OCCK Transport celebrates the 4th anniversary of 81 Connection
By SALINA POST
For the past four years, OCCK Transportation has connected communities in north-central Kansas.
OCCK Transportation marks the fourth anniversary of 81 Connection, its fixed-route bus service that runs weekly between Belleville and Salina via Interstate 135 / US Highway 81.
Since its inception on September 5, 2017, 81 Connection has provided more than 8,000 rides to passengers in north central Kansas, with trips made for employment, shopping, medical care, tourism and more. More than 1,800 trips originated in Belleville, with 2,500 more in Concordia, nearly 1,500 in Minneapolis and almost 2,400 in Salina. Ridership continues to rebound after reduced service from the pandemic.
“For four years, 81 Connection has provided residents with reliable rides throughout this corridor of north central Kansas,” said Michelle Griffin, mobility manager for north central Kansas. “We look forward to continuing our work to expand transportation options like 81 Connection and further connect our communities with affordable transit options.”
The 81 Connection bus service offers three two-way trips per day, Monday through Friday. The first route starts in Belleville at 6:45 am, with two stops, then heads south on Hwy 81 to four stops at Concordia, one stop at the US Highway 24 / US Highway 81 junction, one stop at Minneapolis and stop at S. Seventh Street / W. Walnut Street and Wal-Mart in Salina. It then heads north to the same stops. The bus does this loop twice and ends in Belleville around 5:50 pm each day.
A second bus leaves Salina at 1 p.m. and heads north on US Highway 81 to the same stop in Minneapolis, the stop at the US Highway 24 / US Highway 81 junction, four stops at Concordia, and both stops in Belleville, before returning to Salina with the same stops. The bus ends in Salina around 6 p.m. each day.
“We are delighted to celebrate this fourth anniversary of 81 Connection and to reaffirm OCCK’s commitment to making public transportation in north-central Kansas more affordable, accessible and efficient for all who depend on it,” said Trell. Grinter, director of transport at OCCK. “We are also very proud to be one of the few regional fixed route systems serving Kansas, particularly rural Kansas, which must travel to access services, employment, shopping and more. . “
Passengers interested in 81 Connection have a number of options, including attending an 81 Connection Virtual Familiarization Class to learn how to ride the bus. The next class will take place on September 16 at 9:30 am. More information and registration can be found at www.salinacitygo.com under Guide and Go Travel Training.
81 Connection riders can also use Google Maps or Apple Maps to plan their trips and easily get directions with a smartphone or computer. The Google Maps service can be used on computers by accessing the Google Maps website or on mobile phones and devices that use the Google Maps application. The Apple Maps service can be used on mobile phones and Apple devices that use the Apple Maps application.
People traveling on 81 Connection also have the option of paying digital fares using Token Transit. This new mobile ticketing program allows passengers to pay for their tickets without touching cash or tickets and coupons. It offers riders a new level of convenience that eliminates the need to carry cash. The Token Transit app is free and available at Apple and Google Play stores.
Plus, a partnership with Cloud County Community College at Concordia allows faculty, staff and students to ride for free. The OCCK can provide information to agencies looking for partnerships like this.
81 Connection is operated by OCCK, Inc. in partnership with the Kansas Department of Transportation, Ottawa County Transportation, and Solomon Valley Transportation.
For more information on 81 Connection, visit www.salinacitygo.com.