Photo by Derek Wiley
THE LINK, which offers dial-a-ride throughout The Dalles as well as several other services, is nearing completion on its new transit center, located at 802 Chenowith Loop Road behind Home Depot.
The new $3.2 million, 3,700-square-foot Wasco County Transit Center, located at 802 Chenowith Loop Road behind Home Depot in The Dalles, should be open by mid-May.
The old transit center, operated by Mid-Columbia Council of Governments, was located at 201 Federal Street.
“We outgrew the facility and then we were parking our buses in the street and that was becoming an issue, where they were totally unprotected and taking up a lot of the parking down there,” Executive Transportation Program Director Dan Schwanz said.
“We vacated that but left it as a stop. Once we open the transit center, we’ll probably still leave that stop but we’ll probably add a stop at the transit site because we’ll have a lot of parking there, if people want to ride to Portland, they can leave their car there all day and not worry about it.”
Currently, transportation staff, which includes 21 employees, is housed at the MCCOG building at 1113 Kelly Ave. and the buses are parked behind the state Department of Motor Vehicles on Bret Clodfelter Way.
The new facility will allow the buses to be parked on site.
Through Wasco County, MCCOG is also applying for a $467,000 Special Transportation Funds Grant to add bus shelters to its center.
MCCOG’s transportation network, The LINK, has eight buses—two 16 passenger and six 12 passenger, each with room for two wheelchairs.
Operating Monday through Friday from 8 a.m. to 5 p.m., The Link offers dial-a-ride, door-to-door service within the City of The Dalles and select areas in Wasco County. A one-way ticket is $1.50 and a book of 10 tickets is available for $15.
To reserve a ride, call The LINK office at 541-296-7595.
“We will give you a pick up window,” Transportation Operations Director Brent Olson said. “The more notice you give us the better. We’ll pick you up anywhere in The Dalles you tell us to. We’ll go right to your house and pick you up.”
The LINK also goes out to Dufur and occasionally Mosier. Through a partnership with the Tygh School Community Center, there are also buses that for a donation will drive people to The Dalles from Maupin, Tygh Valley and Wamic.
Dial-a-ride averages around 100 people a day. Olson said most use the service for medical appointments or shopping.
On Monday and Wednesday from 10 a.m. to 2 p.m., The LINK offers Shop ‘Til You Drop, where buses make stops at Bi-Mart, K-Mart, Grocery Outlet, St. Vincent Thrift Store, Safeway and Fred Meyer. Tickets are $3 for unlimited stops.
“You give us a call and we’ll pick you up from your house and take you to all the stores around town,” Olson said. “The drivers will help with groceries. We’ll take them to the door. That’s a really good deal. A lot of people utilize that service.”
On Tuesday and Thursday, The LINK can also be used to get to Portland. A bus leaves from Federal Street at 7:30 a.m., stops in Hood River to transfer to a CAT bus and then arrives in Portland around 9:15. After stops at the Gateway Transit Center, which is only a five-minute MAX ride to the airport, the Portland Art Museum, Oregon Health Science University and Clackamas Town Center, the bus leaves Portland at 3:30 p.m. and arrives back in The Dalles around 5:10.
Fares are $8 each way. Each passenger is allowed two free bags. Each extra bag is $2. There are no reservations. People are encouraged to be at The Dalles stop at 7:15 to make sure they don’t miss the bus.
“That’s a service that took some time to get going as far as getting people to ride it but ridership is pretty decent these days,” Schwanz said.
The transportation network is paid for by the state Special Transportation Fund. The funds are allocated to Wasco County, which then grants those funds to MCCOG.
“Our goal with this is to break even,” Schwanz said. “The idea is to get as much service to the community as we can.”