Wednesday, March 22, 2017

Cherriots Board meets Thursday, SKATS Open House Today

The Cherriots' Board meets tomorrow night, and there were a couple of small things to note in passing.

Last month the committee for the Special Transportation Fund met and allocated some grant money, and while the Hospital didn't get entirely shut out, they got much less than they asked for.

Salem Health only partially funded for
Transportation Coordinator
(February 7th, Special Transportation Fund meeting)
It seems quite likely that this is related to the fact that the Hospital had recieved $50,000 for a similar coordinator position in 2014 or 2015, and then turned around and gave $50,000 to the anti-Cherriots effort on the November ballot.

October 2015
The monies came out of different accounts, so it's not like the Hospital passed the exact same money from Cherriots to anti-Cherriots, but it wasn't a good look and said something about the Hospital's values, about the way they view the community, and about their view of transit.

The situation is also problematic for those who rely on the transportation. Should they be punished because of the Hospital's violation of trust?

The Hospital really needs to give more thought to this and the relation of mobility to public health. Their focus has seemed to be on marketing and some greenwash even. Just Walk has an event on "National Walking Day" in which the Hospital is involved, but consistently they seem to support this kind of elective, "special event" walking that uses discretionary time and income, and do not support more structural measures and policy, like better transit, land use, and facilities for walking and biking. Things that make healthy mobility a banal part of every day life. They certainly don't seem all that interested in ending subsidies for and reducing employee drive-alone trips. Any focus on changing mobility and active transport has been through a shallow commitment in a consumer model of individual discretionary choice, more for appearance than substance. They don't seem interested in altering systems that make it easy for people to choose to walk, bike, or bus.

So in this context it was interesting to see a small note about "sustainability" in strategic planning for Cherriots.

Add "sustainability" to strategic plan
(March 6th Work Session)
It will be in the details, in how they instantiate an interest in sustainability at the level of budgeting and planning, but that was nice to see. It also could be another point of entry for critique of the Salem River Crossing.

Not on the agenda, but perhaps worth a brief comment - you may have noticed that Cherriots is gradually rolling out a new logo and branding.

Old at top, new at bottom
The new logo certainly conveys the idea of motion better, but it also removes the nod to local history. The new logo is much more generic. That seems like a real loss. Even if Cherriots is an undernourished and underpowered transit agency, it is a local agency and not some faceless corporation. It's disappointing they couldn't keep the notion of a cherry in the logo.

Parenthetically, you might have seen the BikePortland piece about Trimet's wayward interest in highway expansion. It really seems like transit agencies struggle to get out of the autoist paradigm for mobility.

Also, over at TransitCenter, they've got a piece about a Kansas City "flexible transit" project that is not very successful:
Hailed as the "future of low density transit," the app-based program provides peak hour on-demand van rides from the University of Kansas Medical Center and 18th and Vine Jazz District to Downtown Kansas City. But available data on the program indicates that usage is practically nonexistent.
That sounds a lot like the West Salem Connector service, which this summer will be up for its second anniversary and evaluation.

The Salem Area Mass Transit District Board of Directors meets Thursday, March 23rd, at 6:30pm, in Courthouse Square, the Senator Hearing Room, 555 Court St NE.

SKATS TIP Open House

And just a reminder that today, Wednesday the 22nd, from 4pm to 6pm our Metropolitan Planning Organization is having an open house for the 2018-2023 funding cycle.

SKATS 2018-2023 TIP Comment Map
For another angle, this one transit-centric, here's how Cherriots describes it:
Learn how transportation dollars can be spent on roadways, transit, bikeways and pedestrian facilities in the Salem-Keizer area during the next six years. The Transportation Improvement Program includes both new and previously approved projects on the regional road system to ease current and future traffic congestion; improve safety; and support transit, carpooling, cycling and pedestrian travel. An interactive map of projects is available, with details and the ability for the public to add comments about each project.

The Transportation Improvement Program is created by the Salem Keizer Area Transportation Study (SKATS). SKATS is a regional planning organization for transportation projects. The point of the organization is to make sure transportation decisions are not made in “silos,” but instead are coordinated between multiple cities, counties, state and other agencies in one area, including the Salem Area Mass Transit District. There are 11 similar organizations in Oregon.

The transit projects listed in the Transportation Improvement Program draft are mostly funded by specific federal grants that cannot be used for everyday operational expenses. For example, Saturday service can’t be funded by these grants. The majority of Cherriots everyday operational expenses are funded by a combination of county property taxes, federal funds and state funds. See the Annual Report for more details on Cherriots operational funds. Many of the federal dollars only can be spent on road projects and not on transit projects.
Look for the historic sign
next to the entry
For previous notes and comment see here and here.

If you want to read the full TIP document here it is.

There will also be a formal Public Hearing next month on April 25th.

SKATS is at 100 High St. SE, Suite 200, above Andaluz Kitchen and Table Five 08.


Jim Scheppke said...

I like the old logo. How much did they have to pay for the new logo. I think it sucks.

Susann Kaltwasser said...

The new Charriots logo is getting a lot of criticism on Facebook. The main concern is not only that the logo is too generic, but that replacing it in all formats costs money. Someone said it was paid for with a federal grant, like that should help ease our minds. Tax money used unwisely is still waste whether it come from local sources or federal sources. It is still our money!

It is a bad PR move and shows that the Board is out of touch with the community. My guess is that the grant was not for changing logos, but probably had a broader goal like how to promote the service.

There are two positions open on the Transit Board coming up for this June. I hope some good people will step up to serve.

Anonymous said...

I was given the chance to comment on the new logo. While I personally find the old one bright and cheery, the Cherriots brand is not well regarded at the moment. I'm not surprised that they found the need to rebrand the system with all of the changes they've made to service over the past two years (not all as good as we hoped, but certainly some things are better).

It is tied to sorting out several problematic numbering system changes and I for one am glad to not to have to keep the 5 and the 5A straight anymore (and similar buses.)