HERMISTON, Oregon – The Hermiston City Council has approved a plan to offer people subsidized rides to work. The West Umatilla County Workforce On-demand Ride Cooperative, also called WORC, will be funded by mass transit funds allocated to the counties by the Oregon Legislature.
Assistant City Manager Mark Morgan said WORC was developed because public transit in a rural area is different than it is in big cities.
“By virtue of the fact that we have so much shift work in the region here, as well as employers really being spread out all over the place, it’s very, very difficult to make a fixed-route bus work for a large number of people,” he said.
WORC would offer taxi punch cards and the program would pay for 65 percent of the cost for rides to work, with the commuter paying the remaining 35 percent. A scale for prices has been established depending on the place of residence and the distance to the workplace to include other cities within western Umatilla County.
Morgan said that, at the very least, WORC could lead the city to come up with a more effective plan because of the data that will be collected from its participants.
“We’ve been awarded funds for three years to operate it,” he said. “We very well may not operate it after that third year if we get some really good data and can figure out a better way to run this thing. Or, maybe we’ll run it for another 30 years.”
People can apply for WORC punch cards beginning Sept. 2, and Morgan said it will be up and running in October.