Heartland Express to add buses, routes

Due to a grant through the Minnesota Department of Transportation, Heartland Express will be purchasing seven new buses and adding new routes.
Photo by Noelle Olson
During the Sept. 6 Isanti County Board meeting, members of the Isanti County Beyond the Yellow Ribbon presented a plaque of appreciation for all the Board’s efforts in supporting the organization. Pictured are Board Members Terry Turnquist, Greg Anderson, Susan Morris holding the plaque, Dave Oslund and Mike Warring.Photo by Noelle Olson

The Isanti County Board of Commissioners approved the authorization for Heartland Express to purchase three new public transportation buses from Hoglund Bus Company and four new buses form North Central Bus & Equipment Company at the Isanti County Board Meeting Sept. 20.

The seven new buses are part of the $1.83 million New Service Expansion grant Heartland received in May through the Minnesota Department of Transportation. Three of the buses are for new service and four of the buses are for replacement of existing buses in the fleet.

“We were awarded $560,000 for the purchase of these buses,” said Isanti County Transit Director Craig Rempp. “The orders for the buses was just approved at both the state and local level with delivery expected in January or February. The buses will be used throughout the Heartland service area which includes both Isanti and Chisago counties.”

According to Rempp, with the operations part of the grant, the county has nine new routes planned to start as soon as they have drivers, dispatchers and buses in place. There are three Saturday routes, three Sunday routes and three weekday routes planned to be added to Heartland Express services.

“We do not have a start date for any of these routes yet, but we are all anxious to get this service out on the road,” Rempp said. “With these New Service Expansion routes and buses we will be increasing service hours by 47 percent in one year. This is a very large increase and we have quite a challenge to get this accomplished.”

Sheriff’s Office to replace squad cars
Lieutenant Lance Olson from the Isanti County Sheriff’s Office made a request for the purchase of three squad cars.

“As you all are aware, our fleet has been decimated with car accidents with deer and so forth,” Olson said. “What we have received from insurance money is not enough to buy three new squad cars.”

Olson negotiated with the St. Anthony Police Department on the price of two used squad cars and reached a price of $11,500 per car. Also, he received a quote from Nelson Auto Center to purchase a new squad car for $24,500.

“It has a lot more options than we’ve put on a squad car,” Olson said. “We’re also asking for one watch guard system to go into one of the St. Anthony vehicles so we have a camera system inside that squad car.”

“So you’re looking at two used cars, one new car and a camera system,” Commissioner Terry Turnquist said.

The board voted unanimously to approve the purchase of all three cars and the camera system.