Editorial: People of all ages should give bus a try

Published 12:00 am Thursday, July 25, 2002

The fact that public transportation in Albert Lea has a new name and a new bus is partly due to the need for an image overhaul for what was too often though of as a seniors-only service. In fact, the Freeborn County Connection &045; as it’s now known &045; is intended for everyone who wants to use it. Senior citizens just happen to be among those who most need the service.

A strong public transportation system is important in most communities of significant size. That’s partly because senior citizens may lose their mobility and need to find new ways to get around. But public transit should also be a viable option for others who don’t have cars &045; because they can’t afford them, because they’re too young to drive, or even because they’d rather choose a more environmentally conscious alternative.

Part of the challenge faced by a small transit operation like Freeborn County Connection is the chicken-and-egg syndrome: They’d love to expand, adding more routes, more stops and even more buses if they could, but they need ridership to provide the necessary money. At the same time, there are probably people who would use the bus more if the service offered more options.

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So which comes first? With local governments apparently unwilling or unable to help much, the burden may fall upon the people to make public transit work, if they want it to, by using it and spreading the word. Giving the bus a chance is the first step.

A good chance to get acquainted with the Freeborn County Connection will come at the county fair next week, when the bus will be offering shuttles to the fairgrounds. Anybody who hasn’t ridden the bus could take advantage of that chance to avoid the parking and traffic problems of the fair.