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Paynesville Press - Aug. 28, 2002

Paynesville Area Transit gives way to county-wide bus

By Bonnie Jo Hanson

Tri-CAP will begin offering extended bus service to area residents beginning on Tuesday, Sept. 3. The new program will replace Paynesville Area Transit.

Riders will now have curbside service to anywhere in Stearns County five days a week, just by making a phone call. Riders will have to call the Tri-CAP transit office and make a reservation to be picked up anywhere in Stearns County, make up to two stops, and ride back home again. The price of a round trip will be $5.

Previously, round trips in Paynesville only cost $2.

Advanced reservations are recommended and can be made up to two weeks in advance. Last-minute requests may be hard to accommodate with the new fixed schedule, since Tri-CAP plans to arrange the route to avoid duplications.

Standing reservations for the bus are welcomed and encouraged, said Linda Elfstrand of Tri-CAP.

The new bus service will be available on every weekeday, where as the old transit service in Paynesville only was only available on Tuesdays and Thursdays. But, because the bus will travel farther for its routes, riders may find themselves waiting for pick-ups longer than they did under the old system and riding longer.

Hours of operation for the new bus service have not been established yet, but Elfstrand expects the bus will be available in Paynesville between 8 a.m. and 4 p.m. daily.

Rides throughout the county are possible, as long as they fit within the day's operating hours. It should be possible now to use the bus to commute to work, said Elfstrand.

Tri-Cap has offered bus service in Paynesville for about three years. The program is paid for by the Minnesota Department of Transoportation, by grants, and through private donations. Rider fees only cover a small fraction of the operating costs, said Elfstrand.

In the past, the Paynesville Area Transit has been used primarily by the disabled and the elderly, although the service is open to anyone. Elfstrand hopes the extended service will attract more riders.

For information or to make ride reservations, call 1-320-202-7824 and extension 115 or 1-800-600-7498 and extension 115.

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