JOHN DAY - Talk about a great Christmas gift for Grant County.
And a free one at that.
The People Mover, Grant County's public transportation service, added a brand new bus - a 25-foot, 16-passenger, 2010 Ford - to its fleet at the end of December.
The bus is not only bigger than the others at the People Mover, but it also has a wheelchair lift plus two wheelchair stations. Some of their other buses have wheelchair lifts, but this one is in the back, for easier accessibility.
Other features include cushioned reclining seats, bigger windows and overhead storage areas.
"The really nice part of it all was that it came from federal stimulus money through the Oregon Department of Transportation," said Linda Cook, People Mover supervisor.
"It didn't cost us a cent."
She said, "We just told them what we wanted."
Driver Doug Boyer added that the new bus is much quieter than the others and that the wheelchair spaces in the back can double as a cargo area if needed.
The People Mover also received funds to remodel and expand office space, according to Cook, as well as even more money that they haven't spent yet.
She said they are spending as much of it as they can on services here in Grant County.
A new minivan has also been ordered, hopefully to arrive in March. They will retire one of the older buses and maintain a fleet of four.
The People Mover offers two services: Dial-A-Ride within Grant County, and scheduled routes from Grant County to Bend.
Charter services are also available.
All the staff at the People Mover share in the driving duties, but for the most part, Boyer, Nancy Elliott and Rich Madden run the Bend trips, and the Dial-a-Ride drivers are Frank Bingham and Ken Primrose.
The cost for Dial-a-Ride is $2 per stop, or $1 for seniors and children under 10. Children 3 and under ride free with adult supervision.
Round trip fare from John Day to Prairie City or Mt. Vernon is $7; past Mt. Vernon is $14.
The People Mover's Bend route now runs three days a week, Mondays, Wednesdays and Fridays. The bus leaves Prairie City at 6:15 a.m., with Grant County stops in John Day, Mt. Vernon and Dayville, and arriving approximately 11 a.m. in Bend. It then leaves there at 3:30 p.m., arriving back in Prairie City about 8:50 p.m.
Passengers from Prairie City should call 24 hours in advance to ensure pickup. Stops at the Redmond Airport are by request.
The People Mover's office hours are 9 a.m.-4 p.m. Monday-Thursday, and 9 a.m.-2 p.m. on Fridays. Call 541-575-2370 for more information.