Meeting the needs of transit users
Minnesota has a statutory goal to provide transit services to all counties in the state to meet the needs of transit users. In Greater Minnesota, 59 public transit systems are operated by local governments and non-profits.
MnDOT's Office of Transit administers state and federal transit assistance programs to support these public transit systems, directs planning and research activities, provides technical assistance, and coordinates statewide bicycle and pedestrian activities.
Transit assistance at MnDOT consists of
- Providing grants to eligible recipients to operate public transit services in Greater Minnesota.
- Providing grants to eligible recipients for the purchase of wheelchair-accessible vans and buses to serve elderly and/or disabled persons.
- Providing grants to eligible recipients to meet the transportation needs of residents commuting to suburban employment opportunities.
- Providing grants to eligible recipients to operate “NEW” transportation services and public transportation alternatives beyond the requirements of the Americans with Disabilities Act .
- Supporting transit corridor projects in the Metropolitan Area.
- Supporting statewide Rideshare projects.
- Coordinating statewide bicycle and pedestrian activities.
- Increasing mobility for individuals and the workforce.
State funding to support Greater Minnesota transit systems
State funding to support Greater Minnesota transit systems comes from the general fund and dedicated funds from revenues from the Motor Vehicle Sales Tax and from sales tax on leased motor vehicles. Federal funding comes from the following Transit Grant Programs:
- Non-Urbanized Area Transit Assistance Program (Section 5311)
- Elderly Persons and Persons with Disabilities Capital Assistance Program (Section 5310)
- Job Access and Reverse Commute Assistance Program (Section 5316)
- New Freedom Program (Section 5317)
- Capital Facilities Assistance Program (Section 5309)
When determining how to fund local transit agencies to sustain or improve bus service, Mn/DOT Office of Transit's first priority is to preserve well-performing existing services, equipment, and facilities, then provide public transit service in counties and areas that are not currently served, followed by expanded service hours in existing transit systems.
As economic activity, health care services, government services, and educational facilities become more concentrated in regional centers, the need to travel to and within these centers continue to increase. One of the strategies to maintain a desirable level of regional accessibility is an improved transit system – this also provides a modal choice option. A network of bus, light rail and commuter rail services combined with bike trails and highways provides for such a multimodal, integrated transportation system.