The Linn-Benton Loop will mark its 40th anniversary on Tuesday, August 25, 2020. The City of Albany has operated the Loop since its inception.
Began in response to the gas crisis of the early 1970s and established in 1974 by the Linn-Benton Transit Committee of the Oregon District 4 Council of Governments, the Linn-Benton Loop bus service was officially dedicated on August 25, 1980, with the help of numerous local agencies involved in planning and implementing the service. The original Loop fare was 50 cents, operated with a leased 53-passenger Crown Coach, and provided transportation between Albany, Linn-Benton Community College, Corvallis, Philomath, and Adair Village; service to Oregon State University began one month later. The first new Loop bus, a Gillig Phantom, was bought in 1983. Over the years, the schedule has ranged between 5-14 runs per day.
Today, the Loop operates with three buses, makes 10 runs per day, and has a cash fare of $1.50. Two new expansion buses have been ordered and are due to arrive in the spring of 2021. These new buses are being purchased with State Transportation Improvement Funds (STIF) allocated to the Loop by Linn and Benton counties and the Oregon Department of Transportation, Public Transit Division.
Ridership has been at an all-time low during COVID-19 and service has been reduced since spring. Fare collection was also suspended during this period to allow passengers to enter the rear doors and increase physical distancing for transit operators. The City of Albany is planning to return to normal Loop service levels with the start of the academic year. Service will also include the addition of enhanced cleaning protocols, new disinfecting equipment, and new distancing rules for passengers to fully comply with the Governor’s orders and Oregon Health Authority guidelines.
“For 40 years, thousands and thousands of individuals have benefitted from this vital transportation link between communities. Records indicate that since 2002, the Loop has provided 1.77 million rides and counting!” said Barry Hoffman, Transit Programs Supervisor for the City of Albany. Hoffman added, “The Linn-Benton Loop is looking toward the future and planning for the transportation needs in the mid-valley as well as celebrating the past accomplishments of the service. Of course, none of our accomplishments could have been achieved without our dedicated staff and our fabulous riders. Happy 40th birthday, Loop!”
Funding for the Loop includes Federal, State, and local support. The cities of Albany and Corvallis, Oregon State University, Linn-Benton Community College, Linn and Benton counties, Federal Transit Administration, Oregon Department of Transportation - Public Transit Division, Samaritan Health Systems, Hewlett-Packard, and cash fares all contribute to the operation of the Loop. Pass programs allow anyone with valid identification from OSU, LBCC, HP, and Samaritan Health Systems to ride for free.
Information about the Loop can be found at www.taketheloop.com or by calling 541-917-7667.