Ideas of transportation; Albert Lea looking into coordinated transit to and from Austin

Published 8:10 am Thursday, March 1, 2018

The city of Albert Lea is evaluating the possibility of a coordinated transit approach with Austin and Freeborn and Mower counties to ensure needed rides are available for residents.

Albert Lea City Manager Chad Adams said the plan was initially discussed immediately following Mayo Clinic Health System’s announcement in June it would transition most inpatient services from Albert Lea to Austin, based on the likelihood that some residents who needed to be taken to the hospital did not have transportation.

“It’s really in the early stages at this point,” he said. “I think a lot of it was precipitated from the Mayo transition of services. They had expressed some interest early on in the announcement of their decision to look at opportunities for patients going to and from Austin with the change in services, and we’re continuing to have those dialogues.”

Email newsletter signup

The idea was briefly discussed Thursday at an Albert Lea City Council work session.

The city plans to continue to speak with Riverland Community College and other local employers to gauge their interest in the approach.

“It sounds like it makes a lot of sense just from a patient-care perspective, but possibly also students or other employees between the two communities through various industries, but is it feasible?” Adams said. “Is there enough demand? Will there be enough ridership at what we would hope to be very affordable rates for everybody?”

Noelle Hagen, Albert Lea Economic Development Agency small business and marketing manager, said SMART Transit is the lone public transportation service in Albert Lea, presenting a lack of transportation options.

About Sam Wilmes

Sam Wilmes covers crime, courts and government for the Albert Lea Tribune.

email author More by Sam