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KTVZ News Channel 21
Mt. Bachelor shuttle buses can help skiers, boarders deal with traffic jams heading to the slopes
By Bola Gbadebo,
'During the weekends (Mt. Bachelor Shuttles) operate every 15 minutes,' COIC Derek Hofbauer said Monday.
BEND, Ore. (KTVZ) -- With all that recent fresh powder to play in, there's been a noticeable uptick in traffic to Mt. Bachelor -- and as most regulars know all too well, the traffic backups on Century Drive at peak travel times can be frustrating to many.
The Oregon Department of Transportation said this past weekend, vehicles were backed up from the mountain to the Sunriver interchange. Some drivers tell us they gave up, and turned around.
"It can be really frustrating, especially if you’re geared up, or it’s just you’re only day off," Latitude 44 spokesperson Trisha Russell said Monday. "A lot of times, people just turn around and say, 'Forget it -- we’ll try a different day.”
Getting to Mt. Bachelor was no simple task this weekend.
On Reddit's Bend page ("subreddit"), some skiers and snowboarders complained about sitting in their cars during several hours of traffic jams.
"A lot of times, people go up ill-prepared, so cars that don’t have four-wheel drive and there’s a couple spots that are slippery," Russell said. "So there can be a lot of accidents. Or just a lot of people going, so you’ll sit for an hour or two on the roads."
Derek Hofbauer is outreach and engagement administrator with the Central Oregon Intergovernmental Council, which oversees CET operations. He said Monday that ridership is up this year, but they'd still like to attract more passengers.
"This past Saturday and Sunday, we saw over 1,000 rides on the shuttle,” he said.
Hofbauer said ridership is up 35 percent, compared to last year.
The shuttle bus has been operating for about eight years.
“That helps take a lot of the congestion off the roads up there, freeing up some free parking spaces, and helping with the carbon emissions," Hofbauer said.
For customer convenience, the shuttles now come with free wi-fi on their dozen roughly 30- to 45-minute trips to the mountain during the weekend.
“During the weekends, it operates every 15 minutes, (in) the early hours," Hofbauer said.
Russell said, "My 13-year-old son, Jude, rides the shuttles with friends, so if I have a busy day here at work, he can take it up and get up with friends. So it’s a great culture for kids to be able to be still active and at the mountain.”
Hofbauer added, “With the price of gas and just the expense of maintaining your car and driving it up there and sitting in traffic, we suggest that people leave the driving to us," Hofbauer said.
The shuttle bus leaves from the Mt. Bachelor Park and Ride in Bend and costs $7 one way and $12 round trip.