Trying to make long distance transit more attractive to the young, the elderly, working folks, professionals and vacationers.
Apart from the fact that using public transit saves gas, reduces one’s carbon footprint, and allows most families to have more disposable income (not aimed at a car), using public transit is relaxing, usually on time, and is generally reliable. However, one of its biggest drawbacks is that most people don’t know where the buses run, how often or how early or late in the day. Other problems crop up the farther you try to travel; like between counties. Certainly here on the Oregon Coast.
That was abundantly clear among those participating in a workshop aimed at trying to find ways to improve transit service within and between counties of northwest Oregon. One of the top gripes was that the longer the trip, the more likely a rider is forced to endure long overlays; sometimes for hours. Some complained that although buses run many hours during the day, the schedules do not necessarily cater to people who need to be at work by a certain time or leave for home at the end of the day. Others cited a lack of reliable and conveniently scheduled service between the valley and the coast, between the coast and Portland, and the coast and Amtrak in Albany.
These and other comments will be compiled in a large data base that will be analyzed by transit-trip software which produces greater efficiency among transit systems. Five northwest Oregon counties are seeking to inter-link in ways that produces more economic development, access to jobs, higher education for residents as well as an alternative for tourists. Meetings like the one held in Newport on Tuesday have been going on for the past few weeks with a few more to wrap up the process.
David Evans and Associates is a consulting firm guiding the two year planning endeavor to more intelligently link current transit systems. Spokeswoman Elizabeth Mros-Ohara said while the planning process is lengthy, they’ll try to begin making improvements that don’t cost a lot of money. She said there’s a goodly amount of opportunity for that in the short term. In the long term, and for really major changes and upgrades, she said it’s going to take money, money not yet targeted, presumably provided by the federal government.
But in the meantime, transit boosters say system improvements among the five northwest Oregon counties can be monitored at a new website set up to act as a clearing house for those who would like to add a bit more public transit to their lives. The site is at: www.NWOregonTransit.org. It’s brand new and is not yet fully up and running, but it may pay to make it one of your bookmarks or favorites on your computer.