In Minnesota, we're blessed with a highway system that connects communities with a web of both well-traveled interstates and rural state and county highways.  In fact, there's probably no where you can't go on a Minnesota highway.  And, you'll find all of those highways and the information connected to it details on maps - whether they're modern, digital, and "smart" - or they're the old fashioned paper versions.

But as the push for energy consumption increases and more and more people are ditching their own vehicles in favor of other choices, things start to get a little more complex. This can be especially true for people looking to use public or non-personal transportation.  While it might be easy to use these systems within an individual community - what happens if you wanted to use that public transportation to get somewhere else - further away?

How do the pieces of the puzzle come together to make those trips happen?

The Minnesota Department of Transportation has introduced a new pilot project to make trip planning and even payment technology for those daily trips on public transportation easier.  They've launched Transit - and app that brings together travel and route information for these individual agencies.

Transit went live on March 1.

The app is free and you'll find it for download in the Apple App Store or from Google Play.  The actual app has been around for a while - used in more than 300 cities around the world.  But this pilot program from the Minnesota Department of Transportation puts information and details from our local communities - statewide - into the database.

MNDOT's focus is on those smaller communities around the state.  Elliott McFadden, the Coordinator for MNDOT's Greater Minnesota Shared Mobility program explains:

"This pilot with Transit app focuses on rural areas because this technology has not yet been made available outside of Minnesota's big cities.  The project will be the first to bring the latest technology to make it easier to plan and take trips in many communities in Greater Minnesota."

Here is a list of the participating transportation providers from around the state - provided by MNDOT:

  • Brown County Heartland Express
  • Central Community Transit
  • Jefferson Lines
  • Land To Air
  • Morris Transit
  • Mankato Transit System
  • Minnesota River Valley Transit
  • Prairie Five RIDES
  • Rochester Public Transit
  • Rolling Hills Transit
  • SMART
  • The Otter Express
  • Tri-CAP
  • TRUE Transit
  • UCAP Community Transit

MNDOT shares that a few of these transit agencies Jefferson Lines, and Rochester Public Transit - won't be fully available on the Transit app until mid to late March.

The pilot project that MNDOT is using for the Transit app is being funded by two "innovation grants" from the Federal Transit Administration totaling $1.9 million.  As the program continues, the University of Minnesota will study usage patterns to determine if the technology should be scaled to the rest of the state.  The ultimate goal is a better future public transit system throughout Minnesota.

11 Very Common Stereotypes About Minnesota

13 Photos Every Minnesotan Has Taken At Some Point

LOOK: Famous Historic Homes in Every State

More From Minnesota Now