Red Cliff Chippewa bus to give others in far north new mass transit

Red Cliff, Wisconsin (AP) 12-07

A bus service that links the Superior-Duluth area with the Red Cliff Chippewa band’s Isle Vista Casino is turning out to be a lucky break for others in need of bus transportation.

Greyhound ended its service across far northern Wisconsin between Duluth, Minn., and Ironwood, Mich., in February, but the Red Cliff band has teamed with Bay Area Rural Transit on a plan to provide a new bus link.

BART manager Tom Waby said details are still being finalized, but the service most likely soon when the Isle Vista Casino bus makes a weekly trip to the Superior-Duluth area, some 70 miles away. The fare possibly will be less than $10, he said.

The bus usually is empty on the way there, so various local and state agencies have been trying to find a way to link it with BART, which provides service in Ashland, Bayfield and Washburn counties around Lake Superior’s Chequamegon Bay.

Waby said he is working out scheduling with the Duluth Transit Authority so that the service can match up with other service between Superior-Duluth and the Twin Cities.

As part of the plan, the bus would stop at Iron River, Brule, Poplar and Maple, Waby said.

It would return from Superior in the morning and make an afternoon run that same day to facilitate return trips.

“Realizing this is not a perfect fix to the void left by the discontinued Greyhound service, Red Cliff and BART are proud to have reached an agreement that could possibly be expanded later,” Waby said.

Rose Soulier, Red Cliff tribal chairwoman, said the plan appears to be a natural fit.

“As it is, the casino bus is empty on its way to Duluth to get customers, it returns home empty after dropping those customers back in Duluth, and overall it made sense to hire out any extra capacity,” she said in a written statement.

“It helps regional transit, it helps our bus contractor be more efficient, it even helps the environment. It’s a win, win, win.”

BART won a grant of $21,600 from the federal Supplemental Transportation Rural Assistance Program to initiate the plan.

BART will manage the new route, but the Isle Vista Casino and Red Cliff will operate it.

“Red Cliff has really stepped forward to pick up the service after Greyhound, and they really are the ones who deserve the pat on the back,” Waby said.