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Trailblazer sets example of cooperation

The current campaign season is just starting to heat up, and with it will come the usual buzzwords and phrases: “streamlining government,” “inter-governmental cooperation,” “efficiency,” “inter-agency cooperation.”
People want government that does more with fewer of our tax dollars. Everyone wants to eliminate duplication of services, to streamline government and for governmental units and agencies to cooperate among themselves.
But it is rare that actually happens. There are isolated examples, and they usually occur at the local rather than the state or federal levels. Cities share rarely used, but much-needed, equipment with other cities, cities and counties swap services in maintaining roads and streets, Social Services and Public Health agencies join other counties in coalitions to provide services to clients.
Trailblazer Transit, the local public transit system, shows that cooperation can happen from the state level on down to local municipalities.
Last Thursday’s Trailblazer Transit Joint Powers Board meeting had representatives from several layers of government as Trailblazer outlined its progress in providing service to neighboring Wright County. Trailblazer is adding most of Wright’s municipalities to its current service plan, which serves Sibley and McLeod counties.
There was a representative from the Minnesota Department of Transportation (MnDOT). Representatives from the Sibley and McLeod boards of commissioners. Representatives from the cities of Delano and Buffalo in Wright County, representing a coalition of Wright County cities which has formed its own coalition, Wright County Area Transit (WCAT).
And all of those officials from all of those layers of government had one primary goal in mind: providing transit service in Wright County while still maintaining premium and cost-effective service in McLeod and Sibley counties.
The cooperation between those officials was great to see, especially after an attempted alliance with the Wright County Board of Commissioners failed miserably.
Cities in Wright County stepped up to fill the role of a partner, forming the WCAT. The city of Buffalo is hard at work trying to provide a facility for Trailblazer buses and staff based in Wright County. Other cities have committed financial backing. MnDOT also has committed to additional financing to make the expansion of service into Wright County, to replace the now-defunct River Rider system, a success. The Trailblazer Joint Powers Board has allowed its staff to use time and resources to make it all happen.
The startup of Trailblazer in Wright County has been somewhat bumpy, as any transition will be. But everyone at the table Thursday had 100 percent commitment to make this work.
It is inter-governmental cooperation at its best: state, county and city officials coming together to bring the best possible transit service possible to their constituents.
We applaud those in government who make “inter-governmental cooperation” and “streamlining” more than catchphrases and buzzwords. Those who make it a reality, rather than a campaign promise.
Keep up the good work.