2/5/2021 11:43:00 AM As of March 1 Arrowhead Transit absorbs Heartland Express
EDITOR’S NOTE The following story was already printed when Arrowhead Transit representatives provided an updated schedule to the Press Wednesday this week. Disregard any reference in our print edition to uncertainty regarding southern county services. Arrowhead Transit will offer stops hourly in Center City, Chisago City, Wyoming and Stacy between 6 a.m. and 6 p.m.
Arrowhead Transit is the new name behind Heartland Express as of March 1. The new organization defined as “county centered” is still working on details about Chisago County’s transit structure.
Arrowhead Transit transition project manager Brandon Nurmi advised the Chisago County commissioners in a recent presentation that each county in the extensive Arrowhead Transit system is the focus of its own bus services and volunteer driver offerings. Arrowhead Transit understands how each of its service counties have varying needs, Nurmi explained, and some transportation services are stronger in one county over another.
At this point, one month ahead of the final transition, Arrowhead doesn’t have all the information it needs to announce stops or route details for southern Chisago County. Ridership materials are very clear about the in-city North Branch routes and connections from North Branch to Cambridge and Pine City, but public relations coordinator Tony Potter was not able to answer specific transportation questions regardingthe area south of North Branch when contacted late last week.
Nurmi had advised the county commissioners in his presentation that Arrowhead isn’t doing anything in a vacuum, and the system will run operational proposals past MnDOT, and Isanti and Chisago county officials when it comes to the Heartland Express transfer of operations. Nurmi commented on routes into Washington County, and Forest Lake in particular, which are frequently requested of the existing Heartland Isanti-Chisago system, saying this is a “goal” for the future. But crossing into the defined metro region will need input from the Metropolitan Council, he added.
Commissioner Ben Montzka noted that having Arrowhead Transit as a link to routes northward— outside of Heartland’s service area— “Could enhance economic activity within the region (northeast part of MN).”
The Arrowhead system absorbing Heartland transit services, would have the capability to connect local riders to Pine City and to Duluth, and Grand Marais. Or riders could transfer to the Brainerd Lakes area or Aitkin County.
Nurmi explained that the options for access to transit serving north of Chisago County are fairly limitless. The transit system will take things slowly and get feedback from communities in developing the combined territory.
Arrowhead Transit uses dial-a-ride and scheduled routes, along with a volunteer driver service it coordinates for medical assistance client-related trips.
According to the website dial-a-ride is for residents who need transportation within city limits of identified service areas ie: North Branch, Cambridge. You must reserve a ride at least one hour ahead.
The scheduled rides are on regular routes again in North Branch and Cambridge, running with stops daily and weekly.
The Transit Advisory Committee continues to interface with the new structure, with Chisago County Commissioners Marlys Dunne and Mike Robinson appointed to be local liaisons.
** As of March 1 the old Heartland number will be discontinued, and riders should make note of the new number that Arrowhead will utilize— 1-800-862-0175.
Potter told the Press, “We are working with Heartland Express to ensure we continue to offer the same services that are currently available through them.”
Asked to verify Stacy-Wyoming and the Chisago Lakes area levels of service he said he was unable to answer that directly at this time.