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Heartland Express caters to transportation needs of all

By Jean Ruzickajruzicka@parkrapidsenterprise.com Park Rapids is a "good place to grow old" and a great place to grow up, thanks to the Heartland Express. Passengers on "the demand response system" range in age from preschoolers - "it's silly sock...

Abbie Randall
Abbie Randall, 4, departs the bus with her chauffeur, Roger Hocking, looking on. (Photos by Jean Ruzic\ka / Enterprise)

By Jean Ruzickajruzicka@parkrapidsenterprise.com Park Rapids is a “good place to grow old” and a great place to grow up, thanks to the Heartland Express. Passengers on “the demand response system” range in age from preschoolers – “it’s silly sock day!” - to senior citizens – “it’s one of the main reasons to move to Park Rapids.” As the name implies, the schedule “ebbs and flows” based on riders’ needs, Heartland Express coordinator Linda Bair explained. Unlike metro transit, each day’s timetable is based on the passengers’ appointments and requests. “We love it,” Woodland Court Apartments resident Annette Newland said as she hopped off the bus for grocery shopping day. “I use it all the time.” “We get calls from realtors asking how far the bus goes,” Bair said of people making home-buying decisions. “And it’s handicap accessible,” Newland said as she headed into Hugo’s. “I’m so thankful we have this bus.” The program began in 1989 with three volunteer drivers and a single bus. Five buses now operate, with two full-time drivers and one part-time, along with a pool of part-timers. Initially, Bair said, just seniors boarded the bus, now it’s a third seniors, a third adults and a third children. The misconception that the program is geared to the elderly has been dispelled.
[[{"type":"media","view_mode":"media_large","fid":"1465589","attributes":{"alt":"","class":"media-image","height":"480","typeof":"foaf:Image","width":"320"}}]] Heartland Express recently received two grants - adding a third bus during peak times, Saturday service and increasing the geographical region being covered. The program was one of two in the state chosen for an expansion grant, Heartland Express receiving $46,000. The 16-passenger buses provide service to the city as well as a two- to three-mile radius outside Park Rapids, friendly drivers behind the wheel. The buses travel as far north as 200th Street and Highway 71, west to Western Avenue, east to the Heartland Business Center on Highway 34 and as far south as Piney Park on Highway 71. This area includes north on CSAH 4 as far as Co. Rd. 81 and as far south on CSAH 6 as Conifer Circle. “We continually track requests for service that may suggest a need for additional service area,” Bair said. “Public transportation is for everyone,” she said. There are no age, financial or disability requirements. “We have people going to work, children going to preschool and after school activities and all age groups going to social activities, medical appointments, shopping, exercise programs and more,” Bair said. “We work closely with Community Education, the clinic, the hospital, the schools, businesses, veterans’ services and social services to get people to their day-to-day life needs appointments,” she said. Day care providers and kids board the bus to head off to events and recreational activities in the summer – “opportunities that would not be available without the buses.” Heartland Express has purchased seats with child restraints to accommodate the mini passengers. The transportation system was a key player in the Governor’s Fishing Opener. The ridership increased by 11 percent over the 2013-14 winter, driving the decision for the third bus. Rides are now available from 7:30 a.m. to 4:15 p.m. Monday through Friday with plans to continue until 5 p.m. in the near future. The Saturday bus runs from 8:30 a.m. to 2:30 p.m. To schedule a ride, contact dispatch from 8 a.m. to 4 p.m. at 732-3500, option 1, preferably the day before. The fare is $1.50 each way, with exact change required. Monthly bus passes are available for $30, allowing unlimited rides. There are also punch cards. Discounted riding opportunities include the grocery run on Tuesdays, with stops at Woodland Court, Heritage Manor, Park Villa, SummerField and River Heights. Friday, the bus heads to the Silver Social for games of cards at Frank White Education Center for a $1.50 round-trip fare. Funding for the Heartland Express is derived from state and federal sources, fares and contracts.By Jean Ruzickajruzicka@parkrapidsenterprise.com Park Rapids is a “good place to grow old” and a great place to grow up, thanks to the Heartland Express. Passengers on “the demand response system” range in age from preschoolers – “it’s silly sock day!” - to senior citizens – “it’s one of the main reasons to move to Park Rapids.” As the name implies, the schedule “ebbs and flows” based on riders’ needs, Heartland Express coordinator Linda Bair explained. Unlike metro transit, each day’s timetable is based on the passengers’ appointments and requests. “We love it,” Woodland Court Apartments resident Annette Newland said as she hopped off the bus for grocery shopping day. “I use it all the time.” “We get calls from realtors asking how far the bus goes,” Bair said of people making home-buying decisions. “And it’s handicap accessible,” Newland said as she headed into Hugo’s. “I’m so thankful we have this bus.” The program began in 1989 with three volunteer drivers and a single bus. Five buses now operate, with two full-time drivers and one part-time, along with a pool of part-timers. Initially, Bair said, just seniors boarded the bus, now it’s a third seniors, a third adults and a third children. The misconception that the program is geared to the elderly has been dispelled. [[{"type":"media","view_mode":"media_large","fid":"1465587","attributes":{"alt":"","class":"media-image","height":"320","typeof":"foaf:Image","width":"480"}}]]
Heartland Express recently received two grants - adding a third bus during peak times, Saturday service and increasing the geographical region being covered. The program was one of two in the state chosen for an expansion grant, Heartland Express receiving $46,000. The 16-passenger buses provide service to the city as well as a two- to three-mile radius outside Park Rapids, friendly drivers behind the wheel. The buses travel as far north as 200th Street and Highway 71, west to Western Avenue, east to the Heartland Business Center on Highway 34 and as far south as Piney Park on Highway 71. This area includes north on CSAH 4 as far as Co. Rd. 81 and as far south on CSAH 6 as Conifer Circle. “We continually track requests for service that may suggest a need for additional service area,” Bair said. “Public transportation is for everyone,” she said. There are no age, financial or disability requirements. “We have people going to work, children going to preschool and after school activities and all age groups going to social activities, medical appointments, shopping, exercise programs and more,” Bair said. “We work closely with Community Education, the clinic, the hospital, the schools, businesses, veterans’ services and social services to get people to their day-to-day life needs appointments,” she said. Day care providers and kids board the bus to head off to events and recreational activities in the summer – “opportunities that would not be available without the buses.” Heartland Express has purchased seats with child restraints to accommodate the mini passengers. The transportation system was a key player in the Governor’s Fishing Opener. The ridership increased by 11 percent over the 2013-14 winter, driving the decision for the third bus. Rides are now available from 7:30 a.m. to 4:15 p.m. Monday through Friday with plans to continue until 5 p.m. in the near future. The Saturday bus runs from 8:30 a.m. to 2:30 p.m. To schedule a ride, contact dispatch from 8 a.m. to 4 p.m. at 732-3500, option 1, preferably the day before. The fare is $1.50 each way, with exact change required. Monthly bus passes are available for $30, allowing unlimited rides. There are also punch cards. Discounted riding opportunities include the grocery run on Tuesdays, with stops at Woodland Court, Heritage Manor, Park Villa, SummerField and River Heights. Friday, the bus heads to the Silver Social for games of cards at Frank White Education Center for a $1.50 round-trip fare. Funding for the Heartland Express is derived from state and federal sources, fares and contracts.By Jean Ruzickajruzicka@parkrapidsenterprise.comPark Rapids is a “good place to grow old” and a great place to grow up, thanks to the Heartland Express.Passengers on “the demand response system” range in age from preschoolers – “it’s silly sock day!” - to senior citizens – “it’s one of the main reasons to move to Park Rapids.”As the name implies, the schedule “ebbs and flows” based on riders’ needs, Heartland Express coordinator Linda Bair explained. Unlike metro transit, each day’s timetable is based on the passengers’ appointments and requests.“We love it,” Woodland Court Apartments resident Annette Newland said as she hopped off the bus for grocery shopping day. “I use it all the time.”“We get calls from realtors asking how far the bus goes,” Bair said of people making home-buying decisions.“And it’s handicap accessible,” Newland said as she headed into Hugo’s. “I’m so thankful we have this bus.”The program began in 1989 with three volunteer drivers and a single bus. Five buses now operate, with two full-time drivers and one part-time, along with a pool of part-timers.Initially, Bair said, just seniors boarded the bus, now it’s a third seniors, a third adults and a third children. The misconception that the program is geared to the elderly has been dispelled.
[[{"type":"media","view_mode":"media_large","fid":"1465589","attributes":{"alt":"","class":"media-image","height":"480","typeof":"foaf:Image","width":"320"}}]]Heartland Express recently received two grants - adding a third bus during peak times, Saturday service and increasing the geographical region being covered. The program was one of two in the state chosen for an expansion grant, Heartland Express receiving $46,000.The 16-passenger buses provide service to the city as well as a two- to three-mile radius outside Park Rapids, friendly drivers behind the wheel.The buses travel as far north as 200th Street and Highway 71, west to Western Avenue, east to the Heartland Business Center on Highway 34 and as far south as Piney Park on Highway 71. This area includes north on CSAH 4 as far as Co. Rd. 81 and as far south on CSAH 6 as Conifer Circle.“We continually track requests for service that may suggest a need for additional service area,” Bair said.“Public transportation is for everyone,” she said. There are no age, financial or disability requirements.“We have people going to work, children going to preschool and after school activities and all age groups going to social activities, medical appointments, shopping, exercise programs and more,” Bair said.“We work closely with Community Education, the clinic, the hospital, the schools, businesses, veterans’ services and social services to get people to their day-to-day life needs appointments,” she said.Day care providers and kids board the bus to head off to events and recreational activities in the summer – “opportunities that would not be available without the buses.” Heartland Express has purchased seats with child restraints to accommodate the mini passengers.The transportation system was a key player in the Governor’s Fishing Opener.The ridership increased by 11 percent over the 2013-14 winter, driving the decision for the third bus. Rides are now available from 7:30 a.m. to 4:15 p.m. Monday through Friday with plans to continue until 5 p.m. in the near future. The Saturday bus runs from 8:30 a.m. to 2:30 p.m.To schedule a ride, contact dispatch from 8 a.m. to 4 p.m. at 732-3500, option 1, preferably the day before.The fare is $1.50 each way, with exact change required. Monthly bus passes are available for $30, allowing unlimited rides. There are also punch cards.Discounted riding opportunities include the grocery run on Tuesdays, with stops at Woodland Court, Heritage Manor, Park Villa, SummerField and River Heights.Friday, the bus heads to the Silver Social for games of cards at Frank White Education Center for a $1.50 round-trip fare.Funding for the Heartland Express is derived from state and federal sources, fares and contracts.By Jean Ruzickajruzicka@parkrapidsenterprise.comPark Rapids is a “good place to grow old” and a great place to grow up, thanks to the Heartland Express.Passengers on “the demand response system” range in age from preschoolers – “it’s silly sock day!” - to senior citizens – “it’s one of the main reasons to move to Park Rapids.”As the name implies, the schedule “ebbs and flows” based on riders’ needs, Heartland Express coordinator Linda Bair explained. Unlike metro transit, each day’s timetable is based on the passengers’ appointments and requests.“We love it,” Woodland Court Apartments resident Annette Newland said as she hopped off the bus for grocery shopping day. “I use it all the time.”“We get calls from realtors asking how far the bus goes,” Bair said of people making home-buying decisions.“And it’s handicap accessible,” Newland said as she headed into Hugo’s. “I’m so thankful we have this bus.”The program began in 1989 with three volunteer drivers and a single bus. Five buses now operate, with two full-time drivers and one part-time, along with a pool of part-timers.Initially, Bair said, just seniors boarded the bus, now it’s a third seniors, a third adults and a third children. The misconception that the program is geared to the elderly has been dispelled.[[{"type":"media","view_mode":"media_large","fid":"1465587","attributes":{"alt":"","class":"media-image","height":"320","typeof":"foaf:Image","width":"480"}}]]
Heartland Express recently received two grants - adding a third bus during peak times, Saturday service and increasing the geographical region being covered. The program was one of two in the state chosen for an expansion grant, Heartland Express receiving $46,000.The 16-passenger buses provide service to the city as well as a two- to three-mile radius outside Park Rapids, friendly drivers behind the wheel.The buses travel as far north as 200th Street and Highway 71, west to Western Avenue, east to the Heartland Business Center on Highway 34 and as far south as Piney Park on Highway 71. This area includes north on CSAH 4 as far as Co. Rd. 81 and as far south on CSAH 6 as Conifer Circle.“We continually track requests for service that may suggest a need for additional service area,” Bair said.“Public transportation is for everyone,” she said. There are no age, financial or disability requirements.“We have people going to work, children going to preschool and after school activities and all age groups going to social activities, medical appointments, shopping, exercise programs and more,” Bair said.“We work closely with Community Education, the clinic, the hospital, the schools, businesses, veterans’ services and social services to get people to their day-to-day life needs appointments,” she said.Day care providers and kids board the bus to head off to events and recreational activities in the summer – “opportunities that would not be available without the buses.” Heartland Express has purchased seats with child restraints to accommodate the mini passengers.The transportation system was a key player in the Governor’s Fishing Opener.The ridership increased by 11 percent over the 2013-14 winter, driving the decision for the third bus. Rides are now available from 7:30 a.m. to 4:15 p.m. Monday through Friday with plans to continue until 5 p.m. in the near future. The Saturday bus runs from 8:30 a.m. to 2:30 p.m.To schedule a ride, contact dispatch from 8 a.m. to 4 p.m. at 732-3500, option 1, preferably the day before.The fare is $1.50 each way, with exact change required. Monthly bus passes are available for $30, allowing unlimited rides. There are also punch cards.Discounted riding opportunities include the grocery run on Tuesdays, with stops at Woodland Court, Heritage Manor, Park Villa, SummerField and River Heights.Friday, the bus heads to the Silver Social for games of cards at Frank White Education Center for a $1.50 round-trip fare.Funding for the Heartland Express is derived from state and federal sources, fares and contracts.

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