Curry Public Transit is already making plans for grant money it hopes to receive through the Statewide Transportation Improvement Fund (STIF), which the county anticipates bringing $175,000 a year for transit service expansions.
According to Kathryn Bernhardt, general manager of Curry Public Transit, last year’s passage of House Bill 2017 “Keep Oregon Moving” created a new dedicated source of funding to expand transportation in rural communities throughout the state.
“We have never had the funds to expand service before,” Bernhardt said. “All our funding is grant-based and these grants are limited because of the small population of our county. We’re at the bottom of the scale for federal funding.”
The STIF takes 0.1 percent from employee paychecks — about $30 a year for those making $30,000 a year — with 90 percent of the funds dedicates to “qualified rural entities” based on their payroll tax basis. Each rural entity is guaranteed a minimum of $100,000, Bernhardt said. Any remaining balance will be used for capital improvement and special project grants.
Curry County’s proposed plans include extending the Coastal Express to include Saturday service, increasing the Brookings Dial-a-Ride services by one hour each day and adding Saturday service, and adding a new route one day a week between Gold Beach and Brookings to intercept other systems going to Medford and Arcata. Some money would be used for administrative costs, marketing, increasing the new-hire rate of pay and adding at least one dispatch/driver position.
“We have managed to provide an excellent public transportation service with a fixed route five days a week and demand services in two towns by really watching our budget and costs,” Bernhardt said. “We try hard to make it affordable — we haven’t raised fares in 10 years. To be able to provide more services to our communities without raising fares is very exciting.”
“After spending much time with the ...transit board in developing this plan for funds that could be coming to the county, I fully endorse the plan,” said Curry County Commissioner Sue Gold, who also sits on the transit advisory committee. “Hopefully more residents will take advantage of these very affordable transportation services that are available.”
Curry Public Transit has a fleet of 12 buses and vans, all of which are ADA accessible. Services include the Coastal Express, which runs Monday to Friday three times a day between Smith River and North Bend, meeting the Redwood Coast Transit in Smith River to Crescent City and Arcata. Another system links riders up in Smith River on Pacific Crest Bus Lines to North Bend — with stops at every town in between — before heading to Eugene. On request, the driver will go to the North Bend Airport.
Fares are $4 per city-to-city segment.
The system also offers Dial-A-Ride services in Brookings five days a week and in Gold Beach four days a week, with one-way rides set at $4 apiece. Students and those over 60 or with disabilities ride for half price. Discounted passes are also available.
Active military, as well as veterans going to a physician’s appointment at a veteran clinic, ride for free.
For schedules or more information, call 541-412-8806 or visit www.currypublictransit.org.