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Erik Burgess, Published November 10 2013

MATBUS returns to Dilworth on Jan. 2

DILWORTH – The metro’s bus service will once again pick up riders in the heart of Dilworth.

The Minnesota Department of Transportation has given final approval to award a grant and establish a main line MATBUS route through Dilworth, said Lori Van Beek, Moorhead’s transit director.

The bus route, which will likely start and end at Wal-Mart here, will be up and running Jan. 2.

Dilworth, a city of about 4,000 people, hasn’t had a fixed bus route through the center of town since the 1990s. The MnDOT grant will cover 80 percent of the costs to set up the route, and the city will pay for 20 percent.

There will be a public hearing at 6 p.m. Nov. 25 in Dilworth City Hall to finalize the route, which will take riders through the heart of town, and connect with other MATBUS routes at Wal-Mart, Van Beek said.

It will have limited hours, likely three hours in the morning during peak times and three hours during evening rush, but Van Beek said changes are still being made to the route and comments are being accepted.

She expects the route to be finalized and posted at the Ground Transportation Center in downtown Fargo by Nov. 29. Once a new bus route is established, MnDOT will make it a priority to fund it, as long as it is successful, Van Beek said.

Dilworth’s share is about $22,000, and up to $9,000 of that can be taken from rider fares, Van Beek said. The City Council passed a resolution of support for the route earlier this year.

If the Dilworth line is successful, MATBUS has plans to connect it to a proposed southeast Moorhead route in 2015, making it a full-time route that would take riders near the new Sanford campus and Menards.

MATBUS had a fixed route through Dilworth in the 1990s until Clay County Rural Transit offered the city a better rate. Over time, ridership numbers dropped and so did funding. Van Beek said the new route will be more successful by being connected to the MATBUS system.

To comment on the proposed route, contact Van Beek at (701) 476-6686, or lvanbeek@matbus.com.

Readers can reach Forum reporter Erik Burgess at (701) 241-5518