Letter: Bus and rail fare increases are quite substantial for many

To the Editor:
I was saddened to read about the increase in most bus and rail fares by 25 cents in the Aug. 3 edition of the Sun Post.
To take two examples, this is a 14-percent increase in the regular off-peak fare, currently $1.75, and an 11-percent increase in the on-peak fare, currently $2.25. But those paying by Go-To cards will face a 26 percent increase in off-peak fares, and 22 percent in on-peak fares.
This is due to the elimination of the so-called 10 percent “bonus” for stored value Go-To Card purchases. “Bonus” is a loaded word, rather it should be called a reasonable discount for a non-refundable (use-it-or-lose-it) advance bulk purchases.
The elderly, Medicare card holders, and people with disabilities will face a nominal 33-percent fare increase, from 75 cents to a dollar for off-peak travel. But if they purchased by Go-To cards, the fare increase will be 47 percent.
Perhaps the saddest part is that these quite substantial fare increases will only bring in $6.8 million per year in revenue, according to the article. In comparison, consider the $1.858 billion construction cost of the Southwest Light Rail (for a mere 14.5 miles of track and platforms), of which half will be paid for by state and local taxpayers.

James Larson
Golden Valley

  • Jim Larson

    In the last paragraph, the $1.858 million should be $1,858 million but the Sun Post changed it to $1.858 million when they intended to change it to $1.858 billion.

    Anyway, the point being that construction cost of the Southwest LRT is 256 times larger than the quite substantial (in percentage increase terms) $6.7 million annual fare increase.

    And that maybe we should rethink our priorities from one where we gold-plate one or two routes (out of a 129 route system) to improving bus service at far less cost. For example, the MetroTransit Service Improvement Plan would fund every high and medium priority bus route identified in the plan at an annual cost of $67 million. This will improve service to a lot more people than gold-plating 14.5 miles.

    Yes, I get that extending dozens of bus routes and their times of operation does not offer any ribbon cutting ceremonies and legacy to brag about for our politicians and civic “leaders” as does a new LRT line.

    The high and medium priority bus routes are listed at:
    http://www.metrotransit.org/Data/Sites/1/media/about/improvements/sip/07_AppendixF_SIPImprovementsbyRt.pdf

  • Jim Larson

    Moderator —

    the letter that was published is just plain wrong — and it is not the letter I submitted. The letter I submitted had “$1858 million” as the cost of the Southwest LRT, which is correct — I chose to present it in millions for easy comparison to the $6.7 million/year in the fare increase — comparing millions to millions. It might not be stylistically ideal but it is not wrong. Whereas $1.858 million is wrong by a factor of 1/1000. Gina Purcell has agreed to publish a correction in the next issue —
    ———————————————————————
    Hi James,

    In reviewing your comments and my correction, I apologize for the error. I will run a correction on the opinion page next week that states, the Southwest Light Rail is estimated to cost $1.858 BILLION.

    Thank you for bringing it to my attention.

    Gina Purcell Community Editor Sun Post New Hope/Golden Valley 763.424.7394 [email protected]
    —————————————————————————-

    I also asked her Friday Aug 18 to have it fixed in the online version when it is published online. Well, that didn’t happen. So here it is wrong both in print — and online for the whole weekend — making me look like a stupid idiot complaining about $1.858 million “for a mere 14.5 miles of track and platform” like I’m totally naive about the cost of transportation projects.

    I would hope that the Sun Post will do the right thing.

    Thank you,
    James Larson

  • Jim Larson

    Thank you. Re. the Southwest LRT construction cost, I see that the $1.858 million got corrected to the correct $1.858 billion on Wednesday morning (August 23).