Lane Transit District (LTD) officials are unable at this time to estimate precisely when the proposed and approved bus route between Florence and Yachats will begin service.
Originally scheduled to begin transporting riders last summer, the new start date for the coastal run is still unclear, but funding has been obtained for the first year of the project.
LTD Public Information Officer Therese Lang said she thinks the route will be popular once it begins along the scenic corridor of Highway 101.
“LTD is eager to begin our pilot project for service between the Florence and Yachats communities, and knows there is also significant interest in getting the service started as soon as possible.” she said.
The delay is due, in large part, to the process involved in the purchase of the vehicle that will be used on the route.
“The procurement process is indeed the reason for the delay, but it’s not just for the vendor/provider of the service. It is also because of the purchase of the vehicle,” Lang said. “The procurement process in government is very deliberate, which makes it lengthy. This is because we have to comply with FTA (Federal Transit Administration) standards and regulations, as well as be good stewards of public funds.”
To a lesser degree, LTD’s delay is also due to the selection process for the “vendor,” or company, that will be awarded the contract to operate and manage the as yet unnamed Florence to Yachats route.
“Because we’ve had such a great response from prospective service providers, we need to be fair and equitable in choosing who will be delivering service during the pilot project,” Lang said. “To do so requires us to undergo a procurement process that lengthens our overall timeline for starting the service, but we still plan to hold the pilot project for the full 12 months. It’s the right thing to do to ensure that the selected vendor is the best fit for the service and for the community they will be serving.”
Fortunately, the funding for the pilot program, $290,110, has been secured as part of a larger block grant. This money will be available to purchase the vehicle as soon as it has been selected and approved by LTD management.
Lang and other LTD officials are eager to begin transit service between Lane and Lincoln counties and feel the delays, while regrettable, are all part of initiating a new service line.
“We can’t wait to share more details as they are made available. We plan to provide broad outreach in anticipation of the date we begin service,” Lang said.
For more information about LTD and its services, visit LTD.org.