Next stop: FargoPublished 11:15am Tuesday, February 18, 2014
Transit Alternatives officials have been looking to add a second route to the Fargo-Moorhead area for at least five years, according to president Daryn Toso.
With increased Minnesota Department of Transportation funding, the timing was finally right.
The first bus from Fergus Falls to Fargo will leave 6 a.m. on Monday, according to Toso, who is hopeful the route will be a success.
“I think there’s a number of people that want to get to the Fargo-Moorhead area, either for work or school,” Toso said. “I think it’s going to take. I really do.”
Toso wanted to get the route running as early as six months ago, but struggled to find a qualified driver. Now that he has one committed to the route, he is ready to get things moving.
Each year, Toso sends a list of unmet needs to MnDOT officials, who evaluate the requests and decide on funding. This year, the department decided to offer Toso more money, which made the Fergus Falls-to-Fargo route a possibility.
But the funding is not without some requirements. MnDOT is expecting to see at least six riders per day on the route when they reevaluate it next year, according to Toso.
“If we don’t get enough ridership, MnDOT is not going to support it,” he said.
But Toso believes ridership will not be a problem. The company currently has one route to Fargo that leaves from Detroit Lakes. That route has about 12 riders a day, and Toso hopes the Fergus Falls route will catch on fairly quickly.
“Our expectations are that hopefully in a month we can get a good core group of people,” Toso said.
The bus will leave the Shopko parking lot at 6 a.m. Monday through Friday. After making a stop at Walmart, the bus will leave Fergus Falls.
The route also includes stops in Rothsay, Barnesville and Sabin before arriving in Fargo around 7 a.m. Riders will get one free bus transfer when they arrive in Fargo
The bus will leave Fargo at 5 p.m. and return to Fergus Falls a little after 6 p.m., with potential stops in Sabin, Barnesville and Rothsay depending on need. People will also be able to take this returning bus into Fergus Falls from these three towns, according to Toso.
The trip costs $5 from Fergus Falls to Fargo and $10 round-trip. Costs from the other towns on the route will be less depending on their distance from Fargo, Toso said.
The route will not be available on the weekend and there will not be extra trips during weekdays, according to Toso. The route was designed most specifically with work commuters and students in mind.
Because summers are always the slowest months for his company, Toso plans to give the route at least one year to see how business goes next winter.