Others in this photo include David Galati from ODOT and Ron Bline from the SETD Board.
Our project covers five counties (shaded in green): Columbia, Clatsop, Tillamook, Lincoln and Benton. The CONNECTOR system also includes connections through neighboring counties to Kelso/Longview, Portland and Albany.
Many rural transit agencies serve primarily elderly and disabled customers, and lower-income residents. All five of our agencies currently do a good job in those areas. This project is about taking our transit systems to the next level, focusing on visitors and mainstream commuters. Our goal is to change the way travel by transit is perceived by the general public and make the system easy to identify and use, so that it eventually becomes a popular option of choice. This project is the first small step.
The transit partners came together in 2009 when an unusual funding opportunity was identified. We jointly applied for an “Innovation Fund” grant through the US Department of Energy. We had applied for $5 million, and were awarded $3.5 million in August 2010. (This sounds like a lot, but keep in mind that we divided it five ways and spread it over three years.) Once we were awarded the grant, we got busy on an intergovermental agreement to formalize our alliance. In early 2011 we did an RFP and hired David Evans and Associates to help us with technical support. In 2012, we began adding service to cover weekends in all five counties, and also started improving connections between our counties. Our grant funds will expire in August 2013, but our partnership will go on. We are working now on joint project funding applications and other funding strategies.
These are the major tasks we are working on with the grant funds.
Instantly recognizable. Most people don’t know that the Greek goddess Nike was the winged goddess of victory and that the swoosh represents her “wing”. They just see the image and immediately think “Nike.” That’s the type of instant recognition that we hope to accomplish over time with our branding program.
The project team held workshops in each of the five counties in August 2011, to discuss opportunities for transit system improvement and economic development. Info from the workshops was used to inform all of our major tasks, including the branding component.
And our logo and tag line was born.
You will see it on our letterhead…
We have marketing literature available for tourists…if you would like some for your business, please let me know.
We’ll be using the Connector brand to celebrate transit as a community benefit, heighten public awareness, and make transit facilities more easily identifiable.
Our consultants created a zoomable mapping tool to see how well our routes line up with population and employment centers. For the most part we were all doing a pretty good job.
Then we started looking at connections between counties. At the beginning of the project, most connections between counties were happening in very rural areas, near the county line, away from communities with destinations and services that most people want to access.
By improving our inter-county connections, we’ve already had some good successes. Tillamook and Lincoln county buses used to drop passengers at the county line in Otis, Oregon. Often there were very long waits between buses, and there are not many services or attractions for riders once they deboard the bus in Otis. Few people were willing to take transit between Tillamook and Lincoln City because of the inconvenience. Now, however, the Tillamook bus goes all the way into Lincoln City. Lincoln County Transit helps to defray Tillamook’s additional costs for this. Tillamook has already seen ridership increase by 70% on this route.
There are still some things that are being worked on. Making things easier for the customer often means making things more difficult for the agencies involved. There are challenging cost and policy considerations still to overcome in some areas.
Choice Riders Based on income level and behavior of visitors to coastal counties, targeting choice riders should capture more transit users. Visitor Markets 2. Summer Visitors Up to 42% of all overnight marketable trips occur June through September. Key routes (US 101 and US 30) can be congested during this time, creating an extra incentive for visitors to take transit Visitor Markets 3. Biking and Car-Free Travel One million overnight trips in Oregon included biking as an activity in 2009. Portland Metropolitan and Willamette Valley Regions are nationally known as bike-friendly communities. Lesser-known outdoor and tourist opportunities, such as those in Columbia County, may be attractive to this sector of the visitor market. All five transit agencies have bike racks on buses! Visitor Markets 4. Green Tourists US. Travel Association report: 71% of traveling public say it is important that their visits not damage a destination’s environment. Nearly two thirds (61%) agreed their travel experience was better when the destination community had preserved its natural, historic, and cultural sites and attractions. Visitor Markets 5. Portland Area 54% of overnight trips to the Oregon coast come from Portland metro area. Transit agencies have improved connections to/from Portland, and its transportation hubs (Amtrak, Greyhound, PDX). Visitor Markets Out-of-State Visitors to Oregon Majority from neighboring states and these cities: Seattle-Tacoma San Francisco New York City Washington visitors to Oregon: 20 % go to Oregon Coast Region 14% go to the Willamette Valley Region 32% go to Portland Metropolitan Region. Visitor Markets 7. Trip Chaining Many visitors want to make trips to more than one region.
Where business revenues are linked to parking availability, transit can bring more people to your door.
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Pilant tctd presentation
Northwest Oregon Transit Alliance REGIONAL TRANSIT PROJECT PROJECT PURPOSETo reduce greenhouse gasses and fossil fueldependence through increased transit use by visitors and commuters.
Who is “The Alliance”? AGENCY REPRESENTED BY: Columbia County Rider Janet Wright, Transit Director Sunset Empire Transit District Jay Flint, Executive Director Tillamook County Transp. District Doug Pilant, General Manager Lincoln County Transit Cynda Bruce, Director Benton County Rural Transit Sharon Fipps, Director
PROJECT GOALS Improve transit connections between communities Brand and market transit service in all five counties as a single seamless service Improve inter-agency coordination Promote environmentally-conscious travel Develop transit as an asset for economic development
Route and Service Coordination Focus Areas• Population/employment clusters and other destinations served by existing routes within each county• Connections across county lines• Commuter and visitor markets• Fare policy
Service Within Each CountyHow well do existing routes in each county align with populationcenters , employment clusters and major visitor destinations?
Connections Across County LinesBEFORE:•Transfer pointsin remote areas.•Often very longwait times
Early Successes• Tillamook/Lincoln County – Was: Transfer at Otis – Now: TCTD goes into Lincoln City and agencies share cost of the extended run
Works in-progress• Continued improvement to inter-county connection points and transfer times.• Connections with for-profit intercity carriers.• Tribal partnerships for better casino employment and recreational access.
Commuting Between CountiesCommute Shed Analysis – How many people in each countytravel to another county for work?
Regional Fares for Commuters• Market analysis tells us that the need for a regional commuter pass within the five- county area is low.• Individual monthly pass programs should be continued instead.
Visitor Markets1. Choice Riders2. Summer Visitors3. Biking and Car Free Travel4. Green Tourists5. Portland Area6. Neighboring States and Key Cities (Seattle- Tacoma, San Franciso, New York City)7. Trip Chaining
Regional Fare for Visitors• Market analysis tells us that a regional visitor pass program could be successful!• Three-day and seven-day regional visitor passes have been implemented.• Each pass allows one round trip to/from the I-5 corridor, and unlimited travel in the coastal counties.
“North by Northwest Transportation Foundation”• New non-profit 501(c)(3) foundation• Separate from, but closely aligned with, the public transit partners• Foundation board: Representatives from business, higher-education and tourist/travel organizations.
Foundation’s Role• Fundraising from private, charitable resources• Work toward endowment funding• Work with transit agencies to promote transit programs