TranGO’s Methow Valley bus service ready to launch on July 1by admin on Jun 24, 2016 • 3:43 pm No Comments
Routes will connect Twisp, Winthrop, Okanogan, Pateros
By Ann McCreary
Bus service in the Methow Valley begins July 1, with nine trips daily between Twisp and Winthrop, and four daily trips between Twisp and Pateros and between Twisp and Okanogan.
TranGO (Transit for Greater Okanogan) will operate Monday through Saturday with designated stops along fixed routes, as well as “flag stops” in between.
“If you are between stops, you can flag the bus and the driver will stop as long as it’s a safe place,” said Kelly Scalf, TranGO general manager.
Drivers are training on their routes in the Methow Valley this week and next week, prior to the July 1 start date. Three buses will operate daily to serve the valley, and a fourth will be kept here as a backup, Scalf said.
The 20-seat buses are new and may not yet have the blue and green TranGO graphics on them when they begin service, but will have reader boards on the front and sides indicating their destinations, Scalf said.
Each bus has bike racks that can hold two bikes, which can be secured independently of each other.
Service to the Methow Valley will begin exactly a year after TranGO began operating in the Okanogan Valley.
“We started a year ago and we are excited that we have been able to move out into the rest of the county,” Scalf said. “It hasn’t been by mistake. It’s been a lot of hard work and intention.”
Designated bus stops in the upper valley between Twisp and Winthrop include Hank’s Harvest Foods, the intersection of Methow Street and Second Avenue, and Blue Star Coffee Roasters in Twisp; the Evergreen IGA, the intersection of Corral Street and Lufkin Lake, and the Red Barn in Winthrop.
Buses begin running hourly at 8 a.m. and service ends at 6 p.m. Monday through Saturday between Twisp and Winthrop.
Service from Twisp to Pateros begins at 8 a.m., with stops in Carlton and Methow, with the last bus arriving back at Hank’s at 4:45 p.m.
The Twisp-Okanogan Connector service also begins at 8 a.m. with a stop at Pleasant Valley eastbound, and at the Loup Loup ski area entrance and Pleasant Valley westbound, ending at Hank’s at 5:15 p.m.
Look for the bus
TranGO does not yet have bus shelters in place in the Methow Valley, so passengers will need to arrive at the designated stop and look for the bus, Scalf said.
Drivers will wear uniforms and photo identification cards. Each boarding is $1, and drivers will not provide change. Monthly unlimited ride passes are $30 for each service area, or “zone.” A $60 pass that includes unlimited use in three connected zones is also available.
The full schedule and fare information is available on the TranGO website, www.okanogantransit.com.
TranGO’s buses are all wheelchair-accessible. In addition, paratransit service, a wheelchair-accessible shared ride service for people whose disabilities prevent them from using the regular fixed route buses, is available. An application for the service is required, and information about applying is available on the website or by calling TranGO at (509) 557-6177.
TranGO began offering service last year with its Omak-Okanogan Shuttle. The service runs Monday through Saturday and carries 2,100 riders a month, considerably more than anticipated and steadily increasing, Scalf said.
“I would have been happy with half of that. I would have felt we were doing something positive for the community,” she said.
“Part of what we have found is expected – that people dependent on public transportation would use it … but we have also found that people who have a choice are using it,” she said.
The Twisp Town Council last week agreed to allow TranGO to park its four Methow Valley buses on town property on Marble Street when they are not in service. Scalf said the transportation authority is looking for a permanent site in Twisp to park the buses and establish an office where people can purchase passes.
The transit authority was formed in November 2014 when Okanogan County voters approved a sales tax increase to fund a public transportation authority. The transit authority adopted the name TranGO last year.
Transit officials conducted surveys and held public meetings in the Methow Valley over the past year to identify transportation needs and establish schedules.
TranGO coordinates service with Okanogan County Transportation and Nutrition (OCTN), which provides fixed routes, door-to-door service and senior meals.