Metro Transit’s first fare change in nearly a decade takes effect on Sunday, Oct. 1, and that’s raised several questions among customers. Here are answers to a few of the most frequently asked questions and comments that we’ve received.
Why are fares going up?
Fares have remained static for the past decade. But the past 10 years have also brought inflation and other factors that have lead operating costs to rise. As a result, fares now account for less than a third of Metro Transit's bus operating costs, a share that is common across the transit industry. The amount of money coming from the motor vehicle sales tax, a primary source of transit funding, is also falling short of expectations.
The transit system has steadily improved, too, with more light rail, rapid bus and High Frequency service and new waiting shelters, bus stop signs and real-time displays across the region. Maintaining buses, trains and facilities has become increasingly important, and costly, as the system ages. And Metro Transit’s police department has grown to improve safety and security.
Revenue generated by this fare increase will raise a modest amount of funding, about $7 million a year, to help support current operations as Metro Transit continues to pursue future enhancements.
What’s being done to support people who will find it harder to pay?
Fares should never be a barrier for those who rely on transit to access opportunity. To support those most in need, qualified, low-income residents can access discounted, $1 fares through the new Transit Assistance Program. Customers who think they may qualify can learn more and enroll at a Metro Transit Service Center or through one of several partnering organizations. Information is available at metrotransit.org/tap.
Metro Transit also provides significantly-discounted fares for individuals with disabilities, seniors and youth. In many cases, those discounts are more than half the full-priced fare.
Why is the stored value bonus going away?
Customers who put money on a Go-To Card will retain any stored value that was automatically added to their cards after October 1. This modest incentive -- $1 in added value for every $10 put on a Go-To Card -- was offered in part to encourage customers to consider using fare cards when they were introduced a decade ago. Today, nearly two-thirds of customers pay their fares with a Go-To Card.
If everyone who rode transit paid their fare, wouldn’t this increase be unnecessary?
Transit Police have already checked more than 1 million fares this year. Because officers regularly ride trains and buses, and repeat violators can be penalized or trespassed from transit property, instances of fare evasion are incredibly low. The costs associated with increased fare enforcement or limiting access to stations and transit vehicles is also significantly outweighed by the cost of the existing proof of payment system.
Free rides are occasionally provided to large events as a way of introducing potential customers to transit. These free ride offers also bring promotional value that often exceeds the cost of the free rides.
Why isn’t the transfer time being extended to reflect the increased cost?
Allowing customers to take unlimited rides for 2.5 hours on a single fare provides sufficient time to travel to and from almost any destination in the region without having to pay a second fare.
Customers who are taking multiple trips should consider using a pass product instead of purchasing individual fares. A list of passes and their prices as of October 1 is available at metrotransit.org/fare-increase.
Still have questions? Contact our Transit Information Center or Customers Relations Department at 612-373-3333 or visit a Metro Transit Service Center.