Fillmore County Journal – Rushford bus article

Published On: March 25th, 2024|Categories: News, Updates|

Rushford Getting New Public Transit Bus

At the February 26 meeting, the Rushford Council welcomed Rolling Hills Transit Director of Transportation Manager Bill Spitzer. He attended the meeting to discuss the program, Rushford bus details, area community details on ridership, services provided, funding needs, and plans. Spitzer hit on reasons why public transit is critical, including accessibility, affordability, equity for those needing assistance, sustainability, connecting people with different parts of the area, economic development, minimizing traffic congestion, availability in times of emergency, and mobility for non-drivers.

There were 3,600 riders for Rushford last year and 312 in January 2024. The service is door-to-door, dial-a-ride, so there is no set no route. Rolling Hills requests ride reservations 24 hours in advance but will accept reservations with just two hours of notice. The current bus can hold 22 passengers, including two wheelchair users.

“For a rural community, it’s pretty good utilizing public transit,” said Spitzer. “We want to expand as much as we can. We would love to fill it.”

Spitzer noted the ride fee is kept intentionally as low as possible. “We want to make sure everyone has an opportunity to ride. Not everyone can afford to pay high rates,” he said. The ride cost within Rushford and Rushford Village is $2 per ride, while going to Peterson is $3 and Houston is $6. Rides to Senior Dining are $2 round-trip. “The people we don’t think about are the ones that need the services,” he added.

Rolling Hills Transit is funded 80% by the Minnesota Department of Transportation, while the other 20% comes from communities, donations, and other sources. Rolling Hills ordered a new bus for Rushford in 2021, due to arrive this year. Fortunately, the cost at the time was $95,000. New buses in 2024 are $100,000 more.

Rolling Hills is asking cities to contribute. Spitzer said $1,000-3,000 annually would be ideal, but he noted an awareness of balancing public tax dollars for services. The portion will be pulled from Rolling Hills Transit fund reserves if the city cannot or does not contribute. Spitzer is meeting with 19 entities, including cities and counties, in the first half of 2024 to better educate them on the service and needs.

The service looks to improve ridership through several awareness initiatives and marketing campaigns. Rolling Hills also rebranded the buses with a banner noting, ‘Anyone Can Ride.’

“It’s one of the stigmas we’re trying to overcome. It’s not strictly for the elderly or children,” stressed Spitzer. He provided various examples where anyone could use the service. “There are areas for growth. That’s my goal,” Spitzer concluded.

Read full article online at: Rushford Getting New Public Transit Bus (fillmorecountyjournal.com)

Share This Post