Questions raised about Bis-Man Transit operations

BISMARCK, N.D. - Questions surrounding the operations of Bis-Man Transit came to light at Tuesday night’s Bismarck City Commission meeting.

Ridership, revenue, routes, complaints and more were addressed by Bis-Man Transit Executive Director Roy Rickert Tuesday. But, by the end of discussion, there were more questions than answers.

Changes were made to the Bis-Man Transit and paratransit routes and policies in the last several years. That includes paratransit riders needing to be waiting for their bus 15 minutes prior to pick up time, while sometimes the bus will be running 15 to 20 minutes late.

"I don't want people missing their doctors’ appointments just because they have to miss transit,” said paratransit rider Trevor Vannett.

Vannett has used the paratransit system to get around for the last 20 years, but says over the last couple years he's sent in several complaints because the time the buses show up can vary so much, and have limited the hours they run.

"On Sundays especially they're only open until 7:30 a.m. until 2:30 p.m.,” Vannett said. “How is that right for people with disabilities?"

Rickert says asking riders to be outside 15 minutes early is a standard in the industry. He told city commissioners he reviews complaints once a month, but doesn't always share them with the board of directors, something many commissioners said isn't enough to address concerns.

"I'm just concerned that we might not be looking at this in more of a, we have a responsibility for taking care of our neighbors and friends as people," said Mayor Mike Seminary.

Rickert said ridership has been decreasing on fixed routes since 2015. A new route this year to the University of Mary was also addressed. While it was supposed to bring in $40,000 in revenue during the school year, it's only brought in $2,000 so far, with about six weeks of school left.