Wednesday, October 25, 2017

First Look at Cherriots Weekend and Evening Proposal

The Cherriots Board also meets on Thursday the 26th. Previously, on Saturday the 21st, they held a retreat and work session for planning the service expansion afforded by new transit funding from HB 2017.

Though it is almost certainly not the most important element of the proposal, the most interesting detail that came out of a quick scan was the most frequent route on the Sunday proposal.

Most Sunday service would be hourly - except Lancaster
The proposed Sunday routes map pretty closely to the "core network" they identified earlier this summer, and on it they propose hourly service. The lone exception is the cross-town route 11 on the Lancaster corridor, for which they propose 30-minute service.

It's interesting that a cross-town route rather than one of the radial routes from the center would be the lone Sunday 30-minuter. In no small part because it is fragmented across three jurisdictions - ODOT, the County, and the City - we don't give Lancaster the attention and care it deserves.

Here is the core network and you can see how it corresponds with Saturday service. Main arterial corridors like N River Road/S Commercial, Market Street, Center Street, State Street, 12th/S Liberty, and Edgewater all would get half-hour service.

Portland Road is an exception.

Proposal for Core Network, July 2017
(list of corridors added to graphic)
30-minute Saturday Service follows Core Network
Without drilling into detail, the draft concept looks like a sensible one, and it will be interesting to see if refinements are mainly in detail, or if there is more fundamental change that Cherriots ends up needing to make.

Another important and interesting element of the proposal is a free youth pass:
We also are proposing to provide free fares for youth 18 and younger. It would amount to eliminating our youth fare and expanding our free fare category to include riders up to 18 years old.

This fare change would benefit students trying to get to school, after-school activities, and summer events. Additionally, it would benefit families who currently have to spend a lot of money to travel together on Cherriots. This proposal would have a positive impact on low-income families, and it would make riding Cherriots more cost-competitive for families currently driving.
That's a great idea, and hopefully the routes and timing will link to schools appropriately and it will all make sense.

There are other elements they are considering:
  • Bus Pass Programs
  • Downtown Circulator
  • Increased Weekday Frequency
  • Additional Coverage
  • Special Event Service
  • Shop and Ride Expansion
But except for weekday frequency on key routes and bus pass programming, these seem secondary, more like amenities, and things to be fit in after the main elements are organized and budgeted.

Here's the proposed timeline:
  • Sept-Nov 2017 - Data Gathering and Draft Plan Development
  • Dec 2017 - Outreach Materials Creation
  • Jan- March 2018 - Public and Internal Outreach
  • March-April 2018 - Plan Revisions and Finalization
  • May 2018 - Board Consideration
  • July 2018 - Implementation, Phase I (Fare Changes)
  • May -Dec 2018 - Implementation, Phase II (Saturday, Sunday, Holidays)
    • Jan 6, 2019 - First Day of Bid
    • Jan 6 , 2019 - First Day of Sunday Service
    • Jan 12, 2019 - First Day of Saturday Service
    • Feb 20, 2019 - First day of Holiday Service (Presidents Day)
  • Jan- May 2019 - Implementation, Phase III (Weeknights)
    • May 6 , 2019 - First Day of Bid and Service
    • May 6 , 2019 - First Day of Extended Weeknight Service
The Board Meeting Proper

The agenda for the Board meeting itself on the 26th is less interesting. (Meeting packets routinely hit 100pp, and this one's only 21pp.)

In the minutes from the last meeting, there were some interesting notes about the West Salem "Connector" replacement.
Director Lincoln asked if Capital Manor had been contacted with the proposed route changes. Mr. Berggren said they did not contact Capital Manor. There is very little ridership there. Director Kelley said Capital Manor has also made some policy changes.
Capital Manor is a retirement community. You would think that bus service would be useful and attractive there. So what is going on? Do other Salem-area retirement communities ignore transit or find it of little use? Is this a class thing, that Capital Manor residents have higher incomes, keep their cars longer, and drive longer? Is Capital Manor a hot-bed of dangerous senior drivers who actually should not be driving? Does Capital Manor have its own fleet of buses? There are many interesting questions here!

Places like Capital Manor exist because aging in place is difficult. They are products in no small part of our approach to land use. Some people would move there anyway, but if we had better land use and transportation that didn't require cars so much, some people might be more interested in different arrangements.

An interesting planning study might be to look at all of the retirement and senior care facilities in Salem. When I see new site plan reviews, it seems like we force them to the edges like high-density apartment complexes, and ensure they remain absolutely car-dependent. Seniors who might like to walk or take the bus may be penalized. Maybe there has already been an adequate investigation of this - do you know?

In a discussion of security operations:
Director Kelley asked if the District could work with the City to get more visibility on bike riding and skateboarding issues that are violations in the downtown area. There used to be signage in the downtown area to warn people against skate boarding or riding their bikes on the sidewalks.
Police routinely ride on the sidewalks instead of in the streets, and they set a bad example. While specific enforcement actions might require them to be on the sidewalk, the fact that they don't move from block-to-block via the streets tells us how lousy are conditions. Our downtown streets remain very hostile to any but the most experienced and confident of cyclists. Even Police don't bike in the street.

Kids on Center Street at Cottage violating the law
But where should they be instead?
While some people will be jerks regardless, a substantial part of our problem with compliance is because we don't provide people on bike with a reasonable alternative in the street.

More enforcement by itself won't solve the problem.

The Salem Area Mass Transit District Board of Directors meets Thursday the 26th, at 6:30pm, in Courthouse Square, the Senator Hearing Room, 555 Court St NE.  

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