09 June 2006

[oregon_transit] Bad News For Cherrioteers

Some months back, C-Tran, Clark County's public transit system, went through a period of marking itself up for deep cuts in anticipation of a possible levy defeat at the polls.

The levy was supported, and while C-Tran's service isn't exactly what it once was, it's much better than it could have been.

They've just been through the same experience down in Salem, but the story went the other way:the Cherriots had a bond measure defeated. This measure, which might have expanded service, perhaps even (at long last) added Sundays (I believe that SKT is the largest district in Oregon without it), means that Cherriots is going to have to cut to keep the budget balanced, and if you have to depend on it to get round Salem, doing so is about to get harder.

Check out this page at the Cherriots website. The cuts are rationalized along two lines: heavy weekday cuts only, or milder weekday cuts and complete elimination of Saturday service, for the time being.

It's sad, I think. Salem, despite her modest size, was always a tough town to get around in if you didn't have the automobile option–having spent all my teenage years there, I know this intimately. I remember, during the mid-1970s, Cherriots (then a department of the City of Salem) was forced to drastically cut back routes to just within the city limits. Not too many routes went beyond into the county (Salem has always had a very slender suburban area), but I lived on Abiqua Court SE about 1/3 beyond the end of the then-Four Corners line. Between that time and the establishment of the Salem Area Mass Transit District (which extended to the urban growth boundary, thus taking the suburban fringe back into the service area), it was tough to get round if you just had two wheels.

Hamman Stage Lines and a couple other private carriers established shuttle services for the fringe (me and my waggish friends at the time promptly dubbed them the "Hamman Eggs") which, in my area, carried me to the Lancaster Mall so we could transfer to the Chemeketa line. But as a substitute for transit service in Salem–which has always been thin, no more frequent than weekdays, half-hourly, and only till about 7pm)–it really wasn't much.

The un-carred in Salem need encouragement, not discouragement. Sunday service there would be nice, and it's something I wish I had when I lived there. Actually, transit funding overall is a broken thing, but since I have no suggestions to make it better, I'll leave it at that, for now.

In the meantime, Cherriotteers have a hard choice to make. The link to the Cherriots webpage above also has a public meeting schedule where you can go to make your voice heard. If you get round town on the bus, you really ought to.

That, and get ready to wait longer for your bus–what buses are left.

Technorati Tags: , , ,

No comments: