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September 30, 2022

Taking a trip to Ontario and back — only using transit  

By Ian Clancy

Following my recent trip to the northwest Oregon coast on ODOT’s POINT Intercity Bus Service, I recently made another trip on its Eastern Route, again as a routine audit of the route’s contractor. This time, I started the trip by riding from Portland to Bend on the Central Oregon Breeze, followed by riding the POINT from Bend to Ontario, and then making the return trip on the same two buses. Since this was a four-day trip, it allowed for quite a bit more sightseeing!

After riding the MAX Blue Line from Hillsboro, I arrived at Portland’s Union Station to begin my trip to Bend on the Breeze, a small, charming bus with a neat and comfortable interior filled with other passengers ready to make their trip. I checked in with the driver, who had a professional appearance and demeanor and helped passengers load their luggage into the compartment in the back of the bus.

We began our trip through Portland to the airport, followed by Gresham, Sandy and Government Camp, then arrived in central Oregon soon after. Having resided in the Willamette Valley for most of my life, I noticed the high desert of Central Oregon is quite a contrast from the tall trees and green landscape I’m used to — and it’s a wonder to see!

That evening, we arrived at Bend’s Hawthorne Station, which serves as a hub for several transit services: Cascades East Transit buses, which provide local service in Bend and surrounding cities; Pacific Crest Bus Lines, which provides service from Bend to Eugene and several cities in between; Shuttle Oregon, which travels from Portland to Bend via Salem; and the People Mover, which operates buses to Monument and Prairie City.

I arrived at my hotel just in time to walk down to the Old Mill Bridge over the Deschutes River where I could watch the sunset and faintly hear a comedy show at the Hayden Homes Amphitheater in the distance. I went on a short walk afterwards and experienced some unusual weather: a thunderstorm during 90 degree temperatures!

Day 2 – Burns and beyond
The next afternoon, I headed back to Hawthorne Station to begin my trip on the POINT to Ontario. The skies were cloudy compared to my last trip on the Eastern Route in 2020, but there was still plenty of opportunity to witness eastern Oregon’s sprawling beauty passing by while performing my audit. We made a brief stop for a break at Reid’s Country Store in Burns, a local grocer that serves as the POINT’s bus stop while also selling POINT tickets.

We then continued down U.S. 20 to Ontario. Wi-Fi reception and cell phone service are both intermittent in this region and dropped out for a significant part of this portion of the trip. We stopped for a few minutes due to construction, as my colleagues in Maintenance have spent several months performing critical repairs to the highway.

Here we passed by many of the small towns and provinces for which the POINT has bus stops, including Juntura, Drewsey and Harper. While the POINT serves these areas, the bus rarely stops at any of them: passengers must purchase their tickets in advance of their trip and the POINT does not allow walk-on cash sales or “flag stops.” Despite seeing infrequent use, these stops nevertheless provide critical connections along U.S. 20 where there would otherwise be little-to-no other options for transportation, thus fulfilling the POINT’s mission statement.

We arrived in Ontario in the evening at the POINT’s bus stop outside the Malheur Council on Aging and Community Services building. This facility is shared by the non-profit’s bus service as well as Greyhound, which provides an important connection east to Boise, Idaho and beyond. I didn’t get a whole lot of time to explore Ontario, but I took a brief walking tour downtown before preparing for my return trip early the next morning.

Day 3 – Picture perfect
Because my return trip was on the same bus with the same driver as the previous day, not much was different with this trip, except for a couple more construction delays. There were still plenty of photo opportunities, though!

We arrived in Bend in the afternoon, which gave me some more time to explore the city, including my favorite brewery. This time I overheard The Chicks play in concert at the same amphitheater, which was another unexpected treat. As with the previous night, several others listened from the bridge and even on paddle boards on the Deschutes River. Having so much fun in Bend in such a short amount of time made me want to consider living there someday!

Back to Portland on a full bus
My final trip was another early morning trip back to Portland. The bus was almost completely filled this time, showcasing the high demand for travel between Portland and Bend as well as the Portland Airport and other cities in between. Once again, I walked a short distance from Union Station and rode the MAX Blue Line back to Hillsboro to conclude my trip.

Though this trip was much longer and more involved than my previous POINT trip, there was no shortage of sights to see and things to do on the other side of the Cascades mountain range. If you ever find yourself traveling between central and eastern Oregon (or further!), take it from me: the POINT is a great way to travel.

Check out photos from Clancy’s public transportation trip to eastern Oregon and earlier, to northwest Oregon.



September 2, 2022

In late August, we invited safety advocates, community members, elected officials and city and school staff to join us in marking five years of expanded Safe Routes to School funding. We met at Linwood/Sojourner Elementary in Milwaukie, where new crossings, medians, multiuse paths, curbs and more are helping youngsters get to and from school safely. More than 30 people showed up — some on bikes, some walking on the new paths — and it was, indeed, a celebration.

Director Strickler recognized the key players in the Milwaukie project and also thanked several individual attendees who were there five years ago to testify on behalf of HB 2017 — the legislation that expanded the funding for the Safe Routes program. Trey Niggermann, now in middle school, was a student at Linwood/Sojourner back in 2017 when he went in front of the legislature to tell them how important it is to fund these types of projects.

“I’m happy that I helped make it happen,” he told the crowd. 

Watch a video from the event — and watch for $90 million more in Safe Routes to School funding coming to communities all over Oregon in the next five years!



August 17, 2022

The U.S. Department of Transportation's Federal Transit Administration today announced $1.66 billion in grants to transit agencies, territories, and states across the country to invest in 150 bus fleets and facilities. Funded by the Bipartisan Infrastructure Law, more than 1,100 of those vehicles will use zero-emissions technology, which reduces air pollution and helps meet the goal of net-zero emissions by 2050. This year's funding alone will nearly double the number of no-emission transit buses on America's roadways. For the first time, five percent of low- and no-emission bus funding will be used to train transit workers on how to maintain and operate new clean bus technology. Six agencies in Oregon were awarded funds:

  • Trimet - $5,566,583 for transit center expansion
  • Umpqua Public Transportation Division - $4,632,050 for three electric buses, chargers, maintenance facility, wash station, and solar-powered covered parking lot
  • City of Corvallis - $2,658,068 for two electric buses and charging stations
  • Sandy Area Metro - $2,081,883 for two electric buses and charging equipment
  • Yamhill County Transit - $1,050,000 for eight buses for demand response service, ADA paratransit services, and local routes
  • Sunset Empire Transportation District - $612,000 for four buses to provide fixed route, paratransit, dial-a-ride and intercity service

FTA's Low or No Emission (Low-No) Grant Program makes funding available to help transit agencies buy or lease U.S.-built low- or no-emission vehicles, including related equipment or facilities. The Bipartisan Infrastructure Law provides $5.5 billion over five years for the Low-No Program – more than six times greater than the previous five years of funding. For Fiscal Year 2022, approximately $1.17 billion was available for grants under this program.

FTA's Grants for Buses and Bus Facilities Program supports transit agencies in buying and rehabilitating buses and vans and building bus maintenance facilities. The Bipartisan Infrastructure Law provides nearly $2 billion over five years for the program. For Fiscal Year 2022, approximately $550 million for grants was available under this program.

For a list of all projects please visit the FY22 FTA Bus and Low- and No-Emission Grant Awards page.



March 14, 2022

FTA today announced the award of approximately $409.3 million in funding to support projects under FTA’s Grants for Buses and Bus Facilities Program. Three agencies in Oregon were awarded funds through the program. Lane Transit District will receive $4,891,676 to purchase zero emission buses and charging infrastructure. Rogue Valley Transportation District will receive $12,552,523 to build a new bus maintenance facility. Through ODOT, the City of Cottage Grove will receive $244,800 to purchase new buses to replace aging ones for South Lane Wheels, the city's transit service provider.

The grants support modernizing and improving the most widespread form of transit in America and will help dozens of communities buy new-technology and battery electric and fuel-cell power to provide cleaner, more energy efficient transit service in communities across the country. Projects were prioritized that reduce or eliminate greenhouse gas emissions, promote cleaner air, and help support workforce development to help America’s transit workers succeed even as their jobs change along with technology.



June 25, 2021

FTA today announced $182 million in project selections through the Low- or No-Emission (Low-No) Grant program, which funds the deployment of zero-emission and low-emission transit buses and supporting equipment and facilities. A total of 49 projects in 46 states and territories will receive funding through the program. One agency in Oregon, Salem Area Mass Transit District, will receive $6,305,422 to purchase electric buses to replace aging diesel buses.

FTA’s Low-No Program supports transit agencies in purchasing or leasing low- or no-emission buses and other transit vehicles that use advanced technologies such as battery electric and fuel-cell power to provide cleaner, more energy efficient transit service in communities across the country. This year’s funding opportunity prioritized applications with an environmental justice component as well as those that support workforce development to help America’s transit workers succeed even as their jobs change along with technology.



November 17, 2020

The U.S. Department of Transportation’s Federal Transit Administration (FTA) today announced $7.7 million in Tribal Transit Program grant awards to 25 tribal governments for projects to improve public transportation on tribal lands.

"These federal grants will help American Indian and Alaskan Native tribal governments provide public transportation in rural areas, connecting tribal residents with jobs, healthcare and other essential services," said U.S. Transportation Secretary Elaine L. Chao.

The Tribal Transit Program makes funds available to federally recognized Indian tribes and Alaska Native villages, groups, or communities to support capital projects, operating costs, and planning activities for public transportation services on and around tribal lands. 

One tribal government in Oregon was awarded funds. The Confederated Tribes of Warm Springs will receive $350,000 in funding to purchase new transit vehicles to replace aging vehicles that have exceeded their useful life.



July 31, 2020

New Regional Transit Coordinator Assignments in Region 2

Effective July 15, 2020, the ODOT Public Transportation Division (PTD) is changing several areas of regional transit coordinator (RTC) responsibility. The change involves moving Lincoln County Transportation District and the Confederated Tribes of Siletz Indians to Arla Miller's area of responsibility (Region 2A) and moving Salem Area Mass Transit District, the City of Silverton and the City of Woodburn to Mark Bernard's area of responsibility (Region 2B).

This change will align the working relationships Arla and Mark have with Tribal governments, MPO areas and other transit providers in Region 2, and will provide local support with more efficiency. The realignment leverages RTC expertise and geographic location and will enhance PTD's collaboration and coordination with transit stakeholders.

Arla is located in Astoria and can be reached on 503-949-5415, Arla.miller@odot.state.or.us.

Mark is located in Salem and can be reached at 503-986-2836, Mark.Bernard@odot.state.or.us.



June 10, 2020

Public Transportation Division Reorganization Announcement

From Karyn Criswell, PTD Administrator

I'm pleased to share the new structural organization of the Oregon Department of Transportation Public Transportation Division (PTD) (formerly the Rail and Public Transit Division). This is part of ODOT's overall shift to organized staff by shared functions, rather than by mode or user group, to improve our internal knowledge transfer, strategically align our priorities, and increase efficiency. Read more at this link:  Shared Functions.

PTD's new organization helps us more fully integrate public transportation, pedestrian and bicycle travel, and passenger rail into the division and the department's work to address our climate goals, infuse equity principles and equitable access to transportation throughout our work, and support congestion relief strategies that include multimodal transportation options.

PTD falls within ODOT's Operations functional group, led by ODOT's Assistant Director for Operations, one of four new assistant directors who oversee the entirety of the department with the intent of improving multimodal and cross-divisional integration.

Our Division's Mission

PTD exercises statewide leadership and vision for public transportation, walking and biking, and passenger rail by promoting, developing, funding and managing multimodal statewide networks of transportation systems and facilities. These systems and facilities provide access to Oregon's residents and visitors, provide efficient movement of commerce, support healthy sustainable travel choices, improve safety, and promote Oregon's economy.

The New Structure

The new structure integrates our functions into four units. Read the more detailed organization chart at this link: PTD Organization Chart.

Public Transportation Division Simplified Organizational Chart

Policy and Strategic Investment Unit

  • Develops strategies, prioritizes investments, and advances work efforts to create a more modern and integrated statewide multimodal system which includes pedestrian and bike facilities, freight rail operations, and public transportation, including passenger rail.
  • Manages and develops program guidance and project selection criteria and maximizes the value of transportation investments locally, regionally, and statewide.
  • Encourages consideration  of multimodal options to meet our climate, equity, and congestion relief goals


Program Implementation Unit

  • Implements PTD policies, goals, strategies, and programs.
  • Implements investment strategies through regional transit coordinators, regional staff, and local agency partners.
  • Manages delivery of internal and external stakeholder technical assistance and trainings.

Rail Operations and Statewide Multimodal Network Unit

  • Manages contracted delivery of public transportation services, including passenger rail.
  • Facilitates local partnerships to fill gaps in the statewide public transportation network.
  • Coordinates with public transportation providers and local governments to better integrate all modes and communicate transportation options.
  • Manages data and related systems to improve understanding of the multimodal transportation network and connections across modes for the traveling public and system managers.

Program Services Unit

  • Manages federal, state, and grant recipient compliance, including reporting in the Oregon Public Transit Information System, the National Transit Database, and FTA TrAMS.
  • Develops and oversees compliance review program in coordination with site review contractors.
  • Creates guidance in collaboration with other PTD units to ensure compliance with federal and state regulations.
  • Calculates formula program allocations; determines and administers distributions to partner agencies.

The Leadership Team and Modal Points of Contact
Division leadership includes staff members that represent multimodal perspectives.

  • Karyn Criswell, Public Transportation Division Administrator
  • Marsha Hoskins, Policy and Implementation Manager (Public Transportation)
  • Susan Peithman, Policy and Strategic Investment Unit Lead (Pedestrian and Bicycle)
  • Jennifer Sellers, Interim Rail Operations and Statewide Multimodal Network Manager (Rail Operations and Freight Rail)
  • Rick Shankle, Program Services Manager
  • Maile Boals, Grant Services Manager Lead

Next Steps

As we work towards full implementation we will keep you updated, with a commitment to continue providing excellent service. During the transition, please continue to reach out to your regular contacts and let us know if you have any questions. Thank you for working with us to make Oregon a better place for all.

Resources

CARES Act Apportionment Information for Oregon, April 2020

Expanded Federal Assistance for Section 5311 Subrecipients Updated April 16, 2020

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