Transit operators, riders urge Dayton to stand strong against cuts

Doni Jones, a Metro Transit operator and ATU Local 1005 steward, speaks at a rally in support of transit funding.

Gov. Mark Dayton vetoed a transportation bill Monday that would have slashed funding for Metro Transit bus and rail services by $17.5 million over the next two years.

Transit riders and operators cheered the governor’s veto at a rally Tuesday outside the Capitol, urging Dayton to continue standing firm against service cuts and fare hikes.

Doni Jones, a steward for Amalgamated Transit Union Local 1005, said cuts proposed by Republican majorities in the Legislature would “devastate” the 3,000 Metro Transit employees who make up the union’s membership. Part-time employees would be laid off, he said, and full-time workers would see hours reduced.

In a letter to Republican leaders that accompanied his veto, Dayton said he would not sign a transportation bill that includes cuts to Metro Transit.

“Our transit system is vital to the economic health and competitiveness of the metro region and the state as a whole,” Dayton said, adding that 80 percent of people who access Metro Transit services are traveling to and from work or school.

Dayton told Republican leaders: “Your failure to adequately fund our transit system will have real life consequences for our seniors, students, low-income individuals and individuals with disabilities.”

Many of those people joined the rally yesterday, a scene Jones described as a “beautiful thing.”

“We see these people all the time,” he said. “We’re all in this together.”

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