Despite an early end to the season due to the Eagle Creek Fire, the Oregon Department of Transportation’s Columbia Gorge Express bus service was a hit once again this past summer season.
Jake Warr from ODOT’s Rail & Public Transit Division manages the program. He got in touch with us to share an update on this year’s usage stats and a photo of the newly upgraded buses.
“The second season of ODOT’s Columbia Gorge Express pilot service further confirmed that public transit to the Gorge is in high demand,” Warr said. “In fact, before the Eagle Creek Fire forced an early end to the season, the service was on pace to beat last year’s ridership totals. A few tweaks from the 2016 season helped accommodate and support this ridership growth, including the use of larger buses and the option to pay fares with cash.”
Here are the stats based on ticket sales and rider survey:
➤ Gorge visitors took over 27,000 rides on the bus between Memorial Day weekend and Labor Day, equating to an average of 557 rides per day of service (a 10% increase over 2016).
➤ 99% said they would recommend the service to others.
➤ Over half of riders from Gateway Transit Center had no other transportation option to visit the Gorge.
➤ 65% of Gateway riders started their trip on TriMet, illustrating the importance of that connection to the regional transit network.
➤ 90% said the service, which cost $5 roundtrip from Gateway Transit Center, was an excellent value.
➤ 60% came from a state besides Oregon, 28% from the Portland Metro, and 8% from outside the U.S.
Warr says these “encouraging” results will help ODOT plan for the future. Next season they’re considering extending the range of the buses to more Gorge destinations, operating more days of the week (not just weekends), and maybe even during other seasons (fall colors perhaps?).
Warr also says ODOT wants the service to better accomodate bicycle riders and they are looking into using trailers to carry more bikes!
Stay tuned for a survey about the expanded bike service.
Never miss a story. Sign-up for the daily BP Headlines email.
BikePortland needs your support.