Why isn't there a bus to the airport?


EUGENE, Ore. - Since 1970, Lane Transit District has provided transporation services to Eugene-Springfield and surrounding communities.

LTD offers more than 40 routes in the county.

There is, however, one route that is missing: a trip to the Eugene Airport.

2014 marked the fourth consecutive year of setting record-level passenger counts.

"When you start looking at moving people around on public transportation, airlines are one form of that, trains are another, buses are another," said Cathryn Stephens, Assistant Airport Director. "Having those all work together makes a lot of sense."

Passengers looking to fly in or out of Mahlon Sweet Field are not the only ones affected.

"I wake up every morning at 5:30," Noah Branham said.

Branham works for A+ Towing located on West Enid Road.

"I take the Oakridge bus to the Eugene station, then get on the Junction City bus to Aiport Road. From there it's about an 11 minute walk to work in the cold, rain and snow."

Branham is just one of dozens of people who work in the industrial area on Airport Road who take the bus to work.

"If it was this bus going along Airport Road, I'd probably obviously take it."

The Junction City bus Route 95 stops at Highway 99W and Airport Road, which is about two miles driving distance to the airport.

"I've seen folks who get off at 99 and they walk all the way in," Stephens said. "Those are the folks that can't afford a taxi, can't afford Omni Shuttle."

Andy Vobora, Director of Customer Services and Planning for LTD, said they've considered creating a bus route that deviates from the 95 Junction City route.

"For us, it's really evaluating the cost of that versus the other priorities we have in the system," he said.

Vobora said an LTD bus has to meet a "two-thirds standard" of a sytem-wide average.

"Because the system averages around 45 boardings per hour of service, it would be looking at something that would have to be carrying 20 to 30 boardings per hours of service for it to meet that standard," he said.

Vobora also said serving the businesses and airport is challenging because of dynamic schedules.

"It's not about a shift schedule that mimics a normal business schedule," he said. "To fully serve the airport, you've got so many trips that leave early in the morning that we'd have to expand our service span earlier to start and then later to end, that then the cost calculations go up so significantly."

Each year, Vobora said there are people who ask if an Aiport Road service will be added.

So far, that answer is: not yet.

Eugene announced it is looking at extending its Urban Growth Boundary around near the airport.

"There would probably be greater need for a bus route if you had more growth in those areas. There are also talks of a hotel going up next to the airport," Vobora said. "Right now, that route is competing against new construction and housing projects in other areas."

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