Faulkton Area Community Transit Authority to kick off service

Thursday, August 08, 2019

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Following many months of discussion, conducting surveys and plotting strategies, public transportation has arrived in Faulkton. The inaugural ride of Faulk County Community Transit Authority will coincide with the beginning of the new school year next month.

Through a series of community driven meetings, discussions with existing transit providers and state transportation officials, the need for public transit in Faulkton became apparent. Initially the transit will operate only in the city of Faulkton on weekdays from the hours of 7:30 a.m. to 6 p.m. The group envisions a countywide service in the not-so-distant future.

Transporting the youth to and from temporary school settings to homes and daycare's is expected to account for a large portion of the ridership when the bus shifts into gear. Local organizers stress the fact public transit is for everyone, however, not just youth or the physically chal- lenged and elderly. Those facts are major misconceptions about public transit nationwide.

“The starting of a transit system will provide much needed independence for so many peo- ple,” said Community Develop-ment Director and transit committee member Trevor Cramer. “From children to seniors, this service is and has been needed for many years.”

Youth generally top the list of ridership in areas where public transit is provided, further dispelling the belief of transit being for elderly and handicapped. In many locations where the public has become accustomed to the benefits of public transit, rides for employment opportunities have risen dramatically. Rides for medical purposes and nutri- tion as well and shopping and recreation are also popular with the public.

Transportation of the youth during the school construction was seen as vital by the committee. The safety of the children passing from temporary classroom settings will be enhanced by the transit system. Transferring the kids isn’t always convenient of the families either, especially those who need to step away from employment to transfer the youth.

Because of government subsidies, transit riders will pay just one dollar per stop under the new system. For those who have no other means of transportation or for those parents who would otherwise have to leave work to pick up and deliver kids to home and daycare, the fee is easy to swallow. Committee members noted at Tuesday’s meeting they will offer a yearly pass to parents as opposed to paying bus fare on a daily basis.

“Daycare providers in the city are excited because of the transportation of the kids to and from the schools and the safety factor involved,” said committee member Karen Bolton. “We envision others using the service to travel to and from doctor visits, for shopping and eventually to necessary out-of-town medical appointments or special events.”

Committee members have made it clear from the beginning they would not offer out-of-town shopping opportunities. They want to assure local merchants taking business out of Faulkton is not on the agenda now or in the future.

Funding is the bottom line in public transportation and all federal dollars secured must be met by local match dollars. Local funds needed include a 15 per- cent fare recovery along with 20 percent matching dollars on ad- ministrative costs and 50 per- cent on operating costs. The local committee has been raising funds for several months now, hold fund raisers including a pancake feed, gun raffle and a night of fun and music featuring Milo the Silo. The South Dakota Dept. of Transportation has awarded the new transit project $6,000 in startup funds.

The Faulkton project will be a part of the newly formed Community Transit of Watertown-Sisseton, Inc. – an organization providing transportation to citizens in 15 counties including Brown, Campbell, Clark, Codington, Day, Deuel, Edmunds, Faulk, Grant, Hamlin, Lincoln, Marshall, McPherson, Spink and Roberts counties. Kathy Holman of Sisseton and Terry Hoffman of Watertown are co-directors of the consolidated product and say the Faulkton project has unlim- ited possibilities and is off to a great start.

“The amount of money raised in the relatively short time is amazing,” said Holman. “Local funding is the key to any project and the people on this committee have been working hard to get the project off to a good start.”

Community Transit of Watertown-Sisseton, Inc. may be managing the project, but the daily operations and the dollars raised in Faulkton will remain here al- ways. Each project under the CTI umbrella is responsible for their own match and thus will keep all funding raised and dollars earned at home. Local ownership is key to the success of the project.

“Faulkton’s transit will be what the people of the community choose to make it, we are simply here to oversee and pro-vide assistance as needed,” said Hoffman. “We are providing a startup vehicle, hiring and training drivers and seeing local, state and federal guidelines are adhered to. This is the Faulkton transit.”

Other noteworthy perks of the business include the fact CTI is a Medicaid supporter. Once out-of-town trips for medical purposes are on the docket, those riders with Medicaid can receive free transportation to appointments anywhere in the state or out state in some cases. CTI has inked a contract with River Cities Transit in Pierre which will allow CTI to provide free transportation to qualifying veterans to medical appointments across the state.

Courtesy of the Faulk County Record.

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