Three round-trips from Tracy will include stop in Balaton
By Seth Schmidt
Rubber will hit the road this spring for daily bus service linking Tracy, Balaton, and Marshall.
Community Transit will offer three round-trips each weekday between the three towns. Projected departure times in Tracy would be 7 a.m., 10 a.m., and 3:30 p.m., with the bus returning about 9:15 a.m., 11:15 a.m. and 5 p.m. The first departure from Balaton each day would be at 7:25 a.m.
The United Community Action Partnership, which has an office in Marshall, operates Community Transit services in an eight-county area with a fleet of 30 buses. “Blue” and “Red” Community Transit routes are offered throughout Marshall. “Dial a ride” services now allow people to arrange transportation pick-ups either by bus or through volunteers driving their own vehicle.
“It’s a big step. But we really feel that these towns can support transit,” explains Nick Leske, transportation operations administrator for UCAP.
A Community Transit bus has been located in Tracy since 2014, with rides offered on an advance appointment basis.
But the Tracy-Balaton-Marshall loop will be the first time that Community Transit has established a daily, multiple stop route outside of a county-seat town. (A Community Transit route between Fulda and Worthington runs two days a week).
Fares for a one-way trip on the route will be $3, or $6 round-trip on the 60-mile loop.
“That’s a pretty good value,” compared with the expense of someone driving his or her own vehicle, comments Leske. The $3 one-way fare is a reduction from the normal one-way fare of $4. Leske said the lower rate is designed to helped build ridership.
Minnesota Dept. of Transportation funding provides 85% of Community Transit expenses, with local matches, and fares providing the balance.
“We hope to get this started in May,” said Cathleen Amick, Community Transit director.
Community Transit envisions three bus stop locations in Tracy, and one in Balaton where passengers would regularly get on and off buses. “Dial-a-Ride” stops could also be scheduled at other locations for riders who call with advance requests.
For more on this article, see this week’s Headlight Herald.