The wheels on the bus keep turning
Monday, February 10, 2020
Five months have passed since the first rider boarded the Faulk County Community Transit Authority bus in Faulkton. After months of planning, fundraising and anticipation about how the new transit system would fare, the wheels were finally turning.
When driver Teresa Bartholomew greeted her first two young riders, she admits it was with some apprehension and doubt as to how this was all going to work.
“The kids got on the bus, kind of said hello, but also looked unsure of what lies ahead,” said Bartholomew. “Things were a bit slow the first week or two and we kind of wondered how it was going to play out. It just keeps getting busier every day.”
Transit service is measured on many different levels, but ridership numbers are especially crucial to start-up projects like FCCTA. Expectations by local supporters and by parent company Community Transit of Watertown-Sisseton, Inc. were positive, but also apprehensive.
The ridership numbers for the first month were considered a pleasant surprise and certainly solidified the fact there was a need for transit in Faulk County according to local officials as well as CTWSI administrators Kathy Holman and Terry Hoffman.
“We certainly felt the need had been demonstrated to us or we would not have backed the program,” said Holman. “The people of Faulkton have spent a lot of time, effort and dollars to get this project off the ground. It has been amazing to watch the progress.”
December ridership was revealed to the FCCTA board last week at the monthly board meeting and the general reaction was WOW! Bartholomew reported she and fellow driver, Dan Ramsdell, provided 698 rides in November and 687 in December.
“The totals are mostly bolstered by a contract with the school district ,but general public riders are increasing as well. Ridership totals generally spike in the middle of the winter so there should be no surprise there, indicated”
“Hoffman, who was at the meeting. “We talk monthly with the folks at the Dept. of Transportation in Pierre and we’re always quick to mention how well this project is doing,” said Hoffman. “When Kathy and I meet with them in two weeks, I think we will blow them away with these totals. This is well beyond our expectations.”
“The questions were raised at the meeting as to what will happen with ridership as the spring and summer seasons eventually make their way to the area. With school-age riders comprising so much of the ridership total, will the transit be able to sustain service? The FACCTA has already been brainstorming ideas to boost ridership during the down periods. Summer activities are being discussed and plans created and other programs for the youth and adults of the community in those months, which will help sustain the service are in the works.”
““All transit ridership numbers drop when school is out of session, but there are ways to combat that and this board is making the right moves to avoid it,” said Hoffman. This is a progressive thinking group with an eye on the present as well as the future.” Here are some recommendations for you to follow in using the bus:”
“If you are scheduled to ride PLEASE notify the drivers if you will NOT be riding. If you need a ride PLEASE call the day before, or if unable to do so PLEASE call at least one hour before needing that ride. Parents: If your child will not be riding PLEASE let the drivers know. This helps the drivers to keep on schedule with the rest of the riders. The Transit Bus operates Monday through Friday from7:30 a.m. to 6 p.m. Cost is $1 a ride. Call 605-228-7938. Tokens can be purchased from the driver, the school or the Faulkton City office. We’re here to get you there.