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Damlo steps into transit director position

Ryan Damlo is the new Transit Director for Wadena and Becker counties, which offer Friendly Rider bus service in Wadena and Becker County Transit.

Ryan Damlo is looking at how to market and expand bus service in Wadena and Becker Counties in his new role as Transit Director.

In Wadena the bus service is called Friendly Rider and down the road the bus service is called Becker County Transit. The combined transit operation will take a while to merge, Damlo said. He is working with the state to make sure it’s done smoothly.

Damlo served as Asset Protection Manager at the Wadena Walmart since June 2011. Before that he worked at other Walmart locations for three additional years. He received a management degree from St. John's University, Collegeville. His new position as Transit Director is paid jointly by Becker and Wadena Counties.

“I’m getting feedback from city leaders and will be doing interviews with riders to get an idea of what people are looking for,” Damlo said.

Wadena County has five buses with four located in the city of Wadena. One bus is located in Staples and also serves northern Todd County, including Bertha and Hewitt.

“We serve 7:15 a.m. to 5:30 p.m. Monday through Friday and go a little bit later depending on the need,” he said. “The most recent pickups we’ve been doing at the wellness center. Some of the foreign exchange students have been going there after school and then getting a ride home to their host families.”

Friendly Rider also offers rides from 10 a.m. to 2 p.m. Saturdays and 8 a.m. to noon Sundays. The system is a dial-a-ride system.

Damlo stresses that the bus service is for everyone.

“It can be used by families who are looking for a way to have their child involved in activities but need a ride,” he said.

Damlo is looking to add a summer rec schedule from June 2 through the end of t-ball.

“Our job is to provide safe transportation to everyone,” he said. “And options that are best for the community.”

In Wadena, there is a dedicated route that goes between some of the apartments, nursing home and shopping destinations. Damlo would like to see if other routes might be feasible in the city.

He is gathering feedback now because planning for the 2016 budget begins in May or June. It takes a while to get approval from the Minnesota Department of Transportation, he said.

“I’m passionate about this community and want to partner with the city,” Damlo said.

The transit garage in Wadena is being remodeled and a grand opening is being planned during this year’s Wadena County Fair at the end of June. Look for more information closer to the event.

Contact Friendly Rider in Wadena for more information about bus service at 631-5730. Damlo is looking forward to figuring out how to grow the bus service and offer more in the future.

Anna Erickson
Anna Erickson is editor of the Wadena Pioneer Journal.
(218) 631-2561