Ride with SouthWest Transit to the Minnesota State Fair
Aug. 22 - Labor Day, Sept. 2, 2019

Skip the parking and traffic hassles... Get to the fair without a care!

Weekday Service (Monday-Friday, Excluding Labor Day):
Rides to the State Fair begin at 7:30 am and end at 7pm
(Running approximately every 15 minutes)

Last ride departs State Fair at 11:30pm

Wooddale Church
6630 Shady Oak Rd - Eden Prairie

*No weekday service from SouthWest Transit park-and-ride locations.

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Saturday & Sunday
Rides to the State Fair begin at 7 am and end at 7pm
(Running approximately every 15 minutes)

Last ride departs State Fair at 11:30pm

SouthWest Station
Hwy 212 & Prairie Center Dr - Eden Prairie

SouthWest Village
Hwy 212 & Hwy 101 - Chanhassen

East Creek Station
Hwy 212 & Hwy 41 - Chaska

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Labor Day
Rides to the State Fair begin at 7 am and end at 7pm
(Running approximately every 15 minutes)

Last ride departs State Fair at 11:30pm

SouthWest Station
Hwy 212 & Prairie Center Dr - Eden Prairie

SouthWest Village
Hwy 212 & Hwy 101 - Chanhassen

 

Round-Trip Fares:

Age

Price

Adults (13-64)

$6

Seniors (65+)

$5

Youth (6-12)

$4

Retired Military Veterans

$4

Children (5 & Under)

Free

Active Military

Free

Disabled Veterans

Free

Parking, Administrative & Convenience Fees:

Parking & Administrative Fee: $2/Vehicle (Please pay at ticket counter when purchasing bus fare)

Mobile App & Credit Card Convenience Fee: $1

 

Return:

Buses return regularly throughout the day. Last bus returns at 11:30 pm. 

FAQ:

Question: Why the need for a $2 per vehicle Parking/ Administrative Fee for SouthWest Transit's State Fair Operations?

Answer: For the past two years, SouthWest Transit has charged an adult fare of $8 for a round trip to/from the Minnesota State Fairgrounds (based on $4 fare each way) . 

Our fare which had been $2 more than other transit providers in the region, was based on the level of service we operate, the way we provide service (load-and-go based on the demand versus operating on a schedule), the customer service staff we employ just for the Fair and have on-hand throughout the day, the distance we travel for each trip, and additional costs specific to our operation that allowed it to run effectively such as leasing of church parking stalls, and the cost related to vehicle storage and lay-over space near the fairgrounds.

Our operation continues to set ridership records year after year, and when surveying past customers, the overwhelming majority indicated a wiliness to pay the additional $2 for the way SouthWest Transit operates its service.

Recently, the Metropolitan Council who oversees transit in the metropolitan area,  informed SouthWest Transit that we are no longer able to charge $8 for the round trip since other regional transit providers only charge $6.  They cited a federal rule which does not allow us to charge more than the other transit providers. While we believe the rule is subject to interpretation, for 2019 we have agreed to follow the Metropolitan Councils directive, even though $8 is what SouthWest Transit needs to break even on its State Fair operation.

SouthWest Transit is committed to continue providing a premium riding experience, and we therefore instituted the $2 per car parking fee to pay for the parking and other associated costs with providing our State Fair service. 

Question: When is the least crowded times and days to catch the bus to the fair?

Answer: Going to the Fair during the week (M-F), the best time is generally after 9am. On weekends, there is more than enough service operating throughout the day. Coming back from the Fair, customers should be aware that there  is limited service during the week (M-F) between the hours of 3pm-6:30pm. This is due to the fact that the majority of our buses are out on their regular routes bringing people home from work. 

Question: Why is SWT’s last bus from the Fair at 11:30pm when other providers go until midnight?  

Answer: SouthWest Transit has a limited number of drivers, in fact we employ over 70 additional drivers who work for neighboring school districts to meet customer demands.  Because of our staff and vehicle limitations, and because customers have indicated they would like to travel to the fair earlier than 9am (which is the time many of the other transit operators in the region start), 11:30am allows us to align our shifts better, and get the drivers home in time to have the necessary hours off the clock.

Question: Where does SouthWest Transit get all the staff to manage its State Fair operations?  

Answer: Besides hiring an additional 70 drivers, SouthWest hires another 25+ people each year to sell tickets, load strollers, park cars, clean buses, and help in the management of the ground operations.  These individuals assist SouthWest Transit’s 25 full-time time staff positions who not only perform State Fair duties, but who manage the agency’s day to day operations that transports over 5,000 passengers per day.   

Question: How many rides does SouthWest Provide to/from the Fairgrounds each year? 

Answer: In 2018, SouthWest Transit provided 104,378 rides.  This was a 4.6% increase from the previous year. SouthWest Transit’s moves more people through its State Fair gate than any public transit operator providing service to the Fair.

Question: Why doesn’t SouthWest Transit have the same lines as some of the other transit locations?

Answer: As previously mentioned, SouthWest Transit’s moves more people through its State Fair gate than any public transit operator providing service to the Fair. We are able to keep our lined down because of the way we provide service, as well as the number of buses we dedicate to our State Fair operation daily and the additional vehicle lay-over space we lease annually close to the fairgrounds.  In terms of operating, we undertake a load-and-go approach.  Rather than scheduling departing trips every 15 to 30 minutes, we continually load buses and once we are full or have a substantial load, we send the vehicle on its way.  By providing service in this manner, our customers generally can catch a bus every ten minutes, thus spending very little time waiting in line. 

Question: Why isn’t service provided from Carver anymore? 

Answer: The City of Carver is not one of SouthWest Transit’s member cities, and the agency provides service to the City under a contract arrangement.  Currently the City purchases M-F express commute trips throughout the year, and local Prime demand response service. At one time the City did receive special event service from SouthWest Transit, but under the current agreement, no special event service operates form the Carver Station.

Question: Why doesn’t East Creek have service on Labor Day?  

Answer: Providing service from all three stations along Highway 212 on Labor Day becomes difficult to staff given that so many of our extra Drivers (i.e. school bus drivers) , are not available to work into the evening with school starting the next morning.  By eliminating East Creek from the operation, we and reduce each trip by approximately 30 minutes, thus allowing us to reduce the number of vehicles needed for the  operation.  Also on Labor Day, our neighbors in Eden Prairie (St. Andrews Church) has been kind enough to allow us to use their parking lot for any overflow needs (should it occur).  With this and given Labor Day generally has lower bus ridership, we were able to reduce the number of vehicles needed for the service.