Aug. 25, 2018 — After years of deliberations, planning and delays, the Florence-Yachats Connector bus will finally be up and running starting Tuesday, Sept. 4. The route begins in Florence with a pickup at Grocery Outlet, makes a stop at Carl G. Washburne Memorial State Park and ends up at the Little Log Church in Yachats.
“This is the last gap of the Oregon coast to be filled with public transportation,” said Michelle Haring, co-owner of River Cities Taxi and the Rhody Express. The company will be running the route in conjunction with Lane Transit District (LTD), which is funding and planning the project.
“We’re very proud and happy to be doing this,” Haring said. “We bought the company four years ago, and we’ve been working on it since the second we bought it. To get it finally started is amazing.”
The route is scheduled to take 50 minutes from city to city.
This isn’t the first time the route has been announced, with service originally planned to begin July 1 in 2017, but contract bids and route planning continued to delay the project.
Earlier this year, plans had been put in place to open the route with yet another July 1 start day, but the project was again delayed, this time due to difficulties procuring a bus for the route.
“They ordered a brand-new bus, and it’s getting built, but it wasn’t ready by July 1,” Haring said.
In fact, the official bus is still being worked on. Instead of facing another batch of delays, the company decided to use a temporary bus to ensure a September opening.
“We’ll be getting a permanent bus once it’s ready in a few months,” Haring said. “It’s a bigger deal than I ever thought it was.”
While there are currently three stops planned for the route, things could change by next year as this is only a pilot program.
“Since it’s a pilot program, we need good ridership to keep this going longer,” Haring said. “I know people want it, but if they don’t in high numbers the first year, it’s possible we’ll lose it in the first year. People need to use it if they want to keep it.”
But Haring is hopeful that the route will be a success, especially considering a recent rise in use of the Rhody Express.
“It’s gotten a lot busier,” Haring said. “We have way more riders than we did a year ago. It’s going really well.”
The Florence-Yachats Connector route will be timed with the Rhody Express, allowing riders to connect from the Yachats route to all points Florence.
The Yachats route is hoping to encourage ridership by keeping rates low, with a one-way ticket costing $2.50, and a round trip for $5.
Haring hopes that as interest builds for the route, so will suggestions to improve it. With periodic surveys, as well as the ability to comment on the company’s Facebook page, Haring encourages everyone to voice their opinions on how the route is run and where it will stop.
Suggestions, along with questions regarding the route, can also be called into the company at 541-997-8520.
The pickup/drop-off locations are as follows:
• Florence: Grocery Outlet Market located at 2066 Highway 101
• Carl G. Washburne State Park
• Yachats: Little Log Church at 3rd and Pontiac
• Florence to Yachats schedule:
• Grocery Outlet to Washburne: 8 a.m., 11 a.m., 2 p.m. and 5:45 p.m.
• Washburne to Yachats: 8:30 a.m., 11:30 a.m., 2:30 p.m. and 6:15 p.m.
• Yachats arrive: 8:50 a.m., 11:50 a.m. 2:50 p.m. and 6:35 p.m.
• Yachats to Florence schedule:
• Yachats to Washburne: 9 a.m., noon, 3 p.m. and 6:45 p.m.
• Washburne to Florence: 9:20 a.m., 12:20 p.m., 3:20 p.m. and 7:05 p.m.
• Florence arrive: 9:50 a.m., 12:50 p.m., 3:50 p.m. and 7:35 p.m.