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Trailblazer rescinds transit offer
Just when it appeared that the four-month transit malaise in Wright County was over, the volatile partnership between the Wright County Board of Commissioners and Trailblazer Transit of Glencoe was severed unexpectedly by the Trailblazer board of directors.
In a letter dated April 28, the Wright County Board acknowledged receipt of the decision from Trailblazer to stop negotiations with Wright County to arrive at a joint-powers agreement. In December, Sherburne County informed Wright County that it would be leaving the River Rider program. At that point, the Minnesota Department of Transportation’s Transit Division attempted to assimilate Wright County into Trailblazer.
Almost from the beginning, there were issues at least two county commissioners – Charlie Borrell and Pat Sawatzke – had problems with how Trailblazer does its business. It is impressive, but it comes with a cost. A big cost. Given the conservative nature of the Wright County Board over the years, a big expense where there wasn’t one before was seen as something that needed to be vetted. When commissioners did their due diligence, some red flags appeared.
“By MnDOT’s own numbers, Trailblazer was the second most expensive system in the State of Minnesota,” Borrell said. “Of the 39 transit systems in the state, Trailblazer was 38th out of 39. Only the Red Lake Indian Reservation had a higher cost per hour than the $75 cost to operate Trailblazer. It was 50 percent more than the state average and much more than River Rider, which basically sustained itself. Pat and I made valid arguments that we shouldn’t sign off on an ultimatum that was made (at the April 21 meeting). It passed, but apparently that wasn’t enough.”
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