What is Trailblazer Transit?
Trailblazer Transit is a general public transit system that provides rides to people of all ages for just about any reason! Professional drivers employed by a government organization called Trailblazer Joint Powers Board utilize elevator-equipped buses to provide Dial-A-Ride service throughout Sibley, McLeod, and Wright Counties plus some limited service into other neighboring cities. Please refer to the Trailblazer Transit website or call dispatch for more information regarding the specifics of the designated service area.
Who Can Use Trailblazer and for What Purpose?
Trailblazer Transit provides general public transportation, which means that almost anyone can use the services for almost any reason. There are no qualifications or requirements to use the transit system. Children, youth, adults, and seniors can all ride on the buses. Some common destinations include medical facilities, restaurants, banks, drug and grocery stores, beauty salons, barbers, and government offices. People also use Trailblazer Transit to get to work, school, day care, recreational activities and social events. If you need to get around for just about any reason, Trailblazer Transit can get you there.
When Does Trailblazer Operate?
The buses operate Monday through Friday from 6:30 a.m. to 5:30 p.m. starting and ending at the garages in Glencoe and Buffalo. Ride availability for each customer will vary depending on travel times and other factors.
How Do You Get a Ride?
Customers should call Trailblazer Transit and talk to a dispatcher to schedule their rides. Trailblazer Transit provides Dial-A-Ride service, meaning the buses pick up and drop off passengers at locations specified by the customers. Therefore, there are no predefined routes, and schedules change regularly. A dispatcher will ask a series of questions and then search for times that fit into the bus schedules. Bus rides may be scheduled up to one week in advance, but standing orders can be scheduled up to two weeks in advance. Same-day ride requests can be accommodated, but it is best to call at least 24 hours in advance or as early as possible to schedule rides. The buses are shared by many customers at the same time, so the ability to schedule a ride is subject to the amount of time available to perform the ride and how many other people are using the bus at the same time.
There are two facilities with dispatchers that can process ride requests. All incoming calls are shared between offices, so customers may call either location for assistance between 6:00 a.m. and 6:00 p.m. on weekdays.
Glencoe Office Toll-free 1-888-743-3828 Direct (320) 864-1000
Buffalo Office Toll-free 1-844-743-3828 Direct (763) 682-1600
How Much Does It Cost and How Do You Pay?
The bus fares listed below are for a single ride for one individual from Point A to Point B. Please see the Fare Structure Handout for a more detailed explanation and a list of special promotions. Bus fares may be paid when boarding the bus with cash, checks, or tokens, or the bus fares may be billed.
$4.00 = Rides less than 25 miles.
$8.00 = Rides 25 miles or more.
$2.00 = DISCOUNT RATE for rides beginning and ending entirely within the same city limits.
There are also several monthly passes available that make riding the bus even more affordable!
History of Trailblazer
Trailblazer Transit is the culmination of an extensive effort by numerous federal, state, and local government agencies to develop and expand public transportation in multiple counties over several decades. This was accomplished in large part by coordinating and consolidating many different types of transportation programs, some of which date back to the 1970s.
The organization that operates Trailblazer Transit started in June 1999 when Sibley County and McLeod County formed a new government entity called a joint powers board to govern a multi-county public transit system. Four previously-existing transportation systems were merged together and served as the foundation of the initial service design. These systems included 1) Trailblazer Community Transit in Sibley County, 2) the adult day care transportation program from Glencoe Regional Health Services, 3) City of Hutchinson Heartland Express (otherwise known as Hutchmobile), and 4) the volunteer driver program from McLeod Social Service Center. The process to transition all the services into the public transit system with one name and one set of operating policies took years to complete.
Although the public transportation service is marketed under the name Trailblazer Transit, the organization that operates the program is legally named Trailblazer Joint Powers Board, which is an independent government entity subsidized by federal, state, and local government dollars including funding from participating counties and cities. Trailblazer Joint Powers Board has contractual ties with the Minnesota Department of Transportation Office of Transit which administers the federal and state funding through the 5311 Public Transportation Participation Program.
The Trailblazer Joint Powers Board has expanded since its inception in 1999 as a working partnership between Sibley County and McLeod County. In December 2013, MnDOT strongly encouraged Trailblazer Transit to incorporate Wright County into its service design due to the pending dissolution of RiverRider, which was another public transit system operated by a different joint powers partnership between Wright County and Sherburne County. Although Trailblazer Transit had been operating in limited parts of Wright County for many years, Trailblazer Transit’s service area was officially expanded to include all of Wright County starting in July 2014 with the hope of later adding a Wright County partner to the Trailblazer Joint Powers Board in the near future.
Although negotiations with the Wright County government to join the Sibley County and McLeod County transit partnership were unsuccessful, an agreement was reached with Wright County Area Transportation Joint Powers Board (WCAT) to become part of the Trailblazer Joint Powers Board starting in January 2015. WCAT was originally a coalition of 12 cities in Wright County that formed a joint powers board of its own because Sibley County and McLeod County desired to partner with only one entity from Wright County. The original WCAT membership included the following cities: Albertville, Annandale, Buffalo, Cokato, Delano, Hanover, Howard Lake, Maple Lake, Montrose, Rockford, St. Michael, and Waverly. Four cities in Wright County did not originally participate in WCAT including Clearwater, Monticello, Otsego, and South Haven. Although these cities decided not to join WCAT initially, the Trailblazer Joint Powers Board still elected to provide intercity transit service for these non-participating cities. The Trailblazer Joint Powers Board also allowed residents living in the Wright County townships to be transported to or from any city participating in WCAT.
In July 2016, the Cities of Monticello and Otsego formally joined WCAT and became eligible for intracity service in September 2016. As of July 2017, WCAT formally initiated discussions with the Wright County government to join WCAT and to participate in the local funding of the transit system in exchange for various considerations including expanding the service area into counties bordering Wright County. The groundwork has been completed for Wright County to join WCAT in January 2018.
The Trailblazer Joint Powers Board is governed by a board of seven elected officials representing the three member entities in the transit partnership including Sibley County, McLeod County, and Wright County Area Transportation Joint Powers Board (WCAT). Sibley County appoints two representatives to serve on the board, McLeod County appoints three representatives, and WCAT appoints two representatives. Each member entity appoints its representatives in January of each year. It is important to note that the Trailblazer Joint Powers Board is affiliated with Sibley County, McLeod County, and 14 cities in Wright County, but Trailblazer Joint Powers Board is a self-governing entity that operates independently of the counties and the cities.
The role of an individual board member is to work cooperatively with other board members during public meetings with the goal of providing direction and authority to the Executive Director to carry out the mission of the organization, which is to provide as many rides as safely and efficiently as possible. A board member is not involved in daily operations or specific human resource matters.
As a whole, the role of the full Trailblazer Board is to 1) approve the service levels and annual budget, 2) establish high-level policy, and 3) make global decisions pertaining to the general direction of the organization. The elected officers on the Board include the Chairperson, Vice-chairperson, and the Recorder. The Chairperson maintains the responsibility to schedule and lead the board meetings. The Vice-chairperson is authorized to act on behalf of the Chairperson in the event the Chairperson is unable to carry out the responsibilities of the position. The Recorder is authorized to sign important documents in the event the Chairperson or Vice-chairperson is unable to do so.
The Executive Director is the highest-ranking individual in the organization and is subject to the authority of the full board as determined by majority vote during an open meeting. The Executive Director is responsible for the overall management of the transit system and establishes the operational policies and procedures necessary to accomplish the transit system’s mission.
The management team is rounded out by an Executive Assistant, two Operations Managers, and a Human Resource and Compliance employee. The Executive Assistant is responsible for the financial functions of the organization and carries out the duties of the Executive Director when necessary. The Operations Managers directly supervise the staff and are responsible for the quality control of daily operations. Although not a manager, the Human Resource and Compliance employee works closely with management regarding any personnel issues and is an advocate for the employees. The responsibilities for this position include assisting managers with hiring and discipline, administering employee benefits, drug and alcohol testing, and making sure the organization is in compliance with a wide range of regulations.
The Lead Dispatchers help train and closely monitor the dispatchers to ensure quality control and to assist with coverage whenever needed. The Lead Drivers are employed as a resource to help train and monitor the performance of drivers, as well as to advocate for the best interests of the drivers. Transit Dispatchers control and direct the resources of the organization, particularly drivers and vehicles. Transit Drivers are the most visible employees, not only providing the critical role of transporting people, but also providing the customer service necessary to ensure the satisfaction of our customers.
There are also a number of specialized positions such as Facility Maintenance Supervisor, Fleet Maintenance Supervisor, Facility Support, Fleet Support, Fiscal Support, and Office Support. The titles of these positions are self-explanatory and are representative of the work performed by each employee.