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Rogue Valley Commuter Line celebrates first anniversary

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The Rogue Valley Commuter Line, a commuter transit service launched a year ago this month, has garnered a warm reception from riders along every stop in the Rogue Valley.

“The support we are receiving has been nothing but positive,” said Josephine County Transit Program Manager Scott Chancey. “We still receive phone calls daily from new riders asking about the service.”

The RVCL links the Josephine Community Transit system in Grants Pass to the Rogue Valley Transportation (RVTD) in Medford. Transfers can be made to each system, for free, with a valid transfer good for 60 minutes.

Chancey said information is collected on passenger boardings per stop location, but the service does not have general demographic information. A passenger survey is scheduled for next month, which will answer many of those questions, including who is riding and why.

“We’ve heard some interesting stories from passengers and drivers,” said Chancey.

He cited an example of a student who is attending Southern Oregon University in Ashland and lives in Cave Junction. The student pays $2 to get into Grants Pass, then $2 to ride the RVCL to Medford. From Medford, she transfers for free to the RVTD system and rides to Ashland. For the return trip, the process is the same with a transfer in Grants Pass back to Cave Junction. The total round trip cost is $8.

There have also been many stories regarding families reconnecting across the Rogue Valley that haven’t had much contact for years. The physical barrier of distance is a substantial obstacle to overcome for those without transportation or the financial means to travel.

“Those are stories I didn’t quite expect to hear or anticipate when starting the RVCL service,” Chancey said. “There are also many veterans traveling out to White City for services that they would never be able to reach without the RVCL. The commuter transit service has opened many doors and opportunities for individuals that previously were unavailable.”

Chancey said one of the more interesting stories was a gentleman traveling from Medford to Gold Hill. He was extremely excited to be able to go fishing somewhere he hadn’t been to in years. He called the office twice to make sure he understood the route and times.

“That was one trip scenario that was never anticipated,” said Chancey. “The service wasn’t designed for one particular type of passenger or trip scenario.  It was designed as broadly as possible, to meet the needs of the most people and still be usable or functional as a transit service.”

The Middle Rogue Metropolitan Planning Organization funded the demonstration project for three years using federal Congestion Mitigation and Air Quality program funds, which provide a flexible funding source to state and local governments for transportation projects and programs to help meet the requirements of the Clean Air Act.

Clearly, the RVCL expanded Rogue Valley residents’ access to areas they weren’t able to reach before. Average daily ridership is 62 boardings per day. According to Chancey, the RVCL has a 100 boarding per day target.

“Things are still growing and the potential is there,” said Chancey.

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