Pennock man is 1 millionth rider on KAT
WILLMAR -- Kandiyohi Area Transit has served its 1 millionth rider. Dan Wieberdink, 24, of Pennock received a basket of KAT promotional items and a certificate noting his ridership milestone after he arrived Friday morning for volunteer work at B...
WILLMAR -- Kandiyohi Area Transit has served its 1 millionth rider.
Dan Wieberdink, 24, of Pennock received a basket of KAT promotional items and a certificate noting his ridership milestone after he arrived Friday morning for volunteer work at Bethesda Pleasantview Nursing Home in Willmar.
"Other systems around the country do a millionth rider,'' says John Groothuis, KAT director. "It's taken us nine years, but we're very happy with the nine years. That's pretty good for a small system.''
Wieberdink, who lives in a group home and uses a motorized wheel chair, was surprised by the honor and was pleased to receive the hat, fishing lure and other goodies. But he's thankful for the bus service that's been taking him to appointments, stores and Bethesda for nearly five years.
Before Wieberdink took the bus, he was at home with his mother.
"I wouldn't have independence if it was not for the KAT bus company, so therefore it's a very good thing,'' he said. "It's just a very good service and I'm glad they're around to help out ... for not only me but for everybody. They have lifts on every bus to accommodate everybody.''
Wieberdink has been a steady passenger for Gene Floren, who was driving the 19-passenger, 2007 Ford bus. Floren has been driving for 8½ years. "It's gone real good,'' he said.
Groothuis said he and his staff determined Thursday afternoon who the honored passenger would be.
"This was the time that worked out,'' Groothuis said. "(Wieberdink) has been riding with us for quite some time now. He rides every day.''
KAT began operations in July 1999 and serves about 550 riders a day, Monday through Friday, and about 100 riders on Saturday, in Willmar and Kandiyohi County. The public transit service has 18 drivers, of which about half work full-time, and a fleet of 10 buses.