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Expanded intercity bus service connects Oregon communities
04/19/2012
Since 1994 the Oregon Department of Transportation’s Public Transit Division (PTD) has used federal public transit funding to contract for intercity bus service to fill gaps in longer distance intercity transit service that extends beyond the boundaries of any one local transit agency.
 
Starting in 2009, ODOT’s PTD began developing the Public Oregon Intercity Transit (POINT) network to connect people and communities.  POINT is a mixture of new service, expanded service and service re-branding that relies on public-private partnerships with private bus operators. POINT offers a high-quality intercity bus service, providing passengers free Wi-Fi and extended legroom. 

  In early 2009 PTD launched the first of the Oregon POINT contract services, the SouthWest POINT which connects Klamath Falls to Brookings via Medford and Grants Pass.  In 2010, this was followed by the NorthWest POINT, with service between Portland and Astoria and the HighDesert POINT with service between Redmond and Chemult, connecting to the Amtrak Coast Starlight.  In 2011, the Eastern POINT brought service between Ontario and Bend.
 
In late summer or early fall ODOT plans to launch the Cascades POINT service serving the Eugene to Portland corridor, with financial
assistance from ODOT’s Flexible Funds program, which will help subsidize the program’s capital costs. It will consist of re-branded Amtrak Thruway Bus service with vehicle enhancements and additional runs in the Portland to Eugene corridor. The Cascades POINT service will complement existing passenger rail service and connect the largest urban areas in the state, serving a corridor with the majority of the state’s population.   
 
“The POINT service has proven to be a popular transportation option for those traveling between Oregon’s communities,” said Michael Ward, ODOT’s Public Transit Division Administrator.  “The service provides convenient connections to other options, like passenger rail, and helps people who can’t drive or who want to leave their car behind get where they need to go.”
 
In October 2011, the POINT service carried nearly 3000 passengers, and ridership has grown rapidly.  October’s ridership on the SouthWest POINT was up 23 percent over the same month in 2009, for example, and the NorthWest POINT’s October 2011 ridership was up 24 percent in just one year.