Editor's note: This story is part of a multi-part series on the 2024 city and school board election. Find all the coverage that's been done so far right here.

Simplified: Sioux Falls Simplified sat down with each of the eight candidates hoping to have a seat on the City Council. Candidates were all asked (approximately) the same set of questions. Here's what they had to say about public transit.

Why it matters

  • The city has a new transit provider, Via, who's bringing a focus on more on-demand busing. We asked candidates what they think makes a successful public transit system.

Another quick note: Candidates are listed in the order in which they're shared on the city election website. Answers are edited for length and clarity.

Sioux Falls has a new public transit provider and changes on the way with on-demand busing — as that progresses, what does success look like in your opinion? 

Jennifer Sigette, Northwest District*: "Obviously the people who need and want public transit should have access to it ... it just needs to work for anybody who needs it to work for them."

  • Sigette also noted the importance of making buses acceptable to students.

Miranda Basye, Northeast District: Basye said she wanted to note she hasn't read the full contract with Via, the new provider, but on a high level, she's optimistic and looking to learn more about the transit needs in the community.

  • "My brain goes to – does transportation play into housing and workforce conversations? Is it an economic development piece of the puzzle? There’s a lot of things that could go into that ... the biggest priority for me would be to learn."

Neil Jeske, Northeast District: Jeske noted this was a topic he'd need to research more, but his primary goal with public transit is to see something that's "affordable, safe and comfortable."

David Zokaites, Northeast District: "Public transit is dependent on a better city design. If you have neighborhoods with cul-de-sacs, it's going to be hard to get a bus. ... If we can go back to more traditional, ancient designs where you've got higher density, you'll have better bus service because it'll be better designed to be served by buses.

  • "You have to design a city for public transit. If you design a suburb, it's not going to be good for public transit."
  • He also stressed the importance of walkability and bike infrastructure, and, when it comes to the new company, he's looking for good service but ultimately it'll be up to city administration to pay attention to that.

Ryan Spellerberg, Southwest District*: "Typically, busing is not something I've thought about, but when you think about how many people it impacts – it is a huge issue for the workforce of our city. We really need to focus on getting people where they need to be."

  • Spellerberg also noted that many people aren't close to bus routes, and he'd like to see them able to schedule rides more efficiently.

Jordan Deffenbaugh, At-Large: "(Success) is return on investment, and also talking to ridership actively."

  • Deffenbaugh also noted that he's ridden the bus, including the on-demand pilot program.
  • "I think that adding some on-demand elements might be helpful in different parts of the city. I do want to emphasize, though, sometimes if you keep it simple, that's where you will see success. Really what it comes down to is we need to look at rapid transit corridors in particular sections of our city – 12th, Minnesota, 41st, etc."

Richard Thomason, At-Large: "That's a question I'll be asking as well," he said, adding that his biggest priority is understanding how public transit is adapting to our growing city.

  • "I want it to be convenient and accessible to all."

Allison Renville, At-Large: "I really hope the (on-demand busing) is successful for them, or it showcases the disconnect between the oppressor and the oppressed, right? Not everybody has access to call somebody and say hey can you run me around."

  • Renville said instead of Via, the city could be contributing to organizations helping people get rides.
  • "Instead of trying to reinvent the wheel, why not make the necessary improvements to the transit system that's existing."

Want to learn more about the candidates?

See who they are and why they're running here:

Meet the people who want to represent you on the Sioux Falls City Council
Four of the eight Sioux Falls City Council seats will have new faces after the April 9 election. Here’s an easy look at who’s running to represent you.

And then get their thoughts on public safety:

City Council candidates talk public safety priorities
We asked candidates how they’ll approach funding decisions related to police and public safety.

And then see what they have to say about housing:

What City Council candidates have to say about housing
According to recent data from Augustana, the greatest housing shortage is among those who make 30% or less the area median income (AMI) – which is $17,350 for an individual.

Find the full guide to elections here.