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Heidi Shaffer, Published September 26 2010

Metro bus service extends south

Fargo is rolling out its first new transit route in more than a decade.

The southwest Fargo Route 23 – set to begin running in November – will serve Osgood, the Microsoft campus and the Woodhaven neighborhood, connecting the area with the main transit system at West Acres, said Julie Bommelman, director of Metro Area Transit.

Bommelman said the city has wanted to implement a transit route in the continuously expanding southwest area of Fargo for a few years, but securing a federal transit grant aimed at improving job access paved the way.

The grant includes $100,000 to pay half of the operating costs for the route that will be covered under a Job Access Reverse Commute grant.

Reverse commute projects are intended to provide transportation services to suburban employment centers for all populations.

Transportation is often a major hurdle for those looking for employment, said Marty Aas, director of Job Service of North Dakota.

“I think any additional routes would be good,” Aas said.

The MAT system will add a bus, along with one to two drivers, to accommodate the new southwest route.

MAT will circulate information on the new route over the next few months and update maps and schedule flyers at the beginning of next year, Bommelman said.

The last addition to Fargo’s bus transit system, Route 25 along 32nd Avenue South, started in February of 2000.

But needs and the number of riders have increased substantially over the past few years. MAT ridership in Fargo is up by 32 percent from January to August this year over the same period in 2009, Bommelman said.

The total of 1 million riders so far this year is due in part to the growing number of college students and new Americans utilizing the system, Bommelman said. MAT hopes that success continues with the new route.

“There’s a lot of folks that we’re anticipating will be riding,” she said. “We’re excited about it.”

Readers can reach Forum reporter Heidi Shaffer at (701) 241-5511