UPDATE: A South DaCola foot soldier sent me this information about a story he read in the St. Cloud local paper;

One of the highlights I picked up in a quick scan – the original fixed route service which was replaced had a ridership of 5 riders per hour.  At the conclusion of the trial period (in late Dec 2019?), ridership for the On Demand version was 1/2 of the previous – 2.5 riders per hour.

Nonetheless, at that time, they continued the trial period in order to see if a different period of the calendar would yield different results.

Didn’t read/scan beyond that, but would surmise that they continued the trial, COVID-19 emerged (which wasn’t kind to public transportation of any type) and they finally decided, post COVID-19, that the On Demand model wasn’t working.

St. Cloud’s ON Demand system has been a pilot since 2019 (similar to Sioux Falls) and they decided to end it;

A temporary bus service in Sartell is coming to an end and a fixed route will replace the shared-ride service.

Metro Bus is sunsetting the ConneX on-demand service and resuming Fixed Route 32 starting on Sunday.

The pilot project was started in 2019 and extended several times before the decision was made to go back to the fixed route system for Sartell.

I tried to find some articles why they decided to ‘sunset’ the program but couldn’t really find anything (links are welcome in the comment section). My educated guess is that On Demand Transit doesn’t work well, isn’t efficient and leaves a lot of riders out of the equation.

The Sioux Falls City Council really needs to strap in and take a very active role in fixing our transit system in Sioux Falls. First call I would make as a councilor is to a city official with St. Cloud.

As I have discussed in the past many cities throughout the US provide FREE public transit. Kansas City introduced it in 2019 to boost the working poor and has found great success. I guess Chapel Hill, NC has been doing it for 20 years.

During the city council meeting last night they approved a resolution;


During discussion before the vote, Rich Merkouris suggested FREE fare for our public transit system. He acknowledged it would be a heavy lift to get the public on board but when we are only collecting $500K a year in fares and spending $7 million a year on the program, what’s the point? Just think with the money we are spending on the 6th Street Bunker Bridge and the DSU research facility we could have had 40 years of FREE fares. Councilor Starr and Merkouris both suggested that the frequency and usage of the transit system needs to improve and experimenting with different approaches, like FREE fares, may get us better results. There was a suggestion that city officials have been sitting on their hands for the past 20 years when it comes to transit. I would disagree. They are not sitting on their hands they are using them to spread their butt cheeks so their heads can easily be placed.

To be honest with you, I think our current public transit system is beyond fixable. I would much rather see the city dismantle the whole system and bring in a new contractor.

If you watch the presentation and look at the map above you will see there is a plan to move bus routes out of the ‘lily-white’ neighborhoods permanently, especially North Harrisburg (SE Sioux Falls).

Is this a backdoor way of making sure likely riders of public transit would not have options in affordable or accessible housing in these neighborhoods?

Public transit has been used in the past to redline neighborhoods.

The city council took the opportunity to NOT talk about this obvious glaring problem but to take up most of the Q & A time to complain about batteries for electric buses, because, you know, climate change is a hoax.

I never tried to drive a toaster to work;

“There’s been this argument that — and I don’t know if it’s provable — that if you give the rides away for free that kids will use it and they’ll become lifelong riders,” Neitzert said. “I guess I would say if you give me a free toaster and it’s awful, I’ll use it once and then I’m going to throw it away. I’m not going to keep using it. And so we have to improve the toaster. And that’s going to take a lot more work, and it’s a lot harder than just giving away free rides.”

Of course Greg voted against the FREE youth rides with a convenient argument;

Councilor Greg Neitzert was the sole vote against the proposal, saying the thing preventing people from riding the bus was not cost, but the fact that it doesn’t meet their needs.

I would ask Greg ‘As the legislative and policy body of the city, what have YOU done to improve it?’ Not a DAMN thing!

The first step is improving the marketing of the transit system. While it was good this passed, there should have been an amendment or resolution supporting a new marketing strategy encouraging youth ridership. If minors don’t know it is free, they will not ride. The school district, along with the city and even Lincoln and Minnehaha counties need to promote this.

We also have the money to do this. When we are spending tax dollars on ice ribbons, tennis courts, butterflies, zoo exhibits, cornice on the Pavilion roof, bunker ramp parks, etc. We have a couple of grand to market youth ridership.

Transit ridership is down because the city has virtually ignored improving it, expanding it or even marketing it. I have felt this has been done on purpose, and like the EC task force, the city blames Covid for the stalemate. I call BS on that!

I sent a letter to the Secretary of Transportation last month asking the DOT to reach out to the city with assistance in helping us make it better. That could be anything from promotional ideas, to better planning and MONEY! I am not sure if they have reached out, but I am hoping they do since our councilors are only good at making silly comparisons to kitchen appliances instead of actually digging in and doing the work.

If I was given a FREE toaster and it didn’t work right, I would either try to fix it or give it back for a different one. There are certain councilors that I would certainly like to ‘throw’ off the council for their awfulness and inability to work.

This post was sent to me by Bread for the World Sioux Falls Chapter;

Transit survey:

Have you taken the online transit survey? SAM is developing a Transit Development Plan update and says this survey will help. Find it Here.

Public input meetings are next week. You might have thoughts about where routes should go, or how often, or other ideas. Four meeting options:

  Monday, Aug.1, 10:00am

  Monday, Aug.1, noon

  Wednesday, Aug.3, 3:30pm

  Wednesday, Aug.3, 5:30pm

They will be at the new City Center Building, 231 N Dakota Ave, Cooper Room. You can park across the street at the downtown library, where parking is now FREE.

They want local public participation, so please come.

Please choose one of these meetings and RSVP to BSchweitzer@siouxfalls.org .

Kids’ rides. Thanks for your support for getting more kids on the bus. If you haven’t weighed in with city council, there’s still time. They will on this at the council meeting next Tuesday, Aug.2, 6pm.

Email for City Council: gneitzert@siouxfalls.orgmselberg@siouxfalls.org



Sarah.Cole@siouxfalls.org,  David.Barranco@siouxfalls.org


Public transit is a critical part of a city that works for its people, as well as for a more sustainable environment.  Thanks for your interest in improving our public transit system.