Trailblazer delays ordering 10th bus

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Trailblazer Transit is waiting to receive written confirmation from the state that the McLeod County Human Services has been awarded a grant that would be used to improve transit services for the elderly in eastern McLeod County.

Gary Sprynczynatyk, director of the McLeod County Human Services Department, said that he was notified May 10 that McLeod County would be awarded a $60,000 grant. Only 23 of 57 grant applications were funded, he said.

In addition to the $60,000 grant, McLeod County would contribute an additional $50,000, while Sibley County would contribute an additional $10,000. This one-time grant would fund the purchase of an additional bus and two drivers for 18 months, Sprynczynatyk said.

Sprynczynatyk said that he has received conflicting messages through the Department of Human Services and the Minnesota Department of Transportation on the project.

Joint Powers Board chairman Bill Pinske and Trailblazer Transit director Gary Ludwig were authorized to make the final decision whether or not to order the bus by Friday, June 16. The board seeks documentation in writing of the grant award. If the bus could be ordered Friday, it would be delivered in November. If the bus is ordered later, it would take until next summer for the bus to be delivered.

Ludwig said that written confirmation was not received, but they were told by the state that they intend to provide the funding. There is a possibility that Trailblazer could receive a stock unit, which would allow earlier delivery of the bus, he said.

In other business, the Joint Powers Board:

• Was informed that Trail-blazer spent $8,113.60 for fuel in April, which is an all time high, according to Ludwig. The cost was just less than twice the amount for the same period last year. Trailblazer has nine buses operating.

• Learned that 7,482 one-way rides were provided in April, up from 7,150 in April 2005. 4.97 rides per hour were provided on the bus system during the month. This is up from 4.53 for April 2005.

• Decided to include the operation of 10 buses into the 2007 Minnesota Department of Transportation public transportation assistance program application. Nine buses were included in the 2006 application. It is a long term goal for Trailblazer to have 12 buses, Ludwig said.

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