HJ/EDApril 24, 2006

Dassel to get bus service May 2

By Roz Kohls
Staff Writer

The City of Dassel will try the Meeker County Public Transit system in a limited way to see how many riders will use the buses.

“I want to see if the need is there,” said Mayor Ava Flachmeyer.

Dassel will pay $3,733, a third of the total, for 10 hours a week of bus service, Tuesday and Fridays, from 9 a.m. to 2 p.m., beginning Tuesday, May 2. The county will pay a third and the transit system’s reserve fund will pay the final third. Riders will be charged $1.25 for a one-way trip to Litchfield and Hutchinson.

Judy Barka, Beverly Herfindahl and Brandon Pietsch, transit officials, originally had proposed March 6 to the council that a bus be available for Dassel residents from 9:30 a.m. to 2:15 p.m., Monday through Friday.

Numerous Dassel residents have asked for rides but were turned down because no bus was available, Barka said.

Nothing was in the 2006 city budget for mass transit so city administrator Myles McGrath had asked the transit officials if the city could try just two days a week instead.

“We can be flexible,” Barka responded.

Then at the April 3 council meeting, Council Member Bob Lalone reported hearing area businesses were concerned residents would be tempted to shop out of town if they had bus transportation to Hutchinson and Litchfield.

Flachmeyer said last Monday she was worried about that too, but it was pointed out to her that not everything is available for purchase in Dassel. Shoes, for example, and other personal items must be purchased in other towns, she said.

“If the bus is sitting there empty, then there’s no need,” Flachmeyer said, adding that she wants the bus service reviewed periodically.

McGrath suggesting reviewing the number of riders in 60 days, and then again in 90 days. That would give the council time to decide whether to put it in the 2007 budget, he said.

Lalone also asked the council to consider what will be the standard for deciding whether to continue the service. Will 20 riders, 30 riders or 40 riders, for example, be enough to warrant extending the service into 2007?

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