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BNSF Depot in DL to become 'transit center'

The BNSF train depot in Detroit Lakes is soon going to be put to better use: White Earth has received a grant from the federal government to remodel the depot and make it a transit center.

"They have four buses in their possession, and an architect and will (let) out bids for construction late this fall," said Kevin Anderson, transit project manager for the Minnesota Department of Transportation.

The transit coordinator for White Earth, Pam Greene, said although the project is still in the preliminary stages, there are plans to have three shops -- possibly a coffee shop and an American Indian Museum.

"Those are going to be owned by tribal members," she said. "I'm not sure exactly what they are going to be yet."

She said the depot will be open and running by "early 2008 to be safe."

The depot will also be utilized by other entities as well.

Shooting Star Casino General Manager Liz Foster-Anderson said the casino will be using the depot as marketing outlet with Shooting Star materials and as a stop on a bus route to the casino.

Hopefully by the end of 2008, Amtrak will have established a casino tour from Chicago to the Midwest, she added. It is being patterned after the Reno casino tour line in northern Nevada.

The depot is already an Amtrak stop, and it may now also be used as a dropping and loading point for Jefferson Lines buses.

Jefferson Lines spokesman Fred Kaiser said, "nothing is signed, sealed and delivered yet," but that the company is looking into using the depot. The bus line has been using the Detroit Lakes Regional Chamber of Commerce as a stopping point thus far.

Although Kaiser said nothing has been signed yet, the chamber was given notice from Jefferson Lines that as of Sept. 7, the new bus stop will be at the depot, not the chamber.

The westbound bus goes through Detroit Lakes at 12:20 p.m., and the eastbound goes through at 3:15 p.m. For more information on routes and tickets, visit or call 800-451-5333.

Other busing needs will be met locally.

Operated by the White Earth Department of Transportation, White Earth Public Transit is starting two public transit routes.

First there are regular routes, which are $1 per ride and begin Sept. 4. The three established routes have three points of origin -- Detroit Lakes, Rice Lake and Pine Point.

"This is basically to get people to work on time. The morning and afternoon routes are to pick them up," Greene said. "There's a middle route going to start at 10 a.m. and end at 3:06 p.m., and that's the route people are going to be able to shop (or go to the casino) and run continuously back and forth."

Route 1 will include stops in Detroit Lakes, Callaway, Ogema, White Earth Clinic, White Earth M&W Store, RTC Building, Waubun, Shooting Star Casino and Riverland Apartments. Routes run Monday-Friday from 6 a.m. to 7 p.m.

Route 2 will include Rice Lake Community College, Rice Lake Tower, Naytahwaush Fire Hall, Naytahwaush Complex, the Shooting Star Casino, Waubun, White Earth RTC, White Earth Clinic and White Earth M&W Store. They will run Monday-Friday from 6 a.m. to 7:29 p.m.

Route 3 includes Pine Point Community Center, Pine Point New Housing, Elbow Lake Community Center, White Earth RTC, White Earth M&W Store, White Earth Clinic, SS Casino, Riverland Apartments, Waubun and Ogema. They run Monday-Friday from 6 a.m. to 6:37 p.m.

The other busing system, Dial-A-Ride, is more flexible. The Dial-A-Ride program isn't up and running yet because all the drivers have not been hired and trained.

Passengers must call 24 hours in advance and will be taken where needed. There is no established route. The cost for Dial-A-Ride is $2 per ride.

Dial-A-Ride will run Monday-Friday from 9 a.m. to 4 p.m., and Saturday and Sunday from 9 a.m. to 2 p.m.

All passengers must pay in cash and have the exact amount. Punch cards are available through White Earth Public Transit.

"The difference is your $1 route is an established route and there's going to be no deviation. They can just jump on that whenever," Greene explained. "A Dial-A-Ride is going to have to be made 24 hours in advance and we may not be able to service you depending on how many calls we've gotten that day before."

For more information on schedules or routes, and for future Dial-A-Ride reservations, contact White Earth Public Transit at 218-983-3283 or toll free at 888-845-6787.