CANNON BEACH — Bus riders in South County will have more transportation options this summer. But how much weekend service might be available is still undetermined. 

More discussion about the options and the cost to put those options into effect will be addressed at a Cannon Beach City Council work session at 5:30 p.m. Tuesday.

The former Route 20 line, which served Gearhart, Seaside and Cannon Beach, will return to the schedule from Memorial Day weekend through Sept. 30, Jay Flint, director of the Sunset Empire Transportation District, told the council Tuesday night.

The district removed Route 20 last year, along with several other lines, following financial problems that threatened to shut down the district. 

But finances have stabilized over the past few months, Flint said, and the district is able to provide service through the busy summer.

The line will ease potentially long waits experienced by customers who took the Route 101 bus, the only line serving South County during the week. With more traffic on U.S. Highway 101 during the summer, the bus, which was supposed to make hourly runs to Cannon Beach and back to Astoria, was sometimes 45 minutes late at stops.

The plan calls for Route 20 to pass through Cannon Beach hourly from 6:20 a.m. through 7:20 p.m. Monday through Friday.

While Route 20 will loop through Seaside and Cannon Beach hourly, Route 101 will provide service from Astoria to Cannon Beach every two hours, Flint said. Route 101 also will go into Manzanita once a day.

However, bus service for the weekends for both Cannon Beach and Seaside is up for discussion.

A bus, operated by a separate Connect Oregon transportation program, will run through Seaside and Cannon Beach twice in the morning and once in the afternoon Saturday and Sunday.

Those wanting to get around Seaside will be able to hop on the old Seaside trolley, which the transportation district is bringing back for the summer on Memorial Day weekend. The trolley will travel along Broadway and outlying roads to connect hotels and stores, Flint said.

But the Cannon Beach City Council will have to decide if it will continue to pay for a weekend bus that runs through Cannon Beach from 9 a.m. through 12:20 p.m. and from 3 to 6:20 p.m. Saturday and Sunday. The bus also makes forays into Seaside each day.

The weekend bus, begun in October, cost $3,000 a month and provided 1,523 rides through March. Of those, 623 were Seaside riders.

Flint noted that the Cannon Beach City Council achieved its goal to get employees living in Seaside to work in Cannon Beach.

“The ridership in Seaside went up every month,” he said. “It’s becoming over half of the current ridership. Employers are beginning to rely on this bus service for their employees.”

Although Flint and Cannon Beach Mayor Mike Morgan requested that the Seaside City Council consider contributing to the service when it first started, the council, so far, hasn’t allocated any money toward it.

If the Cannon Beach City Council wants to have a bus loop around Cannon Beach only and not go to Seaside seven days a week from 11 a.m. to 6 p.m. through the summer, it will cost the city $49,902. But if it wants to include Seaside on weekends, it will cost an additional $12,298.

If the council decides to return to the weekend-only Route 21 schedule after the summer, it would add another $35,528 to the bill.

Morgan expressed concern at the higher cost, calling it a “daunting number.” But Scott Earls, the district’s operations manager, said that an additional 90 minutes “deadhead” time had to be added to get bus drivers from Warrenton to Seaside, and that added to the cost. In addition, eight more days would be added to the schedule compared to last year’s starting date for the service.

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