It's suddenly a lot easier to get from here to there without a car in Klickitat County, thanks to expanded service now being offered by the Mt. Adams Transportation Service.
The transit company has added two new buses, and set up a new route schedule designed with a particular focus on giving people without cars a way to get to and from work.
"A lot of things will become possible now," said Roger Gadway, director of Mt. Adams Transportation. "It's open to everybody and is designed to meet the needs of people to get transportation to employment. That's why the early morning and late evening hours."
The new buses were leased from Community Transit of Everett. "Everett downsized after Initiative 695 passed and took money away from transit districts," Gadway explained, referring to the recent ballot measure that slashed vehicle license tab fees.
The buses, built in 1996, are used, but are in good shape. They seat 20, with room for two wheelchairs as well. Two of the buses are in service at any given time, with another bus available as a backup.
The new services offer connections that can take a passenger from White Salmon all the way to Goldendale or The Dalles. Currently, one bus leaves White Salmon while another leaves Goldendale at approximately the same time. The buses meet in Dallesport, allowing passengers from the Bingen-White Salmon area the opportunity to transfer to get to Goldendale or The Dalles. Service to Hood River is also available.
The buses run four times daily.
A $1 fare will get passengers anywhere along the route between Hood River and Dallesport. It would cost another $1 to continue to Goldendale or The Dalles.
There are a number of designated pickup points, and riders can get off wherever they care to along the route the bus follows.
The new service was paid for by a State Rural Mobility Grant and federal Rural Intercity Grant. Funding expires at the end of June, but Mt. Adams Transportation has applied to renew the funding.
"We expect the application to go through, but you can never be sure," Gadway said.
Gadway pointed out that WDOT designated the State Route 14 corridor and up to Goldendale as an "under-served route," thereby making it available for the grants.
To handle the enhanced passenger services, the agency hired two additional full-time drivers and six part-time drivers. The new employees are evenly divided between bases in White Salmon and Goldendale.
"We expect a lot of new ridership. We're real happy with the new service and with the response in the community. It's been very positive," Gadway added.
For schedules or other information, call Mt. Adams Transportation Service at 493-4662 or 1-800-493-7605.