CET bus rides  just got better for transition students.

Navigating the bus routes in Central Oregon just got a whole lot easier, according to Ashley Mohni, strategic programs and partnerships coordinator for Cascades East Transit (CET),

“Every bus in Bend is now equipped with audio and visual technology that lets riders know where they are, in real time,” said Mohni. Previously, the bus driver would call out bus stops as they arrived, and riders would watch the streets to double check the location. Now, automatic announcements through speakers keep riders updated on location–these announcements are connected to geo-location technology. For those who prefer visual information, easy-to-read LED signs have been installed inside the buses. Like the audio announcements, the signs help riders know where they are along the route. “This integrated technology makes bus stops very clear and makes services easier to navigate,” she said.

In her role, Mohni works to make public transportation more accessible for everyone. That means finding ways to make all riders feel at ease, and confident that they’ll know where to get on and off the bus. In addition to new audio and visual aides on the buses, the updated Transit app can keep riders on track.

 

Transit app updates

For many transition students, using the bus system starts with the CET trip planner tool. This lets them preview the route they’d take to get to school, to work, or out shopping. Then while traveling on the bus, they use the Transit app on their smartphones to follow the route.

This autumn, the Transit app has taken a giant leap forward in real-time, geolocation technology. That means that bus riders can see the bus as it moves along the mapped route, much like on the Uber or Lyft ride-sharing apps. The wifi symbol indicates the bus information displayed is accurate. Along with the real-time map, the app clearly labels how many minutes until the bus arrives or departs. Although the reliability of the app has improved tremendously, CET still recommends arriving at your bus stop at least five minutes early–just in case.

 

More routes = more access

During the pandemic, the bus system had to be reduced to follow social distancing guidelines. Many CET services have now returned to pre-pandemic levels, like the Dial-A-Ride systems and the Community Connector buses that run between towns in Central Oregon. A new connector route between La Pine and Sunriver recently launched to help people get to and from jobs at the Sunriver Resort. Some riders combine Community Connector buses with Dial-A-Ride for their travel commute. For example, a student might take a Community connector bus from Redmond to Bend, and then use Dial-A-Ride to get to their final destination.

Within the city of Bend, the buses follow nine fixed routes. These routes allow riders to travel almost anywhere in town. CET has plans to expand service in Bend, by adding additional routes in northeast and southeast areas. Currently, the buses follow the Saturday schedule every weekday. The schedule may expand as more drivers become available, according to Mohni.

 

Travel training: It just takes practice!

For transition-age students, public transportation can be vital to getting around town independently. While navigating the bus system may feel intimidating at first, it just takes a little training and practice to get familiar with the process.

The CET offers Travel Training sessions aimed at senior citizens, students, people of all ages with disabilities, or anyone who wants help learning the bus system. Training sessions can be held remotely or in-person. Topics covered during the training include locating bus stops, using the Transit app, communicating with the driver, and how to safely use mobility devices on the buses.       

 Ready to learn more about the CET bus routes? Here’s an introductory video to get started.

To arrange a Travel Training, contact Ashley Mohni at amohni@coic.org.