At our last Rotary board meeting, our very own Sally Anderson presented on the challenges of transportation and maintaining mobility and access to services for all people in the community.    Community Thread has been on the forefront of trying to address the transportation gap since 1967 and has had success in connecting volunteers to people who need transportation to medical appointments but other transportation needs have gone unmet.   We are pleased to grant $1,500 to the Bus Loop Project.
DARTS, a nonprofit organization serving seniors and their families in Dakota County, is currently providing circulator bus routes in 4 communities (South St. Paul; West St. Paul; Lakeville; Hastings). DARTS approached Community Thread about partnering to bring a circulator “loop” to the greater Stillwater community (to be defined as municipalities that choose to support the project). Loop routes are designed around survey results and provide an affordable option for senior and disabled citizens from their residences to a variety of community amenities. Fares range from $2 - $5 for an all-day pass.
DARTS received funding from the Department of Human Services to expand into Washington County as a pilot project. This loop, if funded, would be a one year pilot project, being directed by Community Thread in partnership with DARTS. A loop route costs $25,000 per year to operate and DARTS will direct $10,000 in funding the first year. Community Thread is approaching potential funders to raise $15,000 for a year of service starting Sept. 2018. Our community would need to secure $25,000 in funding for year two for the loop to be continued. Sponsors will be displayed on the outside of the bus and in promotional materials.
DARTS provides the service (the bus and driver). The bus seats 16 people and is handicapped accessible. It makes the loop for 5 hours a day, one day a week. A local community advisory group will recommend changes to the route and the all-day fare that will be charged to the rider. This transportation service offers planned stops on an hourly loop schedule, as well as the flexibility to request a stop nearby.  It would be a cost effective way to connect downtown Stillwater to Highway 36 retail options, as well as offer stops at the library, health care facilities, the government center and senior housing complexes. Contact Sally Anderson at for more information.