Public buses keep people moving

<I>The Eagle/Cheryl Jessup</I><BR>Driver Ken Primrose gets ready to make a run in one of the People Mover buses. Other drivers are: Frank Bingham, Laurie Wyllie, Rich Madden who does the Wednesday run to Bend, and Alan Hickerson who drives the Bend route on Fridays.

JOHN DAY - Need a ride to the dentist's or doctor's office? Rig broken down? Gas prices just pinching too hard these days? The People Mover is there to help.

As the only public transportation option in the John Day Valley, The People Mover seeks to provide a much-needed service for a lot of people. With a mission to "help people get around," The People Mover offers several ride options in its "curb-to-curb" services.

Dial-A-Ride serves primarily the combined city areas of John Day and Canyon City. The regular rate for Dial-A-Ride is $2 per stop or $1 per stop for seniors, disabled persons and children under 10. Children under 3 ride free and all children must have adult supervision.

Rides are also available to Prairie City or Mt. Vernon at a round-trip rate of $7, and $14 for trips past Mt. Vernon. There's also a $5 round-trip ride every Wednesday, from John Day to the Prairie City Senior Center for the senior meal.

A regularly scheduled run from Prairie City to Bend also operates every Wednesday and Friday, year-round. Riders from Prairie City are advised to call 24 hours in advance for pick up; otherwise the bus departs from and arrives back at Leather's Oil in John Day.

A new service from John Day to Baker City has just started up too, the second Tuesday of each month, from April through October, with stops in Prairie City and Sumpter.

In operation since the late 1980s, The People Mover keeps people moving thanks to grants from the Oregon Department of Transportation.

Jim Sanders, board chairman of the Grant County Transportation District, says their main purpose is to "continue to provide the best service possible to the community." He and People Mover supervisor, Linda Cook agree that the staff members there all work together as a "team," sharing bus washing chores, scheduling and other office-related tasks.

In addition to other duties, Sanders oversees the day-to-day operations and bus maintenance. And Cook keeps a close watch on the scheduling, drivers and riders. These multi-tasking efforts and a continually close look at the budget, all help to keep the costs down and services up, despite rising gas prices and Grant County's rural remoteness. Sanders firmly states, "We won't raise the rates."

The People Mover has three buses: two seven-passenger vans, and a larger 16-passenger bus. All are fully handicapped-accessible and the drivers are trained in assisting riders with special needs. Caregivers ride free and service animals are allowed. Charter services are also available.

Office hours are 9 a.m. - 4 p.m. Monday through Thursday, and 9 a.m. - 2 p.m. on Friday, with an answering machine for after hours and weekend calls. The People Mover operates on a first-call-first-serve basis, so call 24 hours in advance to schedule your ride. For information on rates or schedules, or to make a reservation, call 575-2370.

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