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Transportation

Getting around in Columbia County, Oregon

Columbia County is mostly mountains. This means the majority of the populated areas is concentrated along the Columbia River and Highway US-30, with the sole exception of Vernonia, which is pretty much isolated from the rest of the county and is more closely linked to Forest Grove or Hillsboro. As a visitor, you are most likely to be along the Highway 30 corridor, as the county's principal cities -- Scappoose, Saint Helens, Rainier, and Clatskanie -- are all on the highway. Driving the highway 30 is usually a very pleasant experience, a wide, well-maintained road that is almost never congested. It is not a freeway (there was a plan to build the Interstate 505 to replace Highway 30 back in the 1970s, but it never materialized), and you should drive carefully.

Public transit is almost a hidden secret!

Does TriMet go to Columbia County? No. However, there is a public transit service funded by the county government called CC Rider. CC Rider operates mostly intercity shuttles using a 15-passenger van, and sometimes with a full-sized bus during peak hours. These vehicles are operated by a private contractor MTR Western.

One of the things that throws newcomers to Columbia County off guard when it comes to public transit is that they can't easily find bus stops, and when they do, the bus stop signs do not really say what buses stop and to what direction. If you drive on Highway 30, you may notice those green "bus" signs with an arrow pointing to the right, but they are not actual bus stops.

In fact, the CC Rider bus stops are almost always located off the street, on a private parking lot, in a rather hidden corner of it!

Some bus stops do not even have any sign at all, such as the northbound Highway 30 at Havlik Road (across from the Fred Meyer, and near the Goodwill store and the "big red candle"). Basically, CC Rider expects passengers to know where all the buses stop ahead of time. It's not very user-friendly, and certainly not friendly to newcomers or visiting tourists!

How to ride

First, go to the Northwest Oregon Connector website at http://www.nworegontransit.org (recently CC Rider got rid of its own--intermittently-working--website) and look up the timetables. Almost all CC Rider bus lines are purely intercity in nature. There are very few conventional public transit services that takes you from one part of the town to another, with the only exception of the Route 3-South County Flex line, which is a circular route that makes stops at various locations in Saint Helens and Scappoose.

Buses do not run on weekends, except for the Route 1 (Portland-Saint Helens) and the Route 7 (Portland-Clatskanie-Astoria).

Fares for the buses from Saint Helens or Scappoose: $2 one-way between Saint Helens, Scappoose, Warren, McNulty, and Columbia City. $6 one-way to Portland or Willow Creek TC (MAX Blue Line). $6 one-way to Rainier or Clatskanie. $7 one-way to Longview, Washington. $10 one-way to Astoria. $2 one-way between Rainier and Kelso or Longview. There are no transfers or round-trip discounts, and CC Rider does not accept TriMet passes or Hop Fastpass. You will have to have exact cash, unless you purchase tickets ahead of time online (you can buy a book of $2 tickets and use 3 of them, or buy a book of $6 tickets).

Google Maps transit planner (https://maps.google.com/landing/transit/index.html) is a good way to find out CC Rider bus schedules that connect to TriMet.

Timetables

Where are the bus stops?

Since CC Rider's bus stops are hidden and confusing, here is a partial list of where to find them.

  • CC Rider Transit Center (Deer Island Road & Oregon Street, Saint Helens): all routes.
  • Legacy St. Helens/DMV office park (Pittsburg Road at Wyeth Street): 3-South County Flex only.
  • Saint Helens ACE Hardware parking lot (Columbia Boulevard at Highway 30): 3-South County Flex only.
  • Safeway/Rite Aid parking lot (off Highway 30 between Sykes and Gable): 1-Portland weekdays only; 2-PCC Rock Creek; 3-South County Flex.
  • Walmart (Gable Road off Highway 30): 3-South County Flex only.
  • Warren Baptist Church parking lot (Church Road at Highway 30): 1-Portland only.
  • Havlik Road, Scappoose (near Fred Meyer - on Highway 30 with sign on southbound only): 1-Portland weekdays only; 2-PCC Rock Creek
  • 1st St. & Prairie in downtown Scappoose: 1-Portland, 2-PCC Rock Creek, 3-South County Flex, and 7-Lower Columbia Connector.
  • Linnton southbound (NW 112nd Ave/connection to TriMet Line 16): 1-Portland weekdays only.
  • Linnton northbound (NW 111th Ave/connection from TriMet Line 16): 1-Portland weekdays only.

Downtown Saint Helens and Scappoose stops are (3-South County Flex only; buses only travel counter-clockwise): Deer Island Rd/Oregon St - Pittsburg Rd/Wyeth St - Columbia Blvd/ACE Hardware - Rite Aid - Scappoose Post Office/Laurel Street/on Highway 30 - 1st St/Prairie St - SE 4th St/E Columbia Ave - SE 4th St/Maple St - SE 4th St/Elm St - SE Endicott /SE Elm St - SE 6th St/High School Way (Scappoose HS) - SE 6th St/Frederick St - Bi-Mart/SE 2nd St - Fred Meyer parking lot near BottleDrop - EM Watts Road (Scappoose Middle School) - Walmart parking lot (Gable Road) - Columbia County Mental Health Creekside (off McNulty Way) - Columbia County Sheriff's Office parking lot (Port Ave/Old Portland Road) - Columbia County Courthouse Plaza/Strand Street - Deer Island Rd/Oregon St.

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Page last modified on February 12, 2018, at 08:13 PM