Community Connection of Baker County’s Baker City Trolley will be retired soon, but a new bus will take its place running on the regular fixed route around town.
Joe Hayes, Community Connection’s county manager, said the dark-green trolley is 10 years old and becoming more expensive to operate.
The Trolley will still be used for parades and community events, such as Shop With A Hero, Hayes said.
The Trolley will continue to operate its regular schedule until the new bus arrives, probably in May or June.
He is also writing grant applications to acquire two more buses.
“Buses have a useful life span of 200,000 miles or seven years,” Hayes said.
Community Connection’s current fleet includes buses that are 17 and 15 years old.
Hayes said new buses cost between $115,000 and $130,000, depending on options.
Community Connection’s transportation options have continued as Baker City goes without a taxi service.
Baker City is asking people interested in starting a taxi service to call City Hall at 541-523-6541.
Hayes said one of the grants he is working on is for the Statewide Transportation Improvement Fund (STIF), a new tax-funded program that started May 1, 2019.
According to Oregon.gov, the Oregon transit tax is a state payroll tax equal to one-tenth of one percent. The transit tax is the sole revenue source for STIF.
“This is a brand new, this was for expanding services of transportation,” Hayes said. “It all had to be expansion, it can’t be to replace (existing vehicles).”
Hayes said the goal is to not only add buses to the fleet, but also to expand Community Connection’s transportation program to provide curb-to-curb service for residents who have mobility issues and can’t get to the current spots where the Trolley stops.
The new service could take riders to a doctor’s appointment, a local store, or “anywhere you want to go in the community.”
Hayes said Community Connection already takes patients to see physicians outside Baker County. People who are covered by Medicaid or the Oregon Health Plan, or who are veterans, can have the costs paid.
“It’s really a pretty good deal,” Hayes said. “I don’t think you can even drive to Boise round-trip for $50.”
Community Connection’s other services include:
• In Baker City, the trolley runs from 7 a.m. to 6 p.m. Monday to Friday and 10 a.m. to 4 p.m. Saturday.
• Baker to La Grande commuter service; call 541-523-6591 for information
•Dial-a-Ride from Haines/Keating areas on Tuesdays and Fridays, $2 one way. Call 541-523-7433
•Baker City to Huntington to Ontario shopping/appointment bus Thursdays, $5 round trip. Call 541-709-5777
• Sumpter to Baker City shopping/appointment bus Fridays, $5 round-trip. Call 541-894-7771
In addition to adding buses to its fleet, Community Connection hopes to build a bus shelter before June 2021, Hayes said.
Possible sites for the shelter are D Street at the Leo Adler Parkway, Saint Alphonsus Hospital, Oak and B streets, and Main Street and Court Avenue.
Community Connection is also working on a request for bids for adding 1,300 square feet to its office at 2810 Cedar St.
Community Connection has allocated $100,000 for the project, and received $50,000 from the STIF program as well as grants from private foundations.