The history of public transportation for the community of Brookings begins in April of 1982 when the Brookings Transportation Committee for the Elderly and Handicapped was organized as a volunteer service group. When this group reached the point of working with the state, they felt it was necessary to seek some technical assistance. At this time they asked Inter-Lakes to become involved assisting them through the grants process and eventually to administer and operate the transit program. Transportation service included 9:00 AM to 5:30 PM six days a week and from 8:00 AM to 1:00 PM on Sundays. A second vehicle was added to the fleet in 1987.
The service was available to residents of Brookings and also the area communities one day per week upon request. Local coordination was done with the nursing home facilities, ADVANCE and the Brookings Public School system. These were the only public vehicles that were accessible to accommodate wheelchairs. An average of 1,600 elderly and handicapped individuals were transported on a monthly basis.
Through increased ridership and transportation needs, in 1990 the decision was made under the project management of VaDonna Julian to break away from the Inter-Lakes Community Action Program to allow the Brookings County Transportation for the elderly and disabled be a stand-alone agency. The name was changed to Brookings Area Transit Authority, Inc. (BATA). Transportation was expanded to all, without limit to age or ability.
Today ridership numbers average 117,000 per year, or 9,750 one-way rides per month. The development of community and governmental relationships with Brookings and the surrounding communities has fostered increased coordination with nursing homes, assisted living communities, United Way, ADVANCE, youth programs, South Dakota State University, Chamber of Commerce, health care providers, employers, families, etc. BATA’s staff includes eight full-time staff and 22 part-time employees with a majority of maintenance and all fuel purchases made locally.
Public transportation is a core part of a community’s infrastructure, playing a vital part in economic development. A goal of the Brookings Economic Development Corporation is to attract the baby-boomer population back to Brookings. BATA understands the significance that public transit plays in this plan, keeping a pro-active strategy in mind.
BATA prides itself on being a very active and involved part of the community, both as a business, as well as on an individual basis, with many employees understanding the importance of doing so.
BATA is a Medicaid licensed transportation provider which allows us to provide transportation service to medical centers for their patients that need our services. We provide service to all of the clinics in the Brookings, Watertown, Sioux Falls areas, with scheduling transportation completed by the facilities or the individual patients.
"Our mission to provide coordinated transportation services for all citizens of the Brookings area and to foster independence by providing mobility options is done so by allowing dignity, integrity and compassion to all those we serve."