Transportation in Rural Oregon

When we think of rural Oregon, we typically think of people driving long distances every day. It is generally true that people living in rural areas do tend to drive farther when they drive. But it’s also important to remember that many people walk, bike, share rides, and take local transit in small towns. People living and working in rural Oregon have a lot of different ways to get around.

Many small towns across the state grew up before cars were widely used, and are built for walking and horse transportation. Their downtowns are easy to get around, and people who live close in may be able to meet many of their needs without driving for every trip.

There is a wide variety of transportation options around the state, too. You can use Amtrak to travel between Portland and Klamath Falls. You can use local dial-a-ride systems, shuttles to resorts or big employers, local transit, and trains, vans and buses running between towns. Some systems are working to connect and coordinate their operations. If you’re planning to travel in Northwest Oregon, the Northwest Connector page is a great place to start out, full of information about getting around using the five transit agencies in the area. The Oregon Department of Transportation (ODOT) funds and manages the POINT bus system, a five-route, intercity bus service, and is working on ways to connect and coordinate these systems to fill in gaps. And if you’re interested in getting to outdoor recreation sites without a car, check out the PSU student “Cascadia Connect” project.

No matter where they live, many Oregonians are not able to drive at all times. Children, of course, can’t drive, but many adults don’t drive due to disability, lack of a drivers license, or preference. And many more adults can drive but do not have continual access to a car. They may not own a car, or another member of their household may need the car for much of the day.

Whether you are a rural, urban or suburban Oregonian you may need to or choose to get around without a car. Every trip made on foot, by bike, by transit, or in a shared ride is a trip that emits less greenhouse gas and less air pollution, is less dangerous for the people around us, and is better for our health. Everything we can do to make those trips safer, more convenient and more affordable is great for all of us.

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