Bus Rider’s Budget

Behind the scenes, the Metropolitan Council is building a $1.2 billion budget for 2023, but our communities are being left out of the process. The Governor-appointed Council has more than half a billion dollars to spend on public transit, but they’re not asking us — bus riders, community leaders, and climate advocates — what we need.

We need the Council to do 3 things:

  • A just transit system requires safe buses, trains, and stops where all people are welcome and treated with dignity. The Metropolitan Council thinks that collecting and checking fares is the best way to promote transit safety. They spend millions of dollars every year on video surveillance and fare checks, but it’s not what bus and train riders need.
  • We want something new at Metro Transit: light rail attendants. Many cities have been successful at improving safety and rider experience by hiring additional unarmed staff who interact with riders, provide directions, and diffuse conflicts on trains.
  • As many as 100,000 people depend on Metro Transit every day, but using Metro Transit isn’t always easy. Services have been routinely cut since 2020. These cuts often make public transit a stressful and time-consuming experience: buses are infrequent and routes are constantly changing or cut entirely. And even as ridership continues to climb, Metro Transit refuses to restore routes.This lost service means lost jobs, lost access to school and healthcare, and lost freedom of movement.
  • Transit riders deserve a system as good or better than owning a car, so everyone can get where they need to go and we can protect our air, land, water, and climate. We demand Metro Transit and the Metropolitan Council do whatever it takes to hire and retain bus and train operators and mechanics. We’re working with ATU, the transit operators union, to incorporate operators’ needs into the 2023 budget and build Metro Transit’s capacity to run more routes and more frequent buses. 
  • As residents of the Metro region – whether we live in the Twin Cities, suburbs, or townships – we all want our homes to be safe, stable places to live for generations to come. We need clean air and water, housing for all people, and access to transportation that gets us to school, work, and healthcare. BIPOC communities in the Metro region have been left out and underserved in regional transportation, housing, and greenspace access, while simultaneously forced to bear the cost of highways, incinerators, and other polluting facilities built near their homes. Historically marginalized communities must be prioritized when it comes to new projects and services to ensure that all people, regardless of race, class, or ability, have equal access to public services.  
  • As the Metro’s regional planning body, it’s the Metropolitan Council’s job to plan for the future of our cities, suburbs, and communities. However, the Council’s current climate conscious efforts have been piecemeal and the Council has not dedicated any funding to developing a regional climate plan. 
  • We’re pushing the Council to dedicate funding to finish the Climate Plan they promised to make back in 2021. We need the Council to implement climate and equity policies, and we have to hold them accountable for making climate and equity their first priorities.
Why does this matter?

We’re fighting for bus and train riders to have power in budget decisions. This budget is our budget: the taxes and transit fares that pay for the system are our taxes and fares. We aren’t just going to win our three goals — we’re also going to win power for riders in future budgets.

Transportation is the largest producer of carbon emissions in Minnesota. We need to transform our transit systems so that we can depend on public buses and trains to visit our friends and families; get to work, to school, the doctor; go shopping and enjoy outdoor space and recreation. We need safe buses, trains, and stops where all people are welcome and treated with dignity. We need to make our public transit system as good or better than owning a car, so everyone can get where they need to go and we can protect our air, land, water, and climate.

What's the Metropolitan Council?

We’re focused on the Metropolitan Council because it funds and runs Metro Transit, but that’s not all it’s responsible for. The Council also controls most regional housing policy, water treatment, and regional parks and trails for the 7-county Metro, an area that includes half the state’s population. To fund these services, the Council has a $1.3 billion budget. The 17 Council members are appointed by Governor Tim Walz.