Tri-CAP prepares for changes to Morrison County transit

Staff Writer

Tri County Action Plan (Tri-CAP) out of St. Cloud, is making changes to the Morrison County Public Transit system effective Oct. 1.

Tri-CAP Transportation is making these changes to fit its goals for the coming year. In information for the Morrison County Board of Commissioners at the Aug. 23 meeting, the goals were presented as:

  • Increase the number of rides provided;
  • Decrease the number of ride denials; and
  • Meet Minnesota Department of Transportation hourly ridership goals.

Last year, the program had 142 denials. Tri-CAP’s Executive Director Lori Schultz said a denial means they were not able to provide a ride to someone who called in. The primary reason for denials was due to a route to the Flensburg area. Schultz said the route which usually picked up one person, kept a bus out of Little Falls.

“Because we had that dedicated route that was going out there, we had to deny ride requests in the city because we didn’t have a vehicle to pick them up,” Schultz said. Starting Oct. 1, the route to Flensburg will be cut.

This cut also fits into the third goal. Schultz said MnDOT requires rural routes to have at least three – five passengers per hour.

The route in Royalton and Swanville is also being cut to have buses available for busier areas, according to the information presented to the Board.

Another reason for denials were same day requests, Schultz said. Although people call the organization for a ride and the buses pick up at a curb and drop off at a curb, it is not licensed as a taxi service and so the buses can’t be constantly traveling back and forth across the city.

While the service can do same day requests, Schultz said if there are too many people riding already, these requests will be denied.

Schultz said the company wants to encourage people to call 24 hours in advance. A change to how much the rides cost will also come into  effect.

While the rates for those who set up their ride at least 24 hours in advance will stay the same, the rates for same day rides will increase by 75 cents, making it $2 in Little Falls and $3.75 for rural trips.

A couple of changes specific to Little Falls routes are also planned.

Another bus will be added to the city on days when there is a route to St. Cloud. Schultz said this is to increase city ridership.

“We had to deny them (people wanting rides in Little Falls) before, because that bus was travelling to St. Cloud for the day,” said Schultz.

The city’s dial-a-ride service radius will be reduced to three miles from the Morrison County Government Center.

Schultz said there will still be service to places like north Little Falls.

“We’ll be looking for more deviated route systems for outside that radius,” said Schultz.

The deviated route service means the buses are available in an area during a specific time.

Schultz said this will be more of an internal change than something that will greatly affect riders.

“We’re not eliminating city service in Little Falls. People that live in that city service will still have rides. We’re just changing how our routes work in the city,” Schultz said.