MnDOT releases Greater Minnesota Transit Investment Plan
State aims to increase ridership by 40 percent by 2025; Legislature reduced funding for Greater Minnesota transit by $16 million last year
ST. PAUL, Minn. — Meeting the growing needs for public transit in Greater Minnesota over the next 20 years is the focus of a plan the Minnesota Department of Transportation released today.
The Greater Minnesota Transit Investment Plan sets the 20-year strategic direction and investment priorities to increase mobility for transit users. It supports the state Legislature’s target of meeting 90 percent of the public transit need in Greater Minnesota by 2025. The plan also includes an addendum that outlines how legislative funding changes since the plan was finalized will affect the goal of meeting the target.
“As the population of Greater Minnesota grows and ages, the need for public transit also increases,” said Tim Henkel, assistant commissioner for Modal Planning and Program Management. “Greater Minnesota transit systems continue to add service hours to reach more communities and increase ridership. As ridership and hours of service have increased, so have costs. The plan is designed to improve ridership based on results from public outreach, specifically improving reliability and frequency of service. The addendum shows that after 2020, the 90 percent target will be harder to achieve.”
The 2017 Legislature’s Transportation Finance Omnibus bill reduced the general fund appropriation to the Greater Minnesota Transit Account for fiscal year 2018 by approximately $16 million.
“MnDOT completed the plan before the funding was changed and represents MnDOT’s strategy of meeting the 90 percent target,” said Henkel. “The target hasn’t changed, but how to pay for it has.”
MnDOT estimated the 2025 ridership target for Greater Minnesota transit providers is to support 17 million rides or an additional 4.8 million rides annually, a 40 percent increase in ridership from today. The increase will require an additional 51,000 new service hours each year.
To achieve the 90 percent target, approximately $120 million of additional revenue will be required, or about $17.2 million per year.
MnDOT evaluated the current level of transit service and then developed a service plan and the cost needed to improve reliability, evening and weekend services--the most significant factors to current and potential riders.
MnDOT provides funding for 36 transit systems in Greater Minnesota. Total operating cost in 2015 was $84.4 million.