(The Center Square) – At a time when fare revenue and passenger trips have plummeted, the Minneapolis transit system has given its employees pay increases.
Top administrators at Metro Transit saw significant pay increases by as much as $55,000 in case from 2020 to 2022. Also, one bus driver made $201,853 and another bus driver made $195,717 last year. According to the Bureau of Labor Statistics, the median hourly wage for bus drivers in the United States is $23.37 which equates to $48,600 for a 40-hour a week position.
Among the Metro Transit employees seeing significant pay increases:
Wes Kooistra, general manager of Metro Transit, had his gross pay increase from $237,951 in 2020 to $258,311 in 2022. Kooistra was the highest paid MTA employee in 2022.
Daniel Craig, supervisor of street operations at MTA, made $191,839 in 2020 and that increased to $220,558 in 2022.
Lt. Jason Lindner of the Metro Transit Police Department had his gross pay increase from $168,515 in 2020 to $223,199 in 2022.
Overall, during the pandemic, total payroll costs from 2020 to 2022 increased from $207.3 million to $208.3 million despite having 269 fewer employees in 2022.
In 2022, 482 transit employees in Minneapolis made more than $100,000. This is up from 337 employees making that in 2020.
The pay increases come at a time when ridership and fare revenues plummeted in transit agencies across the nation. Minneapolis was no exception.
Metro Transit’s fare revenue dropped from $110.9 million in 2019 to $45.3 million in 2020, the first year the pandemic impacted transit. In 2021, fare revenue dropped again to $34.9 million, according to the Federal Transit Administration.
The number of passengers also dropped from 77.9 million unlinked trips in the pre-pandemic 2019 to 32.9 million in 2021. Transit defines an unlinked trip as a single boarding by a passenger.
To make up for the loss in fare revenue, transit agencies across the country received a huge injection of federal money due to the pandemic.
For example, Metro Transit had $18.3 million in federal money designated for its operating funds in 2019. That increased to $176.3 million in 2020 and $34.8 million in 2021.
The Senior Public Relations Manager for the Metropolitan Council did not comment and the MTA did not respond to questions regarding the increase in salaries.