Regional Bus Service for Inter-Community Commuters

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Inter-community bus service is a valuable asset for Central Oregon’s commuters. With the price of fuel and cost to own and maintain a vehicle, using public transit to get to jobs is a must for many, and a great alternative for others. Thanks to improved transit services, more and more Central Oregonians can commute by bus throughout the tri-county area.

“Because people often live in one place and work in another, community connectors are in place to serve their transportation needs,” says Karen Friend with Central Oregon Intergovernmental Council (COIC) and Cascades East Transit (CET). It has been a year since CET and Bend Area Transit (BAT) merged under COIC management, and many improvements have been made during that time, including publication of a Regional Rider Guide, new website (www.cascadeseasttransit.com) and single phone number 541-385-8680 to seek information and make reservations.  

Workers can bus from one town in Central Oregon to another and then transfer to an intra-community bus to get to their place of employment, and at an affordable rate. A single day pass ($6.25) will get a transit rider anywhere within Central Oregon, and monthly passes are available that bring that cost down to $4.50 per work day ($100 monthly).

“Public transit is a very affordable mechanism for people to get to work,” says Friend. It is also a dependable means of getting to work, since the buses run every week day of the year. Riders just need to figure out the route that works best for them.

“Over the past year,” says Friend, “many of the more traveled community connector routes have evolved to fixed routes that do not require a reservation. Rides in Bend (excluding dial-a-ride) also do not require a reservation. Even if you are traveling a part of the system that requires a reservation, the process is painless. You only need to call in a reservation as you begin to ride, and when your schedule changes.”

Employers can make it easier for employees to get to work by bus. An employer-paid Group Pass Program is available through Cascades East Transit for employers with ten employees or more. The program works on an annual contract basis. Rates are based on a company’s number of employees and how many transit zones they travel through on their way to and from work. Employers pay a per-employee price, but the rate is figured to account for the fact that not every employee will use the passes. Organizations with fewer than ten employees may also pool with others to enter into a contract.

For many employees who pay a considerable part of their wages just to get to work, an employer-paid bus pass could make a positive impact on their monthly finances. “We have a lot of tools that we can use to help employers help their employees to lower transportation costs, improve their transportation options and keep more of the money they make,” says Friend.

“Every time someone chooses public transit over driving a single-occupant vehicle to work, our community and environment benefits,” says Jeff Monson, executive director of Commute Options. “It follows that employers who invest in the group bus pass program are helping not only their employees, but the community at large.”

To get more information on bus routes within Central Oregon, visit www.cascadeseasttransit.com. To find out more about the Group Pass Program, contact Karen Friend at kfriend@coic.org or telephone 541-548-9543.

Commute Options promotes choices that reduce the impacts of driving alone. For more information about Commute Options, contact Jeff Monson, Executive Director of Commute Options at 541-330-264 or  www.commuteoptions.org.

Annissa Anderson is a freelance writer and PR consultant in Bend.

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