by Dennis Dalman
Metro Bus will ring in the New Year with a call-in, curb-side bus service in Sartell.
The new service, called ConneX, is a six-month pilot program that will begin Jan. 2 in the city.
At the last Sartell City Council meeting, details of the service were presented by Doug Didrichsen, Metro Bus planning manager.
ConneX will replace Route 32, a fixed route with regular stops and schedule. The new service will allow residents to call in an hour before they need a bus ride, and the bus will then stop curbside right in front or as near as possible to the customer’s location. Riders of ConneX will be able to get transfer rides out of Sartell via the buses that stop at Country Manor or Walmart in Epic Center in Sartell. The cost for a ride is $1.25, same as for the previous fixed-route service.
There will be two ConneX buses running all day compared with just one bus on the current fixed route.
Route 31 for Sartell will be extended from the Walmart stops to stops at the medical complex at Connecticut Avenue in the city, as well as stops at CentraCare Health Plaza in St. Cloud, right across the road from Sartell.
ConneX buses can accommodate service animals as well as wheelchairs. The service might also benefit some physically-challenged people who now use Metro Bus’s Dial-a-Ride. That is because some of them might be able to be mobile enough to get to the nearest curb rather than be picked up right at their doors. Dial-a-Ride service costs $2.50 so those who can manage to use ConneX would be able to save $1.25 per ride.
Diedrichsen said the reason for the pilot program is that the fixed route in Sartell was not very efficient or convenient because there is no easy connectivity among the neighborhoods and developments in Sartell.
ConneX will operate from 6:30 a.m.-8:30 p.m. Monday-Friday; from 9:30 a.m.-5:30 p.m. Saturday; and from 10:30 a.m.-5:30 p.m. Sunday.
The number to call for ConneX service is 320-257-4580.