Twin Cities, MN (March 23, 2015)–Today, a group of organizations focused on the needs of transit riders issued this response to the transportation proposal, HF4, announced by GOP leadership of the House of Representatives. The organizations include ATU Local 1005, ISAIAH, MPIRG, Neighborhoods Organizing for Change, Sierra Club North Star Chapter, and Transit for Livable Communities.

“Minnesota’s transportation system is aging and out of step with changing needs and demographics. As our population grows older and increasingly diverse, more people depend on a full range of transportation choices. We are encouraged that the GOP leadership of the Minnesota House of Representatives recognizes the critical need for transportation investment. Nevertheless, we are deeply concerned by by the absence of attention to the growing number of people who rely on bus and rail service to meet their daily needs. We are also gravely concerned about the impact of this proposal on other vital areas of the budget, including education, health and human services.”

“Over the past several months, our organizations have been lifting up the voices of people who depend on public transportation. Socorro Lopez, a mother from Brooklyn Center, represents the experience of everyday transit riders, saying: ‘Last winter, I tried to board a bus with my kids but it was too full, so we had to wait a full hour for the next one.’ Similarly, we have heard from workers in St. Cloud who can’t get home from their shift because the bus doesn’t run late into the evening. We have heard from employers about the need for reliable transit to attract and keep workers. We have heard from people all over the state who want to be able to walk or bicycle safely and who see these options as essential to vibrant communities, small and large.”

“Recognition is growing that Minnesota has a problem with racial equity. A lack of transportation choices impact people of color most severely. We need an equitable solution right now that doesn’t turn a blind eye to these facts. We need a solution that unites our communities and invests in a more prosperous future.”

“Public transportation should serve best those who need it most. Right now, it is falling short. Bus ridership is up 14% over the past decade while funding has remained stagnant. Fewer than 1 in 10 jobs in the metro are conveniently accessible by transit while in Greater Minnesota transit systems are chronically underfunded, leaving workers, seniors, and students stranded.”

“Minnesota has a long tradition of substantially funding transportation from dedicated sources, including the constitutionally-dedicated gas tax and tab fees and the dedication of a portion of the metro-area sales tax to transit. We support the principles of the Move MN coalition and call on the legislature to pass a comprehensive, dedicated, sustainable long term funding solution this session to build the transportation system that all Minnesotans deserve.”