|8/7/2020 1:20:00 PM|
Heartland bus is fare-free
The Heartland Express two-county transit system, serving Isanti and Chisago residents and businesses, is free to ride for the remainder of 2020.
Transit Program Director Paul Smith said the portion of the program that the counties have traditionally funded has been covered by covid-19 aid from the CARES Act. Fares that were paid to get a bus ride have been eliminated.
The county fare revenues were used for much of the local 15 percent match to receive MnDOT monies used to operate the system. The typical year for rural transit providers in Minnesota would see about 85 percent operating expenses paid through the state, according to Smith.
Heartland expects 100 percent will be covered by MNDOT using the CARES coronavirus aid, so the decision was made to eliminate fares.
Smith said if you have tokens or a prepaid Heartland Express ride card, hang onto it, the fare will come back and the already purchased rides can be cashed indefinitely.
Smith added, “This is a tough time for folks out there and we felt they should not have to have the expense (of a ride)”
People can use the small transit buses to get out to buy food, visit their healthcare provider, check on family and whatever else they must be mobile to get done. There is an in-city route in North Branch and buses travel all over Chisago County. Riders can reserve a seat on a regular route or get picked-up in a specific place.
Contact Heartland Express to get a seat at 651-213-5790. The usual additional process rules still apply, such as cancellations must be called in at least one hour in advance and the bus scheduler must know at least by 3 p.m. the day before you’ll need the ride.