BY GABE LICHT
WRIGHT COUNTY, MN The Wright County Area Transportation alliance called for an exploration of options for transit in Wright County during its Tuesday meeting. Trailblazer Transit service will continue in 2017, while WCAT considers alternatives.
WCAT has been a member of the Trailblazer Transit Joint Powers Board since 2014. Prior to Trailblazer, Wright County was serviced by RiverRider, a now-defunct partnership between Wright and Sherburne counties. Since 2014, service has expanded from six buses providing service in the county to 12 presently. It is expected that Trailblazer will meet the needs of more than 100,000 riders in Wright County in 2016.
The transit service provided by Trailblazer Transit is conducted in partnership with the Minnesota Department of Transportation rural transit division. MnDOT provides funding for the service, which combined with fare-box revenue and local share, account for the primary revenue sources for public transit.
WCAT is planning to explore options for service that include partnership with communities across county borders. Presently, WCAT is represented by communities with geographical location in Wright and Hennepin counties. Once options are explored, WCAT expects to submit a recommended service plan to MnDOT for consideration. While WCAT is exploring new options for service, it has plans to improve its services to the riders and address the unmet needs throughout the county.
During this exploration period, WCAT’s existing agreement with Sibley and McLeod counties will provide for uninterrupted service by Trailblazer in 2017. It is anticipated that changes in service design could take effect in 2018, unless otherwise agreed to by all parties involved. During this time period, residents of Wright County can continue to use the Trailblazer Transit service for their local transportation needs.
WCAT is a 14-city partnership of Albertville, Annandale, Buffalo, Cokato, Delano, Hanover, Howard Lake, Maple Lake, Monticello, Montrose, Otsego, Rockford, St. Michael, and Waverly.