REDMOND, OR -- Deschutes County must decide how to spend the money it’ll receive over the next three years through the 0.1% payroll tax created in the 2017 state transportation package. The money must be used on local transit projects.
Redmond City Manager Keith Witcosky says $910,000 could be used to create a fixed-route transit system in Redmond. "Deschutes County has the opportunity to invest $7.6 million across the county for transit; it comes through a payroll tax and is administered through ODOT. And, we’ve had Councilor John Bullock and our Airport Manager Zach Bass on a county committee prioritizing transit." That committee is considering 35 projects. Witcosky hopes the two Redmond members of that committee will help the others understand why a fixed route system is important to address congestion in a city of 30,000 that’s growing by nearly a thousand people a year.
Cascades East Transit runs a "Community Connector" service in Redmond, with buses providing rides to other Central Oregon cities through the transit hub near Fred Meyer. The agency also offers Dial-A-Ride service. "If we get the funding that we’re asking for, this summer, then we will have two fixed-route systems," Witcosky tells KBND News, "We’ll have two buses on each one, and 30-minute headways." That means a bus-stop would see a bus every 30 minutes. "That’s critical because if you’re trying to have people move from an automobile to transit, there’s got to be reliability and certainty that if you stand on a corner at a bus stop, something’s going to come and it’s not going to take that long."
Witcosky acknowledges it’ll be tough to get Redmond residents to give up their cars, "It takes some early adopters, and a lot of times that’s word of mouth. So, if you’re taking transit all the time within Redmond, and you tell your friends how convenient it is and to start thinking about it, then they’ll start to do it and we’ll start to get more and more people. We don’t expect it to happen overnight, but it’s the right first step."