The Wahkiakum County Eagle - Established as The Skamokawa Eagle in 1891

County bus system adding new routes

 

August 24, 2017



Wahkiakum County Health and Human Services secured a new grant that will allow them to expand local bus service, beginning in mid-September or early October.

For the first time, Wahkiakum on the Move, which already provides bus service to Naselle and Longview during the week, will begin offering two round trips to Longview every Saturday. The route in Longview will be the same as it is during the week.

Five days a week, Monday through Friday, they will begin running two round trips to Naselle and four consistent round trips to Longview.

“It wasn’t the same every day,” Chris Holmes said about the Naselle route, “the schedule was confusing, which probably decreased ridership. Some people used it consistently, but there weren’t huge numbers.”

They are hoping to change that with a new consistent schedule.

The shift in the daily schedule to Longview during the week decreases intervals between trips, and will keep things moving faster, according to Holmes, who cited Lower Columbia College students as potential beneficiaries.

“They can go in early,” he said, “and not have to wait as many hours for a return trip.”

Finally, two buses will run a continuous loop in the county, from Skamokawa, to the HHS campus in the Elochoman Valley, to Cathlamet, Puget Island, back to Cathlamet and on to Rosedale, and then back to Skamokawa.

Holmes estimates that each loop will take an hour and 15 minutes, and will allow residents to travel into downtown Cathlamet to go to the store or meet friends for coffee and catch a later bus back home.

Residents currently ride all the way into Longview to do the same thing, so the change will be a welcome one for some.

Wahkiakum on the Move’s four buses will soon have a new look. They are planning a number of bus shelters around the county, as well as new signage. All the buses are equipped with bike racks and they are considering adding bike locking stations to the shelters, or stretching equipment for walkers.

It’s all about encouraging people to be healthy.

“We’re excited,” Holmes said, “People seem to be enthused about the local routes.”

They are currently looking for two more drivers to join their team.

“You don’t have to have a CDL,” Holmes said. “We’ll train. We have a good working environment, and drivers will start above the minimum wage.”

The four year Regional Mobility Grant was made possible by the Washington State Department of Transportation.

“WSDOT’s idea behind this expansion project was to improve air quality and lessen miles on the road,” Holmes said, “so there are decreased maintenance costs and accidents.”

The new schedule will be available on the Wahkiakum County website or at healthywahkiakum.com.

 

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