New Legislation Provides Opportunities for Dedicated Transit Funding in Central Oregon

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Central Oregon Intergovernmental Council (COIC) announce that House Bill 2745B was signed into legislation by Governor Kate Brown recently. House Bill 2745, an innovative approach to funding transit in Central Oregon, was specifically designed to meet the needs of Central Oregon. Rep. John Huffman of The Dalles introduced the bill which the House passed 53 to 7 and the Senate passed 22 to 8 earlier this spring.

Cascades East Transit (CET) spans nearly 100 miles north to south and 50 miles east to west and provides transit service to rural and urban communities. CET, the largest transit provider in Oregon, has no dedicated, stable funding. Cascades East Transit was formed in 2008 as a program of COIC, a cooperative regional government, to operate the regional transit system. Prior to this legislation, COIC did not have the ability to pursue voter-approved funding because the organization was formed under state statute ORS 190. The legislation amends state statute ORS 190 and allows COIC to seek voter-approved funding when and if communities choose to pursue transit funding.

An advisory committee was formed in 2012 to research transit funding options and recommended this model. HB 2745B was supported by all Central Oregon cities and Chambers of Commerce.

“This provides the opportunity to fund transit reliably and efficiently while assuring local control and flexibility for each community,” said Karen Friend, COIC Executive Director. HB2745B ensures local control, so each community decides when they need transit and how much it’s willing to pay for it.

“While this is a big win for Central Oregon, there are no immediate changes to CET service as a result of the House bill,” said Friend. “We look forward to working with each of the Central Oregon communities to determine if their voters desire to expand transit service. Simply providing Central Oregon the option to fund transit at a level most appropriate for each community is a huge milestone for our regional transit service.”

“A robust transit service in Bend and across the region would help move people around efficiently and reliably. A sustainable funding source is crucial to accomplishing that. This bill, supported by all the cities in the region, would help us accommodate the transportation needs of this growing region,” said Bend City Manager Eric King. “COIC is a valuable partner in providing transit service for our community.”

“Jefferson County worked with COIC to pass House Bill 2745B because it was the ideal solution to support transit funding in communities like Madras, Culver, and Metolius,” said Jefferson County Commissioner Wayne Fording. “Cascades East Transit provides transportation services to many of our residents, and we are in full support of a transit system housed under one agency that maximizes efficiency and the best use of dollars.”

Central Oregon Intergovernmental Council was designated a Council of Governments in 1972 under ORS 190. COIC provides service to the counties of Crook, Deschutes, and Jefferson as well as to the cities of Bend, Culver, La Pine, Madras, Metolius, Prineville, Redmond, and Sisters. Cascades East Transit, operated by COIC, runs a fixed-route service in Bend, community connector shuttles, and general public Dial-A-Ride services in Redmond, La Pine, Prineville, Sisters, and Madras.

Follow CET on Twitter @RideCET and on Facebook at http://www.facebook.com cascadeseasttransitco

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