CAT bus service, transit revenue get long look by city council
That recommendation was to use any transit revenue increases during the next couple of years to increase the frequency of CAT bus service along the Highway 99E corridor rather than reinstating a local circulator route.
"That doesn't mean that eventually you shouldn't try to reinstate a local circulator route," Poyourow said. "But given the costs and given the public input we received there's pretty broad support for first investing in higher frequency on Highway 99."
The 2017 Canby Transit Choices Plan was put together by Poyourow, Julie Wehlig, director of Canby Area Transit, the city's transit advisory committee and Canby citizens.
Poyourow said the other part of the recommendation is there are some technical things CAT can do, mostly behind the scenes, to improve the efficiency of Dial-A-Ride and paratransit services that would allow the same number of people to continue using those services at a slightly-lower cost to the city.
"If those are implemented, that would then be a source of small amounts of new revenue, which could then be used to increase frequency on Route 99," Poyourow said. "The ideal path forward for the agency over the next couple of years is to improve efficiency in Dial-A-Ride and paratransit services and save some resources there, move those resources to Route 99 and then longer term there may be additional opportunities to raise money for (a local circulator), but that's more years out in the future than we're planning for right now."
First draft of the plan
The city contracted with Jarrett Walker and Associates last fall to draft the transit choices report, a set of technical recommendations and a key choice between to future alternatives. Either choice is affordable to the city, but both are not, a memo from Wehlig to Mayor Brian Hodson states.
Those alternate options were presented to stakeholders and community groups in both English and Spanish during the first quarter of 2017, and both groups demonstrated a preference for more frequent service on Highway 99E to Oregon City and Woodburn rather than the re-establishment of a local circulator route, the memo says.
Thirty-six stakeholders participated in the workshop with 57 percent of those saying they preferred increased service on Highway 99E. Among those who responded to web and print surveys, 100 people supported more Highway 99E service and 63 people preferred the city jumpstart a local circulator. The most common free-form comment was a request for increased weekend service, the memo says.
"Increased efficiency" with Dial-A-Ride and paratransit refers to increasing the number of people who simultaneously use those services to 3.1 from an average of 2.4 boardings per hour. Those improvement would allow CAT to save some operating hours, which then could be spent on increased service to Oregon City and Woodburn, Poyourow previously stated.
The proposal for a one-way circulator would provide service around the city on weekdays for 10 hours per day, and it would require an increase in paratransit service that the city would be required by law to fund.
City council unanimous in approval
Councilor Tyler Smith asked if this was the final recommendation and how it relates other options discussed during public meetings, work sessions and discussions during the creation of the 2017 Canby Transit Choices Plan.
Poyourow said the city is being asked to make a decision on the core of the plan, so the decision is whether first to ask CAT staff to improve the efficiency of Dial-A-Ride and paratransit, and second to then set as the first priority an increase in service along route 99 as those improvements free up more resources.
"That's the decision we're looking for you to make," Poyourow said. "The reason we're asking you to do that now with just four pages of text in front of you instead of with a 60-page plan is partly (because) we don't want to make you read a 60-page plan (tonight) just to find out what's really the nugget — the real meat of it. Also because if you decide to do this we will the write the plan in response to your decision. This is a really important policy-level decision that will proceed all of the detailed work in the actual draft plan, which will come back to you in a couple of months."
Councilor Sarah Spoon asked Poyourow to explain a little more about how the recommendation came to fruition.
"Does that take into account primarily community input or is there any interest from CAT in phases that might increase unique ridership or new unique riders?" Spoon asked.
Poyourow said everyone say a value in a local circulator but "when push came to shove" additional revenues should be spent on increased service to Oregon City and Woodburn.
"The people we heard from were fairly representative of the community and the margin was significant enough that we thought it was actionable," Poyourow said. "Advantageously, you can add one trip at a time on route 99. You can't say the same thing about a local circulator; you don't want to run it for one hour a day, the next year two hours a day then the next year for three hours per day."
Hodson said the council needs to let this information "marinate a little bit" and then come back to making a final decision.
City Administrator Rick Robinson said this process has stopped and started several times in the last several years and it makes good sense for the city council to engage in another work session, and suggested it be scheduled on a night different than the twice-per-month regularly scheduled council meetings.
"That way you can take as much time as you need to delve into the topics, and when you get to the end of evening you know exactly where you want to direct your efforts and your resources," Robinson said.
Poyourow stated again that the question before the council was whether they supported the basic ideas presented in the transit choices plan, and if adopted that will trigger Jarrett Walker and Associates drafting a detailed plan.
After nearly 30 minutes of discussion, Councilor Tracie Heidt made a motion to approve the Transit Advisory Committee's recommendations regarding the transit plan, and for Poyourow to draft a more detailed plan based on those recommendations.
The Canby Transit Choices Report is available online at www.canbyoregon.gov/transportation/masterplan/CanbyTransitChoicesReport02-10-17.pdf.
A presentation previously made by Poyourow also is available for viewing on YouTube at www.youtube.com/watch?v=O8IRUAsE3To.