BEND, OR -- Bend’s public bus system is growing. City Councilors have approved a three-year boost in funding for the Central Oregon Intergovernmental Council to add bus routes and provide service later in the evening. COIC Executive Director Andrew Spreadborough says the changes could come by the end of September. "We also are moving the headways and cycle times to a 30- and 60-minute schedule. Right now, we’re on a 40-minute headway and cycle times vary. Headway is the frequency that a bus shows up at a bus stop and cycle time is how long it takes to ride through a route. The idea, on an urban system, you want to be around 30 or 15 minutes." He told the City Council, "It will be a more intuitive system. If you have a bus stop, you’ll know a bus comes every 30-minutes, generally, on the 30-minute mark. And, there is more frequency built into the system." Busses will also run later in the day, until 8 p.m. instead of the current 6 p.m.
COIC worked with OSU Cascades and St. Charles to develop a master plan designed to help alleviate congestion related to the two big Bend employers and to develop a bus system that is more user friendly. "The transit master plan really calls out improvements over time: Additional routes within the city, increased frequency and later service; those were the three highest priorities that were included in the transit plan. And, the plan was developed by public involvement, technical analysis, and other input. It was really recognition that an improvement in one part of town wasn’t sufficient."
The City Council voted last week to spend $300,000 a year for the next three years on the bus expansion, in addition to the $1 million it already gives Cascades East Transit. Expanded routes could begin as soon as September 21.