In 2003, the Center for Democracy and Citizenship brought together community organizations and parks and recreation workers in St. Paul to begin thinking of ways to bring kids to places where they could learn and socialize with one another. They imagined–and secured funding for–a free bus that would run after school and during the summer, connecting the library to a neighborhood landmark, with stops in between at schools, parks, community and recreation centers, and a large housing complex. The West Side Circulator worked so well in its first few years that staff in the mayor’s office worked to establish another circulator on the city’s East Side in 2007. “Cities have a role in the development of young people,” says Mayor Chris Coleman. “Through creativity and partnerships with leaders in our neighborhoods, schools, and businesses, Saint Paul is leveraging resources to prepare our children for school and life and set them on the road to success.”
In late 2009, the West Side Circulator reached a milestone when the 100,000th rider boarded the bus.