Duluth Transit Authority Receiving Half Of Levy Request

DULUTH, Minn. — The Levy increase is important to the Duluth Transit Authority or DTA, because they have plans to change how its buses operate beginning next June. Known as the Better Bus Blueprint. It was to be to be rolled out earlier this year, but a number of events has delayed its implementation until June 2023.

Chris Belden, Director of Planning and Grants, DTA said, “We re-adjusted our service based on where we saw demand, latent demand and then other neighborhoods where we were spending a lot of resources but not seeing a lot of ridership in return. So, we think the community will embrace the new system.”

The pandemic was a major problem for the DTA. The federal government provided Covid Relief funds to help. Each month the DTA has been using about $230,000 of the Covid relief money to make up for lower fare box revenue and lower ridership.

At the same time the DTA is looking at what capital improvements will need to be made to put its Better Bus Blueprint in place. While the Federal Government will pay for a large portion of these improvements, the City’s share will be nearly one and half million dollars.

“We really want to make sure transit to remains strong in the city of Duluth and that we thought was the number we really could move forward,” said Rod Fournier, General Manager, DTA.

So, receiving just half of their request, the DTA will look at how the capital items can be funded or changed to make sure its plans for improved transit can still be accomplished.

“In the short term we’re definitely going to be looking at how we are using our Covid relief funds, the burn rate we have for those funds and potentially making some service adjustments if we see that that’s not sustainable for the long term but in the meantime, I’ll continue doing what we’re doing and that’s provide excellent public transit in Duluth,” explained Fournier.

While major changes are still planned for next June you won’t see a lot of changes in the day-to-day operations of the DTA as a result of the smaller levy amount. Much of the DTA’s levy request was for improvements that need to be made in the future.

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