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Tuesday, July 27, 2010

Sioux Falls Bus Bargain: $3 a Day!

I've never ridden a Sioux Falls bus. I suspect very few of us out-of-towners have done so. We come down to the big city in our Personal Family Tanks, load up on provisions at Hy-Vee and Menards, and generally terrorize you big-city folks with our country driving.

That said, Joe Sneve's report yesterday on the new fare boxes on Sioux Falls buses makes me think mass transit in the Queen City is quite a bargain.

With the new system, riders will be able to buy one-day bus passes for $3, a seven-day card for $10, a 10-day card for $8.50, and a 30-day card for $25. Except for one-day cards bought on the bus, fare cards are not validated until the first time it is used in the fare box. Passengers can ride the bus unlimited during the validation period [Joe Sneve, "New Fare Boxes Board City Buses," that Sioux Falls paper, 2010.07.26].

$3 for a full day of urban adventure? Wowza! When I lived in Vancouver, B.C., six years ago, I paid $3 for a two-zone ticket that lasted just 90 minutes. (That's up to $3.75 now... $2.50 during non-peak hours.) A Vancouver day pass is $9; a monthly pass ranges from $81 to $151. So for the typical urban dweller trying to get along without a car, travel in Sioux Falls is remarkably cheaper than travel in Vancouver.

Of course, it's still not as cheap as going everywhere on your bicycle! Even there, Sioux Falls beats Vancouver, since it's not raining all the time.

Now granted, you can go all over a lot more kingdom come in Vancouver than you can in Sioux Falls. There's more there there! Compare the metro areas of Sioux Falls and Vancouver (side-by-side maps courtesy of Yahoo Maps):

Side-by-side comparison of Sioux Falls and Vancouver metro areasSioux Falls and Vancouver metro areas—click to enlarge!

The transit system in Vancouver has a lot more penetration of the city than the Sioux Falls system. Consider the Sioux Area Metro map:

Sioux Falls bus mapSioux Falls bus routes—click to enlarge!

Check out that big transit dead zone in southeast Sioux Falls. Evidently the folks in the ritzy development from Tuthill Park outward don't feel the need for mass transit. But hey, your housekeepers have to get to work, don't they? Oh well—perhaps as commerce blooms on the East Side (cue Moby!), a bus route will punch through to Highway 11.

Someday I'll take a day for a mass transit excursion around Sioux Falls (we did that on our family trip to Winnipeg last year—loved it!). In the mean time, local riders, I welcome your comments. How's the bus treating you in Sioux Falls?
p.s.: The fare boxes mean less freeloading and more driver attention on the road. This new, more fair and efficient electronic system comes to Sioux Falls courtesy of federal stimulus money. Thank you, Uncle Sam.


  1. How about a free bus ride within city limits?


  2. As a former resident of Sioux Falls's southeast side/transit dead zone, I spent a surprising chunk of my adolescence wondering why I had no access to the city's transit system. It's not quite our choice not to extend routes out that way. I live in Chicago now and gladly left my car behind in SD. I happily commute by bus/bike/train and couldn't be happier to avoid the hassle of parking, fueling up, sitting in traffic, etc. Here's to hoping Sioux Falls transit continues to improve and expand!

    PS: Stopped by today to see whether you had any updates on the latest news re:Thune's presidential campaign (http://www.politico.com/news/stories/0710/40240.html)


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