New name, logo, for two-county transit system
The way local public transportation operates could be seeing some dramatic changes within the next year.
The Faribault and Martin County Transit Board has worked diligently the past two months in trying to find a reasonable way to add services to a new transit system. The Minnesota Department of Transportation (MnDOT) wants to increase the efficiency level that each system has in Faribault and Martin counties.
Some of the topics they have discussed include looking at possible service expansions and modifications for the bus systems, approving a new transit system logo and color scheme, and discussing fare structure changes.
According to the committee’s minutes from June 10, a deviated route is encouraged in Blue Earth during the week, along with two daily deviated routes in Fairmont. A deviated route is when a bus breaks its fixed route and stops at another location, when time permits.
Some board members had lingering concerns in their June 17 meeting from their June 10 meeting if this would affect the transit system’s ability to take dial-a-rides with the push for regularity in deviated driving routes and times.
“People might have to adapt to the bus schedule and not the bus schedule adapting to people,” said Faribault County commissioner, Bill Grozkreutz.
“There’s no question we would still have dial-a-rides,” said Jeremy Monohan, the Faribault-Martin County Transit director, “It just would not be at someone’s beck and call.”
Currently, Prairie Express has a dial-a-ride option where patrons can call to get rides to and from specific destinations with enough time in advance to fit the bus schedule.
“If someone were to call from, say, the senior center and wanted to go to Walmart for a dial-a-ride, we could still accommodate them, just in a different way,” said Monohan. “Juba’s and Walmart are current regular pick up destinations. We would probably work with the bus schedule to pick up that person from the senior center as the bus is already in transit near Juba’s.”
Monahan was also able to show board members the possibility of expanding their services in Faribault and Martin counties by not only expanding their service hours, but their service days as well.
According to the board’s minutes, Faribault County could see larger hours of operation. Currently, buses run from 7 a.m. to 5 p.m. This new service expansion would increase those hours from 6 a.m. to 6 p.m., mimicking Martin County’s transit hours.
“It is also proposed to add Friday evening and Saturday morning and afternoon service for the city of Blue Earth,” said Monohan. “It is also desired to add a daily bus for operations focused on the Faribault County section of the system.”
With this possible new adjustment to the transit system, Faribault County would see an increase of over 4,000 hours to their service hours in a single year.
Taking that into consideration, the board also discussed the fare structure for the new possible routes.
According to the statement attached to the proposal, the new system would have a uniform fare structure, creating less expense to the patrons for the deviated route trips than the current dial-a-ride trips. It is the assumption that the deviated route will be less expensive to run and much more predictable than the dial-a-ride.
As the conversation continued, and other questions were raised, Chairman Elliot Belgard reined in the conversation to say, “In the future, a lot of these changes are possible, including possible trips to Mankato, and more regular transit stops, but for year one, these are just discussions.”
The board also chose a new logo and colors for Prairie Lakes Transit. According to the board’s agenda, the executive committee reviewed and discussed some modified logos made by Ruth Cyphers, president of Ad Manufacturing in Fairmont. The committee came up with the new color and logo scheme from input from the transit board. They decided not to recommend a tag line for the system, in hopes of seeing more options in the future. Some of the slogan ideas included, “get to where you’re going,” “get together and go,” and “we’re on our way.”
As it stands, the logo incorporates letters “P” and “L” to represent Prairie Lakes Transit, and also use arrow signs to show transportation. Blue, green and white colors were chosen for visibility and versatility.
The next full board meeting for the joint transit board is scheduled for 8:30 a.m. on July 22, tentatively in the Martin County Human Service community room in Fairmont.