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Expanded Mt. Hood Express routes prove their worth posted on 10/01/2019

Two additional runs for the Mt. Hood Express bus service have seen good results since they started in April. Muna Rustam, Transit Program Administrator for the City of Sandy, noted that the two runs totaled 278 passenger rides in April, followed by 294 in May and 400 in June.

“We expected that there would be this need,” Rustam said. “A lot of workers heading up to Timberline needed the midday service.”

That midday service leaves Sandy’s Operation Center at 11:15 a.m., reaching Timberline Lodge at 12:30 p.m. and then heading back. The other additional run, part of the Villages Shuttle route, leaves the Operations Center at 6:45 p.m. and includes a stop at Sandy High School before reaching its terminus in Rhododendron at 7:25 p.m. and then returning.

The additions were made possible by a new state employee tax that was passed in 2017, which dedicated the money to enhance current service or start new service. The Mt. Hood Express conducted a survey to learn what times would be the highest priorities for ridership.

Rustam noted that adding the stop at the high school is also a benefit to the riders.

“That (Villages Shuttle) run makes an extra stop at Sandy High School, so if there are events students want to get to or get home from, they can utilize that,” she said. “So many people needed to get into town and get back in the evening. We definitely knew it would be utilized.”

Rustam added that the tax collected goes into the community where it was drawn from to help fund things on a local level. She also noted that a transit master plan that will encompass all of Clackamas County is in the works, with the goal of promoting connections between cities, possibly putting a regional hub on the mountain to make other connections, such as to the Columbia River Gorge and Hood River, while the Mt. Hood Express is expected to receive two new busses in the near future.

“The mountain route is pretty rough on the buses,” Rustam said. “They have a shorter lifespan than most busses would.”

By Garth Guibord/MT

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