The Eden Prairie City Council unanimously resolved to support SouthWest Transit as it seeks to replace lost funding from the Metropolitan Council and other state and local sources at its Jan. 7 meeting.
Len Simicht, the CEO of SouthWest Transit, is visiting the service's core cities of Chanhassen, Chaska and Eden Prairie to ask for their councils' symbolic support as it seeks to replace lost funding and find new sources of revenue.
The suburban transit service has taken financial hits from several directions, Simicht said, including:
- A loss of $500,000 annually from the state general fund as directed by the Metropolitan Council;
- A loss of $30,000 for its State Fair service after the Metropolitan Council directed SouthWest Transit to lower its round-trip rate from $8 to $6; and
- An annual reduction in funds from the state's motor vehicle sales tax. In 2002, suburban transit services received 17.15% of the sales tax; in 2018 and 2019, it received 2.5%.
"We're really looking for some help to reinstate that," Simicht said. "We have not been able to keep pace with the rest of our region."
SouthWest Transit needs the funds for everything from upkeep and adding new fare boxes and vending machines to updating technology and supporting demand for services like Prime, Simicht said.
"We're part of the regional system, we just want to be treated as such," he added.
Council member Brad Aho noted that with the Southwest Light Rail extension coming to Eden Prairie, riders will need bus and shuttle services to take them from the train station to other locations.
"People are going to need to get to their final destination," Aho said.