Dakota Transporter
Volume 18, Issue 3Summer 2006

River Cities Public Transit: Winner of CTAA's Rural Transit System of the Year

Pictured left to right: Kevin Disburg, Ron Baumgart, Lorri Rathbun, Carl Rathbun, Willis McLaughlin, Jackie Mattheis, Chuck Quinn, Jim Miller and Gary HeglandThe 2006 CTAA Community Transportation Rural Transit System of the Year winner was a DTA member, Rivers Cities Public Transit of Pierre, South Dakota. Ron Baumgart, director, was very pleased to receive the award and acknowledged that one person alone cannot attain this high level of accomplishment. Ron invited representatives from his Board of Directors, his staff, the South Dakota Department of Transportation, and SURTC on stage with him to accept the award. Ron acknowledged his agency's appreciation to Easter Seals Project ACTION for their training and technical assistance.

Two individuals wrote letters of support for River Cities Public Transit including Carol Wright from James River Transit in Jamestown and Jim Miller of Penn State from SURTC. Part of Jim's comments included, "RCPT's success can be attributed to at least the following three factors: its vision of comprehensive public community transportation services, a coordination model that is open to a wide variety of cooperative arrangements, and strong management and leadership. RCPT provides twenty-four hour a day, seven-day-a-week demand responsive transportation to its core service area of Pierre and Ft. Pierre and daily or weekly services to outlying areas. Its evolution from a very limited human service transportation services was born out of a commitment to the local community to take over a failing taxi service, thus preserving the only public transportation in South Dakota's capitol city. While not without frustration and setbacks, RCPT developed the internal organization and operating practices to offer around-the-clock public transportation on demand or with prior reservation. As needs were identified, it also expanded into very rural outlying areas with work trip and local transportation for the Lower Brule Reservation, and work trip shuttle service to communities up to 50 miles east of Pierre. Likewise, it met the need for access to intercity bus transportation by becoming the intercity bus agency, and when intercity service withdrew from Pierre to a point along I-90 that was an hour away from Pierre, it began connector service between Pierre and the bus stop in Vivian. If individuals need transportation, RCPT will do everything possible to provide the rides."

Carol's letter included seven areas where RCPT excels:

  • Innovative and creative services in the community – It has challenged itself to create a transportation system that is willing to do whatever it takes to meet the needs of the people and the communities it serves.
  • Being responsive to its customers' and community needs – In 2002, River Cities Transit took a new approach and dedicated itself to becoming a service that would give the community and the people who rely on public transportation an efficient, reliable system that would not only meet their transportation needs but also improve their quality of life.
  • Actively coordinating and collaborating with other public and special services transportation – This coordination effort resulted in representatives from the South Dakota DOT, the Adjustment Training Center, the Ft. Pierre City Council, and two River Cities Transit employees meeting with Easter Seals representatives in Washington, DC.
  • Effectively helps the community accomplish their goals – River Cities Transit has also increased transportation options for each of the communities in its service area. In 2003, they provided 32,718 rides. Less than two years later, RCT had grown by 300% and provided 110,182 one-way rides and traveled over 432,000 miles.
  • Creates partnerships with a wide-range of organizations, both public and private – As part of their public transit program, RCPT transports individuals to medical and social appointments, shopping, daycare, school, nutrition sites, employment, and recreation programs for youth. In addition, they coordinate transportation for Head Start, the Boys and Girls Club, Oahe, Inc.(the Adjustment Training Center), Capitol Areas Counseling, Beverly Health Care, Mary House, St. Mary's Hospital, the YMCA, and various work sites throughout the communities served.
  • Providing accessible transportation service – Their accessible vehicles are on duty during all hours of operation (24 hours per day/365 days a year).
  • Building transportation alternatives that are intended to meet a wide range of the communities' needs – A Job Shuttle service is provided Monday through Friday (68 miles one way) from Highmore, Harrold, and Blunt to Pierre and Ft. Pierre. A second Job Shuttle is also provided Monday through Friday from Pierre/Ft. Pierre to Lower Brule Indian Reservation and Fort Thompson Indian Reservation.

River Cities Transit continually evaluates the needs of the public and attempts to find ways to meet those needs. They actively seek input from the communities and people they serve.

These two supporting letters provided the fuel needed to move River Cities Public Transit to the head of the pack for those competing for this prestigious award.

Congratulations to River Cities Transit!

Calendar of Events

  • Aug. 8-10, 2006
    FTA Region VIII Grantee Conference
    Denver, CO
  • Aug. 26, 2006 (tentative)
    Practice Roadeo
    Pierre, SD
  • Sept. 23-27, 2006
    DTA - 2006 Annual Conference & Roadeo
    Spearfish, SD
  • Oct. 8-11, 2006
    APTA Annual Meeting
    Fairmont/Marriott/San Jose Convention Center
    San Jose, CA
  • Oct. 2006
    "Developing Local Match"
    SURTC-Sponsored Training
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