The Columbia Gorge Express bus service is in high demand

Multnomah Falls (KOIN 6 News, file)
Multnomah Falls (KOIN 6 News, file)

It has been a great first year for ODOT’s Columbia Gorge Express bus service. The service exceeded expectations and made more than 30,000 trips to and from Multnomah Falls. The Columbia Gorge Express provided round-trip bus service linking the Gateway Transit Center with Rooster Rock State Park and Multnomah Falls.

Multnomah Falls is one of the busiest and most popular attractions in Oregon. Congestion and limited parking spurred ODOT to create a two-year pilot project. Over a 22 month period, overcrowding forced the closure of the Multnomah Falls parking lot on 181 days and most of those days took place on a Friday, Saturday, or Sunday. The first year of the pilot project ran from Memorial Day weekend to September 25 of this year. Here is what rider surveys show:

– 93 percent said the service met their needs and they’d recommend it to friends.
– 75 percent who started at the Gateway Transit Center said they chose the service even though they had a car.
– 25 percent of riders said the bus was their only transportation option for visiting the Gorge.
– 63 percent of Gateway Transit Center riders started their travel on public transit.
– 63 percent of riders came from outside the Portland area, with 53 percent of the total from the U.S. outside Oregon and 5 percent from outside the U.S.

During the second year of the pilot project, ODOT will use larger buses to reduce wait times. The Gateway Transit Center stop will moved inside the transit center to be closer to bus and light rail stops. ODOT will provide shelters and benches at the Rooster Rock State Park and Multnomah Falls stops. And lastly, a staff person at Rooster Rock State Park will be on hand to answer questions. For 2018, will consider ways to expand the service to Hood River, which would allow additional stops at other popular Gorge sites.