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Dial-A-Ride program replaces Worthington's retired taxi service

Those interested in scheduling a pickup can reach the new transportation service at (507) 372-4444.

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A Nobles County Heartland Express bus, which are now in use as part of the new Dial-A-Ride program, sits parked outside Grand Terrace Apartments on Grand Avenue.
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WORTHINGTON — After 20 years in business, the Worthington Taxi Service opted to retire rather than renew its five-year contract with the city. Without a new business to take its place and fill the transportation need in Worthington, the Southwest Minnesota Opportunity Council has coordinated a new “Dial-A-Ride '' transportation program with the help of the Prairieland Transit System and Nobles County Heartland Express.

The Dial-A-Ride service began operating on Jan. 3 — two days after the Worthington Taxi Service’s contract expired. Dial-A-Ride will continue to operate during the taxi service’s previous hours of 7:30 a.m. to 4:30 p.m., Monday through Friday. The service is available to anyone and costs $2.50 for a ride, a rate that was subsidized through the use of grant funds. Anyone interested in using the Dial-A-Ride service can call (507) 372-4444 to schedule a pick-up.

“The board wanted to make sure that people at least had access to some type of transportation, so we stepped up with the public transit buses and have them on the road,” said Karen DeBoer, director of the Prairieland Transit system. The buses currently in use are also accessible vehicles, equipped with wheelchair lifts, which DeBoer noted should provide additional mobility for Worthington residents looking to take advantage of the transportation program.

While DeBoer stated that people have been using the Dial-A-Ride service, the SMOC board is considering issuing another request for proposals to see if it would be possible to find a new taxi provider.

A request for proposals was already made prior to the Worthington Taxi Service’s contract expiration, but received only one response, which did not meet the parameters of the request. Should a second request be issued, DeBoer assured, it will better clarify what the city of Worthington’s needs in terms of transit are.

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“Until that happens,” DeBoer said, “the public transit system has stepped up...We're just filling in a gap right now that may become a permanent part of our service and may not. We’ll see how that goes.”

Related Topics: TRANSPORTATION
Emma McNamee joined The Globe team in October 2021 as a reporter covering Crime & Courts, Politics, and the City beats. Born and raised in Duluth, Minn., McNamee left her hometown to attend school in Chicago at Columbia College. She graduated in 2021 with a degree in Multimedia Journalism, with a concentration in News & Feature Writing and a minor in Creative Writing.
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