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Erik Burgess, Published July 22 2013

New MATBUS Dilworth route under consideration

DILWORTH, Minn. – A new bus route could soon be rolling through town.

Moorhead and Dilworth leaders are in the early stages of discussing a new MATBUS route through Dilworth, said Lori Van Beek, Moorhead’s transit manager.

Van Beek said the state Department of Transportation is making some funds available in 2014 to establish new bus routes, and a new line in Dilworth is possible because there is an “unmet need” here.

If the statewide grant is awarded to MATBUS, Minnesota would cover 80 percent of the cost and there would be a 20 percent local match. The grant deadline is Aug. 31, Van Beek said.

Because of costs, the line wouldn’t necessarily run in Dilworth 100 percent of the time, she said.

The Metropolitan Council of Governments is studying what new route makes the most sense and what the cost would be, Van Beek said.

It could be a line that runs half of the time in south Moorhead, near the Sanford Health campus currently under construction, and half of the time in Dilworth, she said.

Need for route

MATBUS service in Dilworth is now “very limited” and residents want a new line, said City Administrator Ken Parke.

One MATBUS route serves the Dilworth area on 34th Street near Walmart, Van Beek said. Metro Senior Ride also serves the area, she said.

“I know there’s a need on the east side of town, so it would be nice to have a route going through town,” Parke said. “The key is the cost and how easy it is to incorporate into our operating budget.”

Parke said Moorhead and Dilworth were close to setting up a shared route a few years ago. Dilworth was preparing to pay $40,000 a year for it.

“But that just fell through when state aid started falling off the map,” he said.

The Dilworth City Council received and filed a memo from Van Beek on Monday night. The council will discuss the possibility of paying for a new route at its 2014 budget workshop on Aug. 12, Parke said.

Readers can reach Forum reporter

Erik Burgess at (701) 241-5518