Fair bus service

The Duluth Transit Authority and the city of Superior will provide special evening service between downtown Duluth, downtown Superior and the Head of the Lakes Fair from today through Saturday.

Look for “Fairgrounds” displayed on the bus’ front destination sign.

The evening runs to the fair will depart downtown Duluth hourly at the Holiday Center from 6:15-10:15 p.m., with service along Route 17 toward South Superior. Return trips from the fairgrounds will run hourly from 6:40 p.m. with the last return trip leaving the fairgrounds at 10:45 p.m.

Daytime bus service to the Head of the Lakes Fair is available on the DTA’s regular Route 17 weekday service. Sunday service is available to the fairgrounds on Route 17 from 10:15 a.m. to 5:15 p.m.

All-access bus pass

The Duluth Transit Authority is offering teenage riders a pass that allows for unlimited travel anywhere on DTA buses and the Port Town Trolley and discounted perks for June through August.

The pass is $55 — and valued at more than twice as much. Flash the pass at the Incline Station Bowling Center, Adventure Zone, Great Lakes Aquarium, Lake Superior Zoo, the Encounter and Duluth Huskies baseball games for discounted admission or other deals.

Passes are on sale at the Downtown Transit Center, DTA Operations Center (2402 W. Michigan St.) and DTA pass outlets. The passes are transferable to qualifying friends and family members when not in use by the primary pass holder.

Does the DTA travel to San Diego?

The DTA won’t travel round-trip to San Diego. (2011 file / News Tribune)

Currently staying in San Diego, Duluthians Rick and Sheila Olson plan to head back north this month for the birth of their grandson.

Rick likes to keep up with what’s going on in Duluth by visiting duluthnewstribune.com. (Thanks, Rick!) One day while getting his news fix, Rick saw an ad for the Duluth Transit Authority that suggested her type in his address and desired destination. This is what he got after typing his San Diego address as the pickup spot, a Duluth address as his destination and the desired date and time:

“Sorry, we don’t have transit schedule data for a trip from San Diego to Duluth at the time and date you specified,” the automated response from the DTA said.

So, Rick wanted Eh? to find out when the next DTA bus will be on its way to his place in San Diego so he and the missus are ready. (Plus he expects that senior-citizen discount.)

“The DTA didn’t say they didn’t have a bus going to San Diego,” Rick said. “They just said they didn’t have one on the date and time I requested.”

Sorry, Rick. Something tells us you’ll be waiting a while.

5 million for U-Pass

The Duluth Transit U-Pass program will surpass the 5 million-rider milestone Wednesday at the University of Minnesota Duluth.

The lucky 5 millionth rider will be identified before 10:30 a.m. at UMD’s Kirby Transit Hub, congratulated by UMD and DTA officials at a news conference and receive gifts from UMD Stores and UMD Food Services.

The U-Pass program was introduced in 2000 as a partnership between UMD and the DTA to encourage the use of public transportation by providing unlimited rides for students, faculty and staff members. The program’s goal is to reduce on-campus traffic, minimize student parking in nearby neighborhoods and address the reduction of on-campus parking.

Ride the DTA bus free Thursday

Here’s something to be thankful for on Thursday: free bus rides.

The Duluth Transit Authority said it will operate on a limited holiday schedule for regular routes and STRIDE services on Thanksgiving Day. It also will offer a shuttle service to the Duluth Entertainment Convention Center for the 23rd annual free Thanksgiving dinner.

Wherever you go on the bus, the rides will be free, compliments of the National Bank of Commerce.

Special pickup sites for the shuttle to the DECC are the CHUM Drop-In Center and the Damiano Center in Duluth and Solid Rock Mission, Clifford Lund, Royalton Manor, and at 14th Street and Tower Avenue in Superior.

Holiday service schedules are listed at the DTA website.

Parking, busing for Christmas City parade

Santa Claus is forcing Duluth Transit Authority buses onto new routes Friday, but you can still catch the bus to and from the Christmas City of the North Parade.

Or, if you prefer to drive, you can park for free at downtown lots and meters. Free parking will be available after 5:30 p.m. Friday at metered spots and after 5 p.m. at the following ramps: Shoppers Auto Park, Fourth Avenue Auto Park, US Bank, Tech Village, Medical District and East Superior Street Public Ramp.

DTA buses will be detoured from Superior Street, between Fifth Avenue West and Lake Avenue, from about 6:15-8:30 p.m. Friday. All DTA buses regularly scheduled to travel through the downtown area during the parade will follow the standard DTA parade routing on First and Second streets.

The DTA also will provide extra buses after the parade.

The annual parade will begin at 6:20 p.m. and will travel from Railroad Street east to Lake Avenue and back west along Superior Street.

Lake Superior College to see 1 millionth DTA rider

The Duluth Transit Authority expects its U-PASS program to see its millionth Lake Superior College passenger today.

The rider will be identified and congratulated by DTA and LSC officials with a commemorative plaque and prize donations.

The U-PASS program began at the University of Minnesota Duluth in September 2000, with LSC, the University of Wisconsin-Superior and the College of St. Scholastica joining later. Under the program, students, faculty and staff at the colleges qualify for free bus rides anytime and anywhere in the Twin Ports.

The program began in part to reduce traffic and parking problems in the UMD area. Before the program, UMD bus ridership averaged 4,000 rides a month. UMD is expected to reach its 5 millionth U-PASS rider by the end of the year.

LSC joined the program in 2001, and U-PASS ridership at the school has grown every year. It reached its 500,000th rider in December 2009. October’s U-PASS ridership at LSC was the highest monthly total with nearly 20,000 rides.

DTA bus drivers suit up for Halloween

Duluth city bus drivers will carry on an annual tradition today when they trade in their uniforms for Halloween costumes.

The Duluth Transit Authority reports it’s fine with a bit of fun, but it asks that drivers make sure their costumes are in good taste, and they don’t offend riders.

Oh, yeah, there’s this bit, too: “Drivers are restricted somewhat in what they can wear, so as not to interfere with the safe operation of the bus or the safety of passengers.”

No kidding. And don’t even think about trying to pay your fare with sweets.

DTA service limited on Fourth of July

If you ride the Duluth Transit Authority’s buses, beware that it will have limited service on regular routes and STRIDE services Wednesday.

The service is similar to what you find available on Sundays, except it will be provided only in Duluth, not Superior, where city funding for holiday service isn’t available.

Holiday service schedules are highlighted on the Sunday section on all passenger hand schedules and at duluthtransit.com.

But if you want to get to the Bayfront Fourth Fest, you’re in luck. The DTA will operate two Port Town Trolleys on its regular route from noon to 8 p.m. Wednesday, circulating every 15 minutes between downtown Duluth, Fitger’s, Canal Park and Bayfront Festival Park with a special stop on Railroad Street.

Since Harbor Drive will be closed during Fourth Fest, trolleys won’t be able to serve the Great Lakes Aquarium, the Excursion Dock, the SS William A. Irvin or Duluth 10 Theater.

The Port Town Trolley fare is 50 cents. Unlimited-ride trolley day passes are available on the trolley for $4. DTA passes and stored value fare cards will also be honored on the trolleys with children younger than 4 riding free of charge.