PIERRE, S.D. (KELO) — South Dakota is changing how rural transit services get state funds.

The South Dakota Department of Transportation got a green light this week to gradually make performance more important.

The money had been spread equally in the past.

But this year, approximately two-thirds of the funding will be divvied up, based on how each of the 16 providers performs in seven categories.

Next year performance will become more important, with 82 percent distributed that way.

The following year, all of the money will be based on performance.

The Legislature gave the department $1,050,000 for rural transit support this year.

Providers want the change, according to Joel Jundt. He is the department’s deputy secretary.

Jundt outlined the new system Thursday to the state Transportation Commission.

He said the different approach could lead providers to look for better ways to deliver service and perhaps merge with other providers. Groton, for example, recently placed its service with Aberdeen.

Performance will be measured from the previous year for number of rides (25 percent), miles driven (25 percent), local funds spent overall for the local program (20 percent), administrative cost per ride (5 percent), operating costs per ride (5 percent), local funds spent per ride (5 percent) and overall grant administration (15 percent).

“The geographical boundaries (of a service area) are not real hard lines,” Jundt said. “These are non-profit. They’re not really doing this to make money.”