What will this Plan Do?
This plan will guide efforts to improve the transit experience and reduce greenhouse gases by providing a strategy for updating, operating, and funding transit in Wasco County for the next 20 years.
With increased state transit funding and more transit options from regional providers (like CAT) connecting into Wasco County, this plan sets a clear direction for the future of transit in Wasco County.
The project schedule is shown below. The project team is working on building an understanding of the existing system by collecting public input this summer through a survey that will be administered online and on the bus. The survey results will guide the project team’s priorities for current needs as well as provide the basis for recommending future changes to transit in Wasco County. In Spring 2022 the public will have another opportunity to provide input on the plan and its recommendations.
There will be multiple future opportunities for public comment on the transit plan, but feel free to send your thoughts any time by emailing Kate@mcedd.org.
This document identifies potential transportation needs based on projected population growth, demographics and population characteristics, and anticipated future development patterns. The memo suggests strategies to improve transit and support land-use patterns that enable and encourage transit use in communities throughout Wasco County.
This document describes goals for the future of transit service in Wasco County, and recommends criteria to evaluate different service ideas and investments for future investment. The framework helps us decide which ideas best match our goals for the future.
Some highlights from what we’ve learned so far:
- High proportions of transit-dependent populations live in rural areas; many of these rural areas do not have access to fixed-route transit and the rural nature of the area makes it difficult to efficiently serve with transit.
- The commute analysis shows that there is a relatively low number of commuters between incorporated cities, except between The Dalles – Hood River and The Dalles – Portland.
- A majority of deviated fixed-route and demand-response transit trips during the study period started and ended in The Dalles, with several extending beyond the formal service area to complete trips.
- The LINK’s connections to other regional transit services are gaining momentum through coordination with the Gorge TransLink Alliance. For example, the GOrge Pass program, which launched July 2021, allo
ws riders to use fixed routes across all four providers in the Gorge.
- Bus stops on the fixed routes in The Dalles are improving with amenities, sidewalk access, and more. Transit stops are not widely used by riders, in part due to The LINK operating as a Dial-a-Ride system for more than two decades and many riders unfamiliar with how to plan a trip using a fixed route. Establishing trip planning software for users and marketing the availability of stops would help improve efficiency of the LINK’s services.
- A majority of trips along The LINK’s services during the analysis period were 10 minutes or less in duration. Half of the trips were less than 5 miles long and 90% of trips were less than 10 miles long. This is due to most trips starting and ending in The Dalles, a generally small geographic area.
- Trip purpose shifted during the COVID-19 pandemic. A higher percentage of trips were coded as “personal/miscellaneous” in 2019 than in 2020 and 2021. The share of trips with the purpose of “work” increased between 2019 and 2021. Riders are currently using transit services for more essential trips rather than recreational or personal trips.
- Monthly ridership dropped by over 50% between February 2020 and April 2020 as COVID took hold. In late 2020 and early 2021, ridership has gradually begun to increase but has not returned to pre-pandemic levels.
- Transit services in Wasco County have high use by elderly individuals (over the age of 65).
- The LINK provides operating costs per hour, rides per hour, and rides per mile that are near the average of its peers.
- Seven out of the eleven active vehicles are beyond their expected useful life (EUL) timelines; all vehicles are in adequate or excellent condition. Five new vehicles were purchased in 2021 and will be used to replace older vehicles.
- Additional findings related to survey data and outreach are provided in the “Outreach Findings” section of this report.