Community Transit of United Community Action Partnership is continuing its tradition of leading the charge toward continued improvement in rural public transit. On March 30, 2017, Community Transit was awarded $289, 200 to begin two pilot projects. One is a route between Fulda and Worthington. The other establishes regular route service in the city of Redwood Falls.
“We are honored that Community Transit of United Community Action Partnership was selected for expansion projects,” said Transportation Director Cathleen Amick.
“The first route will serve people of Murray County with rides between Fulda and Worthington. This project is designed to begin on July 1, 2017.”
The origin and destination for this route were chosen at the urging of Murray County transit advisory committee members because of the large numbers of people who need to get to Worthington for medical appointments. Once the route has started, Murray County residents will be able to schedule rides between Fulda and Worthington on Tuesdays and Thursdays.
“The second pilot project is designated for a route in the City of Redwood Falls beginning January 1, 2018,” said Amick.
The possibility of regular route service to lighten the load on dial-a-ride service in Redwood Falls has been discussed for many years, but there has never been enough local match funding. This grant program offered the rare opportunity to get the project off the ground without any initial local investment.
MNDOT explained the rationale for this 100% State funded grant program in a memo to eligible transit providers. “This new special discretionary grant program is intended to stimulate transit service growth in Greater Minnesota by reducing the local match requirement, which is known to be a barrier to adding new service quickly.”
During the pilot projects, Community Transit will be busy tracking the effectiveness of these new routes, and making sure they can be sustained at the end of the grant period.
“If they are successful, we hope to get additional financial support to continue these routes,” Amick said.
The Community Transit program started out with a few volunteers driving residents to local senior dining sites. In 1990 they began serving Jackson and Lyon counties as a public transit provider. They had one bus per county funded by MNDOT. That was the beginning. Community Transit is now an eight-county public transit service with a fleet of nearly 40 buses and 75 volunteer drivers.
These grants are a testament to the fact that even with all the enhancements that have been made, Community Transit will be in the business of improving transportation services for years to come.