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Region's transit systems may link up

By Cornelia de Bruin

Triplicate staff writer

An issue not in the spotlight for at least six months may be re-entering from the wings.

A link between the Redwood Coast Transit System and Curry Public Transit could happen as early as July.

If it becomes reality, it would link bus passengers from Arcata, Crescent City, Smith River and Curry County.

The switch point for interstate travelers would be Smith River, the terminus of each company's lines.

Curry County Public Transit Board approved grant proposals sent to the Oregon Department of Transportation earlier this month.

If ODOT approves them, the changes could come at the beginning the new fiscal year in July.

Helping convince ODOT was Crescent City resident Bill Lonsdale, a regular at various transportation-related meetings held in Del Norte County.

Lonsdale wrote to Matthew Barnes of ODOT's Public Transit Division urging the governmental organization to support the idea.

"We in Crescent City have been pushing for Redwood Coast Transit to establish a link with Curry County Transit in Smith River," Lonsdale wrote. "We are hoping that Curry County Transit will be able to join us to provide a seamless link between Coos Bay and Arcata/Eureka, and seek your support in making that possible."

The discussion in Del Norte County has been on hold for about six months, since the last meeting of the county Goal Committee.

To end the committee's hiatus, county Board of Supervisors Chairman David Finigan has set a March 2 meeting to resume its work.

"This is an old issue from when the Greyhound Bus dropped Crescent City a few years ago," Finigan said. "We wanted to get people back and forth to shop, and Brookings' transit manager thought she could get buses down here."

When Greyhound Bus cut its routes here, however, discussions focused more on establishing a connection between Crescent City and Arcata, he said.

The route is Redwood Coast's most successful in this area. During the first quarter of 2006-07 operating statistics, ridership showed a 9 percent increase in ridership, along with higher farebox revenue.

During last year Lonsdale, who also tracks the revenue, said it served 6,000 passengers.

"If RCT can attain the success it has on service between Crescent City and Arcata/Eureka, there is reason for optimism that a similar extension of Curry County Transit service from Smith River north to Coos Bay, will achieve success," he wrote in the letter to ODOT. "A funded demonstration would answer the question."


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