By BRAD COY
After careful consideration of the recent Cherriots Route 18 extension through the Gubser neighborhood and based on my technical understanding of the issues and the outreach efforts of the Greater Gubser Neighborhood Association and Salem-Keizer Transit District, I am now of the opinion that it will be in the best interest of the Gubser neighborhood to remove buses from our neighborhood streets at this time.
I made my feelings known to the Transit Board, and our board president, Jerry Thompson, requested that staff prepare a report outlining the required process for removing the bus route. This report will be made available at our Transit Board meeting next Thursday, October 24, and the process will likely last a few months and require additional outreach efforts by Salem-Keizer Transit, a decision by the Transit Board, and contract adjustments with the transit operators union.
While improved transit service is important for our community and is particularly attractive when it can be so easily added to an existing route, some of the streets in the Gubser neighborhood have neither the appropriate character nor were adequately constructed to support large buses. For example, McLeod Lane has an appropriate character for large buses (i.e., bike lanes instead of on-street parking, most homes facing towards a side street, use as a higher volume “collector” roadway, etc.), but Stone Hedge Drive does not. In addition, even though a bus route through the neighborhood provides increased service, the majority of our neighbors live less than one mile from bus stops on River Road and Lockhaven Drive.
Therefore, it is my opinion that the impacts to our neighborhood exceed the benefits of the service. If neighbors were supportive of large buses, then they could be an acceptable option. However, a significant contingency of our neighbors–particularly those on Stone Hedge Drive–have expressed their clear opposition to having large buses regularly use our neighborhood streets.
Therefore, it is my recommendation as the Transit Board member representing the Gubser area that the requisite public process be undertaken to consider removal of Cherriots Route 18 from the neighborhood until a future date when smaller buses are available to the Salem-Keizer Transit District, the character and design of the street changes (if that becomes an option), or there is greater neighborhood support for the bus route.
Because of the necessary public outreach process for this change, there is still opportunity to let your voice be heard. Please speak up, particularly if you have not already made your opinion known. I am interested in understanding the perspective of all my neighbors.
(Brad Coy lives in Keizer. He represents Subdistrict #2 on the Salem-Keizer Transit Board of Directors.)