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DTA wins Management Innovation Award from Minnesota Public Transit Association for U-Pass Program

Published: Expires: 12/20/2007

DULUTH – The Duluth Transit Authority (DTA) was recently honored at the 25th Annual Minnesota Public Transit Conference in St. Cloud as recipient of the 2007 Management Innovation Award.

The DTA was selected for the Management Innovation Award by the Minnesota Public Transit Association for its successful U-PASS Program with UMD (University of Minnesota, Duluth), College of St. Scholastica (CSS), Lake Superior College (LSC) and UWS (University of Wisconsin, Superior).

The DTA’s U-PASS Program was launched during the 2000-2001 school year as a partnership between the UMD and the DTA. The DTA wanted to expand its college student ridership and UMD wanted to alleviate traffic congestion and lessen the demand for parking on campus. With campus parking space exhausted – many lost to campus construction – and facing the probability of constructing parking ramps – UMD and DTA initiated the establishment of the U-PASS Program, which offered students, faculty and staff unlimited free rides on the DTA anytime, anywhere in the DTA service area, with their college I.D.

Prior to the implementation of the U-PASS Program in 2000, the DTA transported just 26,000 UMD riders to campus – less than 1% of DTA annual ridership. During the 2006-2007 school year the DTA provided over 360,000 rides to UMD students, faculty and staff – nearly 14 times higher in just seven years. UMD enrollment has also increased substantially since the inception of the U-PASS Program and DTA played a major role in this expansion by transporting students from off-campus locations.

The DTA added CSS and LSC to its U-PASS Program in 2001 and U-PASS ridership at these participating colleges has increased every year since the program began. In 2006, the DTA provided a total of 443,000 U-PASS rides, which represented nearly 17% of the annual ridership.

UWS joined the U-PASS Program in August of 2007 and ridership is growing rapidly there in just the last couple of months.

According to the award judges: "While U-PASS type programs operate on many college campuses around the country, what makes the DTA program truly innovative it that the participating colleges contract with the DTA for the cost of the service, allowing students, faculty and staff to ride anytime, anywhere without charge with their college ID."

In addition, the DTA and UMD collaborated on the construction of the Kirby Plaza campus transit hub, which opened in the fall of 2004, to serve UMD riders and area residents.

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