Transit coalition push includes $120 million ask for Greater Minnesota

A broad proposal to boost funding for Minnesota transit includes a request for more resources outside the Twin Cities.
Will Schroeer, center, speaks in support of a set of proposals aimed at boosting funding for public transit across Minnesota. A coalition called Keep Minnesota Moving announced its goals Tuesday, Dec. 11, 2018 at the Capitol. Dana Ferguson / Forum News Service

ST. PAUL -- A Twin Cities coalition aiming to boost state investments in public transit said it will push for full funding of $120 million in improvements in Greater Minnesota.

Spokespeople for the new initiative called Keep Minnesota Moving laid out their top priorities at the Capitol Tuesday, Dec. 11, including fully funding Metro Transit operations, supporting top Metro Transit projects and improving arterial Bus Rapid Transit services.

While the proposals centered mainly on the Twin Cities region, the requests of lawmakers also included $120 million in investments to Greater Minnesota over the next decade, predominantly to grow busing services.

“We would like to see that all funded” Will Schroeer, executive director of East Metro Strong, told Forum News Service.

The $120 million figure comes from a 2017 Department of Transportation report that said if the state wants to meet 90 percent of the demand for public transit in Greater Minnesota by 2025, it needs to put forth that amount in general fund dollars.

"We’re interested in the economy and driving job opportunities," B Kyle, president and CEO of the St. Paul Area Chamber of Commerce said. "Our conversation in transit needs to go beyond our backyard."

The group had few details about possible funding streams for the projects but said it was critical to the state's economy that lawmakers find ways to support public transit projects.

Members said they were optimistic that the Legislature and the incoming Walz administration would be willing to take up this issue. Gov.-elect Tim Walz has said he will pursue a gas tax to fund road and bridge improvements.