ST. PAUL, Minn. — Protesters and a few lawmakers gathered outside of the Capitol near the light rail line to call on members of the House and Senate to increase funding for Metro Transit.
More than 100 people huddled together on the sidewalk to listen to speakers and to let their voices be heard that a decrease in metro transit funds would be consequential to both people and the environment.
“Transit is a human right,” one organizer shouted. “Some people would not be able to function without access to buses or light rail.”
Many of those in the audience called for less cars on the road saying transit would allow people to be healthier and to know one another.
“Investing in all forms of transportation statewide is essential to ensuring all Minnesotans have safe streets, clean air, healthy communities, and affordable access to jobs and opportunity,” a flyer handed out by the group said.
A young girl named Sophia from South High spoke to the crowd explaining that teenagers cannot depend on their parents to take them around and many students use the bus to get to school, a lack of transportation would lead to more people being unable to have an education.
One speaker chided state lawmakers for pulling transportation funds, while funding U.S. Bank Stadium, “Taxpayers contribute millions to a sports stadium that puts buckets in the hallways when it rains and is only used a few times a year.”
“I fear a fare increase will devastate a large number of our riders,” Teresa Collins, a Metro Transit Bus Driver told the crowd. “Our riders are predominantly people of color, the elderly, people with disabilities, low-income people who make minimum wage, and struggling single mothers.”
Collins told the crowd that they had an obligation to provide affordable public transportation.
“Our legislators are forcing us to fight for the scraps,” an organizer for 15Now told the crowd. “You are committing violence against us,” she said stating the legislature’s decision to cut transportation funding, “undermines their ability to be healthy and productive.”
The event, which ended at 7:00 p.m. had one clear message as stated by Collins, “Don’t increase fares that no one can afford”