ST. PAUL—Minnesota’s disabled veterans are now able to use public transportation throughout Minnesota at no charge beginning July 1, 2009. The transit benefit was passed by the legislature and signed into law by Gov. Tim Pawlenty this year.
Disabled veterans simply need to show the proper identification card to bus operators of any fixed-route service in the state, including Metro Transit and suburban transit providers in the Minneapolis/St. Paul area as well as regular-route services in Duluth, St. Cloud, Rochester, Moorhead, East Grand Forks and Mankato.
“This initiative will provide a tremendous service for disabled veterans in Minnesota. They are our nation’s heroes,” said Clark Dyrud, commissioner of the Minnesota Department of Veterans Affairs.
“How appropriate that this benefit for disabled veterans begins so close to the Fourth of July when we show our respect and support for those who defend the freedoms we enjoy,” said Peter Bell, chair of the Metropolitan Council, which oversees public transportation in the Twin Cities.
There are approximately 50,000 disabled veterans in Minnesota. The free ride benefit also extends to a personal care attendant who may be assisting a disabled veteran as they travel.
In the Metro area, this benefit is also available on the Hiawatha light-rail line and on the Northstar commuter rail line, which will begin operations late this year between Big Lake, Minn., and downtown Minneapolis.
“The transit providers in Greater Minnesota are an important part of our multi-modal transportation system. I appreciate that the fixed-route transit providers are acknowledging the contributions of our disabled veterans by offering them free service,” said Tom Sorel, commissioner of the Minnesota Department of Transportation, which oversees and funds transit service outside of the metro area.
To qualify for the free rides, disabled veterans must show a Veterans Identification Card, or VIC issued by a VA Medical Center with the words “Service Connected” or the initials “SC” below the photo. The cards are available at the VA medical centers in Minneapolis and St. Cloud. For information call (612) 467-1991 or visit http://www.va.gov/healtheligibility/application/IDCard.asp for more information.
The Metropolitan Council is the regional planning organization for the seven-county Twin Cities area. The Council runs the regional bus and light rail system, collects and treats wastewater, coordinates regional water resources, plans regional parks and administers funds that provide housing opportunities for low- and moderate-income individuals and families. The Council board is appointed by and serves at the pleasure of the governor.