FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE
Contact: Eric Day, Mid-Minnesota Development Commission
Phone: (320) 235-8504
Email: [email protected]
MMDC Receives Grant Award From Willmar Area Community Foundation
Funds Will Support a Fare-Free Transit Bus Option for Willmar Residents
May 31, 2023:. The Willmar Area Community Foundation recently awarded Mid-Minnesota Development Commission (MMDC) a $20,000 grant to reduce transportation barriers for Willmar residents during a six-month pilot. During this pilot period, any rider who boards and departs the transit bus at an established stop along Central Community Transit’s (CCT) Willmar Route will ride fare-free (at no cost). The pilot will run from July 1 through December 31, 2023, to give MMDC and CCT the opportunity to see how summer, autumn, and winter weather affects fare-free ridership.
“We have a couple of goals that we’re trying to achieve with this project,” said MMDC Mobility Manager Terry Smith. “First and foremost, we want to reduce financial barriers to help people get where they need and want to be, whether that be work, school, a doctor’s appointment, or the park. We also want to encourage more people, those without physical or other limitations, to take advantage of Willmar’s regular route and become less reliant on CCT’s dial-a-ride service. This would create some efficiencies for CCT, which is important given the current shortage of drivers. As more people board and depart at the established stops, CCT will have greater ability to accommodate those who must rely on dial-a-ride, curb-to-curb service.”
“This project would not be possible without the generous funding provided by the Willmar Area Community Foundation”, said MMDC Executive Director Eric Day. “It’s apparent that WACF understands the barriers faced by our areas nondrivers, including seniors, people with disabilities, and those of low income. We appreciate the extent to which they’re willing to be part of the solution.”
$18,000 of the $20,000 grant will be used to compensate CCT for the uncollected fares during the pilot period, with the remaining $2,000 spent on outreach (e.g. media ads, translating of developed materials, etc.). No dollars from the WACF grant will be used to compensate MMDC for associated staff time.
“We’re excited to partner with MMDC on this project, said Central Community Transit Executive Director Amy Nieland, and we can’t express how appreciative we are of the Willmar Area Community Foundation for making the fare-free option possible!”