Roseville council approves extending circulator bus pilot

The six-month experiment connecting south Roseville area senior housing sites with grocery stores, the library and other destinations will continue through next June with city financial support, the Roseville City Council has decided.

However, the route that two handicap-accessible buses take each Tuesday from 10 a.m. to 2 p.m. probably will be changed somewhat, perhaps on Jan. 1, to increase access for immigrants and others in the Larpenteur-Rice area of southeast Roseville.

Since the project began, organizers have worked to expand the no-fee service to that area but had trouble getting cooperation from owners and managers of the apartment buildings in that area, which has only intermittent public bus service. City Manager Pat Trudgeon chaired a series of meetings over the summer seeking ways to address those issues.

At the council meeting Oct. 15, Trudgeon was authorized to continue that work — especially to help spur an outreach and marketing effort by volunteers in southeast Roseville.

Since the pilot project started April 10, it has carried 339 passengers, an average of about 12 people each Tuesday. That is fewer than organizers had hoped. A similar program started in 2017 in White Bear Lake now carries about 28 people each week.

However, the bus service experiment has cost the city less than expected. The council authorized spending up to $8,760 for the first six months. The actual cost has been $7,433, and with rider donations of $713, the city has paid $6,720.

A six-month extension now is estimated to cost the city about $5,800, Trudgeon told council members — $7,500, minus $700 in rider donations and a $1,000 gift from the two Cub Foods grocery stores on the route. The city share will be further reduced by two gifts of $1,000 each from Lyngblomsten senior housing campus and its Heritage apartments in St. Paul.

The project was organized by the volunteer Roseville Community Heath Awareness Team (CHAT) and NewTrax, a White Bear Lake nonprofit with a fleet of 45 buses that takes people with disabilities to work and life-skills training.

With buses idle at midday, NewTrax now has three Circulator Bus programs with community support in White Bear Lake and Fridley, with two others in planning stages.

The Roseville program was started to help older or disabled residents at eight sites visit businesses, the Roseville Library, Fairview Community Center and other sites.

Trudgeon said he will reconvene the community volunteers who met during the summer to renew efforts to bring the weekly bus service to people in the Larpenteur-Rice area.

 

—Warren Wolfe is a Roseville resident who retired from the Star Tribune, where he reported on aging and health policy issues.

 

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