Hub would be at Forest Grove Senior & Community Center

Aby: COURTESY PHOTO: NELSON/NYGAARD CONSULTING ASSOCIATES - A transit consultants proposed route (the solid green lines) for Forest Groves new local service  includes possible deviations (the dotted green lines) to places such as Viasystems, based on demand. The green dots along the route represent proposed bus stops. The blue lines represent TriMets 57 bus route.ll aboard! Next stop — Thatcher Park, Viasystems, Forest Grove High School, Forest Gale Heights.

By September, these could be some of the 20 regular stops on a new, free, local transit route.

Tom Brennan of Nelson/Nygaard Consulting Associates, which was hired by the City of Forest Grove to study the possibility of an in-city "bus" route, presented his final recommendations at Monday's city council meeting.

Brennan's study indicated a "deviated fixed route" would fit the city best. It would have set stops, such as the ones mentioned above, but could also take personal requests to veer off-route and collect or drop off people within a quarter- to a half-mile of the route. Fernhill Wetlands could be such a deviation, Brennan said.

According to Brennan's study, detour times would range from two to six minutes.

The transit route's hub would be the Forest Grove Senior and Community Center at 21st Avenue and Douglas Street. During peak travel periods — morning and afternoon rush hours — both "buses" (14-passenger vans, actually) would head off from the senior center in different directions, one going east in a counterclockwise path, past Neil Armstrong, Wal-Mart and more. Nearly 12,000 people are within a quarter-mile of that route.

The other van would head west on a clockwise path along Gales Creek Road, then Goff Road, on up to Forest Gale Heights, Thatcher Park and Forest Grove High School. Nearly 9,000 people are within a quarter-mile of that route, which could reverse direction at certain times of day.

At peak hours or during shift changes, the east-side van could deviate to Viasystems or along the industrial corridor on 24th Avenue.

The route would operate from 6 a.m. to 7 p.m. Monday through Friday, with service slowing down midday, when fewer people travel.

At that point, one bus would cover the whole route, reaching stops once every hour and a half, instead of every 45 minutes, as during the peak periods.

Brennan estimates the system would draw 80 to 125 riders a day.

The annual operating cost would be $242,000. Much of that cost is already covered for the first year, thanks to Ride Connection, the transportation nonprofit that brings service to underserved populations.

Ride Connection, which will partner with Forest Grove to create the new system, has already won almost $230,000 in federal funds to buy the vans for the route and to cover nearly half the operational costs for the first year. Forest Grove is providing a local match of $38,000. And TriMet will provide the $54,287 match for another federal grant to cover the remaining operation costs — if Ride Connection wins the grant. It will find out by Monday.

Any additional service down the road would come at a cost, Brennan said: another $26,000 to extend service until 10 p.m., $23,000 to add Saturdays from 8 a.m. to 5 p.m., and so on.

Fares would be free, at least initially, but the city would need more funding after the first year, when at least one of the federal grants runs out.

A $1 monthly household fee would raise $93,000 a year, Brennan said.

"I think the big challenge for the city is that stable, long-term funding," he said.

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