Saturday, November 10, 2018

City Council, November 13th - Public Bike System and the Airport

Council meets on Tuesday following the observance of Veterans Day on Monday. They've got transportation projects great and small to consider.

Most interesting here is the small one, "bike share," a public bike rental system. (As with "ride share," there's not really much sharing going on, and it's a ride rental. It is interesting that ride-hailing and ride-booking have become standard for the TNCs, but "bike share" is hanging around. The term also seems inaccurate.)

After word came out in the Bicycling Magazine rating from 2016, and then the SJ wrote a feature later in the year, it's been a winding road. But here we are finally.

Three park sites, one at the transit center
They've been talking about six or seven total stations for launch, but right now at Council there are four only, all in public areas.

Two would be in Riverfront Park, near the playground and Carousel as well as at the Union Street Bridge. A third would be in Bush Park near the Winter Street parking lot, and a fourth at the downtown Transit Center.

Exclusive franchise for Riverfront Park
Most interesting is that the proposed contract includes an exclusive franchise for operating in Riverfront Park.

So this is likely where they see the main market opportunity, for recreation and sight-seeing, not short-hop transportation.

The section on "lost" bicycles is clear that the system is meant for point-to-point trips or for loops. Again, this will limit the bike system's usefulness for short trips and errands. it will be interesting to see, also, how they handle the balancing when one station is empty, and others are over-flowing.

Tethered to the docking stations
The agreement also calls for quarterly reporting. Something we haven't seen yet is any reporting from the TNCs on how many trips, where, how far, how much deadheading - anything useful. The technology companies have been very retentive about sharing information with cities. The reporting here that is proposed is not very detailed and if the City were ever to want more, now would be the time to ask, not later. Now is the moment for leverage.

Enough reporting?
None of these are deal-breakers, but they are interesting to note. The system can grow and evolve, but it is certainly pointed in one direction now. This is a limited system, oriented to the park and for recreating. (It also perhaps should be mentioned that the agreement is all with Zagster, with no mention of Osborne Adventures, and it's not clear who the local parties to the arrangements will be, if any.)

Last month,
chart and comment added
And then there's the big thing, the prospect of airport expansion.

Council will consider whether to support a ROAR grant application. Roaring seems like a good metaphor. Salem wants to seem bigger than it is, resents the shadows of airports in Portland and Eugene, even tiny Aurora, and wants to roar.
Members of the Salem business community have independently funded and conducted a passenger demand analysis to determine the market demand for commercial air service. On October 17, 2018, the Salem Area Chamber of Commerce’s Board of Directors (Chamber) voted unanimously to function as the fiduciary agent and applicant for aviation grants to support commercial air service development at McNary Field. The Chamber will also be responsible for the financial management of private-sector funding commitments and donations to develop commercial air service.

City consent is required for the Chamber to apply for and accept ROAR grant funds. By consenting to the Chamber’s application, the City is agreeing to partner with the Chamber and prospective airlines to accommodate future commercial service at McNary Field. The City will not be contributing City funds, nor providing any grant match. City participation will be limited to staff time and facility and operational support.
If we are serious at all about greenhouse gases, we will not continue to invest in air travel and especially in its expansion and with subsidies. Really, that's it.

It will be nice to see this redeveloped, Center and Commercial
The UGM project has matured to the point where the City as Urban Renewal Agency is ready to exercise its purchase option. The total cost is $2.1 million. (See previous notes here, here, and here.)

Just a block down, there are a couple of items on the 245 Court Street project. The Urban Renewal Agency proposes to extend the deadline on its $740,000 grant, and then the City proposes to authorize a property tax exemption worth up to about $70,000/year for ten years - so doubling the total value of the grant, approximately. We need more housing downtown, this is the system we have, and this is good housing and good design. It's hard to quibble with this. (See previous notes here. And see update below.)

Bullets for the rest:
Addendum, Monday the 19th

There's a funny front page article in the paper today about delay on the 245 Court Street project.

The mere fact of delay isn't exactly newsworthy
It's a lot of froth, though, for what looks on the surface like a fairly ordinary delay. The piece doesn't reveal any misdeed or misuse of public subsidy, and is a lot of words - extended on page 3 - for something that doesn't advance the story beyond the mere fact of delay. Is there something more going on? The prominence of the article on the front page looks like innuendo, almost, like it's setting things up for a second piece with real news once it can be fully reported. So something to watch, I guess. But in the absence of further news, this is a little gratuitous.


Jim Scheppke said...

What about the proposed increase to our "highest in the state" (in Marion Co.) garbage rates? The City staff wants to rush the increase through with only a public hearing. The City Council needs to insist on a work session to begin to answer a whole host of questions about the wisdom of paying a multinational corporation to burn our garbage. This is another no brainer for anyone who cares about climate change, I think. The Covanta/Marion incinerator produces over 160,000 metric tons of CO2 per year. It ranks #18 among all the CO2 polluting facilities in the state and #1 (by far) in Marion County. West Salem gets to send its garbage to the Coffin Butte landfill that only emits about 28,000 metric tons of CO2 per year, and it costs significantly less, so West Salem garbage rates are lower. If the Legislature passes a Clean Energy Jobs bill that makes CO2 polluters begin to pay, our garbage rates will increase even more. The Council should not rush to judgement, but instead schedule a work session to educate themselves about the solid waste issue before making any decisions.

Anonymous said... you are saying you never take a flight somewhere? What make more sense, one jet taking off from Salem, or 50 or more cars on I-5 and 205 trying to get to PDX.

Salem Breakfast on Bikes said...

We have to reduce air travel period.

We also have to reduce drive-alone car trips period.

We need a better combo of rail and bus to connect with PDX for when air travel is necessary.

But in general, as we decarbonize, we will have to get used to traveling less. This is a renunciation we are going to have to make - or else, you know, it will be made for us as we cook our world.

Salem Breakfast on Bikes said...

Updated with clip from paper on 245 Court Street project's delay.