Since 2003, Friendly Rider has provided public transportation to North Central Minnesota. We serve Wadena, Otter Tail, Todd, and Morrison, and Crow Wing Counties. We connect people with their community, for work, school, shopping, appointments and more— making North Central Minnesota a better place to live.
Thanks to Friendly Rider, my mom who is legally blind and unable to drive is still able to live independently in her house.
~a concerned daughter living far away from her mom
From our Director, Jake Huebsch
Hello, fellow Riders!
As a Staples native, it's great to be back living in the area with my family. I appreciate this opportunity to work with Friendly Rider as it continues its mission.
Public transportation is important everywhere, but it's vital in smaller, rural areas such as ours. Many people in our area rely on public transportation for employment, for medical care and treatment, and to complete daily errands. Regardless of the reason they ride, we are proud to serve our community.
Friendly Rider has grown over the last few years. Our ridership is up, our service area has expanded, and we now operate for more days and times. This is great for our residents and our ability to serve them.
But our journey isn't done yet! In the next few years, my vision for Friendly Rider includes growing our ridership in the Staples area; getting the word out to more residents about how easy it is to schedule a pick up and ride the bus; expanding options for scheduling a ride; and updating Friendly Rider's image through marketing (print, media, and radio).
Do you have questions or concerns about riding the bus? Do you have suggestions how we can serve you better? Please let us know! You can contact us here on our website or by calling our office.
I look forward to seeing you on the bus!
Friendly Rider buses cover a lot of ground each and every day. Behind the scenes, a small group of dedicated employees works hard to make sure things run smoothly for our riders. Based in Wadena, MN, Friendly Rider employs a total of 19 people: a director, a coordinator, 3 dispatchers, and 14 bus drivers.
As a Dial-A-Ride system, Friendly Rider's dispatch is available each day to answer questions and to schedule ride requests. The dispatch team communicates continuously with drivers and residents.
You can feel good about riding with Friendly Rider. Our bus drivers have passed extensive training and background checks - and they enjoy driving their buses!
Drivers have earned CDL class C minimum licensure with passenger endorsement. Friendly Rider verifies driving records and background checks both at hire and annually during employment. Our drivers are required to attend National Rural Assistance Program training at hire for passenger assistance, maltreatment awareness, defensive driving, and wheelchair securement. A refresher course is required every 3 years. All Friendly Rider employees take part in DOT Drug testing. In addition, our drivers are trained on pre and post trip inspections and use of necessary electronic equipment (i.e. tablet, cell phone).
Yes - Friendly Rider accepts donations. We welcome the assistance of the community to help us build our service offerings for area residents. For example, Friendly Rider recently received a donation as part of someone’s will. Using Friendly Rider buses allowed her the mobility she needed to stay in her own home 3 years longer. A true testament to the importance of having public transportation options in our community.
How do we use donations? Most monetary donations are actually used to purchase bus tickets for those in need. We donate bus tickets to various organizations including the Wadena Food Shelf, Operation Empty Stocking, and assisted living facilities. For more information or to make a donation, please contact our Friendly Rider office at (218) 319-6055.