Hermiston residents will find it easier to get around town in 2017, thanks to a new free fixed-route bus service which will start operations Jan. 3.
The service, called the Hermiston Area Regional Transit (HART), is a partnership between the city of Hermiston and the Confederated Tribes of the Umatilla Indian Reservation’s KAYAK Public Transit. The free service will run nearly hourly Monday through Friday from 9 a.m. to 4 p.m. A map and timetable for the service is available on the city of Hermiston website.
The route makes several passes through the downtown area each hour, and was also designed to deliver riders to three major destinations: Grocery Stores; Medical Offices; and Downtown Hermiston. In order to facilitate ridership, the route was also designed so that every home in Hermiston is within at least a 5-7 minute walk from a bus stop.
The HART is the first fixed-route transportation system to operate only within Hermiston, and is the first fully intra-city bus route operated by KAYAK. The system is viewed by the city of Hermiston as a positive supplemental service to the existing Senior & Disabled Taxi Program. Despite adding more transportation services to the community, city staff expects to hear many complaints about timing and routing of the bus, and asks the community to be patient as the new system grows.
“Frankly, public transit is expensive, and this new service represents a major commitment of additional annual funding toward public transit by the City Council,” said Hermiston Assistant City Manager Mark Morgan. “So please understand that we view these operating hours as a starting point for a public transit system that we hope will grow in to a long-term sustainable service for the community well in to the future.”
Development of the new bus system required many volunteer hours by members of the Public Transit Advisory Committee (PTAC), which included members representing Taxi Program Riders, the Hermiston Chamber of Commerce, the Hermiston Police Department, the City Council, Good Shepherd Medical Center, and the Public at large. The PTAC will continue to meet quarterly to review system needs, and make recommendations to the City, and KAYAK. Riders can get answers to additional questions about the HART, or other KAYAK Transit Services, by contacting KAYAK at (541) 429-7519.