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In Alaska: I get off the plane in Juneau with time to kill before my next flight. I climb onto the public bus to head downtown. There’s one open seat next to a lady in tattered clothes with obvious scratches and bruising. She does not look good. I sit next to her, and she starts eating a cold pack of Ballpark Franks. She bursts into laughter every time the driver turns the wheel. She must be on heavy drugs. She smells like sewage and hotdogs. I get off the bus taking in my first breath of fresh air in what seems like an eternity.

In the Methow: Public transportation barely exists here, but it’s better. A lot better. Despite my Alaska memories, I like the idea of using it.

Public transportation in the Methow Valley is one door-to-door bus and one taxi. The door-to-door caters to seniors operating out of the senior center during the meal schedule. It runs Monday, Thursday, and Friday 8:30 a.m. to 11:30 am and 1 p.m. to 4 p.m. It costs a dollar per pickup in town and two dollars per pickup out of town. Even though most riders are seniors, the county-funded service is available to the public. I pick up the phone to call the senior center, 509-997-7722, for a ride from Winthrop to Twisp, and discover they need about 24 hours advance notice. This won’t be my only attempt to tap this resource.

Over the summer my friends and I waste a lot of gas shuttling cars when we float the river. As long as I float on Monday, Thursday, or Friday I could have the door-to-door shuttle give me a ride back to my car. The bus can also be chartered by calling Okanogan County Transportation and Nutrition, 509-826-4391. Just to give you an idea, a three-hour rental with 40 miles of driving costs $111. Divide that by 15 people and you get an extremely cheap shuttling service for trails, biking, hiking, skiing, wedding shuttles and whatever else you can dream of. As long as the charter is scheduled in advance, chances of them meeting your itinerary are good.

Erin Flahive works at based out of Twisp Works. She’s been completing a community needs assessment. She defined increased public transportation in the valley’s top five needs. The survey results, so far, show that only 5% of Methow Valley residents think public transportation meets public needs very well. There’s an equal split between moderately well and not very well. 40% of the population says that transportation has been a problem. Besides the door-to-door service, Flahive says that other ways to find transportation include the Gabby Cabby or posting carpool needs on the bulletin board. You can fill out Flahive’s community needs survey at

It’s no secret: if you’ve ever gone out for multiple cocktails in Winthrop or Twisp someone has to stay sober to drive. We play paper-rock-scissors for who has to be the designated driver. Susan Speir, owner of the Gabby Cabby, tried to solve this problem January 1st, last year, when she opened her cab service. Being on call didn’t work due to the demanding hours with just one driver. She attended multiple public transportation meetings, and found it obvious that she wasn’t going to receive any public help. “The framework is there,” she says. “With public support I could hire a driver to be on shift for the evening.” Several bars reported not being able to reach her. “It’s because I’m the only driver,” she says. If people call a day in advance she is usually able to accommodate. Due to high gas and insurance prices, the Gabby Cabby is rarely able to make a run for less than 20 bucks.



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