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Opinion

Poll: Which Minneapolis Public Transit Lines Should Be Free?

At least one state senator loves the idea. Let's help flesh it out with the power of polling.

11:57 AM CDT on July 22, 2022

Metro Transit|

Look at that bus go!

In a perfect world (or in Olympia, WA; Kansas City, MO; cities all over Europe; etc.)? All of them.

Universal programs are, after all, massively popular and more effective than means-tested ones, though a bi-partisan consensus that delivering material gains to voters is bad for politics remains entrenched. (Speaking of means testing, Metro Transit does offer an underutilized discount program.)

In Boston, the free public transit movement is lurching ahead with a more incrementalist approach, a model that DFL Sen. Omar Fateh hopes to mimic in Minneapolis. The early results in Bean Town appear promising: The city nixed fares on three bus routes that serve predominantly low-income and POC residents, and ridership is booming.

"Our plan is to continue demonstrating that this works and that this is an investment where we very quickly see the returns," Boston Mayor Michelle Wu told The Guardian this week. "I have spoken with so many families who have said it’s been life-changing to not have to worry about how to cobble together enough change in your pocket for that day to get to class, and to know that this is a service that is truly available to everyone."

Twin Cities households spend 14.5% of their income on transportation, according to the U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics, putting us right around the national average of 16.5%. That's the second-highest expenditure behind housing! To paraphrase John Lennon, imagine a world where free Metro Transit rides weren't limited to one buffoonishly drunken, Miller Lite-subsidized day (plus a handful of others). To the pie-in-the-sky crowd: The U.S. has spent almost $10 trillion on road subsidies over the past 65 years, the New York Times reports. During that span, public funding of subways, buses, and light rail has totaled a quarter of that figure. (Boston is using $8 million in federal Covid-19 relief bucks to fund its bus experiment.) No conceivable cost could outweigh the looming ones associated with global warming, which public transit helps combat.

In the spirit of Fateh's Twitter prompt, which routes should Minneapolitans be able to ride fare-free? Click here to choose, as the poll embed feature is, frustratingly, not working on our website. Feel free to sound off in the comments, as is your right as a Racket subscriber.

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