PENINSULA - Peninsula residents may have noticed the unfamiliar yellow and blue colors of Clatsop County's transit buses traveling along Highway 101, Sandridge Road and Pioneer Road this month.

Working with St. Mary, Star of the Sea School, Cindy Howe, chief executive officer of the Sunset Empire Transportation District (SETD), has developed round-trip service for Peninsula youngsters who attend the school, located at 14th and Grand in Astoria.

Local stops on school-day mornings and afternoons are in Chinook at the Port parking lot, at the intersection of Highway 101 and Sandridge Rd., and at the recently opened Kids' Club daycare center at 1806 Pacific Highway in Long Beach.

Howe, who is also an active volunteer in the Star of the Sea School Parents Club, said the service must pay for itself. Parents pay varying amounts depending upon the number of children in a family, whether parents need only morning or afternoon service, or service for only a day or so each week. For example, a family sending two children each way every day pays $360. Bus fees must be paid in advance. "We're very flexible," said Howe, speaking of SETD's ability to schedule according to a family's particular needs, "but the SETD Board and I expect the service at least to break even."

Eleven students from the Peninsula have signed up for the new bus service. Diane Ramsperger, principal of Star of the Sea School, expects to hear from more Peninsula families as the bus service becomes better known. "For Peninsula families looking for a faith-based kindergarten through eighth grade education for their children, transportation has been a real impediment," she said. "This new service will help make access to our school easier for children living some distance from Astoria." SETD also runs buses to Star of the Sea School from Cannon Beach and Seaside.

Howe says SETD has further plans to expand service to the local area. With the blessing of Pacific (County) Transit System, SETD plans a demonstration project next fall with a shuttle service between Astoria and Long Beach. "We're working with legislators on both sides of the river on this $2 million project," she said. "It will be up and running for all those Lewis and Clark visitors we're expecting."

In the meantime, the Pacific Transit System maintains its own Astoria service with four trips each weekday. For schedule information, call 642-9418.

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