Metro Transit woos students with summer passes

Minneapolis public school students who take Metro Transit to class ran into a problem last week when the transit agency disabled the Go-To cards used to cover their fares.

The cards were due to expire on June 11, when the school year was originally due to end. But classes have been extended for two weeks, until June 24, to make up for lost time when teachers were on strike.

Metro Transit issued a memo to drivers telling them that student IDs should be honored as “flash passes”.

“The cards cannot be extended, so the solution is to show the pass to the operator and not scan it,” spokeswoman Laura Baenen said. “Students must show their existing student ID to the operator. They can’t just get on.”

But from Saturday, when summer vacation begins, existing passes will not be accepted and students will have to pay to ride, Baenen said.

That’s where the agency’s Summer Pass comes in. The program will return to full force this year after being scuttled in 2020 due to the pandemic and offered in limited capacity last year.

“We’re hitting the resume button to get students back in transit,” said project manager Jeremy Hop.

About 55 schools are participating in the program this year. The passes, which cost $30, allow students in grades 9 through 12 unlimited rides until Sept. 6 on buses and trains with fares of $3.25 per ride or less. Students can purchase a pass online or in person at a Metro Transit service center by providing their school name and student ID number.

Students who want a pass but are not attending a participating school can contact their school administrators and ask them to register, Hop said.

The Summer Pass can help fill the transportation gap until classes resume in the fall, Hop said. Pass holders made over 2.16 million journeys between 2015 and 2019.

“Students will have summer jobs and activities,” Hop said. “Instead of trying to hassle relatives or friends for a ride, they can just hop on public transit to get where they’re going at a super low price and without the hassle of parking or getting a vehicle.”

Don’t go over the shoulder

Using the shoulder or a turning lane to pass another vehicle is illegal, according to Minnesota law. But apparently the dangerous practice has been a common occurrence on the freeway. 8 in Chisago County.

Sheriff’s deputies, along with other law enforcement, led a crackdown in Wyoming Township last week to curb bad behavior. In four hours, the police issued 23 tickets, most of them for illegally over-the-shoulder drivers.

“Writing accident reports is very time consuming,” the sheriff’s office said. “We hate them. Enforcement and citations are a way to avoid accidents.”

Drivers, here is your warning.

“We will be doing more of these enhanced traffic details throughout the summer,” the sheriff’s office said.

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