Wednesday, May 23, 2018

Static on the South Salem Transit Center, Survey on New Fares - At Cherriots

Cherrots' board meets tomorrow, Thursday the 24th, and there's a few items to note in passing. (Agenda and full packet here.)

Concept for the South Salem Transit Center -
Slices a strip of parking lot from Walmart (December 2015)
At last month's meeting it became apparent that plans for the South Salem Transit Center had run into some difficulty.

Public Comment: Walmart is not a fan

So Cherriots is preparing to use Eminent Domain
Whether Cherriots will actually use Eminent Domain is not clear, but the prospect of it certainly helps with leverage during negotiations. So that's a development to keep an eye on. (Some notes from 2014 on the preferred location.)

They've also got a survey out on a proposal for a new fare scheme.

Probably the most significant is an expansion to the low-income fare and a free youth pass. (There are some other elements, too.)

You can take the survey here.

In addition to the South Salem Transit Center, as well as the big move to weekend and evening service, another large issue is upcoming changes to the way the Board is formed. With the passage of SB 1536, which "Provides that directors of certain mass transit districts be appointed by Governor instead of elected," the Board is facing its own dissolution. It did so willingly, but members are still going to be phasing themselves out.

Over on BikePortland a couple months ago, the former Board Chair of Oregon Walks had some notes about Trimet and its Board, which seem relevant here (part 1, part 2).
The most charitable take on TriMet’s willingness to consider the three-freeway-expansions-for-a light rail line bargain proposed last year stems from an agency with an outdated understanding of the region’s needs and electorate. TriMet would rather partner with ODOT to scheme for joint projects than disprove the notion the region would fund transit without also doling out freeway expansions to sprawl-hungry Washington and Clackamas counties....

Groups like Business for a Better Portland are beginning to challenge the notion that Portland’s business leaders are monolithically committed to last century’s broken infrastructure and austerity politics. Metro, the regional government lining up major regional campaigns for massive investments in housing, parks and transportation, would greatly benefit with TriMet as a partner in pushing for healthier, forward thinking solutions and retiring outdated ideas.

Until political careers are made or broken by one’s ability to integrate the voices of these political factions into TriMet’s decision-making and visioning process, the entity will remain wholly incapable of directing resources towards investments and policies, and campaigns for public support that serve these needs. A TriMet governed with these interests in mind would understand the need for greater skepticism for freeway boondoggles. This is the sort of accountability that OPAL is demanding from TriMet; the simple, radical notion that, to quote Saint Jane (Jacobs), “Cities have the capability of providing something for everybody, only because, and only when, they are created by everybody.”
The pieces are worth reading in full, especially for what they say about the governance structure. They show some of the danger of a transit agency too strongly aligned with the Governor, other state agencies like ODOT, or captive to autoist business interests. At least with local election, you can vote out board members.

Cherriots' position on the Salem River Crossing was very tepid and passive, but finally they began to express some skepticism on its merits.

It is interesting in this context to see more muscle on the prospect of using Eminent Domain for the South Salem Transit Center.

Would a Board appointed by the Governor be more likely to engage in full-throated dissent on the SRC and a defense of other kinds of mobility? Or would they be more likely to embrace the boondoggle in misguided "consensus" politics and/or an excessively developer-oriented view towards transit investment?

The change to an appointed board offers both peril and opportunity. "Be careful what you ask for!"

So that's something to watch. (Here are some previous notes.)

The WanderWalks map for Grant and Highland (back in December)
And in a brief reference from the TripChoice group, it looks like there will be out soon a new WanderWalks map centered on State Street. The Grant/Highland edition (clip above) will also be republished with an update and minor revisions, as well as a Spanish version. All will be very nice to see!

The Salem Area Mass Transit District Board of Directors meets Thursday the 24th, at 6:30pm, in Courthouse Square, the Senator Hearing Room, 555 Court St NE.   


Anonymous said...

The new Grant/Highland WanderWalks maps just arrived. They contain some updates and are now in English and Spanish. Copies are available at the Downtown Transit Center or by contacting Thanks.

Salem Breakfast on Bikes said...

There is more than static on the South Salem Transit Center! In the minutes to the December 13th Board meeting, Cherriots say they're returning the ConnectOregon funding.

"Without an agreement [with Walmart to purchase the property] and other delays, the District and legal counsel determined it could not meet the deadlines of the Connect Oregon grant for land acquisition or for a construction completion date by the end of 2020. As a result, the District will inform the Oregon Department of Transportation (ODOT) of its intent to terminate its Connect Oregon grant agreement with the State for the SSTC. The District will continue with the land acquisition process and to seek funding to complete the project. This delay presents opportunities for refining the project. The District will re-engage the Board at the February 11, 2019 work session for a serious discussion about their next steps and how to get funding."