by Laura Baenen.