Transit agency launches new inter-city service

Submitted Photo A Souris Basin Transportation van, parked near the state Capitol in Bismarck, will be employed in a new Minot-to-Bismarck route that launches Feb. 2.

A new bus service between Minot and Bismarck is set to launch Feb. 2.

Souris Basin Transportation in Minot has announced it will be operating a bus line on Mondays, Wednesday and Fridays. Minot has been without the bus service since Jefferson Lines quit running the route in June 2016.

“It’s been a year and half so it’s about time,” said Darrell Francis, Souris Basin Transportation executive director. “I feel with our present system, new facility, bus fleet, regional coordination, dispatching system, staff and experience, we could provide a reliable public transit route between the two large cities.”

Souris Basin Transportation has received a federal grant to operate the service through fiscal year that ends July 1. Fares do not count toward the local match for the grant, but Francis said the Souris Basin Transportation has other funds to meet the match. After July 1, the goal is to have additional grant money and other funding in place to maintain service and possibly expand eventually to additional days if there is demand.

The revived service will benefit groups serving the region’s vulnerable populations.

“It would definitely be very welcomed,” said Jill McDonald, executive director of Minot’s Domestic Violence Crisis Center. She said it has been a challenge since the bus route shut down to find other options for clients who need to get to other communities, and often those options are considerably more expensive than bus transportation would be.

Souris Basin Transportation will be running a new 10-passenger, accessible van. If demand exceeds seating capacity, the agency can utilize its existing 14-passenger, accessible bus, Francis said.

Plans may change as additional resources, expenses and logistics are determined, but the proposal is for the van to leave from Minot Municipal Auditorium at about 7 a.m. each Monday, Wednesday and Friday. Stops will be made at Max Cenex Station, Garrison Corner, an Underwood gas station, Washburn Cenex and Wilton Cenex. The bus would arrive in Bismarck about 9:45 a.m. to drop passengers off at their destinations. Call rides during the day for passengers visiting multiple Bismarck locations will be $2 per ride. The bus will begin picking up passengers at about 3:30 p.m., arriving back in Minot around 6 p.m.

Proposed fares for one way and round trips to Bismarck are:

® Minot, $35 and $55.

® Max, $27 and $42.

® Garrison corner, $23 and $36.

® Underwood, $17 and $27.

® Washburn, $13 and $20.

® Wilton, $8 and $13.

® Minimum, $5 between towns.

Tickets will be available from the driver or at Souris Basin Transportation in Minot. Credit cards won’t be accepted, but cash or local checks with identification will be taken. Reservations must be made 24 hours in advance, with Monday reservations to be made on Friday. Reservations can be made by calling 839-7433.

People must get approval from the Municipal Auditorium for any overnight or long-term parking in the auditorium lot.

Souris Basin Transportation organized in 1979, serving Ward County, including Minot, and the counties of McHenry, Burke, Mountrail, Renville, Bottineau and Pierce. Operating seven days a week with 24 vehicles and 32 transit personnel, the agency currently has an annual ridership of about 86,000.

At times over the past 20 years, Souris Basin Transportation also had subcontracted with Dakota Bus Service and New Town Bus Line and operated a Crosby/Williston/Minot route to provide inter-city bus services.