The Rogue Valley Transportation District continues a tradition that began in 1891 with a single track of passenger rail line connecting the county seat in Jacksonville with the railroad town of Medford. By 1915, the White Pennant Auto Line had begun running nine-passenger touring cars four times a day between Medford and Ashland. In 1920, the Ashland-Medford Auto Line was charging 50 cents for the 34-minute journey and passengers were given “good, comfortable robes” to wear.
During the Second World War, Rogue Valley Transit offered bus service for tens of thousands of soldiers and workers stationed at Camp White, where White City is today. “Save Tires and Gasoline,” exhorted company ads, which reminded readers, “Your car should be used sparingly as you probably won’t be able to get a new one for a long time to come.” The round-trip fare from Camp White to Medford was 40 cents. Valley transit service during the fifties and sixties was offered through private firms such as Evergreen and Mt. Ashland Stage Lines.
When Rogue Valley Transportation District was formed in 1975, it was the first of its kind in Oregon to be created under revised state law. Although RVTD existed in a legal sense, it would be another year-and-a-half of organizing, planning, and funding before the first two leased vans would begin service. On July 18, 1977, Rogue Valley residents had their own transportation network. However, with just two vans serving 90,000 people, service left something to be desired in those early days!
RVTD’s first five years saw a gradual expansion in transit service from the initial two-vehicle schedule. By 1982, a zone fare system was adopted, standardized schedules were established, and hours of service were extended. Saturday service was launched in the summer of 1983.
Today, RVTD operates a revenue fleet of 40 buses, including 27 powered by clean-burning compressed natural gas – the first buses of their kind to enter service in Oregon. Every bus in the fleet is accessible to people with disabilities. Every bus in the fleet is equipped with a bicycle rack.
RVTD services cover an approximate 300-miles, fixed-route system and paratransit service, that serves the residents of seven communities. Passenger ridership grows steadily.