PUBLIC TRANSPORTATION IN MARION & POLK COUNTIES (2013)
A metropolitan area the size of Salem-Keizer needs an integrated multi-modal transportation network to support the employment, education, commerce, civic, and social activities within the Urban Growth Boundary. An effective, efficient, accessible and safe transit system is a key part of such a network for the mobility of workers, students, seniors, shoppers, and visitors. This is especially true for low-income residents, persons with disabilities, and those who do not own or drive cars. Affordable transportation improves access to jobs, training, court and medical appointments, and social services (and thus can reduce costs of additional social supports).
Members of the League of Women Voters of Marion-Polk Counties believe an effective urban transit system should:
- Serve residential, educational, business, and industrial areas
- Be based on residential and employment densities and the location of schools and colleges
- Be based primarily on usage but should include additional routes to currently unserved areas to promote ridership
- Directly connect some origins and destinations in addition to routing through a central hub
Transit stops should be:
- Safe (off roadway, lighted at night, accessible by sidewalk or pad and, wherever feasible, sheltered from weather)
- Wheelchair accessible
- Preferably no more than ¼ mile from homes and destinations
Transit service should:
- Be available at least Monday through Saturday, including evenings
- Be at frequent intervals, especially at peak commute times.
- Be available on Sundays to benefit many
Multi-modal connections between Salem-Keizer and the other communities in Marion and Polk Counties are very important for residents and visitors. The League supports a network of routes outside of the Urban Growth Boundary that:
- Serves as many residential, business, educational, and industrial areas as feasible
- Is coordinated with Cherriots schedules
- Is scheduled to permit college students and workers to commute during reasonable morning and evening hours as well as provide adequate mid-day service to and from Salem, Marion County and Polk County towns
The League recognizes the range of federal, state, and local funding sources supporting the Salem-Keizer transit system today, as well as the competition for these current sources, the growing demand, and the rising costs of transit and other worthy public services.
The League supports a mix of funding for transit operations that includes:
- Property taxes
- Passenger fares
- Payroll taxes (requiring local vote)
- Contributions by:
- The State of Oregon
- The federal government (especially adding funding for federally-mandated paratransit)
- Sponsorships and public-private partnerships
- Hotel/Motel taxes
The League also supports:
- Publicly-funded single-use day passes for low income persons (for example, provided by Cherriots and distributed by the United Way to non-profit service organizations or in the case of court litigants, distributed by law enforcement).
- Employer pass incentive program to reduce traffic and parking pressure.
- Free or reduced-fare passes for youth to promote participation in before- and after-school activities as well as encouraging transit use.
- Pursuit of combined federal and local funding to build streetcar or bus rapid transit lines.
- A targeted sidewalk improvement program with priorities on corridors that enable access to transit stops.
- Local governments integrating transit access with the planning or permitting of any new construction or redevelopment.