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Riders and employees can now take public transit all the way to Timberline Lodge.

Editor's Note: The information in this article has been updated in a follow-up story about the renamed and expanded Mt. Hood Express running from Sandy to Mount Hood seven days a week.

The Mt. Hood Express bus line has expanded its service to Skibowl and Timberline with buses running seven days a week, seven times a day during the winter season, December 1-March 31.

The expansion marks the first time that public transit has brought riders from Sandy to the slopes. It could prove a key step toward a functioning public transit system that serves all the resorts of Mount Hood, similar to transit in other urban areas near mountain resorts, such as Salt Lake City.

The cost of the ride is $2 one way. Buses will travel from Sandy Transit Center through Hoodland and up the mountain, with stops in The Resort at the Mountain, Skibowl, Govy and Timberline.There will be service every day in winter except Thanksgiving and Christmas.

Here is a link to the schedule.

Jon Tullis, the public affairs director for Timberline, says the expansion means a lot to Timberline. "It's a way of moving our workforce, and it's a way of reconnecting with people in our communities who might not have had access to Timberline, such as the elderly and teens."

Hans Wipper, the operations manager for Skibowl, says the express "will be a fantastic option for teenagers who don't have their licenses yet, and anybody who's not comfortable driving in the snow."

Skibowl and Timberline are chipping in $45,000 a year for the bus service, which is run by Clackamas County. The Resort at the Mountain is also contributing $10,000.

The expansion probably saved the Mountain Express, which was on the verge of ending service for money reasons. The improved bus run may prove a good way to save on the stress of driving on ice and looking for a parking space at Skibowl or Timberline. Unfortunately, it's looking a lot slower than driving. With seven stops between the Sandy Transit Center and Timberline Lodge, the estimated transit time from Sandy to the lodge is 65 minutes. That's without the chain-up time expected on snow days.

Organizers have ordered two custom-made four-wheel-drive winter buses tricked out with ski and snowboard racks and bike trailers for 2014-15. But for now they will be using big old clunker "retro" buses formerly used in the Rogue Valley. We'll see how they handle the ride up come January.

Still, anything that reduces cars on the road and in the parking lot is worth a try, right?

There are tons of potential projects being considered to improve safety, congestion and parking on Mount Hood, ranging from bike lanes to an aerial tram, but expanding the Mountain Express was immediate and doable, and as of October it is a done deal.

What do you think? Have you ridden the Mountain Express? Will you?