Column: Bus line could be good option to Twin Cities
One of the most critical problems facing South Dakota is transportation. Being a geographically large state with a small population that is spread unevenly, we face unique challenges.
One example is getting from Aberdeen to Minneapolis. Our only options are air, private vehicle and bus.
For some good reason, of which I am totally unaware, the minimal bus service that does exist in that direction goes to Summit corner (RideLine in Aberdeen is a feeder line from Aberdeen to the Summit corner). From there, one has to transfer again in Fargo, N.D., to get to Minneapolis.
The lowest fare for a one-way Aberdeen/Minneapolis bus ride will cost you $81. You will have to transfer twice, and it will take you from eight and a half to about 14 hours to make the trip.
A safe drive to Minneapolis from Aberdeen will take about five hours. Using the state rate for mileage reimbursement of 37 cents per mile, it would cost a little more than $100. Using the federal rate of 55.5 cents, it would be more than $150. Going by air would take about an hour to fly, plus give or take a couple of hours to get in and out of the airports. The base cost for the air fare would be more than $200.
So clearly, from an economic angle, the bus could be a very good deal. And, even considering that time is money, it would be competitive with air flight if there were a direct route from Aberdeen to Minneapolis along U.S. Highway 12. And, being good capitalists, we are in favor of competition, aren’t we?
Sometimes weather can make air travel impossible, even when road travel is safe. A regular Aberdeen/Minneapolis bus service could be the backup service to the Minneapolis airport. So the airlines could see the bus service as a partner rather than competition. It might take competition between airlines to reveal this hidden potential.
While some might fear competition for the airline industry, there should be plenty of customers for everyone. South Dakota has an aging population who will need public transportation as they become less able to drive safely. Regular bus service between Aberdeen and Minneapolis could greatly enhance lives with more leisure/retirement time.
Considering all of the people living along the Yellowstone Trail between Aberdeen and Minneapolis, it would seem that a regular bus service could access customers who are unavailable to the airlines.
If the bus line were extended from Mobridge or Wakpala, the benefits would be much greater.
A regular Aberdeen/Minneapolis, Yellowstone Trail bus service could serve as the backbone for various tourism promotions to bring people from Minneapolis into our area. We could make this pay.
There are many other reasons why a Yellowstone Trail bus service makes good sense for our region. I’d be happy to discuss them if anyone is interested.
Lawrence Diggs, Roslyn, is an author and professional public speaker. Write him at email@example.com.