Minnesota Valley Transit Authority riders whose primary language is not English now can get trip planning assistance and transit information through a network of interpreters who speak more than 170 languages.

The transit agency launched the Language Line service earlier this month.

Callers can ask a transit representative for an interpreter who can speak the language of the rider's choice. The agent then contacts LanguageLine Solutions, a company in Monterey, Calif., that has a contract with the state of Minnesota for translation services. The company finds somebody from its network of translators and puts him or her on the line. The caller, the MVTA operator and the translator have a “conference call” that is similar to calls that pass through a relay service for the hearing-impaired or speech-disabled.

"This is a small, but effective way to assist transit riders for whom English is not their native language," said MVTA Executive Director Luther Wynder. "Given the diversity of our ridership, we believe that this service will be very useful."

MVTA will be billed $1.34 per minute per call to provide the service, said spokeswoman Robin Selvig.

Metro Transit also provides the service.

MVTA provides bus service in Apple Valley, Burnsville, Eagan, Prior Lake, Rosemount, Savage and Shakopee. To use Language Line, riders should call 952-882-7500.

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