A Free Ride on LinkFM

If you’ve ever complained about parking in downtown Fargo, I’ve got a solution for you.

Well, to be more accurate, LinkFM has a solution. It’s free (always), it’s super easy and it’s a great excuse to try transit.

The bright pink bus makes a continuous loop between downtown Moorhead and downtown Fargo. There are ten stops, including the Moorhead Center Mall and the Hjemkomst Center in Moorhead and the Plains Art Museum, Fargo Public Library and NDSU’s Renaissance Hall in Fargo.

Link-FM-Bus

So basically, if crowds, traffic, parallel parking or moving your car every 90 minutes to avoid a parking ticket stress you out (and it is dumb that you have to move your car to the other side of the street to avoid a ticket, but I digress…) you can just park in the Moorhead Center Mall parking lot or ramp, hop on the bus and call it good. Realistically, you’d probably walk a block or two from your parking spot anyway, right?

You can use it to connect get to the MAT Bus terminal or to get closer to any of the other bus stops downtown. If you have further to go or need to deviate from the set routes, you can also find Great Rides bike stations throughout downtown.

LinkFM-Bus-Stops

The bus runs from 7 a.m. to 7 p.m. Monday through Friday and 10 a.m. to 5 p.m. on Saturday. The loop only takes about 12-15 minutes from start to finish. You can hop on at any stop shown above. Just look for the bright pink signs and make sure the bus driver can see you, because if they can’t, they just keep on going.

It’s so simple that my toddler can remember the stops. And since he’s obsessed with the bus, we sometimes just ride it around. (My son is a budding transit nerd. I can feel it.) But every time we’ve ridden on the LinkFM bus, there have never been more than a half a dozen people on it with us. I seriously can’t figure out why.

FM Link Interior

Okay, that’s a lie. Part of the problem is that press for this route came out before things were fully settled. Local media (including myself) received notice that the bus would be a distinct color and the stops would be clearly marked. This wasn’t true at the very beginning and it created some confusion. I spent some time of the phone with a very nice MAT bus dispatcher asking some pretty obvious questions just so I could find the bus to photograph it for a story.

But now that’s been fixed. This bus is rainbow colored and the bus stop signs are this blazing hot pink color that are hard to miss.

Another probable reason is that, like much of the Midwest, we live in a car-based community. Most of us don’t pay attention to mass transit unless we already ride it and we’ve never really considered that transit might have benefits for us, even if we own a car. Lots of us don’t even know where to find information about riding a bus (pssst, MATBUS offers service to Fargo, West Fargo, Moorhead and Dilworth) — or even how to actually ride a bus.

Link-FM-Bus-Sign

The LinkFM circulator bus operates like pretty much any other bus system on the planet (except you can skip the part where you pay), but I get that this can be a little intimidating if the last bus you rode was a school bus. If you’re new to transit, here are a couple guidelines to know.
– It’s a kneeling bus and it’s wheelchair-accessible.
– Bikes and strollers are okay.
– Food and drinks are not okay, so keep them tucked into your bag or leave them at home.
– When you want to get off, just pull the cord that runs along the window when your stop is the next one up.
– Stay seated or hold on when the bus is in motion.
– MAT bus drivers sometimes carry little gifts for kids on their first bus ride, so it’s worth asking if they can commemorate your little one’s ride. My toddler is still talking about it.
– The drivers on this route are especially nice and very used to answering questions.

So there you go. The next time you get annoyed about having to move your car downtown, hop on the bus instead. You’re welcome.

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The #PrairiePeople, #PrairiePlaces project is sponsored in part by a grant from North Dakota Tourism. All opinions are my own, always.

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