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.