Tim Harlow
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Minneapolis Public Schools students who take Metro Transit to class ran into a snag last week when the transit agency deactivated the Go-To cards used to cover their fares.

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

Metro Transit issued a memo to drivers telling them that students' cards should be honored as "flash passes."

"The cards cannot be extended, so the workaround is to show the operator the pass and simply not scan it," said spokesperson Laura Baenen. "Students need to show their existing student pass to the operator. They can't just get on."

But starting Saturday, when summer break begins, existing passes won't 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 at full strength this year after it was scuttled in 2020 due to the pandemic and offered in a limited capacity last year.

"We are hitting the resume button to get students back on 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 nine to 12 to take unlimited rides through Sept. 6 on buses and trains on which fares are $3.25 per trip or less. Students can buy 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 sign up, Hop said.

The Summer Pass can help fill the transportation gap until classes resume in the fall, Hop said. Passholders took more than 2.16 million rides between 2015 and 2019.

"Students will have summer jobs and activities," Hop said. "Instead of trying to pester parents or friends for a ride, they simply can hop on transit to get where they are going at a very low price and without the hassle of parking or picking up a vehicle."

Don't pass on the shoulder

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

Sheriff's deputies, in concert with other law enforcement, conducted a crackdown in Wyoming Township last week to curb the bad behavior. In four hours, police issued 23 citations, mostly for drivers illegally passing on the shoulder.

"Writing crash reports sucks up a lot of time," the sheriff's office said. "We hate them. Enforcement and citations are one way to prevent crashes."

Drivers, here is your warning.

"We will be doing more of these enhanced traffic details throughout the summer," the sheriff's office said.