Hiawathaland Transit is preparing to expand its services once again, adding a new route connecting Faribault and Northfield beginning Monday, March 2.
The Faribault to Northfield route, along with Saturday dial-a-ride services within Faribault, instituted at the beginning of this month, are made possible thanks to a grant from the Minnesota Department of Transportation, said Dianne Ford, community action coordinator for Three Rivers Community Action,who stopped by Faribault City Council’s meeting Tuesday to update it on increased transit offerings in the community.
The route will run between the two towns’ city halls. Noting that Northfield’s City Hall is several blocks outside of the downtown area, Mayor Kevin Voracek suggested that a downtown drop off location might make more sense.
Hiawathaland’s routes within both Faribault and Northfield are centered around the cities’ respective city halls, Ford said, adding that the drop-off locations provide a central location for people to change onto different routes to travel inside the city.
Area residents can request Hiawathaland’s Dial-A-Ride service. Dial-a-Ride is granted on a first come, first served basis. Riders are asked to make reservations at least 24 hours in advance and can make them up to six days beforehand.
Hiawathaland Transit has two routes running through Faribault from Monday through Friday, a red route and a blue route. The blue route primarily serves the north side of Faribault, while the red has numerous stops throughout the south end of town.
Northfield’s routes are arranged similarly, with the blue route serving the northern part of town, including Carleton and St. Olaf college, and the red route serving the south part of town with a focus on businesses located along Hwy 3.
Each bus has a lift available to any client upon request, and the service does everything it can to accommodate the elderly and disabled. However, those who need a lift for the Faribault-Northfield route must register beforehand due to limited space. Hiawathaland is operated by Three Rivers Community Action, a nonprofit which seeks to provide key assistance for low-income families and improve the quality of life in communities across southeastern Minnesota.
Hiawathaland’s bus service is available to everyone for any reason. Hiawathaland buses provide expanded personal freedom and mobility for people of all ages, enabling them to go to school, work, run errands or go to their local library or community center.
It also serves not only Faribault but areas throughout the region that are even more rural, like Lonsdale and Kenyon-Wanamingo. Supporters say that public transportation brings significant benefits even outside the big city.
According to the American Public Transportation Association, each dollar invested in public transportation generates $4 in added economic revenue, boosting businesses and creating good paying jobs.
By reducing the number of cars on the road, public transportation reduces traffic, air pollution, wear and tear on the roadways and vehicle maintenance costs. It can even improve personal health with studies suggesting that use of public transportation increases exercise.