5:15 a.m. — In the wee hours of the morning, with just a few sips of coffee in me, I ran out the door, running a bit late en route to the Customer Appreciation Event to show appreciation for existing riders of the Rush Line buses. There was good news to share with riders: Another year of service was guaranteed funding.
5:17 a.m. – Pitch black sky, it’s easy to notice that Mn/DOT hasn’t replaced the burned-out lights on the ramps leading to and from I-35 from County Road 7/Hillside Avenue in Pine City. As a consolation, Walmart SuperCenter’s sign is now completely lit after months of having a few lights burned out on it.
5:30 a.m. – Driving by Rush City, very dark yet, the new blue neon wrap around the Holiday StationStore sign brightens the sky more than the Minnesota State Correctional Facility lights. The traffic begins to pick up. Ensuring everyone was alert, the driver a few cars ahead swerves across the centerline and then corrects himself. Was it a coffee spill or related to a cell phone?
5:45 a.m. – Passed a beige van with a “Dragon Hockey” bumper sticker in the back window, possible evidence that there are commuters from Pine City, or perhaps Rush City, since the Dragons are a co-op of the two schools in the sport of hockey.
5:47 a.m. – Was passed by a Buick with a “Pine County Fair” bumper sticker, perhaps further evidence of the commutershed from the north.
6:03 a.m. – Passed the No. 285 leaving Running Aces on County Road 97 toward its next destination. A white pop-up tent is set up at the Mn/DOT Park & Ride, where riders for the next bus are already gathering.
6:05 a.m. to 7:40 a.m. – Conversing with a Councilor from the City of Columbus, the Multimodal Transportation Manager for Anoka County’s Highway Dept., Kate Garwood, and her intern and other Rush Line staff, and welcoming the hundreds of riders who waited in line and boarded the 285 and 288 toward one the other of the Twin Cities. Some of the buses were standing-room only.
7:45 a.m. – En route to Pine City… A few afterthoughts: With spotting a few familiar faces, the localized bumper stickers on the way down, and noticing a sport utility parked at the park-and-ride with the words “Snake River Outfitters” on it, it was easy to see that Pine City contributes to the need for transit options to serve the commuters going to and from the Twin Cities daily. It was a nice event, complete with breakfast snacks, one’s choice of coffee or hot chocolate, and even enough promotional ice scrapers to go around—though I hope we won’t need them for a while yet.