Barbara Cline based Prairie Hills Transit in 1989 whereas working because the director of a diet program for senior residents in Spearfish, South Dakota. Whereas delivering meals, Cline usually heard from seniors who expressed curiosity in travelling to a central eating location however lacked a dependable mode of transportation.
“I’d ask if they’d a chance to come back into the meals program for lunch in the event that they wish to try this,” Cline stated. “The response was all the time sure, however they didn’t have a approach to get there. Their youngsters have been working, their neighbors didn’t have a automobile, they only didn’t have a approach to get there.”
Working with a grant from the state’s social companies division, Cline launched Spearfish Senior Transportation with a single 1979 van working 4 hours per day. This small service grew right into a coordinated public transit system, right this moment working throughout 16,500 sq. miles. With eight bus services, 45 autos, and practically 60 workers, Prairie Hills Transit is now the primary public transportation supplier for 9 rural counties in South Dakota.
“At first I didn’t understand how many individuals had a necessity for our companies,” Cline stated. “We did an in depth quantity of labor to offer for these districts and during the last 30 years, we’ve grown into an organization that covers 1000’s of sq. miles and serves many various districts.”
This October, Cline was inducted into the South Dakota Transportation Corridor of Honor as a recognition for her continued service to the neighborhood as a supplier of invaluable transportation options all through western South Dakota.
“It was fairly a shock,” Cline stated. “We’re making headway into statewide recognition for the function that transit performs inside the neighborhood and the significance of the service that we offer.”
Cline’s induction was introduced in August and a banquet was hosted by the Transportation Corridor of Honor Committee in early October. As one among 94 inductees since 1972, Cline is the second lady in South Dakota historical past to obtain the award.
The award goals to acknowledge those that have made a “lasting helpful or distinctive contribution to South Dakota’s air, freeway, public transit, or rail transportation system,” in line with the South Dakota Division of Transportation. Cline was one among three inductees to obtain this yr’s distinction, every celebrated with a plaque to commemorate the consideration they obtain as a part of their induction.
Cline additionally presently serves because the president of the Neighborhood Transportation Affiliation of America (CTAA). Cline beforehand served because the group’s president from 2012 to 2014 and has acted as a CTAA board member since 2004. As an actively concerned member of the Govt Committee for over 10 years Cline has continued to advocate for rural and small city transit techniques all through the nation.
“There may be such worth for smaller businesses,” Cline stated. “We imagine that mobility is a fundamental human proper. From work and schooling to life-sustaining well being care and human companies applications to buying and visiting with household and pals, mobility immediately impacts high quality of life.”
As a brand new transit director in 1989, Cline heard concerning the group and the assist and coaching they supplied for small rural techniques throughout the nation. Desperate to be taught extra about her place and the trade at giant, Cline determined it was a chance for a small rural system in South Dakota to develop and excel.
Cline now serves as a Grasp Coach for CTAA’s PASS coaching program and has educated each her personal in addition to drivers from different techniques, each tribal and from different states.
“2020 has been a troublesome yr, and the brilliant spot via all of it has been the hard-work our members have finished to proceed to offer important journeys to members of their neighborhood,” Cline stated. “We’re vastly wanting ahead to 2021, in addition to to the long run successes of our members.”
As Prairie Hills Transit continues to get better from the pandemic, native districts preserve reliance on their unwavering companies for his or her important transportation wants.
Not like a lot of its trade friends, the company has remained operational all through the length of the COVID-19 disaster. Cline notes that whereas the pandemic prompted preliminary setbacks for his or her ridership, via elevated security and sanitization measures, they have been in a position to present riders with the boldness and security to proceed important journey.
“It’s been course of,” Cline stated. “We’re not but again to the place we have been by way of ridership, however we’ve definitely seen a major enhance. For nursing properties, senior communities, well being care entities, the service that we offer is de facto important and we need to proceed to do this to the perfect of our skill.”