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Don't forget an extra quarter for the bus in October

A fare hike for Twin Cities transit starts next month.

Starting next month, you'll need an extra 25 cents to take the bus or light rail.

That's a reminder from the Metropolitan Council, a committee that oversees transit in the Twin Cities. Earlier this summer, the council voted to raise the fares for riding a bus or train by a quarter, and those changes go into effect on October 1.

The basic fare for a rush hour trip will be $2.50. During off-peak hours, it'll be $2.00. Express buses cost a little more and there are discounts for seniors and kids.

There's also a 50 cent increase for users of Metro Mobility, which provides door-to-door service for riders who are older or disabled. And a new surcharge will be added for Metro Mobility trips farther than 15 miles.

Riders may pay for regular-route bus and rail fares using cash, Go-To Card stored value, or any regional transit pass.

Discount for low-income riders

To soften the impact of the fare hike on people living in poverty, Metro Transit will expand a service that lets low-income passengers ride for a dollar. 

The Transit Assistance Program was tested on a pilot basis before the Met Council approved making it permanent.

Enrollment for the program begins Oct. 2, but there's a special early enrollment at the Minneapolis Service Center on Thursday Sept. 28 and Friday Sept. 29.

Find out if you qualify and how to enroll here.

Why they increased

Back in July when Met Council voted to raise fares, chairman Adam Duinick blamed lawmakers for not providing the money to keep up with rising costs.

"The reality is that transit services are getting more expensive, and the legislature isn't doing its part to provide a long-term, stable funding source," Duininck said in a statement at the time.

Looking ahead to the 2020-21 budget cycle, Metro Transit was facing a projected shortfall of about $110 million. 

As the population ages there's a growing demand for Metro Mobility service, the agency says. 

Also, one of their sources of money – the tax on car sales – has been falling short of expectations as vehicle sales lag.

The higher fares are expected to bring in an extra $6.8 million a year, though the Star Tribune notes ridership is projected to fall by 5 percent in response to the fare hike and take a couple of years to recover. 

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