Local News

Expansion of Bend Bus Service Anticipated

BEND, OR -- Public transportation could soon be expanding in Bend. The Central Oregon Intergovernmental Council, which manages Cascades East Transit, is working on a proposal to implement the next portion of its long-term master plan. COIC Executive Director Andrew Spreadborough says the overall goal is to meet a variety of community transit needs. "One of the highest priorities in our long-term plan is adding hours of operation, particularly on weekdays. Right now, the service ends at about 6:20 on weekdays, so we’re looking to extend that out further, as late at 8 pm on weekdays."

It's still early in the process and the budget is not yet secured, although Spreadborough says an expansion would partly be funded by available federal dollars. The Public Transit Advisory Committee meets later this month to discuss the issue in more detail. "We’re also looking at some concepts, in terms of adding routes and increasing the frequency of busses, to make it easier for riders to get on a bus. This is all conceptual at this time. We’re looking at a number of different scenarios and looking at costs, we don’t have our budget in place yet. But, understanding we have opportunities over time, we wanted to begin the public input process."
Ridership has remained fairly flat over the past couple of years, although Spreadborough believes if the program expanded, more would use the system. He says the Bend system is financially balanced and therefore could sustain an expansion, while other communities are still dependent on Dial-A-Ride. "We know at some point, we’ll be moving Redmond to a fixed-route system. We don’t have the funding in place; we don’t have a dedicated funding source for the Redmond system. We don’t have the resources in place yet. Plus, when we start looking at that down the road a bit, we’ll really want to do some outreach to make sure any expansions meet the needs of the community, so we’ve got some work to do there."
Spreadborough says any changes to the Bend system would be six to 12 months away. 


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