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.

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.

While many people have told me to get off my high-horse about helping low income folks with an E-Bike leasing program, Denver has found that it has measurable results;

Researchers at Portland State University are tracking 65 programs nationwide that are active or that have been approved to help people get on e-bikes, either through subsidies or loaning a bike. California plans to launch a statewide program next year backed by $10 million.

E-bikes, which have a motor and battery to propel riders, can cost about $2,000, putting them out of reach for many low-income families. Denver’s program has two tiers, with one that offers $400 to any city resident — an amount aimed at sweetening the deal for would-be buyers. For low-income residents, the second tier increases the voucher size to $1,200, a sum city officials say should make the bikes more widely affordable.

Two other elements of the program are designed to encourage buyers to use their bikes for transportation: a bonus of $500 for cargo bikes, which can carry children or a large load, while full-suspension mountain bikes used primarily for recreation aren’t eligible.

And after Denver tried this pilot program, guess what they found out;

A city survey found new e-bike riders were riding, on average, 26.2 miles per week, and that low-income buyers were riding about 32 miles per week. Respondents said they had replaced 3.4 car trips each week with bike rides.

“It’s so much faster,” said Rink, who commutes by e-bike. “It’s much less of a chore. There is an element of joy in riding the e-bike.”

I would agree, my main reason I like riding my E-Bike is because it is enjoyable, but if you look at the results of this successful program it is also equitable. I hope the new transportation board in Sioux Falls looks at this.

Ironically, PTH had nothing to do with this move. This was recommended by the Public Transit board last month and was actually in partnership with a recommendation from former SF School Board President Cynthia Mickelson after I texted her on November 20, 2021. Cynthia reached out to Councilor Soehl about it and I never heard a peep until last week when it appeared on the agenda.

I’m happy they are moving forward. Many former board members have told me they have been working on this for around a decade.

UPDATE: Public Transit advocates have told me they were aware of the changes, BUT were never given a timeline when they would go in effect so it comes as a pleasant surprise to them.

If I am reading this correctly it looks like the mayor wants to give free rides to youth on public transit all year long (item #35);

I’m glad to see they will be attempting to make this change. Rapid City has done it for several years. This will also alleviate some strain on the School District’s bussing system. While the mayor is the sponsor, I don’t think there will be any no votes on this.

It is a little disappointing that the council did not bring this forward considering they are 1) the policy body and 2) been urged by advocates for several years to make this change. Apparently the mayor got the message while the council is still hanging out in the cornfields looking for ways to getting out of forming policy on things like the bunker ramp and tornado sirens.