Hermiston’s free public bus system changed its route this week.
The system, known as HART, will now make six circuits through town each day instead of four, and the route has been rearranged with the goal of riders spending less time on the bus during a round trip.
During a Public Transit Advisory Committee meeting Sept. 25, assistant city manager Mark Morgan said ridership has not increased as was expected, and Kayak Public Transit and the city have received feedback that the system isn’t well suited for round-trip travel. The new route designed by Kayak reduces the number of stops the bus makes and creates a system that rotates directions each trip instead of making a continuous loop in one direction around town. It also runs from 8 a.m. to 3:30 p.m. instead of 9 a.m. to 4 p.m. Starting Monday, the number of stops went from 30 to 20, eliminating several stops with low ridership, including Riverfront Park, the Aspens, Sunland Avenue and Moore Avenue. The trade-off is that the bus will now run six loops through town during the day, and loops will be under an hour instead of the previous hour and 15 minutes. Fewer riders will have their ride interrupted by the bus driver stopping for their regularly scheduled breaks as well.
The bus will also change directions during the day, providing longer and shorter options for riders to choose from. One rider might stop by City Hall to pay their bill at 8:48 a.m. and get back on the bus headed back toward their home at 9:01 a.m., while another rider may get off at the City Hall stop to use the library across the street at 11:03 a.m. and then take the next ride home at 12:24 p.m.
“It’s definitely an improvement,” driver Ron Myers told the transit committee. “It may not be perfect, but it’s better than it has been.”
The new route can be found on the city of Hermiston’s website, and the schedule was updated on Kayak Public Transit’s website at http://ctuir.org/tribal-services/planning/kayak-public-transit as of Monday.
“Hopefully people will hear about it and give us another try, if they already gave us a try,” Morgan said.
He said the city also purchased 12 Plexiglas bus shelters from a surplus auction for $1,500 and will look at which stops along the route could accommodate one.
Contact Jade McDowell at email@example.com or 541-564-4536.