SDDOT receives leadership award The Air, Rail and Transit division of the South Dakota Department of Transportation received national recognition for a unique project aimed at improving public transit across the state. The Community Transportation Association of American named SDDOT the winner of the 2003 State Leadership Award at its annual convention in Philadelphia, PA, in May. The national award honors a state agency that has significantly impacted its citizens with outstanding, innovative leadership in public and community transportation.
Last year, Bruce Lindholm, program manager for Air, Rail and Transit came up with a plan to use grant money to purchase 50 new buses. After visiting with then Gov. Bill Janklow, the goal was raised to replace every bus in South Dakota that had over 90,000 miles on it. In all 121 new buses were built and shipped to communities across South Dakota at no cost to local governments. In addition, Air, Rail and Transit worked with operators and local governments to build 17 new bus stations and facilities. The total project cost roughly $6 million dollars.
"I was excited and happy that they thought what we'd been doing was worthy of recognition," said Lindholm, who accepted the award on behalf of the department. "Our work means thousands of South Dakotans have top-of-the-line buses to use every day. I'm really proud of what we've accomplished."
It took almost a year to get all 121 buses built and distributed. The last one was delivered in the last couple of months. Most of the buses can carry 10 passengers, however a few were built for 24 passengers. All are wheelchair accessible.
To demonstrate the importance of public transportation, a group of 13 South Dakotans drove one of the new buses to Philadelphia for the awards presentation. It took two days to get there and two days to return.