Did you know you could travel along Oregon’s northern coast without a car? Northwest Connector offers three ($25) or seven ($30) day passes that will get you a trip to and from the coast, plus unlimited travel between Yachats and Astoria. Bus drivers on any of the routes can hook you up with passes, or you can pay as you go if that’s more your thing.
Northwest Connector began in 2010 as an alliance of the five transit systems serving Benton, Lincoln, Columbia, Tillamook, and Clatsop counties. Since then, the Siletz and Grand Ronde tribes have also joined.
All buses are handicap accessible. They also have bike racks and occasionally extra bike room if the wheelchair area is not in use.
Lee Lazaro, Special & Rural Transportation Coordinator for Benton County told me Northwest Connector “started on shoestring budget,” put together by the five original counties. The transportation bill passed last month in Oregon could change this by creating consistent sources of funding for regional transit systems. But that wouldn’t happen until January 2019 at the earliest.
In the meantime, Northwest Connector has been able to make improvements through federal and state grants. A recent ODOT grant of $125,000 went towards updating their website making it mobile friendly with the help of Trillium Transit. Lee said that they plan on applying for another grant at next opportunity to develop their own online trip planner. For now, they rely on Google Transit.
In addition, if you like riding the train, Benton County just added the Corvallis to Amtrak Connector. It runs five round trips, Thursday through Monday, and on major holidays. There are no fares through Labor Day. After that it will be $5 one way and $3 for up to two children under 12 years of age accompanied by an adult.
By Andy Hahn