Essential health care workers can expect to pay a fare for Metro Mobility rides beginning March 1.
When the pandemic first hit, the Metropolitan Council temporarily waived fares for health care workers using Metro Mobility, a public transportation service offering people with disabilities door-to-door rides.
At the time, Metro Transit was running reduced services and Metro Mobility ridership had drastically decreased as the state implemented restrictions to prevent the spread of COVID-19, prompting the offer to healthcare workers who were on the frontline of the fight against the virus.
Now, the Met Council cites increased ridership and the availability of vaccines for healthcare workers as their reasoning for ending the program March 1.
Metro Mobility ridership has returned to about half its normal pre-pandemic rate, the Met Council said in a statement. The Star Tribune reported that in the first week of February, the service provided 23,916 trips to paying customers, and about another 10,000 for health care workers.
Since the free rides began, about 2,900 health care workers have used the service, the Star Tribune reported.
Currently, Metro Mobility only allows one passenger on a bus at a time.
“It has been a privilege to support the region’s COVID-19 response and ensure our valued health care workers have safe and stress-free rides to and from work, 24/7,” Nick Thompson, director of Metropolitan Transportation Services, said in a statement.
"With health care workers getting vaccinated and demand for Metro Mobility growing, it’s a good time to begin the transition to Metro Mobility’s core business and ensure there is capacity on our vehicles for paying customers.”
Health care workers will still be eligible to use Metro Mobility, but will pay the same fares as regular riders: $3.50 per ride, or $4.50 during rush hours.