The little bus system that could: Pacific Transit System

<I>AMANDA FRINK photo</I><BR>A passenger boards one of the familiar blue and green-striped buses of Pacific Transit System, a vital link between the people and communities of Pacific County.

PACIFIC COUNTY- For 25 years, the Pacific Transit System has served clientele along the Long Beach Peninsula, as well as Naselle, Raymond, South Bend, Bay Center, Aberdeen and Astoria.

Funded through a combination of state and federal grants, fare box revenue and a small percentage of the sales tax generated in Pacific County, Pacific Transit serves approximately 500 people each day.

"In the end, we travel about 480,000 miles a year," said Tim Russ, who has been the Pacific Transit System director for 10 years.

Dial-A-Ride, a Pacific Transit service that's first priority is seniors and people with disabilities, serves customers across the county by picking them up at their homes and transporting them to where they need to go.

"It's a curb-to-curb service," said Russ. "They can do their shopping, go to doctor appointments, and best of all, retain their independence."

The general public can also utilize Dial-A-Ride's convenience on an availability basis, if they live more than one-quarter of a mile off the fixed routes.

Pacific County residents can use Pacific Transit to commute to other destinations, such as Seattle or Portland, as well.

"Along with our regular services that we provide throughout the week, we also have buses that go to Aberdeen and connect with Grays Harbor Transit to arrive at the I-5 corridor," explained Russ. "We offer routes to Astoria that can connect customers with a carrier over to the Portland area."

According to Russ, although Pacific Transit is fairly small, with only 25 employees, it works as hard as larger area transit systems but with fewer problems and the ability to connect with its users.

"We are fortunate that we have good customers," said Russ. "They know our drivers by name and the drivers know their names as well. Everybody knows everybody, it's a community service that is almost like a big family. There are times when drivers are off the clock and will go help customers because they need that personal attention."

In service from 5:45 a.m. to 7 p.m. on weekdays and 10 a.m. to 6 p.m. on Saturdays, Pacific Transit's services are convenient for a variety of reasons, such as avoiding the rising gas prices and looking for parking spaces.

"I save about $3 on gas each day that I take the bus," said Victoria Stoppiello, an Ilwaco resident who takes the bus to work in Astoria. "I catch it a half a block from my house. I can read during my commute, look out the window and enjoy the view, make phone calls, do work-related things, it's great downtime. I love that when the weather is bad, I have an experienced driver take me where I need to go."

"We're all proud of the services we are able to provide with the resources we have. We do a great thing for people, and that is what we try to do, each and every employee," Russ said.

For more information about Pacific Transit and the services it offers, call 642-9418 or visit their Web site at (www.pacifictransit.org).

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