Wednesday, February 25, 2015

Cherriots Defers Measure for Weekend and Evening Service; Other Board Notes

The Cherriots Board meets tomorrow, Thursday the 26th, and there are a number of items of note in it.

Perhaps the most interesting is the decision to defer action on a possible ballot measure for weekend and evening service.

You may recall that there was some discussion of trying to put a measure on the May ballot of either a property tax or a payroll tax that would fund "phase II" of the system realignment - aka "Moving Forward" - and bring some weekend and evening service to Salem.

They consulted with the Chamber of Commerce - and a striking omission in the board materials is the letter from the Salem Chamber of Commerce!
[GM] Mr. Pollock and Board members met with the Salem Chamber Public Policy Committee on January 8th to present Phase II of the Moving Forward plan and receive feedback on expanding service within Salem-Keizer Transit’s service area and how to fund it. The Chamber’s Board of Directors voted on this issue at their January 21st meeting and sent Mr. Pollock a letter with their findings. [minutes from Jan 22 board meeting]
That's as much as Cherriots is sharing. The letter or a summary of its recommendations is nowhere to be found.

That makes you a little suspicious!

Especially considering that there is a full slide deck on a poll that Cherriots commissioned.

Regular folks give more support to a payroll tax

Property tax not as favored
(I don't know all the ins-and-outs of this, but as I recall many years ago the Legislature carved out a special prohibition for Salem-Keizer on a payroll tax. There's an untold story here somewhere in all this. Maybe readers will know more. Additionally, it's too bad that Cherriots didn't seize the opportunity in the polling to compare taxes for the Salem Alternative to taxes for Transit: To ask area citizens, if you got to pick between these two tax packages and services, which would you choose?)

In any case, the disparity between the transparent presentation of the poll and the hidden nature of the Chamber's letter is worth registering.

The upshot: Delay.
Staff recommends the Board delay any decision on when to file notice until further community input is received and considered. Consequentially, this would eliminate a ballot measure for the May 2015 election. Staff also recommends the Board direct the General Manager to seek out additional community input, as proposed above, and bring a report of the finding to the May 2015 Board meeting.
This shouldn't actually surprise us. The timeline had seemed compressed, and so at least from here, this seemed like the most probable and expected outcome.

Other stuff - Transit Center, Service Change Plan

Site assessment: Walmart on Baxter and Commercial best
Cherriots is moving forward on the proposed South Salem Transit Center in the Walmart parking lot. (See previous notes here.) Walmart requires a formal proposal before they will say anything, so more work has to be done on that.
In order to prepare a formal proposal, SAMTD will need engineering support to develop preliminary design concepts to include in the proposal. In addition to the preliminary design concepts, an initial environmental screening evaluation needs to take place to determine the level of National Environmental Policy Act (NEPA) that will need to be conducted prior to full design and development of the SSTC.
Cherriots is looking to purchase up to 175 new bus stop shelters.

There's a large report on the proposal to start the new routes and schedules on September 8th. In it are maps and schedules on the "service change plan."

Evolution of System Realignment from August to February
There's also some public comment.

Concerns about West Salem:
But, we're advocating for a $500 million bridge for you!
There's a quarterly budget report.

Rideshare Report

And the Rideshare report.

Here's the latest:

Drive Less Connect Numbers for Q2, 2014-2015 year
October-December 2014
And here's the same period from last year:

Drive Less Connect Numbers for Q2, 2013-14
Oct-Dec 2013
(See notes on December board meeting for more on Rideshare.)

New users in a list:

303 - Q1, 2013-14
728 - Q2, 2013-14
150 - Q3, 2013-14
139 - Q4, 2013-14
185 - Q1, 2014-15
315 - Q2, 2014-15

The current Rideshare initiative is for car-pooling:

You might have seen the Carpool Karma ads around
(Here's a piece on why carpooling hasn't taken off, "How working women, cheap cars, and Starbucks killed carpooling." Maybe car-pooling won't take off again until we have fully autonomous cars and a large amount of car use morphs into jitney service as people find they don't need themselves to own a car and instead just want to purchase car services for delimited periods of time. Apple's effort - the iCar? - is worth noting, and maybe there will be more to say on this!)

Cherriots' Board meets Thursday the 26th at 6:30pm, Courthouse Square, Senator Hearing Room, 555 Court St NE.


Jim Scheppke said...

I believe the letter from the Chamber to Mr. Pollock qualifies as a public record under Oregon law. I hope you will request a copy and post it on your blog.

Salem Breakfast on Bikes said...

Folks who are interested in making sure Cherriots makes the letter public should email the board at and ask them to post the letter to the website as part of the board's meeting packet. As Jim suggests, it something that really should be public and in the meeting packet.

bbcoy said...

As one of the Directors on the Salem-Keizer Transit Board, I hope I can help shed some light on the situation, at least with regards to my perspective. Now that we just approved implementation of our system redesign (Moving Forward Phase I), the next step, which is now my priority, is weekend and evening service (Moving Forward Phase II).

We've been doing outreach to various groups, including the Salem Area Chamber, to try to get a feel for payroll vs. property tax options, but when it became clear that time was too short for a May ballot measure, to me the most prudent course of action is to take a step back and refocus on the bigger picture, namely how important weekend and evening service are to our community.

As our Board of Directors candidates reach out to the public during May elections, we can focus our discussions on our desire to meet the glaring need in our community to have weekend and evening transit service. We can have an open discussion about both funding options rather than the focus becoming more about a specific ballot measure. The funding option we choose is a detail that can wait until the fall, and my hope is that it will be a more clear decision when the time comes to make it.

In the meantime, now that we are implementing improved and streamlined services, I say it is high time to get the community excited about the opportunity we have before us for providing full services to the community!

I hope we can work together in this effort, and please don't hesitate to contact me at with ideas and questions.

Brad Coy
Salem-Keizer Transit Board of Directors, Subdistrict 2 (Keizer)

Salem Breakfast on Bikes said...

Thanks for stopping by!

The opinion here, as you might guess, is that the biggest thing Cherriots could do to generate greater enthusiasm for transit is to ditch support for the Third Bridge and to mount a vigorous case for why investment in transit offers a greater return than investment on a giant bridge and highway.

Even if in a neutral way, Citizens had a clear comparison of how much transit they could get for $500 million vs. the Salem Alternative for $500 million - it seems like that would make for a pretty obvious choice.

It would also be helpful to know how supportive the Chamber is of expanded transit service. By keeping their recommendations private, it feels like business could be trying to frame transit as a frill and amenity rather than a core mobility service and baseline for a municipality.