BEND,Ore.- - Over the years, the area surrounding the bus station on Hawthorne and Fourth Street in Bend has become increasingly unsafe for people shopping and living in the area, according to neighbors who are urging the city to take action.
Bend police said Thursday they have received a high volume of calls related to intoxication, drug-related crimes and loitering at the Cascades East Transit bus station. The location has attracted many homeless individuals to the area, which adds to the foot traffic of those using the bus services.
Officers said there is an increase in officer-initiated calls and the department will implement more patrols to the area to ensure public safety.
Lt. Jason Maniscalco said: "We have an increase in officer-related calls, which means our officers are around there more often, which is a good thing.
"We want our officers around those areas where we have calls for service. When we get those calls from the citizens, we take appropriate action. If it's a person that is intoxicated, we're handling that accordingly, or an unwanted person, removing them from the area, and just adding more patrols."
Maniscalco said while bus stations have to be in a centrally located area, they are still trying to pinpoint why there has been an increase in safety concerns at this particular location.
Area businesses and neighbors recently have been speaking out about their experiences being so close to the station.
Bend Family Dentistry, a nearby business, said it is facing new safety concerns due to the congestion the bus station has caused and the loitering around the area.
A representative said the business has dealt with non-patrons wandering its hallways and even sneaking into the storage area to sleep.
Representatives also said the increasing number of buses has caused a lot of traffic, for not only the businesses, but also the neighbors who live in the area.
Bend Family Dentistry owner Brad Hester said, "So there are some tough solutions that have to come out of this."
"What we'd like to see immediately, knowing that moving the bus station is a long-term issue, is obviously increasing the safety around the building, to figuring out a way to cut down the congestion, because there are just way too many buses trying to fit into that space. It's not only affecting our business, but other businesses, but also the neighbors."
Hester said he hopes immediate action is taken to solve the problem, so the business does not have to address these issues by itself.
One city council speaker, Chris Edmonds, said the current site is poorly designed, overcrowded and unsafe. Another said the transit station has simply outgrown its current location.
Other neighbors said they have lost business due to the bus station and related congestion and vagrancy, and that the buses can block access, making parking and visiting the businesses difficult.
Another Bend Family Dentistry representative said many employees are afraid to go out into the parking lot, especially at night, due to the safety situation.
A representative from Cascades East Transit said they are working with the city and in conversation with the city transportation and traffic engineers, to help ensure the safety of pedestrians and motorists in the area.
While they're still discussing the location of the bus station, the representative said for short-term improvements, the bus service is focused on current facility needs the station has.
Michelle Rhodes, transportation manager for CET, said, "Central Oregon Intergovernmental Council (the operators of the transit system) is committed to being a good partner in continuing the conversation and finding positive outcomes and solutions to address our neighbor concerns."
She said a new transportation plan is underway and that work will be ongoing for the next few months.