Metropolitan Council restores Delano transit link
By Starrla Cray
On May 1, the Metropolitan Council transit link service entered a joint powers agreement with the state of Minnesota to provide western Hennepin County residents with public transportation to Delano.
This is good news for Delano entities, as well as for individuals who plan to use the service.
“I like to shop in Delano, and I like to go to the senior center I go there for lunch and bingo and different things they have,” commented Barb Ingersoll, a senior citizen of Maple Plain.
Up until about two years ago, Ingersoll relied on the Metropolitan Council transit service, which often transported residents of Maple Plain, Independence, and Loretto to the senior center in Delano.
However, the Met Council’s jurisdiction doesn’t include Delano, and only includes the seven-county “metropolitan area” of Anoka, Carver, Dakota, Hennepin, Ramsey, Scott, and Washington counties.
As a result, when the Met Council implemented its Transit Link dial-a-ride program in 2010, some residents were left without transportation to places bordering the metro area.
“The restructuring effort began in 2008 and was implemented in 2010,” noted Bonnie Kollodge of the Met Council. “It was done to eliminate some duplicative service, and to make sure that members of the public who did not have access to other transit options would have access to the dial-a-ride service.”
In an effort to compensate for the loss, the Delano Senior Center provided a van for special events and group activities.
But, people like Ingersoll weren’t able to get to Delano nearly as often.
“I like to go [to the senior center] two or three times a week, if I can get there,” Ingersoll said.
“Delano has kind of been a focal point for seniors,” added senior center coordinator Gail Sinkel.
About a year ago, Sinkel, Delano residents Harlan Lewis and Dale Vanderlinden, senior center advisory board member John Lund, Delano City Administrator Phil Kern, and other individuals began working together to see how they could better improve the area’s public transportation.
They kept in contact with the Met Council, which informed them that, as of May 1, it would extend service to destinations two miles “as the crow flies” outside the metro area.
“We feel very fortunate that we’ve been able to work with them to restore the service here,” Sinkel said. “This is a big step in the right direction.”
“Delano is outside of our jurisdiction, but we wanted to work out a way so our customers have access to services they need close by,” Kollodge said. “We are still working with an advisory council to discuss the parameters.”
Transit Link is a curb-to-curb service that’s available weekdays from 6 a.m. to 7 p.m.
When the service was offered years ago, about five to seven people typically rode to the Delano Senior Center each day.
“People come to hang out and socialize,” Sinkel said. “We always have some activity around the noon hour things like cards, book clubs, speakers, movie clubs, or music.”
Now, the center is getting the word out that Transit Link service is available again.
“We’re very happy,” Sinkel said. “When residents find out that this service is back, I’m sure they’ll be extremely happy, too.”