Posted 7/13/11 (Wed)
By Kate Ruggles
Farmer Staff Writer
Traffic, traffic, everywhere, and hardly space to share. Many would agree that Watford City is losing its small-town feel. The increase in business and people has brought with it increased traffic, causing longer commutes, limited parking and road congestion. But there is good news. Northwest Dakota Public Transit (NWDPT) is hoping to help.
Cheryl Groshelle with the NWDPT has been offering transport assistance to the people of Watford City and its surrounding areas for three years. Those who call what she does an elderly or taxi service would be mistaken.
“We service anyone from the age of nine to 99,” says Cheryl, “and taxis are for profit.”
According to A.J. Mock, director of the NWDPT in Williston, because the agency is fully funded by the North Dakota Dept. of Transportation it allows them to offer low cost public transportation. The $1 per ride fee that is charged to customers is used to help cover the costs of gas and vehicle maintenance.
Mock says that the effects of the increased traffic are seen all over, and in order to meet the increased demands, they have been seeking more local financial support.
Thanks to a $24,000 grant from the Watford City Roughrider Fund, the NWDPT has been able to expand the level of service it now offers in Watford City.
Effective Thursday, July 14, in addition to offering other ride service, the agency will be offering rides from 6 p.m. to 1 a.m. on Thursdays and Fridays and from 7 a.m. Saturdays to 1 a.m. on Sundays.
According to the NWDPT, rides during their extended hours will be $2 per ride, plus an extra $1.50/mile outside of the city limits. The cost of the rides during their regular operating hours, which are from 8 a.m. to 4 p.m., will remain at $1 per ride.
To introduce the new service to residents of Watford City, NWDPT will be offering rides to the McKenzie County Fair on Saturday for half price, or just $1 each way.
Groshelle feels passionate about what she does and is excited for the possibilities that may result from these expanded hours and services.
“There are a lot of people that don’t drive and there are a lot of children who are too young to drive and need to get around,” states Groshelle. “Plus there are people that want to go out to dinner and have a drink without worrying.”
She is not only excited about the increased hours being offered for the in-town commuter, but the ability to serve the out-of-town traveler as well.
“There is a group of women that I pick up from Williston once a month and drive to Dickinson,” states Groshelle. “The first thing they do is have breakfast at Perkins and sit and gab about where they are going to have dinner. Then they have dinner and I drive them back. The reason they do it is to get out of town, and they wouldn’t be able to do it without this service.”
With communities expanding and the influx of people increasing, the need for public transportation has never been greater. If residents are willing to take advantage of these services, it could mean fewer cars on the road and taking up parking spaces. It may even lead to less drinking and driving which would help reduce the number of traffic accidents and fatalities in McKenzie County, ultimately resulting in safer traffic conditions for everyone.
Persons interested in utilizing the services of the Northwest Dakota Public Transit are asked to contact Groshelle at 580-1099.