(Photo above: CET Bus Riders | Photo courtesy of Cascades East Transit)
Exciting things are happening to expand bus services in central Oregon communities. Oregon House Bill 2017, “Keep Oregon Moving,” passed in July 2017 and regions around the state are gearing up to expand and improve public transportation services to serve residents and visitors. Here in central Oregon, our regional and city bus provider, Cascades East Transit (CET), is actively planning for the future.
CET provides bus services, including intra-city, community connector and demand response services, for communities in Deschutes, Crook, Jefferson Counties and the Confederated Tribes of Warm Springs. In 2017, CET applied for and received a Transportation Growth Management grant from Oregon Department of Transportation to assist in updating the master transit plan for Central Oregon.
Derek Hofbauer, CET’s outreach and engagement administrator says, “This planning process will involve a lot of community input regarding future investments in our regional transit services. Through the planning process, CET will determine areas that are most in need of transit. They also will look at ways to assist residents, particularly low-income households, with reliable public transportation for getting to work and other important services such as medical care.”
CET will be seeking input from residents—you, your family, your neighbors, your coworkers—to help determine what our communities need for public transit services. Your feedback will help inform a plan that addresses the transportation needs and opportunities for all people in our communities. While receiving and compiling community input, CET will form a regional advisory committee to recommend plans and projects to improve and expand services using the Statewide Transportation Improvement Funds as directed by HB2017.
While CET is planning big for the future, this summer will include new transit amenities. New this year is an electronic fare system, which will roll out sometime this summer. Riders will have the option of using a pre-paid “touchpass” card or a smartphone application that can each be used as needed for bus fares. It will be quicker for loading passengers on the bus and you won’t need to dig around for change for your fare. CET will also likely be able to offer discounted fares for low-income households through this electronic fare system.
And more great news for summer time. The free Ride Bend shuttle will be available again this season and will be a loop connecting Bend’s west side, downtown and the Old Mill District. “Last year was successful and CET wants to continue to attract ridership from visitors and locals alike. We’re currently working with partners to iron out the details,” says Hofbauer.
Are you interested in learning more about upcoming improvements for our local and regional bus services? Are you thinking about riding the bus, but not sure how to get started? Get involved. Sign up for the Commute Options newsletter at CommuteOptions.org to stay updated or visit the Cascades East Transit website at CascadesEastTransit.com.
Commute Options promotes choices that reduce the impacts of driving alone. For more information, contact Executive Director Jeff Monson at 541-330-2647 or visit commuteoptions.org
Katy Bryce is a freelance writer in Bend. katybryce.com