Tuesday, January 30, 2018

Cherriots Need Assessment Points to Service Expansion

Cherriots' Board met last week, but unfortunately the meeting packet's not yet published to the web.

It would be nice to review the Legislative agenda, and in particular to see the "Service Change Proposal and Public Engagement Plan."

Needs Assessment
They have, however, published a major document that feeds into the service change proposal, the "2017 Needs Assessment."

That's worth a look, especially if you are interested in transit. (Hopefully the City's transit committee will have seen it also.)

This is not at all a comprehensive overview or summary, but here are some observations on things that stood out on a quick read.

Some Maps and Tables

The map of boardings is always interesting. Lancaster's just a huge area of activity.

Map of 2017 boardings
Boardings per hour
Something to keep in mind when you hear the tech-bro utopian fantasy of door-to-door service from robot cars is that boarding rates of greater than 10/hour are nearly impossible. Fixed-route transit is necessary to reach boarding rates higher than this. The kind of service offered by the "neighborhood shuttle" might at some point work with the robot car and on-demand service, but the main corridor service and the bulk of an urban transit network cannot be served in that way.

There are lots of maps in the report, the usual maps of residential and jobs density, poverty, ethnicity, etc., but two metrics that have not got a lot of attention were those on the density of "car-free" households and households with disabled residents. These correlate some with income and multi-family housing, of course. Still, it is interesting how much Lancaster dominates this and how little we really think about making Lancaster wonderful, not just tolerable, for life without frequent drive-alone car trips.

Car-free households
People with disabilities
More generally, at present Cherriots has to ask, given existing conditions how can we improve service?

But with the City as lead, and in tandem with Cherriots, we should be asking, given where it is easiest to serve with good transit, should we upzone nearby?

We know we are projected for a great deficit of land zoned for multi-family housing and for a surplus of land zoned for single-family housing. How can we make our land-use policy better support transit? Right now too much of the question is, how can our transit support existing land use?

On the State Street Study, for example, might be a place where we see some of the disconnect. We certainly see this on the Mill Creek Corporate Center area.

The City's Public Transit Committee does not appear to be positioned to dig into the structural elements that impede or assist transit, and instead are stuck with cosmetic things like better paint on the bus stops.

Unmet Needs and Recommendations

Most of the recommendations are not surprising. At the top of the list, Number 1, is Saturday service. Evening, Sunday, and Holiday service followed immediately.

On Eugene's EmX New Years Day: 15 minute service
on the reader board; no consulting a schedule necessary
(bus only lane in concrete, distinct from the asphalt)
Saturday Service
It is reasonable for Cherriots' own reporting and analysis to focus on what it can control or what its current and prospective users might like. But in the "unmet" needs we really start to see the lack of coordination.

Weekday Frequency
Salem Health promotes walking as a discretionary, consumer choice.

via Facebook

(I think this is from Portland)
But they do not seem very interested in charging for parking and reducing the indirect subsidy for parking and for drive-alone trips. They are not interested for this at their own hospital campus, nor are they interested in advocating for changes in City policy to support active transportation better. Until we do a better job of integrating walking into a holistic approach to transportation, which makes walking priority number 1, we are stuck with this consumerist model of discretionary choices for leisure time activity, which remain subordinated to the primacy of drive-alone trips. This approach directly hampers our own transit network and all other approaches to transportation.

In two other areas, infrastructure not controlled by Cherriots are also implicated. They recommend waiting on further changes in West Salem and any service on Fisher Road.

West Salem and D Street
The case of D Street is also interesting. Because it is sandwiched between Center and Market Streets, which are busy and full of commercial destinations, and therefore part of the Core Network, service on D Street is in some ways superfluous. It's not a long walk from D Street to Center or Market. But D Street is vastly more pleasant for walking than are Center and Market. That's a tough renunciation, but understandable. (If long ago D Street had been upzoned for "missing middle" kinds of housing, maybe it would now have the density and service demand to warrant service even with the Core Network corridors on Center and Market.)

Fisher Road: Needs Sidewalks
For better on-time performance, when will we want to start talking about dedicated bus lanes or jump queues at lights? This is really an issue in Portland, but Salem might not be there yet. Still, would a dedicated bus lane on the bridges and Wallace Road make transit more attractive? We may want to talk less about level of service for drive-alone trips at intersections and instead about incenting bus trips by making sure the bus lanes are uncongested and that buses enjoy signal priority.

On-time Performance
Free youth pass
A youth bus pass is attractive also.

Next Steps

According to the report
Once the service plans are developed, staff will bring both to the public in February and March 2018. There will be extensive outreach during this period to ensure the voices of riders and the larger community are heard.
One round of adjustments would be implemented then in September of 2018, and a larger menu of service expansion funded by last years Legislation would launch in September of 2019. The next Board meeting will be on Thursday, February 22nd.


Susann Kaltwasser said...

Cherriots is putting together a Citizen's Advisory Committee to help them make better choices. I think this is a great idea and I hope that they can find some good, diverse citizens to apply. Tonight at a meeting one person talked about how it is to be in a wheelchair and use their services. Such good information they had!

Apparently they are not getting many people to sign up, so please consider it!

To apply people can go to their webpage and find out how to sign up. It is about a 6 month obligation with monthly meetings.

Salem Breakfast on Bikes said...

If you are interested, here is the page that describes the committee with links to the application materials for downloading etc.!