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Mt. Hood Express offers worry-free trip up mountain

by: POST PHOTO: KYLIE WRAY - Mt. Hood Express buses, which depart from Sandy Transit Center on Hoffman Avenue between Pioneer and Proctor boulevards, run up the mountain to Timberline, making stops in Rhododendron and Government Camp.The previously retired Mt. Hood Express service had its reopening kickoff Monday, Dec. 16. It now provides transportation for communities along Highway 26 from the Sandy Transit Center to Timberline.

The Federal Lands Access Program recently awarded $476,000 to expand transit within Clackamas County, the Mt. Hood National Forest and the city of Sandy. With the help of these grants, Mt. Hood Express is able to get back off the ground through public and private partnership funding.

This service has come out of reformatting the previous Mountain Express service, which ran only up to Government Camp. After starting in June 2004, the Mountain Express started losing money and was forced to close last year.

Now people will be able to take public transportation all the way from the far west side of Portland all the way up the mountain, said Joyce LeDoux, operation supervisor for Sandy Transit and Mt. Hood Express.

“It will get a lot of the cars off the road and out of the parking lots,” said Mayor Bill King, who attended the kickoff last Monday. “You don’t have to worry about the drive back because (the driver) is watching the road.”

Mt. Hood Express is becoming an affordable way to get to the mountain. The bus ride is only $2 one way and $4 round trip.

Another grant, awarded by the Federal Transit Administration, will buy new buses and other equipment. But until then, Mt. Hood Express is using buses donated by Rogue Valley Transit District. These buses will be used temporarily for this year.

Sandy’s Johnson RV, 41777 Highway 26, donated the paint and time to get the buses looking their best.

“The buses are very old, and they looked pretty rough when we got them,” LeDoux said. “They spiffed them all up for us.”

The Mt. Hood Express runs seven days a week year round, with the exceptions of Thanksgiving Day and Christmas Day. Apart from the five trips per day Mt. Hood Express operates all year, two additional trips were added for the winter season, running Dec. 1 through March 31.

“Ridership has been great,” LeDoux said.

The Federal Lands Access Program grant also went toward Sandy Area Metro’s new early Saturday morning and Sunday service routes.

For bus schedules, visit the city of Sandy website or mthoodexpress.com.