No Public Transit in Williston | VideoEvan Kruegel | 11/26/2012
"The day will probably come when it`s something that the city does,” said Mayor Ward Koeser.
But city officials say that day may still be years away. Bismarck, Fargo and Grand Forks have had public transportation for years, but they receive funding from the state. A city the size of Williston would need to take advantage of the state`s 53-11 program, which would only provide a portion of the funding.
"The 53-11 program provides 50/50 funding, so the city would have to pick up at least 50 percent of the cost,” said City Auditor John Kautzman.
The city already has a budget deficit, so covering half of a public transit route might not be a viable option.
"Obviously you`d hope to cover it from revenue. If you can`t, then taxpayers or the city would somehow have to come up with the funds."
Koeser says city leaders did look into the idea when the population was just over 12,000. They found it wasn`t financially viable then, but he doesn`t think it would be now.
"You know, in my mind when you get to that 50,000 person range it probably starts to work well for you. You can finance it, you have the funds for it, and the city is large enough that it really becomes necessary. You really want to get vehicles off the streets so there are certainly some benefits to it, it`s just to know exactly when the community is ready for that."
It might still be a few years away, but if the population continues to multiply, public transit will soon be on its way to Williston.