MnDOT launches multi-modal rural trip planner test pilot

By: 
Jarrod Schoenecker

Screenshots of using the Transit app that is the focus of the pilot project from MnDOT. The home screen of the Transit app when you bring it up will show your location and available transit options that you can select (left). You can choose two destinations to see available options as well (right center). For either option when you select them, it will show you options and prices, if available (center left), or the available options and how to book them (right).

The Minnesota Department of Transportation (MnDOT) launched a $1.9 million test pilot that aims to improve public transportation needs across western and southern rural Minnesota. If the test pilot goes well, it could be expanded state-wide and improved upon.

“This is a huge step forward for rural transit agencies to provide trip planning and payment systems for their riders. Traditionally, it has been very difficult for these agencies to adopt this technology as it has primarily been designed for urban transit systems with fixed routes,” said MnDOT’s Greater Minnesota Shared Mobility Program Coordinator Elliot McFadden.

Anyone who has used public transportation in larger cities such as Chicago, New York, or the Twin Cities, has likely used an app on their phone to purchase a fare or plan a trip route. That is exactly what this test pilot does in the rural areas and across multiple different transportation entities.

The Transit app is what is being used for the pilot, which is used in over 300 cities worldwide. The free app is available in both Google’s and Apple’s app stores from your device. You can also see and access the download links at TransitApp.com.

Once you have the app downloaded on your device, you can choose when and where you want to go. It appears to have very limited actual beneficial use in a lot of areas though, as many of the transportation options do not service one area or another.

Residents of Le Sueur County have an advantage in that True Transit, services the area and give you the option for rides from anywhere in the county. The catch is that you have to book a ride by noon the day prior.

Land to Air Express also services the US 169 corridor for those wishing to get a ride to the airport. Coordinating a True Transit trip with Land-to-Air is a full-circuit trip possible through the app.

Rochester Public Transit and Jefferson Lines will come live in the app in mid-March as well. The addition of Jefferson Lines will offer expanded possibilities for longer trips across some regions of rural Minnesota by coordinating connecting trips.

Jefferson Lines has regular routes along I90 in southern Minnesota and from Sioux Falls up to St. Cloud. People using a True Transit trip to get to a stop along their route in... Pick up a copy of the March 9 edition of the Montgomery Messenger to continue reading. Subscribe online at MontgomeryMNNews.com. Digital subscription included.

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