(Fargo, ND) -- Fargo Transit Director Julie Bommelman spoke to WDAY Radio about the city's public transportation system, the biggest users of MATBUS, and tools in place to make the service easier to use.
MATBUS operates primarily within Fargo and Moorhead, but also extends their services to West Fargo and Dilworth. However, Fargo and Moorhead are technically different public transportation systems. Bommelman says both cities have their own buses, transportation managers, support staff, and even bus garages.
"We all work together, and as a front, it's MATBUS, "said Bommelman, "We coordinate transfers, we coordinate all the [route] times. Their buses, they have routes that come over to Fargo for the Ground Transportation Center to transfer...Dillworth is included and so is West Fargo."
MATBUS extends their services to higher education facilities across Fargo and Moorhead. This includes North Dakota State University, Concordia College, Minnesota State University Moorhead, and Minnesota State Community and Technical College, Moorhead; who all pay for the student's passes, and enables the students to ride at no charge to them. This may be one reason why Bommelman says the largest demographic for MATBUS's fixed route users are college students, who make up approximately half of riders during the academic year.
"Of our total adult ridership, college students make up about fifty percent of the fixed route ridership," said Bommelman, "We're ticking back up on our numbers, but prior to [Covid-19], we were [seeing] over 2 million riders a year... people don't expect that."
The public transportation utility operates under a "fixed route system", meaning they travel to specific locations in each of the four cities throughout the day. Each stop has a specific number of buses that visit the location a specified number of times per hour. They used to operate under a wave-down system, one where a bus could be stopped anywhere if someone flagged them down, but that was changed when route times and consistency were impacted.
The adult cash fare is $1.50, with a discounted rate of $0.75 for elderly, disabled, and youth riders. You can find additional information related to bus fares and passes by clicking here.
MATBUS offers public transportation options to individuals who are unable to travel on fixed route buses without assistance.
Paratransit is eligible for riders seven and older who qualify under the Americans with Disabilities act. The service will come to you, and will take you anywhere you wish within their driving range (Fargo, Moorhead, West Fargo, Dillworth). Residents who wish to apply can learn how to do so by clicking here.
A wide variety of rules and frequently asked questions about Paratransit can be found here.
Electronic Ride Passes
Previously, every MATBUS rider who wanted to purchase a bus pass (a day, week, or month-long) were told to do so at the Ground Transportation Center. However, this has recently changed due to the introduction of an app.
The new service initiated on May 2nd, 2022, introduces an electronic method to purchase passes called MATBUS Connect. This allows users to pay for passes through a card, a phone app, or other similar methods. The balance is updated each time you ride, instead of paying an up-front cost like their original system.
"It was much more convenient," said Bommelman, " You can pay for it as you go, you can load up as much as you want on your pass. So that was a big driver... It has improved people's access to those services."
Bommelman hopes the app will allow more people to purchase passes in a much more convenient way
You can learn more about MATBUS, use the transportation utility's bus tracker and schedule planner, and more by clicking here.