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Hiawathaland highlighted at transit conference

Hiawathaland Transit has made some changes, and they seem to have paid off.

This fall the organization was recognized as the Public Transit System of the Year at the 2012 Minnesota/Wisconsin Public Transit conference.

Three Rivers Community Action, which runs Hiawathaland, was recognized due to "demonstrated high achievements in transit services with increased ridership, system improvements and innovative management," the organization said.

In 2011, the service saw its highest ridership at nearly 100,000 people, Hiawathaland reported earlier this year.

This summer, Hiawathaland added a new route in Red Wing, spreading coverage to the bulk of the city. The new bus route includes stops at Mayo Clinic Health System in Red Wing, Walmart, the Twin Bluff area and others. Extra stops also were added along existing routes, which cover downtown and west Red Wing, from Burnside School to the high school to Colvill Park.

Hiawathaland added a new $45 monthly unlimited ride pass and trimmed down dial-a-ride services to only Saturdays as well.

The company also has implemented a formal driver training program, established a marketing plan and is employing new dispatch software.

The bus system operates not only in Goodhue County but also in Wabasha and Rice counties. Hiawathaland consolidated Faribault and Northfield transit systems into Hiawathaland in 2012 and saw an increase in ridership after years of decreases, Three Rivers said.

Driver Cherol McManus also was honored at the conference as bus operator of the year.

"Cherol has been instrumental in facilitating Hiawathaland Transit's mergers of new towns and also is the most versatile driver," Hiawathaland officials said in a statement. "She can be seen driving in the communities of Faribault, Northfield, Red Wing, Cannon Falls and Zumbrota."

Riders can call 866-623-7505 or visit www.threeriverscap.org for more information on the transit services. In Red Wing, ride passes can be purchased at City Hall, Public Works, Walmart and First State Bank.

Danielle Killey

Danielle Killey covers local government for the South Washington County Bulletin. She has worked as a reporter for other Forum Communications newspapers since 2011. She graduated from the University of Minnesota-Twin Cities with a journalism degree.

(651) 459-4629
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