Bus service between Medford and Grants Pass will become a reality sometime about September, enabling a one-way, $2 trip south for Grants Pass residents that will end at the Front Street station and allow transfers to points around the Medford-Ashland area.
The change will make it easier for Grants Pass riders to reach Rogue Community College, the Southern Oregon Rehabilitation Center and Clinics, three hospitals here and shopping centers, said Scott Chancey, Josephine County transit program manager.
"It's a great idea. Lots of people need the service between Grants Pass and Medford, and it will connect the two transportation systems of Josephine and Jackson counties," said Chancey.
Buses will run five times a day — two in the morning, one at noon and two in the afternoon.
They will stop in Gold Hill and Rogue River if riders call in the morning and ask for it.
The new line was secured with a $500,000 grant from the federal Congestion Mitigation and Air Quality Fund, says Dan Moore, Rogue Valley Council of Governments staff liaison to the Middle Rogue Metropolitan Association.
The money pays for a three-year pilot program, he says. Funds from local municipalities and districts will be sought to pay for the service beyond that time.
The money won't go for buses; those will be sought in used condition from transit districts in the Portland, Salem and Eugene areas, and one is already pledged from Eugene, says Chancey.
The buses will be in well-maintained condition and resemble those used by the Rogue Valley Transportation District.
The line, with transfers, will extend more than 70 miles, from Cave Junction to Ashland. The fare from Cave Junction, one-way, will be $4. Transfers are available if done within 60 minutes, he adds.
In addition to creating cheap, accessible travel between the two main population centers of southwest Oregon, the new line will reduce use of private vehicles and improve air quality.
"It will change transportation here," says Moore. "There's been a lot of discussion over the years about a line between these two areas. It will cut vehicle trips and reduce auto emissions, especially for students who have to take classes that are offered only in Grants Pass or Medford, but not both — also those seeking the medical services available in Medford."
Chancey estimates the buses will have 100 boardings a day. In-town fares in Grants Pass cost $1 and the basic RVTD fare is $2.
John Darling is a freelance writer living in Ashland. Email him at email@example.com.