Behind the Scenes at Avera McKennan: Riding the Sioux Area Metro

Besides the trolley, I haven’t taken public transportation in Sioux Falls since I rode the bus with my Grandma to the Sioux Empire Mall to go to the Build-A-Bear workshop. I should mention that that was when I was in elementary school.

So on Wednesday, July 17, when I arrived at the downtown transfer station to ride on Sioux Area Metro (SAM) with the marketing committee, I was very excited. I’ve seen the buses around town with the wrapped advertisements, and I definitely notice them when they stop at every single railroad track. But that morning, I was there to ride. I felt like a big city commuter.

Walking into the station, I noticed buses bordering either side of the platform, ready to take passengers around all of Sioux Falls on the system’s 12 routes.

The buses are very clean and our trip from the transfer station to the Minnesota Avenue Caribou Coffee takes just a few minutes. Side note: the ticket taker on the bus is super fun to use.

After reaching our destination, the marketing committee expounds on how nice of a ride it was and how many things you can do on the bus that you can’t (at least legally) do while driving.

The Top Ten Things You Don’t Have To Worry About While Riding SAM

  1. Traffic when you’re trying to have a conversation with a friend.
  2. Getting a $100-plus ticket (or worse) when you text and drive.
  3. Swerving two lanes over while looking at the scenery and architecture.
  4. Finding a parking spot (and being fooled by the compact cars and motorcycles that pull as far as possible into a spot).
  5. Cleaning your car. No one will see it when it’s stuck in the garage.
  6. The price of gas. Adults can ride the bus one-way for around $1.
  7. Scraping your windshield in the winter.
  8. Getting in an accident. Buses are larger, so they usually win.
  9. Trying to steer and answer emails. No knee driving needed here.
  10. Global warming. You’re making the environmentally-friendly choice.

After arriving back downtown, I sat down with bus driver Ken Lanham, one of 75 bus drivers for SAM, in the terminal.

Lanham, a SAM driver for more than 11 years, enjoys his job partly because of the passengers who use Sioux Area Metro.

“There are just certain people that when I see them, when they ride, it makes my day,” Lanham said. “There are some that are very nice and easy to converse with. I like to give them a hard time.”

I would love to use SAM more. Hopefully, if I move into the city from my current home in the country, I will be able to. It’s a convenient, economical alternative to driving and studies show that public transportation is a common concern for families in our city.

With clean buses, widespread routes, and drivers like Lanham who get to know their passengers, it’s an alluring alternative to being stuck in traffic.

Sioux Area Metro is a Viable Option for Avera McKennan Patients

Avera McKennan is visited by a SAM bus 20 times each work day. This helps patients by giving them an alternative to driving to their appointments. By providing transportation for people who otherwise may not be able to get to medical appointments, SAM helps Avera McKennan provide healthcare to people in Sioux Falls.

SAM Fast Facts

  • An adult one-month fare is $25. Try filling a tank of gas for that price.
  • There are 53 total buses in the fleet.
  • Last year, more than 1 million people rode a bus on Sioux Area Metro.
  • In 2012, Sioux Area Metro buses drove more than 1.3 million miles.

By Kristina Johnson

Marketing Intern at Avera McKennan

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