Terry Klomps and Bonnie Hammon will welcome passengers onto the Semcac Spring Valley/Fillmore County public transit bus beginning July 1.
Terry Klomps and Bonnie Hammon will welcome passengers onto the Semcac Spring Valley/Fillmore County public transit bus beginning July 1.
The new public transit service in Spring Valley is ready to start on July 1 with a bus in place and two drivers- former Head Start bus driver Bonnie Hammon and Terry Klomps.

"This is Spring Valley's public transit, for anyone in the community - not just the elderly - but for anyone, preschool to high school, any age, income, race...it will truly be public transit. As long as they pay the bus fare of $1.25 for a one-way trip, they can go on the bus," said Semcac Transportation director Erlene Welshons, speaking of the new Spring Valley public transit bus service, now available as a service of Semcac, Fillmore County and the Minnesota Department of Transportation (MnDOT).

MnDOT approved this service in February after consideration of another request from a local facility to use for its residents. The state decided that a public transit service would work for Spring Valley and Semcac, which has a bus in Rushford, two buses in Houston County, one in rural Winona County and one in Dodge County, is handling the details. They're all public transit supported by MnDOT, with some local matching funds.

"It's meant to serve the community and get people where they need to go," said Welshons. "We offer trips to go shopping, we get lots of kids from daycares to preschool because without the bus, many can't go to preschool because they come from working families where both parents work."

It will also help people get to Senior Dining, medical appointments, places to get personal business done and even Rochester. Trips outside of town up to 20 miles cost $2.75 while longer trips, such as to Rochester, are $4 one way.

Buses run Monday through Friday between 7:30 a.m. and 3:30 p.m. in Spring Valley, and riders may go to Rochester Monday and Friday, with pickup at 8:30 a.m. and return at 12:30 p.m. Welshons pointed out that the buses traveling to Rochester will carry passengers to town long enough to do some shopping or get to appointments.

"We'll help get people to Rochester," said Welshons. "They don't have to drive, they can visit with other riders, and it is the economic way to go to Rochester because it's only $8 round trip. You can't drive to Rochester for $8."

Best yet, the bus drivers will pick up passengers at their homes if arrangements are made the day before. "It's on a 'dial-a-ride' basis. Anybody who needs a ride can call the day before and work with the dispatcher and driver, and we'll go right to their house and take them where they need to go," she explained.

Additionally, the Semcac Spring Valley bus is handicapped accessible, making it a perfect option for Spring Valley Senior Living (SVSL) residents who wish to travel without having to wait for staff to load up the SVSL bus or having to drive their own vehicles.

Welshons shared, "We're hoping to help the nursing home and care center, because they're having a few problems with their own bus. It's cheaper for them to use our service because they don't have to use staff to drive, so we're hoping to partner with them."

Welshons invited anyone who needs transportation to call for a ride. She reiterated that the bus service provides opportunities for residents who may otherwise not have them, concluding that it's easy to get up and go anywhere, especially with Hammon or Klomps at the wheel.

To schedule a ride, or for more information, call 800-944-3874.