Tuesday, September 14, 2021

Cherriots Switches up Consultant for Long-Range Plan: At the MPO

At the meeting of SKATS' technical committee today, Tuesday the 14th, Cherriots will give an overview of the forthcoming Long Range Plan process.

Announcement intro

The most striking thing is that they switched up the contractor.

Jarrett Walker + Associates had written the Comprehensive Service Analysis in 2014, guided much of the service expansion, and I believe they just wrapped up the Salem to Albany Corridor Feasibility Study Project. They may have completed other studies in between.

For some combination of reasons - and we don't know if Walker even bid on the project, since the presentation to SKATS doesn't touch on any elements of the bid selection process - Cherriots engaged a new contractor. Maybe they wanted a fresh perspective.  

They feature a big highway project in Sydney

But when you google "jacobs + engineering + transit" you get a picture of a giant highway project. Rail, it seems, is their "transit" focus, light rail and heavy commuter rail. They are an engineering firm and do megaprojects. In the overview they don't talk about bus service, and the word "bus" appears only once in many paragraphs of text.

On the one hand, rail is a big ticket item in contrast with bus service, and so from a marketing standpoint it is easy to see why they might focus on that.

But even looking twenty, thirty years out, it is hard to see Salem big enough and urban enough for any light rail kinds of projects.

Bus Rapid Transit and dedicated transit lanes are what we will likely need.

So right off there may be a mismatch between the core strengths and interests of the consulting firm and the actual needs of the Salem area.

So that will be something to watch. A fresh perspective might be helpful, but it's also possible that the consulting firm will push solutions we don't actually need, are full of tech-bro utopianism, and are way too expensive. (They are writing a robot car plan for Nevada, a "Autonomous and Connected Vehicle Policy Framework," I see.)

Meeting info

The TAC zooms today, Tuesday the 14th, at 1:30pm. The agenda and meeting packet can be downloaded here.


Anonymous said...

The memo to the board of Cherriots in July said:

"A clear guidebook for planning Cherriots services for the next 20 years has never existed for the District. This has meant that long-range planning was only as certain as documented in some shorter term planning documents (3-5 years). The LRTP will allow the District to plan effectively over a 20-year period and will give staff something to reference when making long-term investment decisions.

Cherriots issued a Request for Proposals (RFP) to hire a transportation planning consultant to develop a LRTP in February, 2021. Four (4) qualified proposals were received and evaluated by a selection committee in April, with a final decision made in June, 2021. Jacobs Engineering Group, Inc. scored the highest of the proposers and was the lowest cost bidder on the proposal."

Salem Breakfast on Bikes said...

Thanks. Maybe Cherriots will share more on the scoring and evaluation. At least in the way Jacobs presents themselves publicly on the web, they don't look very interested in bus service, and it is interesting they apparently scored the highest.

Salem Breakfast on Bikes said...

There is more!

From the Oregon Encyclopedia on CH2M Hill:

"Jacobs purchased CH2M in 2017 for $3.3 billion, at the time among the largest deals ever completed in the engineering sector.

The purchase came during a period of relative weakness for CH2M. Burdened by pension debt assumed by its acquisition of a British company in 2011, the firm reported a net income of $15 million in 2016, down from $80.4 million the year before. The company also took a hit in 2013 when its Hanford unit admitted to time-card fraud and agreed to pay an $18.5 million fine. Its emphasis on the privatization of municipal services drew condemnation from watchdog groups, as did safety violations at Hanford and elsewhere. Finally, a contract to expand the High Speed 2 rail network in England was terminated in March 2017 due to delays and concerns about how the company had won the bid in the first place.

With its absorption into the Jacobs Group, CH2M concluded its run as an independent company, and its legacy units subsequently focused on water, transportation, and environmental projects. As of 2018, the merged company employed over seventy-four thousand people and was propelled by more than $15 billion in annual revenue.

Mike said...

Salem alone isn’t big enough for light rail. But there has to be light rail connections with Portland and Eugene.

Jim Scheppke said...

Hmmm. We might see some of the old CH2M gang that led the Salem River Crossing project for many years and walked away with 7 or 8 million, as I recall, for delivering a "no build" Record of Decision. Not their fault, of course. They were just following orders from the Salem Area Chamber of Commerce, the Realtors, the Homebuilders and their puppet Salem City Council. Man, I'm glad those days are over. What a nightmare that was.

Salem Breakfast on Bikes said...

Re: Light rail. Connections to Eugene and Portland appear to be well out of scope for the project and plan; and those would seem to be ODOT Passenger Rail and Amtrak matters, not something for Cherriots, anyway. I hope the project can focus on bus service, and not get distracted by shiny techno-things like micromobility, robot cars, and light rail.

It will be very interesting to see who are the people on the project and how many we might have seen before, as Jim suggests. CH2M also was the lead for "Bike and Walk Salem" a decade ago.

Mike said...

Re: ODOT’s role in light rail. Yes ODOT would be the lead agency on this. But…Cherriots and all of the other transit agencies need to be involved and coordinating service. If buses and Tri-Met don’t coordinate on stop locations and times, there’s bound to be a gap in service.

I hope the same autopsy mentality driving the third bridge doesn’t infect Cherriots’s future plans. I believe that the people in charge there are good and have good intentions. But, at least publicly, they aren’t aggressive enough against ODOT’s “capacity” building.