SRF worked with MnDOT to develop a Five-Year Transit System Plans (FYTSP) for southeastern Minnesota, which translated investment needs into a fiscally responsible workable action plan for individual transit agencies. The region has a diverse array of rural transit providers, from smaller scale single-vehicle systems to larger scale operators that cover entire regions of the state. The FYTSPs will provide a framework for each system to work with local government officials, local planning agencies, board members and other stakeholders to build local support for improving their transit system. SRF’s plans provided a clear definition of transit needs and a basis from which to request long-term commitment of local funds and leverage state and federal funding.
The Southeast Region covers 17 counties and seven Greater Minnesota transit systems. The counties include Blue Earth, Dodge, Faribault, Fillmore, Freeborn, Goodhue, Houston, Le Sueur, Martin, Mower, Nicollet, Olmsted, Rice, Steele, Wabasha, Waseca and Winona. The region has a mix of multi-county systems and small, community-oriented transit systems that include Minnesota River Valley Transit, Three Rivers Hiawathaland Transit, SMART/Cedar Valley Transit, Rolling Hills Transit, Winona Transit Agency, Prairie Lakes Transit, and TRUE Transit. With several regional trade centers and proximity to Minneapolis-St. Paul and Rochester, travel demand is projected to increase along with a growing transit-dependent population.
SRF’s efforts included conducting stakeholder and public engagement, inventorying and reviewing existing transit service information to characterize current unmet needs and gaps, and performing strengths/ weaknesses/opportunities/threats (SWOT) and gap analyses. Subsequently, SRF developed the FYTSPs to identify strategies to strengthen public transportation services in each of the transit agencies and the overall region by filling gaps and correcting deficiencies and develop implementation, capital, and operating plans.