FARGO — The Fargo City Commission voted 4-1 Monday night, June 3, to extend bus transit service to Fargo's industrial park.
The lone dissenter on the commission, Tony Gehrig, said that while he was supportive of the idea, he would prefer decisions impacting the city budget be made during the budget setting process.
The bus service, which Metro Area Transit aims to start in August with a leased bus, is expected to cost about $95,000 in 2019 and about $182,000 in 2020.
Some of those costs are to be offset by funds provided by United Way of Cass-Clay, whose community impact director, Thomas Hill, spoke in favor of the plan Monday night.
For 2019, the United Way is putting up to $70,000 toward the bus service through the UNITED for Workforce Development Pathways Initiative, which is funded by the Fargo Moorhead West Fargo Chamber of Commerce, the city of Fargo, Cornerstone Bank, FM Area Foundation, Greater Fargo-Moorhead Economic Development Corp., Microsoft, the Otto Bremer Trust, West Central Initiative and private investors.
That leaves the city's cost for the bus service expansion for 2019 at about $25,000.
Hill said one of the United Way's primary goals is to help lift people out of poverty, and he said the bus service will help do that by connecting employees with employers.
Commissioner Dave Piepkorn, who voted for the plan, said employers in the industrial park are begging for employees and he called the bus plan a great thing for Fargo.
Commissioner John Strand agreed, stating he supported the plan because it "comes to us from the people."
According to transportation officials, the bus service to the industrial park will be a "TapRide" type of service that will be an on-demand service connecting riders to the main transit system.
MATBUS already has a TapRide type service in place for the North Dakota State University campus that has been operating for some time.
With the TapRide service, riders pay the regular fare to ride — $1.50 for adults and 75 cents for elderly, disabled, or youth.
Depending on what the level of demand turns out to be for rides to the industrial park, bus service to the industrial park could become part of the city's regular bus route network, officials said.
The Fargo industrial park, an area north of Main Avenue and west of Interstate 29, includes more than 40 businesses.