Scheduled routes have not been identified yet, but plans for the new service include adding two buses that will travel through those three communities with hourly stops.
The service will operate in conjunction with the existing dial-a-ride program offered to seniors and people with disabilities, Brian Cole, president of Orbis Group, said.
Cole, of Baker City, Ore., coordinated the planning effort and announced the starting date of the new service.
Snake River Transit is a partnership between public and non-profit organizations, including Malheur County, Payette County, the Malheur Council on Aging and Community Service and Treasure Valley Transit, Cole said. The service could be expanded as funds are available to potentially serve several cities in the two-county region, if the program is successful.
Bill Schweinler, employed by Treasure Valley Transit based in Nampa, is doing an early route identification study.
“He said he was trying to complete it by February,” Malheur Council on Aging and Community Service Interim Executive Director Katherine Nowicki said.
A draft of the proposed routes will be available for public review, Cole said.
rates will be set by the (transit) committee,” Nowicki said. “They
will try to keep their rates as low as possible.”
The Malheur Council on Aging and Community Service will be involved in the new program, as well as continuing the Dial-a-Ride agenda. Grant applications are being prepared for the purchase of two new buses, and the Malheur Council on Aging and Community Service will provide buses from its current fleet, Nowicki said.
Planning for the new public transportation service has been financially supported by the City of Ontario and the Association of Oregon Counties, with funding also provided by the Oregon Department of Transportation, Cole said. Additional funding was provided by the Idaho Transportation Department.
Although the initial service will focus on the area between Ontario and Payette, Cole said, future plans are to bring the service to other areas of Malheur and Payette counties and perhaps other areas.
Mel Whitmore, lead driver for the Malheur County Transportation Services, operated by the Malheur Council on Aging and Community Service, said there is interest in providing a service to Baker City for people there who need to get to Boise.
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Photo: Mel Whitmore, lead driver at Malheur County Transportation Services, is at the wheel of one of the buses as he explains a proposed bus route through Ontario’s streets. A new bus service, which will follow set routes and times, is scheduled to start July 1, serving Payette, Fruitland and Ontario.