New Ulm will be getting a new fixed-service bus route, but current Heartland Express bus service will remain unchanged, said Pat LaCourse, transit manager for Heartland Express.
“The bus service we currently run will still be in operation, and no changes are expected,” he said.
Heartland Express has been the transit provider for Brown County since 1993. The service actually started years earlier as a volunteer driver organization.
Heartland Express provides bus service to all of Brown County, with three buses serving New Ulm and two serving the rest of the county. All but one of the four busses are garaged in New Ulm, and one bus is in Sleepy Eye.
“Everyone can ride the bus,” LaCourse said. “We operate from 6:15 am-5:45 p.m. Monday through Friday, and from eight to noon on Sunday. To utilize our service you need to call our office at 507-359-2717 or 800-359-2717 at least one business day before the ride.”
Heartland Express takes ride requests up to two weeks in advance. All busses are lift-equipped, meaning anyone of any mobility can ride. The cost to ride the bus is $1.50, or 1 token each way.
For riders outside of the city limits, the charge is $3 each way, or two tokens.
Heartland Express has tokens available at many of the banks and grocery stores throughout the county. The cost of the tokens is $13 for a pack of 10, for a savings of 20 cents per ride.
“We also have a volunteer driver program to get residents of Brown County to locations within 50 miles of New Ulm for medical appointments,” LaCourse said.
The fixed bus route coming to New Ulm will be an addition to these current services. It will not replace Heartland Express’s current service.
The start of the fixed-bus route is dependent on when the bus is shipped. Heartland Express ordered a new bus four months ago, but with supply-chain issues and shipping delays, it is unknown when the bus will arrive. A notice will be sent two months before the vehicle arrives.
The fixed-bus route will travel to many income-based housing locations in New Ulm and grocery stores, stopping at each location once an hour.