CC Rider, Columbia County’s transit service, is announcing changes to one of its bus runs – the Line 3 Flex, which travels from St. Helens to Scappoose. In addition to more than two dozen new stops in the St. Helens area, Line 3 will now stop in Columbia City, expanding service for residents.
Before the changes, Columbia City was served twice daily by CC Rider’s Line 5. Buses will now travel to Columbia City seven times per day and will go to four stops total. In addition to Line 5, which stops at A Street twice daily, the Line 3 Flex route will now stop at 2nd and I Streets (close to City Hall), at 2nd and E Streets, and at 6th and E Streets five times a day.
A complete re-routing of the Line 3 flex in St. Helens will nearly triple the locations that people can hop on the bus. Line 3 will now pick up riders at 27 additional stops, improving access to services such as the St. Helens Library, the Eisenschmidt Pool, McCormick Park and several businesses along Columbia Boulevard.
The “Flex” allows users to call CC Rider dispatchers and request that the bus leave the normal route to take them somewhere else. That service is limited to one deviation per trip up to a half a mile.
“We found that over time, dispatchers had been receiving the same requests to go to certain areas and businesses,” Transit Administrator Todd Wood said. “It simply made sense for us to add them to a permanent route.”
Wood also noted that another reason for the changes is that the current route stays very close to U.S. 30 and doesn’t pass enough businesses and residential areas for people to conveniently get on and off the bus.
“In extending the Line 3 Flex to more parts of our cities, we found we could significantly increase the ability for people to use CC Rider, minimize walking distances to stops, remove vehicles from unsafe locations like parking lots, and increase overall access to jobs and local businesses,” Commission Chairman Henry Heimuller said.
With the exception of some altered stops in Scappoose, Line 3 Flex changes are expected to take place by September 3. Signage will be installed at the new stops over the next few months.
“A bonus to providing better service is that we are improving running times and routing in such a way that there are no increase in costs,” Heimuller said.
CC Rider funding is limited. The transit service does not receive stable local funding support; local property owners do not directly pay for buses, drivers, maintenance, scheduling or administration. Nearly 60 percent of its budget comes from grants, which vary from year to year. Because CC Rider has no consistent local funding source, the county is planning to place a measure on the November 2019 ballot asking voters to form a service district, which will provide permanent funding for county transit.
The new schedule for the Line 3 Flex is available at www.nworegontransit.org