Corvallis: State of Inter-City Mass Transit

Every now and then, I like to assess the state of inter-city mass transit for those of us living in Corvallis.  First my rules:

  • Only fixed-route, public transportation.  That is, vanpools are out.
  • Only methods that are cheaper than driving (using $0.75/mile as the true cost of driving not counting environmental and social costs).  Using the Valley Retriever to get to Philomath or Albany is out.
  • Only methods that take at most twice as long as driving; the time of people taking public transit should be as valuable as motorists — I will allow for slightly slower as riding the bus or train is not necessarily lost.  So, getting to Albany by transferring at LBCC is out (since connection time makes it 1.5 hours).
  • Use downtown transit centers as the destinations.  This drops the Hut Shuttle out of connection as it would take nearly 4 hours to get to downtown Portland after connecting to the MAX.
  • Biking and driving options are included for a point of comparison.
  • Prices vary according to how late you buy your ticket; I assumed buying a ticket last minute, and so used the most expensive price.

In summary, there are 11 trips daily to Philomath, 6 to Salem, 6 to Portland and 4 to Eugene.  If we discount Greyhound due to its extreme unreliability, the last three numbers go down by 3.  If you are willing to bike to Albany to connect to Amtrak or Bolt Bus, then there are 8 additional nice trips to Salem and Portland; I don’t really think this is reasonable since I don’t think we should ask the average person to bike 12 miles to connect to public transportation.  Note that 7 of the Philomath trips take the same amount of time as biking.  More details are in this spreadsheet:

Connecting in Albany to get to Eugene was not at all competitive with driving and almost comparable to biking.  In fact, I propose a race: biking to Eugene vs. public transportation.  How embarrassing.

One thought on “Corvallis: State of Inter-City Mass Transit

  1. Mike Gretes

    For your other readers who are not experienced in Greyhound’s “extreme unreliability”, its nature is this:
    A standard ticket on greyhound (at least in Corvallis and Portland) is *not* a reserved seat, as one could be forgiven for believing. It is a place in line for a seat when the bus arrives. Your ticket will have a number printed on it; this is your spot in the local queue. So when the packed bus arrives to Corvallis northbound from California, if you are number 8, probably you will have to change your plans for the day. I have even seen the bus stop with no room at all for new passengers. So you wait for the next one, or maybe the one after that, and board only if you are lucky. The station manager in Corvallis on the day I discovered this (myself and my partner were trying to catch a rock show in PDX that evening) expressed no sympathy for our situation. Imagine one were travelling to a critical specialist doctor’s appointment that took months to schedule at OHSU instead of travelling for recreation? I wonder what a taxi might from Corvallis to PDX? For comparison, a ride from Albany to Corvallis (less than 1/5 the distance) is ~$25-$30 including a tip.
    The total lack of respect for passengers’ time and priorities implied by this policy is shocking, and seems directed most viciously against cash-poor individuals traveling to and from smaller communities, for whom (at present) greyhound appears to be the only means.

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