by Dennis Dalman
The ConneX bus-riding option in Sartell will be discontinued in the city and starting on Sunday, May 7, the Metro Bus fixed-route 32 will resume once again.
After a year of trial service, Metro Bus officials concluded ridership numbers for ConneX did not justify its continuance. In January, there were 1,198 ConneX passengers, said Nate Ramacher, marketing and communications manager of the St. Cloud-based Metro Bus company.
The long-time Dial-a-Ride service will continue to serve Sartell, and its service area and hours of operation will not be affected by the discontinuance of ConneX, Ramacher noted.
St. Cloud Metro Bus operates seven days a week and provides more than one million bus-passenger trips annually in Sartell, St. Cloud, Sauk Rapids and Waite Park. Sartell Mayor Ryan Fitzthum represents Sartell on the Metro Bus Board.
Metro Bus began limited service in Sartell in November 2001 and has gone through various changes since that time, including the introduction of ConneX. It is a “call” service, meaning residents can call an hour ahead of time to schedule a pick-up bus appointment at their places of residence. That way, people do not have to walk to a regularly scheduled bus stop to wait for a bus.
ConneX service in Sartell will end on May 6, the day before Route 32 will begin again. Route 32 will serve the following locations: Sartell Medical Center, CentraCare Plaza, Coborn’s Marketplace, Sartell City Hall, Sartell High School, Oak Ridge Elementary School (bus stop on Pinecone Road); Riverside Plaza, Sartell Mobile Home Park and Country Manor.
Route 32 will connect with Sartell’s other two bus routes (Route 31, connecting at CentraCare and Walmart) and with Route 22 in east Sartell, which goes to Sauk Rapids.
In an interview with the Sartell Newsleader, Ramacher spoke of the many challenges for bus service in Sartell. Unlike some other cities, there is not a north-south-east-west grid pattern of roadways in Sartell. There are long stretches of road between living spaces and many neighborhoods with dead ends or culs-de-sac. Thus, the bus routes can be up to three-quarters of a mile from many residential areas. That same challenge is occurring more and more in St. Cloud, too, as roads between places grow longer.
To keep in mind
Ramacher pointed out several facts that bus riders should keep in mind:
For a map of the Route 32 route and how it will connect with other bus routes in Sartell, visit ridemetrobus.com/route-32.
Printed and digital versions of the full Metro Bus times schedule will be available starting April 3 at ridemetrobus.com.
Sartell Route 32 will hub from the Sartell Walmart and run hourly from 6 a.m.-7 p.m. on weekdays and from 9 a.m.-4 p.m. on weekends. The route will make an hourly route through Sartell and return to Walmart each hour. The route will also serve Sartell High School three times daily each weekday.
A fixed-route fare of $1.25 will apply for Route 32. Individuals paying a fare with the Metro Bus Smart Ride Card are automatically credited with two hours of free travel from that time anywhere on the fixed-route system. Free transfers to other bus routes are available only when using the Smart Ride Card.
Metro Bus offered reduced fares on fixed routes during off-peak times for people with disabilities and for seniors age 65 and older. Those riders must show they are qualified by a photo ID with date of birth, a Metro Bus Freedom Card or Dial-a-Ride ID, a Medicare Card or other appropriate identification.
To learn more about fare-payment options and reduced fares, visit ridemetrobus.com/fares.