Paratransit Roadeo returns to Minot for first time since 2015

Published: Sep. 18, 2023 at 5:25 PM CDT
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MINOT, N.D (KMOT) - More than 300 public transit drivers are employed in North Dakota as of May of last year, according to the Bureau of Labor Statistics.

It’s been eight years since the Annual Paratransit Roadeo for the Dakotas was held in Minot, and still, no bulls are involved this year.

As Lucina Ford is making her way through the conference obstacle course, keep in mind she has driven for James River Public Transit a total of three hours in the last four months.

She said she mostly works in the office, but she takes the wheel when others are sick.

“Don’t underestimate it. Don’t be scared of it. I was terrified at first, but it’s fun to get out there and to meet all the people,” said Ford.

Not all transit drivers require a CDL license. Bus drivers with 15 or more passengers must have their CDLs.

Adam Scharkey, vice president of the Dakota Transit Association, said transportation departments all over the nation are usually looking for help.

“Some years are good; some years are bad. In the last year we’ve been blessed to be in a good position for drivers,” said Scharkey.

A Standing Rock public transit driver, Sheri Harsche, said she usually runs a tight bus, and the rules are simple.

“If you’re crabby at somebody else, keep that with that person. Do not bring that on my bus,” said Harsche.

The transit system accumulates lots of mileage. Darrell Francis, executive director of Souris Basin Transportation, said they had about 90,000 rides last year.

“We take all calls, and granted, we are limited to what we have, but we are full quite often because we don’t fill all 14 at once,” said Francis.

He said they usually have 10-12 vans on the road at a time.

The Annual Paratransit Roadeo for the Dakotas will end the night of September 19.