Busing nonprofit could add Mower County

Published 10:00 am Monday, August 19, 2013

AUSTIN — Cedar Valley Services, which runs the bus service in Freeborn County, is poised to take over the same role in Mower County.

The Austin City Council and the Mower County Board of Commissioners will discuss turning public transportation system they run jointly over to nonprofit Cedar Valley Services at a 3:30 p.m. meeting Tuesday at the Austin Housing and Redevelopment Authority office, 308 Second Ave. NE.

The two groups likely will plan to not submit a grant to the state Department of Transportation next year for Austin-Mower County Area Transit, better known as AMCAT.

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Mower County approached the city in 2004 to partner on public transportation. That way, Cedar Valley Services, which also runs Albert Lea Transit throughout Freeborn County, could take over. AMCAT is primarily funded through the state, though rider fees account for about 15 percent of its funding.

Minnesota Department of Transportation officials have pushed Mower, Steele and Freeborn counties to merge public transportation services earlier this year as a way to save money. Though Austin and Mower officials were working on a plan to create a tri-county transportation authority, Steele County opted to turn its services over to Cedar Valley Services, according to City Finance Director Tom Dankert.

“Cedar Valley Services has a proven track record in all of these communities and that gives us the confidence that transportation for our communities will not change,” Dankert said in an email last week.

The AMCAT board of directors will meet following the joint meeting to discuss dissolving.