Friday, June 20, 2014

Cherriots Comprehensive Service Analysis Out

Jarrett Walker and Associates has released the final system analysis, the Existing Conditions Report, and the Comprehensive Service Analysis.

The study usefully - if unhappily - complicates our understanding of local transit.

The scope of Cherriots' deline in funding and boarding numbers hasn't always been clear to those of us who don't follow transit closely - but this graph of employment and boardings shows how transit here is less and less an attractive choice for commuters (the graph does not, however, control for the loss of Saturday service, and so I think it overstates the decline in commuter boardings.)

That's a lot of decline in the number of boardings and customers! There are other dispiriting graphs, too.

It's a tough nut to crack.

A Giant Lacuna

There are other tough nuts.

I get that the job of Cherriots isn't to save Salem from its own terrible choices.

But I still expect a transit agency to think strategically about the folly of the Third Bridge.

In the 80pp Existing Conditions Report, the word "bridge" appears six times. In the 62pp Comprehensive Service Analysis, it appears once.

Seven times! You'd never guess that a billion dollar bridge and highway was being planned or that investments in transit might a cheaper and more cost-effective way to improve mobility.

But here's the thing: Even an inefficient transit system has to be cheaper than a giant bridge and highway!

And disinvesting in West Salem transit will only tend to increase drive-alone trips and pressure for a third bridge.

Fortunately there is a little bit of talk about land use.

The study recognizes that a lot of new development in Salem is car-dependent and "sited and designed in a way that makes them expensive and awkward to serve [by transit]." Other development is "low density and unlikely to ever generate much transit demand."

West Salem, too
Land use pattern is key, and we aren't going to make very good progress until we start integrating land use and transportation planning so that people feel realistically that they have a menu of transportation choices they can easily shift between.

We also have to be willing to talk about ending free parking and starting to toll the bridges. If we want demand for transit, we have to end the subsidies for drive-alone trips, or at least to incorporate better pricing signalling into each trip.

Maybe there will be more to say in another note.

Both this study and the flexible transit study will present to the Board on Thursday the 26th. The Board meets at 6:30pm, Courthouse Square, Senator Hearing Room, 555 Court St NE.

The Comprehensive Service Analysis and Existing Conditions Report are available as very large pdfs. Other docs here at the Board agenda.

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