Central Oregon private-public mobility agenda

Central Oregon Mobility Consortium, under the Central Oregon Intergovermental Council, is on the verge of creating an innovative regional transportation plan for Central Oregon counties. The region’s continuing phenomenal growth has created an unprecedented demand for alternative transportation choices that are customer friendly but not totally reliant on the existing public transit model of fixed routes.

The traditional bus service doesn’t effectively serve the smaller communities in the region because of their low population densities and long distances between each other. The Consortium’s plan, therefore, is to pool together the region’s public and private transportation resources-including municipal buses, school buses, shuttles, vans and even taxi cabs-and match the modes of transportation with the customers’ need. A private, for-profit company will oversee the logistics of the regional operations.

Critical to this approach of providing flexible services and allowing customers to choose the type of service that best suits them in terms of price, convenience and time is the development and operation of a real-time dispatch center. It may take about three years to fully implement this model. If successful, this innovation will be the first of its kind in this country to mobilize a private-public partnership to better meet Oregonians’ transportation needs.

Sreya Sarkar is an anaylst at Cascade Policy Institute, a Portland, Oregon-based think tank.

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