Island Transit is now offering on-demand service in northwest Oak Harbor and expanded on-demand rides specifically for Navy personnel.
On-demand service means residents can order a bus ride anytime from 8 a.m. to 6 p.m. Mondays through Fridays and be picked up and dropped off from 16 designated stops on a route in Oak Harbor.
The changes, which began Jan. 30, are part of “Island Transit Maximized,” an effort to provide service to previously underserved areas and increase accessibility to existing routes. Additionally, service hours were also increased across many of the routes on Whidbey Island.
Selene Muldowney-Stratton, marketing and communications officer for Island Transit, said the upgrades have been in the works since September of last year. She said more on-demand service will be provided to other parts of the island throughout the year.
For those who work at Naval Air Station Whidbey Island, there are a total of 71 pick-up and drop-off locations to and from the base in the morning and afternoon hours. Muldowney-Stratton said this has been a collaborative effort between Island Transit and NAS Whidbey. Island Transit has provided a commuter shuttle to the base for the past couple of years in order to encourage people to use other transport options rather than single-occupancy vehicles. This speeds up the process for base entry.
For other residents, on-demand service is available in Zone 3, which is the northwest area of Oak Harbor, previously known as Route 3. With this expanded pilot program, called Island Transit Go!, riders can schedule rides online, with an app, or by calling dispatch at 360-678-7771. The app and web link for on-demand services will be available mid-February.
On-demand services require a reservation made at least two hours in advance. All services are fare-free.
These expansions are in line with Island Transit’s goals to reduce people’s carbon footprint and provide reliable transportation for those who don’t own vehicles.
“We want to bring equity to everyone on the island,” Muldowney-Stratton said.
Island Transit also plans to add later hours and Sunday service before the end of the year.