Where does our funding come from?

Grants = 60% Fares = 25% Contracts = 9%  

County General Fund and other local sources = 6%

Current Service (July 2019):

Line 1 – Portland Commuter Service

  1. St. Helens to Portland
  2. 9.5 trips per day – Includes Sauvie Island
  3. Provides Approximately 200 rides per day
  4. Provides Connections to TriMet, Amtrak, Greyhound and many others

Line 2 – PCC / Willow Creek

  1. St Helens to PCC and Willow Creek
  2. Four trips per day
  3. Provides approximately 30 rides per day
  4. Primarily aimed at Columbia County College age students
  5. Provides connections to TriMet max and Bus service

Line 3 – South County Flex

  1. Circular route through St Helens and Scappoose
  2. Five trips per day
  3. Provides approximately 20 rides per day
  4. Can flex to pick up outside of the normal route

Line 5 – North County

  1. St Helens to Rainier/Longview
  2. Two trips per day
  3. Provides approximately eight rides per day
  4. Provides connections to River Cities, Amtrak, Greyhound and Sunset Empire

Line 6 – Vernonia

  1. Vernonia to Willow Creek via Banks
  2. Runs three days per week, two trips per day
  3. Provides approximately four rides per day
  4. Provides connections to Tillamook Transit, and West Link

Dial – a – Ride

  1. County Wide Service
  2. Runs 20 hours per day five days per week.
  3. Provides approximately 40 rides per day
  4. Primarily for the Elderly and Disabled
  5. Medical Rides Take Priority

Portland Medical

  1. Columbia County to Portland Hospitals
  2. Runs two days per month
  3. Provides approximately 10 rides per day
  4. Primarily for medical needs not able to be met in Columbia County


Monthly Passes (Standard/Honored Citizen):

            One Zone: $75/$60 ex: Scappoose to St. Helens

            Two Zone: $130/$110 ex: Scappoose or St. Helens to Portland

            All Zone: $150/$130 ex: Rainier to Portland


Single Ride Tickets:

$2 – Scappoose to St. Helens, within Scappoose or St. Helens, Rainier to Longview

$2.20 – Dial-A-Ride within Scappoose and St. Helens; Dial-A-Ride within Rainier

$3 – Vernonia to Banks; Scappoose/St Helens to Sauvie Island

$5 – St. Helens to Goble

$6 – Scappoose/St. Helens to Portland; Scappoose/St Helens to Rainier; Scappoose/St. Helens to Willow Creek/PCC Rock Creek

$7– St. Helens/Scappoose to Longview/Kelso; Deer Island/Columbia City to Longview/Kelso

Our Fleet:

19 Service Vehicles, one Maintenance Van, one Staff Vehicle

Service Vehicles accommodate from three to 43 passengers, with one to four ADA/Wheelchair stations.  Service Vehicles range from one to 18 years old, with mileage ranging from roughly 12,000 to 412,000 miles.  65% of these vehicles are beyond ODOT’s estimated useful life in terms of both age and miles. 

We just received two donated 41-passenger vehicles from TriMet, and we’ve ordered four new 16-passenger vehicles which will arrive in September, 2019.  The required match for these vehicles will be approximately $40,000.

Employment (as of July 2019):

Columbia County = Three Employees

MTR Western = 19 Employees (13 drivers, three dispatchers, one manager, one mechanic, one Bus Washer)

Current Expense Budget:

Total Expense budget = $2.57 Million

Personnel = 11% – Cost of County personnel

Operation = 53% – Cost to run operation

Capital = 20% – Purchase of new vehicle + Rainier  (Both Covered Primarily by Grants)

Debt = 16% – Payback County Loan


A Service District not a Special District

  1. A service district allows the transit system to remain under the guidance of the County Board of Commissioners with support from county departments such as legal, finance, and HR.  Additionally, this option permits the system to obtain a long-term permanent funding source, which will not require regular renewal.  Permanent funding removes operational uncertainty and allows for long-term planning and system growth.

Property Tax:

A property tax is a commonly used device to fund smaller transit systems.  It is currently in use for funding many systems including Sunset Empire transit district Tillamook Transit district, Lincoln County Transit district, and Salem Area transit district.  This funding stream will provide a long-term stable source that will grow steadily at a rate consistent with inflation and community growth.  Since the County already collects property tax, no additional resources or tax collection mechanisms should be needed. Finally, a permanent rate reduces loss due to compression by 3.5% over a levy.

Funding Need:

Many of the operating grants require a match:

The match required for formula funds annually: $244,330

The match for the Longview / Kelso service annually: $73,000

A Proper vehicle replacement schedule will require a regular annual match of approximately: $100,000

Cost of regular system and software updates will require a regular annual match of approximately: $10,000

In total estimated match needs on an annual basis: $427,000

In addition to the match needs, they system currently underwent a significant service reduction in order to close the $400k funding gap.  Restoring this gap would allow the restoration of needed service and improve on that service.

Given the funding gap and match staff has determined a base annual need of roughly: $827,000


A tax rate of $.18/1000 will provide $1,000,889 after compression and accounting for a collection loss of 3%, which will fill the funding gap and provide additional monies to build the required reserve accounts, maintain and repair facilities, improve the system and add amenities. 

A rate of $.18/1000 will yield similar revenue to like systems with similar or smaller populations: