YACHATS — A bus line connecting the cities of Yachats and Florence began operation this week, launching the line’s pilot program to gauge demand and affordability.
The planning for the new service was a joint effort by the cities of Yachats and Florence, as well as Lane Transit District and the Oregon Department of Transportation, which provided grant funding.
“The pilot program will be used to determine whether this service is highly desired and whether it is financially sustainable,” said Mark Bernard, Regional Transit Coordinator with ODOT, in a press release.
“We will look at ridership data collected by LTD to gauge the level of use and interest,” Bernard said. “If it looks like it is highly used, then we will all come back together – the two cities, ODOT and LTD and determine the next steps in providing this service along this segment of the Oregon coast.”
In day-to-day operations, LTD will be running the line while collecting data throughout the pilot program. The transit district also operates the Rhody Express, which services Florence, and the Diamond Express, which operates between the Oakridge and Eugene areas.
In its press release, announcing the opening of the line, LTD stated that running this line will “close the last gap of public transit service on the West Coast highway of the United States.”
The Florence Yachats Connector is scheduled to run four times daily until June 30, 2019, when the planning parties will evaluate the ridership data collected by LTD.
The grant provided by ODOT paid for the purchase of a new vehicle, specifically for this route: a 25-foot El Dorado Aerotech cutaway bus which seats up to 10 people with additional space for two wheelchairs. A temporary vehicle is currently being used while the new bus is being manufactured.
“The (permanent) vehicle is part of a nine-vehicle lot we are purchasing for our rural and paratransit fleets, and we have requested that the Florence/Yachats bus in particular be prioritized as the first vehicle to roll out of the factory,” wrote Yachats City Councilor Barbara Frye, in the city’s August newsletter. “I recently spoke with the manufacturer, and while there currently is not an ETA on completion we are making preparations to be ready for when it arrives.”
The line will run four times daily: leaving the Florence Grocery Outlet at 8 a.m., 11 a.m., 2 p.m. and 5:45 p.m.; and leaving the Log Church in Yachats at 9 a.m., 12 p.m., 3 p.m. and 6:45 p.m.
The line has one stop between its destinations: Carl G. Washburne State Park. Tickets are available through River Cities Taxi; $2.50 one-way, $5 for all-day service.