Statewide transport bill increasing bus rides and fixing roads in Josephine County

Grants Pass, Ore.- Oregon’s new transportation package could pay off big for local counties. In Josephine County specifically, it could mean improved bus service and road maintenance countywide.

Public Works Director Rob Brandes says the bill is, “A massive change in how we’re going to do business.”

The bill is going to mean big changes in Josephine County.

Oregon’s legislature passed it at the end of its session. The bill created $92 million in funding for all facets of transportation statewide. Funding for the bill comes thanks to increased fees and taxes. Some of those increased fees and taxes being taxes on fuel, vehicle registration fees, and a $15 surcharge on adult bikes costing over $200.

Josephine County Transit Programs Supervisor Scott Chancey describes the bill as, “A multi-modal bill for the entire state. So obviously there’s portions in there for road improvement, for bike improvement and for public transit.”

In Josephine County that translates to a boost in bus service. The increased funds means a higher frequency of bus stops. More rides, with stops at a quicker pace. Chancey plans to have the bus stops transition from being an hour apart to half hour apart, and further down the line twenty minutes apart.

This year, alone the county will get one million dollars for transit. Bus riders will notice the change almost immediately. Scott Chancey wants to speed up the frequency of rides as soon as he possibly can.

Once more runs are added, the county wants to start weekend bus services. But first, the county needs more buses. Chancey says the biggest issue is that the county needs three more vehicles. It’s planning to add three more buses. It already has money set aside for two. Money for the third will likely come from the new state funds.

In addition to adding buses the county plans on hiring four or five full time drivers for the new buses.  All of the changes will take about a year to put into place.

Meanwhile, Public Works is also getting money from the bill. It will be used for maintenance to improve driving conditions and update road infrastructure.

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