The sun rises as a Columbia Co. Rider rolls into the bus stop. Photo: Chas Hundley

BANKS - A new bus route servicing Vernonia, Banks, and Hillsboro opened Monday, April 1 courtesy of Columbia County Transit.

The route, called Vernonia Route 6, starts at Vernonia City Hall and travels down Highway 47, making a stop at Stub Stewart State Park, then on to Banks where it picks up and drops off riders at the existing Sunset Avenue stop near Main Street before heading off to a stop at Cornell Road and ending at Willow Creek Transit Center in Hillsboro.

The bus runs three days a week on Monday, Wednesday, and Friday; there are morning and evening options for riders. The cost to ride from Banks to Vernonia one way is $3.

A full schedule and pricing can be found at the NW Connector website.

Image and schedule courtesy Columbia County Transit

According to Todd Wood, Transit Program Administrator with Columbia County Rider, route 6 Vernonia had been in existence before, but was reworked to add the stop in Banks, which was only a few miles out of the way of old bus route.

"When we decided to return the route to the old path we were thinking of ways to improve access for Vernonia residents to others systems and cities," explained Wood in an email to the Banks Post.

Wood says he spoke with the Oregon Department of Transportation, who told him it was a good idea to add a Banks bus stop, and Banks city counselor Marsha Kirk, who told him there was a need for more transportation access for Banks residents

"It seemed like the stars aligned just right," he said.

This new route joins a handful of other lines that serve Banks; Tillamook County has a route that travels from Tillamook to Portland, with stops at the Tillamook Forest Center, Banks, North Plains, and Hillsboro in between.

Ride Connection operates a free bus route with stops in Forest Grove, Banks, North Plains and Hillsboro as well.

According to Wood, Columbia County is applying for additional funding through the Statewide Transportation Improvement Fund (STIF) to move the route to a 5 days a week service.