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Board now in charge of bus system

By Staff | Oct 2, 2016

By Saturday, Oct. 1, the Prairie Lakes Transit will be in county hands.

Two counties’ hands, to be exact, as the Faribault and Martin County Transit Board will assume control of the public bus service once operated by Fairlakes Transportation, of Fairmont.

“I’m finishing up the hiring protocols with the original employees,” said transit director Jeremy Monahan, “and will be working with the two county attorneys to get a contract termination agreement completed.”

The agreement, which stems from a July request by Fairlakes to end its own underbid contract, will officially allow the board to make the bus service an in-house operation.

Questions about the transit’s future arose over the summer during discussions of Fairlakes’ request, but Monahan and the board confirmed in recent weeks that the two-county system would continue under their direction and a newly formed staff.

Fairlakes co-owner Nancy Gunther has agreed the company will not remove any equipment, supplies or facility furniture from its Fairmont building until the termination agreement is finalized, and Monahan said discussions of potential purchases are ongoing.

“We are still working on the arrangement for acquiring the equipment and supplies that Fairlakes owns and we will need for operations,” he said, noting that those talks will not hold up the termination of the operating contract at midnight on Sept. 30.

“From that point on, the Transit Board is in control of the system and responsible for all its expenditures,” Monahan said.

At the board’s Sept. 21 meeting, more than 25 hires had been announced for the in-house transit service, including drivers employed under Fairlakes as well as external applicants, not to mention administrative positions such as office and safety managers.

The transit system is the result of a merger between Faribault and Martin County bus services, which took place at the beginning of the year.