Transit Funding Win at the State Capitol
There’s great news out of the legislature as the special session winds down—transit and active transportation received record levels of funding this year! The transportation budget bill (HF 10) passed with strong bipartisan support. Governor Walz is anticipated to sign the bill into law before the end of the month.
Throughout the session, Move Minnesota advocates, staff, and coalition allies have been in touch with state legislators and the Governor to let them know how critical investments in transit, bicycling, walking, and rolling are to our daily lives and our collective futures. Big thanks to everyone who took action with us in recent months! Together—whether you emailed or called your lawmakers, sent letters, wrote your local paper, donated to support our cause, or all of the above—your advocacy has truly paid off!
Why We’re Celebrating
The new transportation bill will provide critical resources for expanding bus rapid transit service and electric busing in the metro, and for Safe Routes to School and biking, walking, and rolling statewide. It will support reliable Metro Mobility service and more-frequent intercity rail. Its $78 million investment in transit, bicycling, walking, and rolling is an investment in a stable climate, clean air, access to jobs, and equitable, thriving communities that work for people of all ages, races, incomes, and abilities.
Key highlights in the bill include:
- $57.5 million invested in arterial bus rapid transit. This is a historic cash investment in our bus system that will drastically improve the connectivity and reliability of our transit system, and will shave hours off Minnesotans’ weekly commutes and transit trips. With these funds, Metro Transit will be able to complete the E Line and will have a significant down payment on the F Line.
- $5 million invested in the active transportation account at MnDOT. This is the very first time this account has received funding; the funds will help improve biking, walking and rolling statewide.
- $250,000 to assist with Metro Transit’s transition to zero emission buses, which will be deployed in areas that already face disproportionate negative effects from air pollution.
- $5 million for Safe Routes to School, which will enhance active transportation choices for students statewide, setting them up for continuing to opt for active modes throughout their lives.
- $250,000 for the Highway 55 transit corridor study in Hennepin County.
- $10 million for the state match for the second daily passenger train to Chicago, which expands Minnesotans’ choices for multimodal transportation.
- Forecasted funding for Metro Mobility services beginning in fiscal year 2026, which will ensure this essential and federally mandated service maintains adequate funding going forward.
Fare Enforcement Policy Change: We were disappointed to see that language to eliminate criminal penalties for fare non-payment and to create a supportive transit ambassador program was not included in the final bill. Move Minnesota will continue to push for fully decriminalizing fare non-payment in the next legislative session and will continue to work toward a permanent, fully funded transit ambassador program in the coming years. Minnesota’s current fare enforcement policy has harmed Black and Native transit riders disproportionately and it must change if we want transit systems that are welcoming, just, and well-functioning for all. Both the Senate and House Transportation Committee chairs—Rep. Hornstein and Sen. Newman—pledged to continue this work next session.
New Ongoing Resources: Although the historic one-time funding in the transportation bill is a big win worth celebrating, our fight continues for the transformative, long-term transit investments that our climate and communities urgently need. At the start of the 2021 legislative session, Move Minnesota proposed a legislative platform to build out a comprehensive transit and active transportation system that would serve Minnesotans of every race, ability, and income; would move the state toward achieving its climate action goals; and would provide greater opportunities for jobs, education, health care, and recreation. Building out that system would require about $600 million annually over the next ten years, achieved through a one-cent sales tax in the seven-county metro area. While we’re cheering the significant investments in transit this session, we’re committed to achieving that bigger vision and we know our advocacy is far from over.
Let’s Keep This Up
We all benefit when it is easy to walk, bike, roll, and take transit. Thanks again to our grassroots supporters, our coalition partners, and our elected champions for advocating with us and being part of this movement. With your help, we make more and more progress every year—let’s keep it up! Stay involved with the latest emails, actions, and upcoming events.