March 11, 2010 at 8:54 a.m.

North Branch City Bus up and running, hopes for high ridership remain strong

North Branch City Bus up and running, hopes for high ridership remain strong
North Branch City Bus up and running, hopes for high ridership remain strong

The first several weeks that the official North Branch City Bus has been on the road have gone well; ridership is looking strong and transit Director Jackie Forner has high hopes for the in-town route. "Of course it takes a little time to get to know the service and that it's available," she added.

The specially painted and logo festooned bus has been ordered, but isn't being delivered until April, Forner added. It'll have north branch displayed on the front and rear of the vehicle. Still, people are beginning to take notice of the bus that started running routes in North Branch, between 8 a.m.and 4 p.m. in January.

"I can't say enough about the city partnering with us to provide this," Forner continued.

North Branch taxpayers and Heartland Express-- the Isanti and Chisago counties' public transit program-- are able to offer this bus with major funding from federal and state programs. Heartland also runs its buses throughout Chisago County on major north-south corridors and Hwy. 8.

After the success of the Cambridge (Isanti County) in-town bus routes Heartland Express approached the city of North Branch about starting up a bus for in-town. City officials came on-board with the idea, budgeting for this in 2010.

Forner also said the January report (February's final numbers were still being compiled) went to the regional transit manager in St. Cloud and he was "very pleased" with the initial use.

The area considered as North Branch basically covers from 410th on the north to 370th on the south. The bus goes to just beyond the Casselberry residential area on the south east, Harder Park north of 95 is northeast edge, and a short ways past Falcon Ave. on the west. A detailed map is available on the city website. Or, speak with Heartland at 1-888-234-7840 or 763-689-8131 in Cambridge.

In-town rides are $1.50 or 75 cents for seniors (65 years plus). Tokens can be purchased in North Branch at County Market and Nelson's, Wal*Mart or Cub in Cambridge, or at the Chisago county government center. Tokens are available for countywide bus routes at a number of area retail locations too, such as Brink's in Chisago City.

The bus is handicap accessible and equipped to carry bikes.


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