Prairie 5 has rejected a request by the City of Benson

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Prairie 5 Community Action Council has rejected a request by the City of Benson to consider taking over dispatching services for its bus system.
“The agency has had many discussions on this, both recently and in the past, and at this time we feel that it would not be in our best interest to do a contract for dispatching services,” Program Manager Ted Nelson said in a letter to City Manager Rob Wolfington.
At Monday night’s council meeting, Wolfington said that he was “not surprised” by the response.
Benson’s City Council had reached out to Prairie 5 to provide dispatching services out of a concern that its bus drivers were being potentially dangerously distracted as they performed their jobs.
When Benson Heartland Express bus drivers receive a call on their walkie-talkies from city staff about pick-ups, they write them down on a piece of paper. They have to recalculate in their minds the routes they have to take for pickups and drop offs, Wolfington said. The actions take a drivers attention away from the road.
With Prairie 5’s more modern dispatching service drivers have a tablet mounted where it can easily be seen. A dispatcher takes a call for a rides, and then sends the information to the driver’s tablet. Prairie 5’s computer system is able to track where each bus is and assign rides based on where the closest bus is located. It also provides the quickest and most cost-effective routes for the pickups and drop offs.
Prairie 5 currently manages public transit systems in the cities of Montevideo, Dawson, Ortonville, Canby, Appleton and Madison. However, in those communities it operates the entire system.

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