Combined transit considered

FAIRMONT – Would it be feasible or profitable if Martin and Faribault counties transit systems partnered up? The state hopes a study to be conducted next year will answer those questions.

The Minnesota Department of Transportation is assessing the potential for cooperation among the 46 transit systems throughout the state, with an eye on more regionalized systems.

“In the past few years, there have been a number of discussions between Faribault and Martin County, along with MNDOT to consider this type of restructuring, including consolidation,” said Martin County Coordinator Scott Higgins. “Due to the past discussions by the two counties, MNDOT has chosen to conduct a pilot study with the Faribault and Martin County transit systems to directly evaluate and make recommendations for the regionalization opportunities for the two counties.”

Martin County commissioners gave unanimous approval Tuesday for the state to go ahead with the study.

It goals include:

o Establishing a baseline understanding of the regionalization opportunities. Recommendations will guide future public transit funding applications for participating transit systems.

o Understanding the benefits and concerns from such an arrangement.

o Recommending cooperative strategies to pursue what could potentially include coordination or consolidation of the two transit systems.

o Develop an implementation plan to guide Martin and Faribault counties toward a cooperative or consolidated model.

Work on the study is expected to begin Jan. 1 and be completed by June 30.

“One of the reasons I think they’re looking at us is because we already share and work together with Faribault County on several other things, such as Human Services and Prairieland,” Higgins said. “They could be looking at us as a model and applying what we do to other counties.”