$1M grant to aid in upgrade to Charles Mix transit programMARTY — People all over the lower part of Charles Mix County can count on a continued reliable bus service to get to work, health care and other appointments.
By: Anna Jauhola, The Daily Republic
MARTY — People all over the lower part of Charles Mix County can count on a continued reliable bus service to get to work, health care and other appointments.
The Ihanktonwan Transit Facility, located in Marty, received a $1 million grant through the Transportation Investment Generating Economic Recovery (TIGER) 2012 program.
“It’s going to be a really, really good thing,” said Sherry Hare, administrative assistant at Ihanktonwan Transit. “It’s something we’ve needed for years. It’s going to connect our communities a lot more than they are now.”
The transit program started operating in May 2011, offering bus and van rides to anyone in the public, not just members of the Yankton Sioux Tribe, Hare said.
There are bus stops in Wagner, Lake Andes and Marty, with times posted for pickup and drop off. The program also offers rides upon request in Greenwood.
Each one-way trip costs just $1.
Currently, the program has three buses and stores them at bus drivers’ homes. This grant will allow the program to build a new bus garage, which will include office space.
Hare said the current buses are being serviced at commercial businesses, despite having a mechanic on hand. With the grant, the mechanic will now have the tools and facility to maintain the new buses and a new van.
Each vehicle will be equipped with a lift to accommodate those with disabilities.
The entire project — a new building to house six full-size transit buses, new vehicles, and office space — will cost $1.2 million. The extra $200,000 will come from the Ihanktonwan Transit’s funding, which is provided through the U.S. Department of Transportation.
Ihanktonwan Transit is currently located in an office at the DOT location a mile and a half north of Marty. Hare said the new building will be located about 20 feet north of the same spot.
“We’ve already got it planned out and mapped out,” Hare said. “We’ve had engineers help make the plans. We should be ready to go within four months.”
Community members are excited about the upgrades, she said. Anywhere from 100 to 150 people use the bus service per week. Numbers are even higher in the winter time, according to Hare.
“Before the bus service, a lot of people were walking,” she said.
When the bus service first began, Hare rode the bus to get a first-hand experience.
“Everyone is so thankful for the program here,” she said. “It just really makes a difference.”
More people are starting to use the bus to get to work because the employment rate has increased in the area, Hare said. Many others of varying ages use the service to get to doctor appointments, visit family in the area and go on recreational outings.
She added that many adults, about 55 percent, on the Yankton Sioux Reservation do not have driver’s licenses and many others don’t own a vehicle.
“It makes everybody more mobile,” she said. “It was hard before that.”