Episode 32: La Crosse, Wisconsin: small city and rural transit

We look first at the small radial bus system transit run by the La Crosse Municipal Transit Utility, which I rode on Fare Free Day.  Service Rep/Dispatcher Sonna Severson explains the system, then Director Keith Carlson explains some of the issues and what they've been working on. I toured the MTU service area, rode one of their brand new hybrid buses and enjoyed the two-year-old Grand River Station, a beautiful indoor/outdoor transit center which functions as a pulse point hub for ten fixed routes and Jefferson Lines intercity buses.

When I accidentally discovered the very new Scenic Mississippi Regional Transit, I had to take a ride. I share some audio from the trip as bus driver Carrie tells us about the service and who is using it.  Regional Transportation Planner (MRRPC) Peter Fletcher explains the process of starting a new transit service in Wisconsin, the complex public-private partnership that funds SMRT, and how it's going so far. The service is operated by Running Inc., which also operates a regional shared-ride taxi company.  Some publicity and coordination with MTU schedules, and a spot in Grand River Station, would help the ridership grow.

I biked from La Crosse north along the Mississippi River to Winona, Minnesota, my next stop, in the dark on country roads without my regular dynamo taillight. I blame Brompton for selling me an inferior halogen headlight which caused my inferior rear light to burn out, but thanks to the great folks at Calhoun Cycle in Minneapolis for replacing it and getting me on my way. [UPDATE: Eventually I replaced these with a good Busch & Muller LED light set that's been flawless.]

Read and contribute to the rural transit resource library of the TROUT in Bancroft, Ontario.  Learn about the Brompton US Championship race which will take place during Open Streets Minneapolis on June 23.

Most of this episode was recorded during the first few days of April.  Please send your questions, comments, ideas for show topics and guests to feedback@criticaltransit.com or using the contact form. Follow me and my work on Twitter @criticaltransit or Facebook.