Cascades East Transit announced a $3.4 million partnership to fund improvements to Bend's bus system Friday in a press conference including elected officials, City staff, and local business and education leaders.
The three-year partnership will facilitate the first meaningful expansion of the chronically underfunded transit system, which has not added hours or routes in the past decade despite a 15 percent increase in Bend's population.
"CET is the largest transit system in Oregon without a dedicated funding source," says Andrew Spreadborough, executive director of the Central Oregon Intergovernmental Council, which has operated CET since 2006.
Partners say they hope the collaboration will sustain needed improvements while the COIC continues to explore long-term funding solutions. Spreadborough says that investing in public transit is smart because it reduces road congestion, allows denser development, offers mobility options for residents who can't or don't drive, reduces car reliance for students, and attracts younger workers.
"We know that not everyone will use transit," Spreadborough says. "But everyone benefits."
Among the proposed improvements: Extending operating hours on Bend fixed routes to 8 pm, adding three new routes, and increasing bus frequency during peak times from every 40 minutes to 30 minutes.
Proposed route additions/changes include: Route 7, a direct route from Hawthorne Station to the eastside medical district; Route 12, a direct route between OSU-Cascades and COCC; Route 10, running west from Hawthorne station and downtown Bend to the Colorado/Simpson area and the proposed OSU-Cascades Campus; extending hours and days for Route 11, which serves the Galveston area and COCC.
The partnership, co-chaired by former Bend Broadband CEO Amy Tykeson and Deschutes County Commissioner Tammy Baney, includes City of Bend, St. Charles Health System, OSU-Cascades, Central Oregon Community College, Deschutes County, Bend Chamber of Commerce, the Bend Metropolitan Planning Organization, and Bend Park and Recreation District.
In other transportation news, Bend 2030 has launched its transportation survey, which invites the public to weigh in on issues including a proposed gas tax and other funding options, bike and pedestrian safety, and attitudes about public transportation. Find the survey online at bend2030.org.