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City to the state: Bemidji needs regular bus routes

BEMIDJI — A bill to allow regular bus service in Bemidji may soon be in the works at the state Capitol.

Bemidji city officials discussed the possibility of the state allowing regular bus service at a transportation forum with Rep. Frank Hornstein, DFL-Minneapolis, chair of the House Transportation Finance Committee, and Reps. John Persell, DFL-Bemidji and Roger Erickson, DFL-Baudette.

Mayor Rita Albrecht said as it stands now bus service is order-only in Bemidji and state statute apparently does not allow regular bus lines to operate within the city.

“There’s a desire to have fixed routes in our community,” Albrecht said. “There seems to some provision that keeps us from having a fixed route.”

Hornstein immediately suggested looking into the possibility of changing the law in order to allow bus service.

“What I think we should do is have… Rep. Persell… investigate this a little and then we can maybe draft a bill to address this,” Hornstein said. “One would think that a route through at least Bemidji State and circulates through town and down to the south side where those hotels are…”

He was also curious about air travel between Bemidji Regional Airport and the Twin Cities.

Albrecht said passenger air usage was strong. “Our enplanements are good,” she said.

The airport is also buoyed by cargo flights through UPS and FedEx, as well as medical transport flights, she said.