When Jan. 1, 2020, rolls around, Northwoods Transit Connections (NTC) plans to include the town of Boulder Junction in the route system its buses run.
NTC’s manager Roger Youngren was at the Nov. 26 meeting of the town board.
“We currently service Rhinelander, Eagle River and the Lakeland area with on demand service,” he said. “In 2020, we brought in some new routes connecting some rural communities with other, larger cities. It was suggested to me that we look at Boulder Junction and Manitowish Waters in 2020.”
Youngren said what he’d like to propose is bringing the service to Boulder Junction every Monday, connecting Boulder Junction with Manitowish Waters and Woodruff.
“We’d run a bus over here from Eagle River and have the bus at Woodruff for medical appointments, shopping, what have you for about three hours every Monday and every other Friday,” he said. “Bring it back later in the day.”
Youngren stressed that bus wouldn’t be an “on demand” bus; passengers could, for example, call for an on demand ride to be taken from the Walgreens in Woodruff to different, individual stops, be it for shopping or again, for a medical appointment and then brought back to catch the route bus back to Boulder Junction.
“That’s what we’re proposing for 2020,” he said. “It’s not unusual for us to ask communities like this ... for some local support. We’ve been successful with that in the past.”
Youngren said for Boulder Junction, that contribution amount would be $2,500.
“For the year,” he said.
Town supervisor Laura Bertch asked how the new route would be publicized and Youngren told her he’s been in contact with the Boulder Junction Chamber of Commerce.
“I actually got some really good feedback from the chamber,” he said. “They’ve committed to put it on their newsletter for us. We also publish our own brochure with drop off and pickup times. We get those out before the beginning of the year.”
Town supervisor Jim Galloway said he’d talked to Sue Richmond, director of the Vilas County Aging and Disability Resource Center.
“She was unsure of the number of potential users or requests that she’d had,” he said. “She was also unsure of what their expectations would be as far as where they (the passengers) get picked up and dropped off. Has any of that been defined? Do we know how many people are interested in this?”
Youngren said he’s asked the Vilas County ADRC to track phone calls that had inquiries for areas like Boulder Junction.
“They had not tracked that previously, but I’ve asked them to track that,” he said. “For the last month or so.”
Youngren said there were routes introduced in 2019, two of which he said have been “very successful.”
“One has not been,” he said. “We’re tracking those ridership numbers monthly. That’s why we’ve opted to go in a different direction with that one particular route in 2020.”
Youngren went over an outline of the schedule, which has the bus leaving Boulder Junction at 7:45 a.m., in Manitowish Waters at 8:15 a.m. and arrive at the Walgreens in Woodruff at 9 a.m.
“The bus would remain in Woodruff for about three hours, until noontime,” he said.
For the return trip, once the bus leaves Woodruff at noon, it would arrive in Manitowish Waters around 12:45 p.m. and then Boulder Junction at 1:15 p.m.
The fare for a senior or disabled citizen is $2 each way.
The general public would be able to ride the bus for $3 each way.
Youngren said once passengers arrived in Woodruff, they could call the NTC office and schedule an on demand ride to go where they needed to go, but they’d have to be back in time to catch the route bus.
“The clinic would have to be on time,” Galloway said, a comment which drew some laughter from the audience.
“Well, we’d make sure we got everybody back on the bus,” Youngren said. “I’m sure of that.”
Asked by town chairman Dennis Reuss if he’d approached Manitowish Waters, Youngren said he had talked to Manitowish Waters town chairman John Hansen and the chamber of commerce there as well.
“I’ve received some positive feedback,” he said. “They’re also willing to put it in their newsletter and so forth to publicize it. I’ve been pleased with the chamber’s reaction, both here and in Manitowish Waters.”
Asked by Bertch when he needed to know, Youngren said soon.
“Your $2,500 is not going to make a difference to me, OK?” he said. “I’d appreciate your support, but we’re planning on implementing the service in 2020, regardless.”
The town board is expected to take up Youngren’s $2,500 request at its Dec. 17 meeting.
Also during the meeting on Nov. 26, the board:
• Approved advisory referendum questions regarding fairer election district maps and a campaign finance amendment to the U.S. Constitution pertaining to financing political campaigns.
• Approved transportation and library line item adjustments to the 2020 budget and a tax levy of $1,381,329.
• Appointed Boulder Junction resident Richard Jenks to the town’s park board and made him the town’s representative for the Clean Boats/Clean Waters grant program.
Brian Jopek may be reached via email at [email protected]