In an effort to provide transportation access to education and other vital services, The Partnership to End Poverty announced Tuesday it has awarded the Central Oregon Intergovernmental Council and Cascades East Transit a $25,000 grant to establish a fixed-route bus service in Redmond.
The grant provides an important link between the current transit hub at the Redmond Library to the east side of the city and to the COCC campus and Redmond Airport.
Students, employees and low-income residents needing to access the services in that area are forced to call Dial-A-Ride 24 hours in advance, or find other modes of transportation from the library.
“There is a hub of activity including COCC’s Redmond Campus, the Department of Human Services, the Employment Department, and NeighborImpact and out to the airport area. These important services are right next to the city’s main employment base, so this bus route is a great business model,” said Jason Carr, Executive Director of The Partnership.
When bus routes are changed from Dial-A-Ride to a fixed route, CET says ridership quadruples and then grows at a steady rate of 5-15 percent per year. It’s projected this new fixed route in Redmond will have at least 120 riders within the first few months of operation.
"This will be the first local fixed-route service in Central Oregon outside of Bend, and is an exciting new chapter in Redmond transit," explains Scott Aycock, transportation planner for COIC.
CET says a majority of riders use the bus system for employment, education, and accessing social services.
Officials say the new route fits well with Redmond’s draft Transit Master Plan, and also create a direct connection between COCC’s campuses in Bend and Redmond. Ridership within and to Redmond has grown considerably since 2009, and without this service some residents have no other alternatives.
“The Partnership’s mission is focused on creating community infrastructure that generates opportunities for low-income populations to access employment, education, and basic services. A crucial link in gaining self-sufficiency is the ability to get from point A to point B,” explained Carr.
This project is a collaborative effort between The Partnership, Central Oregon Community College and Cascades East Transit.
The net cost of operating the new route through June of 2014 is about $40,000. The Partnership’s funding will allow CET to build a stable funding model to keep the route in place long-term. The new route is expected to begin this month.