People are interested in ‘multi-modal’ options, Carlson says

    Although increasing child care opportunities for families and providing more moderately priced housing were discussed at Wednesday’s Community Forum in Crookston hosted by Tri-Valley Opportunity Council, transportation proved to be a particularly popular topic. Specifically, those who attended expressed a desire for more transportation options in the community and in Tri-Valley’s service area. (The Crookston-based community action agency also hosted similar forums in Ada and Warren this week.)

    Tri-Valley uses the forums, in conjunction with its Community Needs Assessment surveys, to strategically identify the programs it provides for those in its service area.

    The Polk County forum was held at the Community Family Service Center in Crookston, formerly Carman School.

    “The attendees focused on transportation in a very multi-modal sense,” Tri-Valley CEO Jason Carlson tells the Times.

    For example, he continued, there was a lot of talk about promoting the bicycle racks that Tri-Valley equips T.H.E. Bus with. People are looking for opportunities to ride a bicycle or walk to work because they see Crookston as bike-friendly and walkable. But if their circumstances change or the weather takes a turn for the worse while they’re at work, they can bring their bicycle onto T.H.E. Bus and use the bike rack.

    “For example, maybe you ride a bike to work in the industrial park and the bright, sunny morning you experienced riding to work turned into a rotten, rainy afternoon,” Carlson explained. “In that case, you could call for a ride on T.H.E. Bus and utilize the bike rack to get your bike home.”

    Also discussed at Wednesday’s forum is a “van-share” concept Tri-Valley is exploring.

    Carlson said plans are in the works to formulate a public education campaign to inform the community on different transportation options in Crookston and how the different options can potentially be coordinated.

Expanding T.H.E. Bus?

    Although he did not attend Wednesday’s forum, Xavier Davis, who has become sort of an activist in the community of late as he’s pushed for more affordable public transportation options, continues to make his case in front of a variety of audiences.

    Davis, when he last spoke to the Crookston City Council last week, had almost 300 signatures on a petition of sorts supporting affordable public transportation in Crookston. One of his specific requests involves Tri-Valley expanding T.H.E. Bus’ operations with evening/nighttime routes.

    Carlson said Davis last week attended a meeting last week with Tri-Valley’s Transit Advisory Committee and consultants from the Minnesota Department of Transportation that are helping Tri-Valley formulate a five-year plan for its transit system. Carlson said Davis presented to the group and was impressive.

    “We have made plans for him to contact program leadership in June to see what we may be able to include in our 2020 grant application that lines up with what he thinks the community needs,” Carlson said. “In the meantime, we will be doing some feasibility legwork in preparation for that meeting.”