Viola Swenson of Crosby does not like to stay home.
Swenson boarded the Crow Wing County transit bus Thursday to do some shopping in Brainerd.
The new countywide transit system went into full operation today.
"It's wonderful," said Swenson on the new system. "I can drive, but I want to encourage them (the county) to keep it running.
"I'll use it often enough. It's more fun than driving ... I see more things."
Transit bus driver Leon Winterowd took Swenson and four other passengers from Crosby to Brainerd Thursday for a trial run.
"Five riders is great," said Winterowd for the trial run.
Winterowd drove bus for the Crow Wing County Social Service system for senior citizens for 14 years and he also works for Brainerd's Dial-A-Ride. He will continue to drive buses for Dial-A-Ride and the county-wide system.
Stu Tufford, another Crosby rider, said the new county-wide system is fantastic.
"I can no longer drive and many times I have to pay $10 for gas to others," said Tufford. "I usually have to bribe them (his friends) for rides.
"This is cheap."
Fare is $1 for a one-way trip that is less than six miles and $2 for any trip more than six miles. Children age 5 and younger can ride free when accompanied by an adult.
Tufford said he will use the transit service many times a week to come to Brainerd to run errands or to go to the medical clinics. He said he mainly goes to the Cuyuna Regional Medical Center, but on occasions he needs to go to one of the centers in Brainerd.
Emma Freerks of Crosby said she will definitely use the service once a week to get groceries.
"I need to depend on a ride," she said. "I appreciate the bus service ... It means a lot to me."
"I love it," said Dave Stoen of Crosby. "I can get down to Brainerd a couple times a week now."
Stoen said he would like to see the service build where the buses would come every day and would stay at the drop-off site longer.
The transit system has two services - a flexible and demand route. The demand service will allow people to call Dial-A-Ride to pick them up at their home. People must call for the service at noon the day before they want the ride.
The flexible routes have pre-determined stop locations and times. If a person wants to hop on a flexible route and is unable to get to one of the stop locations they must contact the transit office and make arrangements. The bus may deviate from its route up to one mile to provide service.
Today two flexible routes ran. One bus ran from Crosslake and the Emily area to Crosby. The other route ran to Pine Center to Garrison and back to Brainerd.
Tuesday and Thursday a flexible route will run from Jenkins and will make stops along Highway 371 south to Brainerd. On the same days a route will also run to the Cuyuna Range to Brainerd. Tuesday and Friday a route will also run to Emily, Crosslake, Breezy Point, Mission, Merrifield and to Brainerd.
The transit service will operate from 7:30 a.m. to 5:30 p.m. weekdays. No service will be available on weekends or on New Year's Day, Memorial Day, Fourth of July, Labor Day, Thanksgiving and Christmas.
People who want to ride the bus can buy ride tickets and tokens at the transit office at Brainerd City Hall. Persons interested in reserving a ride may call the transit office at 828-6172 or 1-866-925-7433.
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