Thursday, July 31, 2014

Cherriots Holds Open Houses on Proposed Route and Service Changes

At last week's board meeting, Cherriots adopted the "Moving Forward" plan, aimed at implementing the service recommendations generated by Jarrett Walker's study earlier this year.

Cherriots proposed five-day coverage for West Salem
only Edgewater route (G) goes downtown
Both Wallace and Edgewater routes go downtown
Perhaps the most notable element? The void in West Salem.While there are prospects for piloting a "flexible transit" route on the west side, at the moment, Cherriots has thrown in the towel, saying "it's too hard" to serve West Salem.

This approach may save Cherriots short-term budget, but it exacts a great cost on Salem generally as it will tend to increase drive-alone trips across the bridges. This looks like a strategic mistake and a tactical trade-off in the wrong direction. Lots of the residents in the hills work in downtown, and the service plan just abandons them.

"most of these workers have jobs located in downtown Salem"
(from the flexible transit study)
People want improved service, not depleted service.

Public wants better, not worse, bus service in West Salem
Public Comment summary at June 26 Oversight Team
(see more discussion at N3B)
Still, the improved Edgewater service will support transit-friendly redevelopment in the gridded, close-in flats. It also better serves the existing neighborhood.

Fortunately, other parts make sense. On some other routes along busy roads dense with destinations, there are several instances of an increase in frequency. Service at 15 minute intervals is great! You almost don't have to look at a schedule. That's convenience.

The full map of proposed system

The current system map for comparison
The first presentation is today, Thursday the 31st, from 3pm to 7pm in the customer service lobby of the downtown transit center at Courthouse Square. Many more follow it.

For the full schedule with events in August and September see the Moving Forward page (scroll to bottom).


Mike D said...

The problem with West Salem is that most of the area is not designed for transit. So it is a valid question to ask whether service should be offered to an area that has few "places" and a community (and council member) who think that it makes sense to spend millions of dollars to widen a road.

Transit is about connecting places, ideally a combination of residences and businesses. And that has a good street grid. That is not very common in West Salem. I supported the B on B suggestion for free parking the Wallace Marine Park. Of course that wouldn't reduce traffic on West Salem roads. But unless that part of town stops accommodating cars at the expense of everyone else, then why should we subsidize them with bus transit. People have the option where to live and how to get around. I don't think that West Salemites should get special treatment at the expense of the rest of the Salem-Keizer UGB.

Salem Breakfast on Bikes said...

A reader writes:

"I am with you on 99% of things but I think you should reconsider this. As Mike D mentioned, the parts of West Salem apart from the Edgewater and Wallace corridors have a land use pattern that lends itself poorly to transit.

A few lines on a map running infrequently is what we have now, and ridership is abysmal. There are stops where literally nobody boards. The vast majority of ridership comes from a trip or two after West Salem high lets out.

You should read some of Jarrett Walker's writing. He talks about transit agencies should making a clear decision about how much of their service will be dedicated to ridership, and how much will be dedicated to coverage. There is a tradeoff and you can't do both without an unlimited budget. This map is what you get when you say you want to spend 75% of the buses' time on ridership, and 25% on coverage. There isn't enough coverage to cover all of the marginal areas.

In return, we will get all-day 15 minute service on key corridors with land use patterns that give us a chance at better ridership, and reduction in auto use. This is a good thing!

Of course the have to be trade-offs. But there's a looming $1 billion dollar project in part of the area.

This is what's baffling. The easy trade-off of pennies on a dollar: between saving a couple of million in operational expenses and saying we need a billion dollar bridge.

Cherriots has abandoned service in this area and said, "we prefer you spend $1 billion on this project." Neither the Walker study nor the flexible transit study included a substantial number of downtown workers. They weren't asked how service might be configured to work for them - what it would take to shift them from drive-alone trips. Even if that was too expensive right now, then a serious plan could be formulated to accomplish that.

But we aren't even trying to implement the relatively weak recommendations in "Alternate Modes Study"

As for Walker's writings, ICYMI here's the very first note in coverage of the study.

The 75/25 split works in most of the places around town, but because of this looming $1 billion project, we should take extra care in West Salem to make sure we don't stint on transit now and create a $1 billion problem later.

(Also an earlier reader pointed out that the Wallace route also went downtown, and the caption has been updated.)

Anonymous said...

We aren't presently facing a choice between bolding a bridge or serving West Salem with transit; the choice is between spending limited transit dollars in West Salem, or somewhere else in town.

In the most "optimistic" scenario, the bridge won't be built for many years. The decision about how to run transit is now. I don't get why it is a good idea to use our limited transit funds on running empty buses around the West Salem hills when people might actually ride them if deployed elsewhere.

Anonymous said...

And yet we are still spending millions on planning for the bridge. This money is real and is being spent now—and it would have a much more beneficial impact if it were spent to improve transit instead.

Anonymous said...

What would happen if parking downtown were appropriately priced, tolls were implemented on the bridges, and West Salem had fully functional transit service? Transit use in West Salem would surely grow, and thus transit would have the finances to fund its expansion.

This doesn't have to be the exact model, but there is much potential for bus service to expand and become more reliable in Salem and to increase ridership. Instead, bus service continues to be cut, which leads to a downward spiral in which fewer people are served so fewer people ride so the bus system receives less money so fees increase etc. etc.

Salem Breakfast on Bikes said...

Amen, 10:43.

Re: "The decision about how to run transit is now. I don't get why it is a good idea to use our limited transit funds on running empty buses around the West Salem hills when people might actually ride them if deployed elsewhere."

The claim isn't that we should be "running empty buses around the West Salem Hills."

The claim, and you may be right indirectly that not enough time has been spent here discussing the process as opposed to the outcome, is that neither the flexible transit study nor the comprehensive service study has asked what it would take to offer effective service in the West Salem Hills.

Both studies take it as a given that it's too hard to serve those hills.

Why didn't the studies go to downtown employers - and I'm thinking here principally of the State - and ask what it would take to offer them meaningful transit? And then create a plan to fulfill that - a plan that might not be very immediate, sure.

As for "the bridge won't be built for many years. The decision about how to run transit is now" - the more we dig in on auto-dependent patterns and development, the more it entrenches and exacerbates auto-oriented patterns. Disinvesting in transit now creates or intensifies problems in the future.

All in all, the future cost of a bridge is externalized in today's transit costs and debate.

(We need tolls so that the cost isn't externalized.)

Salem Breakfast on Bikes said...

Yes, and 10:48, as well!

Anonymous said...

Maybe we need a "Transit System Development Charge" on development that is not served by transit. If that makes the development "too expensive," then maybe it's not a good time and place for the development.