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Transit Riders Union

Minnesota does not, as far as I can tell, have a bus or transit riders union.

Other cities do [this is an incomplete list, I don’t think there is an organization of transit riders unions, but maybe it is just hidden somewhere]:


Some of these are more grassroots and more successful than others.  Los Angeles most notably beat down a fare increase on bus riders to pay for rail service.

Right now in Minnesota most advocacy is done on behalf of transit users, or worse for “future transit users”, but not directly by actual transit users.  There ought to be a local organization of, by, and for transit users. An organization which understands local problems in detail and can develop possible solutions. One that focuses at least as much on operations as on plans. Discuss, organize …


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6 thoughts on “Transit Riders Union

  1. Molly

    As someone who is transit dependent, I think a Transit Riders Union would be fantastic. There needs to be an accountable entity that is consistently and knowledgeably speaking to the experience of people who actually use the transit system. This is particularly important when we are thinking about the balance of investments and decisions about core services and routing.

  2. al anderson

    Good heavens, no. When transit riders (including bicyclers) begin paying for a significant majority of the cost of their transportation, I’ll listen. Until then — its just bleating by the left (again).

    1. jon schumacher


      I believe transit riders already pay for a “significant majority” of the cost of their transportation through their federal and state taxes. Very little of the cost of public transportation comes from private resources.

  3. Joshua Houdek

    AGREED! We’re long overdue for a Transit Riders Union. Neighbors Organizing for Change (NOC) is doing a great job of engaging North Minneapolis bus riders. This should be a first step.

    There are plenty of organizations within the Move MN transportation funding coalition that can help support this effort (Transit for Livable Communities, Sierra Club, ISAIAH . . .).

    Transit riders, unite!

  4. Matt Brillhart

    We do need a transit riders union, and TLC ain’t it. They’re great at advocating for increasing transit funding, but seemingly aren’t interested in taking specific positions on this line vs. that line or this route vs. that route, etc.

    As Joshua noted, NOC was doing some great organizing in the lead-up to the SWLRT agreement with Minneapolis, ensuring great ped/bike/bus connections to the stations on the periphery of the northside. I’m unsure if they have ongoing transit advocacy or if that was mostly oriented around SWLRT approval by the City of Minneapolis. Some of the ideas I’ve heard coming out of that group are a little pie-in-the-sky or unrealistic (i.e. asking for reduced fares or longer transfer windows, when our fares are totally in line with peer systems, and our 2.5 hour transfer window is the most generous in the country). They’re doing a great job engaging every day transit riders on the ground, asking them what they want to see, but they seem to lack a full understanding of what is attainable and what is not.

    If starting a new transit advocacy group, the best move may be to simply get involved with NOC, and help them bring focus to what they’re already doing. They’ve got the foundation in place with volunteers/activists, contact lists, and the attention of local elected leaders (Minneapolis, anyways).

    Due to the structure of Metro Transit being part of an unelected regional body that is heavily staff/policy-oriented, rather than politically-oriented, I think that pressure for change may have to come from elected leaders of Minneapolis/St. Paul and Hennepin/Ramsey counties. That pressure for change may also have to come with additional financial support from those local entities.

    tl;dr- NOC is a great foundation upon which to build a strong transit advocacy group, but they need help to move beyond asking for more heated shelters & lowered fares.

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