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Tempers flare at Trailblazer Transit board meeting

A Minnesota Department of Transportation (MnDOT) initiated five-year transit system plan sparked contentious debate of the relationship between McLeod, Sibley and Wright counties at a Trailblazer Transit Joint Powers Board meeting Thursday, Nov. 21.
The Trailblazer Joint Powers Board consists of representatives from McLeod, Sibley and Wright counties, with two county commissioners from each county having voting authority. Commissioners Doug Krueger and Joe Nagel represent McLeod County on the board.
Representatives from the engineering firm AECOM presented the Trailblazer board a five-year transit system plan, with the goal of communicating the financial investments needed to improve and expand transit operations. It included an analysis of Trailblazer’s operational and financial effectiveness.
AECOM is a Fortune 500 company responsible for producing the five-year transit plan, although the impetus for the plan came from the Minnesota Public Transportation Alliance, which commissioned MnDOT to fund it for transit systems in Minnesota.
AECOM representatives presented the board with what it’s doing well, what its weaknesses are and suggestions for the future operations. The goal with its five-year transit system plan is to communicate the financial investments needed to improve and expand transit operations, which included an analysis of Trailblazer’s operational and financial effectiveness.
The findings of the transit system plan didn’t include many operational suggestions. AECOM representative Jill Cahoon said Trailblazer is “lightyears” ahead of other transit systems in the state in regards to its ride delivering efficiency and geographical area coverage, among other high performing metrics.
Where the report didn’t glow with praise was in the stakeholder summary, which identified the governing board as Trailblazer’s main weakness. The stakeholder summary hasn’t been presented.

For the complete story, see the Nov. 27 print edition of The Chronicle.