West EmX Yes! in the News and Letters to the Editor
LTD is running lots of full buses
The Register Guard has run a few anti-EmX letters recently suggesting that Lane Transit District buses usually run empty and are a waste of resources. As someone who rides LTD buses on a daily basis, I beg to differ.
I take the No. 36 out West 18th Avenue to work and back, and at least one of those trips is always standing-room-only.
I ride the No. 82 to Lane Community College twice a week, and that bus also tends to be crowded.
The trips I make to the Gateway Mall and Valley River Center are usually full as well. And ask any University of Oregon student how “empty” the EmX express bus to campus is. As for West 11th Avenue, the buses may be empty while outbound but they fill up on the way back.
I suppose anybody who is determined to find an empty LTD bus can do so, but if we were to follow that logic, why should the city bother maintaining streets? After all, no one’s out driving at 3 a.m., right?
Kris Bluth, Eugene
2-23-2012, Letter to the Editor, Eugene Weekly
MONEY AND EMX
We all know that democracy is up for sale in this era of super PACs and the Citizens United ruling. That Brian Weaver’s group has “purchased” the public opinion he crows about in his Feb. 16 letter “Democracy and EmX” is not surprising.
The grassroots group West EmX Yes started last October with a desire to allow neighbors and businesses along the route who wanted to speak out in favor of West EmX not to be shouted down by this well-funded, pro-auto, anti-government group with an unlimited budget for illegal signs, a paid marketing company (Creative Advertising Services, LLC), paid Portland consultants (John Casey, Cascade Policy Institute) and paid newspaper ads.
Individuals chipped in $20, $50 and $100 apiece to produce “West EmX Yes” bumper stickers. We made our buttons in someone’s basement. The media noticed as many business owners along the route stood up in favor. We have a Facebook page and a Google group. Please join us! We are the majority! We’re now giving out West EmX Yes “Bucks” as we support local businesses along the route.
The democratically elected City Council, county commissioners, MPC and the mayor will vote soon. A long public planning process said yes, West Eugene should be included in the regionwide EmX system.
With record LTD ridership and gas set to hit $5 a gallon this summer, let’s not let the well-funded few thwart what the majority of us want: a choice in transportation.
Tom Schneider, Eugene
2-22-2012, Register Guard, Letter to the Editor
Campaign against EmX distorted
Kudos to the new Lane Transit District manager, Ron Kilcoyne, for actually talking to people and uncovering the truth about the west Eugene EmX expansion. He found a silent majority of west Eugene residents supporting the project.
This mirrors my own experience living and shopping along West 11th Avenue for many years. I talked to several business people where I shopped about their anti-EmX signs and found only one business actually opposed EmX. Only one! Most of these businesses were forced by landlords or parking lot owners to display the signs.
Wealthy and elite real estate owners and landlords are behind the opposition to EmX expansion. They must distort the issue and corrupt the democratic process to convince folks that improved mass transit is a bad idea. They make it look like more businesses are against EmX than actually are. They blanket their vacant lots with big, ugly signs. They don’t hesitate to break the law by placing numerous illegal signs in the right of way area between the street and the sidewalk. They flat-out lie with their signs accusing EmX of “stealing your lane” when LTD has operated entirely within the law.
It is time to put an end to this dishonest charade. Do the right thing for the vast majority of people and support EmX expansion into west Eugene.
Chuck Areford Eugene
2-19-2012, Register Guard Article
Report shows LTD has done fine job
I was glad to read The Register-Guard’s Feb. 14 article concerning the Lane Transit District’s bus rapid transit (EmX) route being planned for the west Eugene area. This route will complete the backbone of our community’s public transit system. This type of transit has been our community’s choice for the last 15 years and is needed to accomplish Eugene’s land-use goals of accommodating the projected population growth without sprawl. The EmX is being built for the future, with higher density along major BRT routes.
Businesses along this route were rightly concerned about EmX impacts. It now appears nearly all their concerns (477 properties) have been satisfactorily resolved based on the article.
1) This public project needs to acquire only a small front portion of 108 (21 percent) of the project’s 477 total properties.
2) Another 14 properties (4 percent) are affected because they are currently using existing public right-of-way for a private purpose.
3) This means 75 percent of abutting properties are unaffected.
4) From this 25 percent, only 28 properties (6 percent) lose a total of 66 spaces. By reconfiguring parking, this number can be reduced to a loss of 20 spaces. Thirteen of these 20 spaces involve two sites, one of which is an “adult shop.” The other business parking loss could be reduced by redesign of the street median.
I’d say the results of this report indicate a job well done by LTD in resolving the abutting businesses’ concerns.
2-16-2012, Register Guard Article:
2-14-2012, Register Guard Article “EmX Land May Cost $4 Million”:
2-13-2012 Register Guard Article “On Board with EmX”:
Eugene Weekly “News” from Jan 19th.
More in the Register Guard as well (place here)
LTD Sees Gain in Ridership
With college students taking over Eugene and the additional EmX line to the Gateway area, Lane Transit District has seen a 2.4 percent increase in ridership for the first six months of its fiscal year. This could bode well for ridership on the proposed West 11th EmX line.
Since July 1, the district has recorded 5.2 million customer boardings, with October and November each exceeding one million, according to LTD.
This rise is likely due to the increasing number of UO and LCC students who ride the campus area routes, according to Andy Vobora, a spokesman for LTD.
The Oregonian reports that Portland’s transit service, TriMet, whose ridership is also up, speculates its increase may be due to a desire to be distracted while riding — texting and reading on trips. LTD doesn’t have wireless and doesn’t plan on offering it in the future, Vobora says, but a study out of DePaul University on curbside buses showed having wireless on buses could increase ridership even more — passengers were willing to take a longer, slower ride for the convenience of having internet access.
Locally, EmX is one of the reasons ridership has gone up. Jan. 9 marked the one-year anniversary for the Gateway EmX line, and the addition has contributed to the overall rise in riders, according to Vobora.
“It leveraged additional trips,” he said. “People were going on the existing line into the Gateway area and then back.”
The existing line was averaging 6,000 boardings a day, according to Vobora. When the EmX line opened, it went up to a little over 9,000 a day, with 2,300 being attributed solely to the Gateway area.
With the proposed West 11th EmX line, Vobora said it would continue to solve the two big factors stopping non-riders: It is faster than driving and avoids the hassle of transferring buses.
“As you add that next leg,” he said, “it certainly creates that cross-town system that is very attractive to people and (will) continue to grow the ridership.”
LTD is anticipating a continued rise during the second half of the fiscal year, which has more school months and tends to be stronger than the first. Last year, four out of the six months in the second half recorded more than one million customer boardings, according to Vobora.
and KVAL interviewed the same couple of businesses 12/30/11:
12-28-2011, Register Guard Article (breaking news of West EmX Yes):
12-8-2012, Register Guard Letter to the Editor
EmX is the answer to future needs
What reasonable person would object to expanding our sewage treatment system before the pipes back up? There might be questions about short-term vs. long-term benefits and costs, but the conversation wouldn’t include a “no change” option. There’s a great lesson here for the current debate about Lane Transit District’s proposed West 11th EmX extension project.
The big-picture context for EmX is that we’re fortunate to live in a beautiful, creative, smart community. We should expect to grow more than the average place. We need to plan for that future well before growth has choked off our options.
It’s not a question of whether we like LTD’s current service levels, budget or public relations. That’s a separate conversation.
It’s not a question of whether the construction phase will reduce income for adjacent businesses. It will in the short term, and that should be mitigated.
It’s not even a question of whether projected operating costs are sustainable. How much public good would we have foregone as a society (think schools) had we made guaranteed future funding the litmus test?
The real question is whether to expand public infrastructure for moving about our city while we still can, in a way that supports a healthy living environment for everyone. I believe the answer to that question is, “Yes, with EmX.”
The scare tactics and name-calling that have surrounded this issue haven’t reflected our true community character. Let’s focus on the real question, and do the right thing.
Kathi Jaworski, Eugene
11-10-2012, Register Guard, Letter to the Editor
Many support EmX project
I think some balance was needed in the Nov. 4 Register-Guard article, “LTD looks ahead.” While it may be true that the Lane Transit District has run into opposition for the west Eugene EmX expansion, I don’t think it’s fair to say that without also mentioning the large number of supporters of the project. I remember a meeting several months ago where the public was invited to speak, and the number of supporters that night was pretty much even with the number of those opposed.
Additionally, I think that there are many more citizens who trust LTD to do its job and make the right decision — and hence don’t feel the need to show up at such meetings.
The article stated that, “Businesses say the line would disrupt customer traffic,” implying that businesses are speaking unanimously. Nothing could be farther from the truth.
I am a business owner along the proposed route, and I believe that the west Eugene EmX expansion actually would improve traffic flow and encourage more walk-in customers. I know I’m not the only business owner who feels this way. Making a blanket statement about what businesses say is just plain false.
People who travel along the proposed route are apt to get the mistaken impression that everyone hates the project because of the (allegedly illegal) signs stating opposition. It’s a shame that The Register-Guard would perpetuate such a mistake without considering the people, like me, who support the project but don’t have a huge banner out front proclaiming the fact.
Ralph J. Forrest-Ball
8-21-2011, Register Guard Commentary, Mike Eyster:
EmX line key in city’s growth
The plan for the west Eugene extension maximizes benefits to businesses, customers and residents
EmX is a highly effective transportation system. The first EmX line on Franklin Boulevard exceeded 20-year ridership projections in its first year of operation. Today, EmX carries more than twice the number of customer boardings as the Route 11 service that it replaced. The opening of the Gateway EmX Extension in early 2011 has attracted new riders and has increased ridership along the original Franklin line.
The region’s current transportation plan calls for a 61-mile network of EmX routes. As EmX routes are added, the entire transportation system becomes more effective in attracting additional transit riders, improving travel time for automobiles, improving air quality, reducing greenhouse gas emissions and reducing dependence on fossil fuel. Transit districts from all over the world have come to the Lane Transit District to study the highly innovative EmX system in place here in our community.
LTD understands that some business and property owners have concerns about moving forward with the west Eugene EmX extension. Some businesses are struggling, others don’t see value in this investment, and many are concerned about construction impacts.
LTD understands these concerns and continues to work on ways to minimize or eliminate negative effects while moving forward with a project that provides tremendous benefits to the entire community.
Many public outreach efforts, including more than 300 business and property owner meetings, have been completed in the past few years. These meetings have helped craft the current configuration of the route and the plans for a successful partnership for working with the west Eugene community. One-on-one meetings with residents, property owners and business owners along the selected route are ongoing. These meetings will provide additional opportunities to view the early designs and modify designs to minimize impacts further.
LTD and construction contractor Wildish Construction have worked together on the first two EmX lines and have learned a great deal. With the west Eugene route, we would use these lessons to make this an even-smoother process for local residents and businesses. Construction techniques, such as night work and maintenance of access for customers and deliveries during construction, would be employed to maintain full business operations during construction.
These options have been successful in the past, but we want to continue to work with businesses to get their comments on what to include in a construction plan that addresses any and all concerns. LTD knows the importance of maintaining and improving the health of businesses. Construction of an EmX line in west Eugene must be done in a way that ensures the short-term health of businesses while creating an environment for long-term business expansion.
Opponents assert that the west Eugene EmX extension project will reduce vehicle capacity by 25 percent along sections of Sixth and Seventh avenues. That assertion is based on 27-year-old data. Preliminary data, gathered from current information and projections of future conditions, shows that capacity for auto traffic will increase as a result of EmX, and the amount of time it takes an auto to travel the corridor will improve.
That analysis is being refined as part of the required federal process and will be available for public review later this fall. The bottom line is that one of the purposes of EmX is to improve vehicle movement — starting on the day that it is built.
EmX development always has been about improving the entire transportation system, which is why professional traffic engineers and analysts work on detailed assessments of system effects. These effects then are reviewed and approved by city and state traffic engineers and the Federal Transit Administration, which ultimately is responsible for the safe and efficient operation of our transportation network.
Critics state that LTD should consider impacts to adjacent neighborhoods. EmX development considers these impacts carefully, and a review of population and jobs adjacent to the proposed EmX line are a prime reason that the Eugene City Council, the LTD board and the Metropolitan Policy Committee selected the Sixth-Seventh-11th route. Nearby residents will be connected to fast, frequent and reliable transit service. Employees will have better connections to and from work, and businesses will be able to attract new customers from throughout the region. In addition, the EmX route selected by the community was refined specifically to avoid causing traffic to be diverted into adjacent residential neighborhoods.
In the coming months, LTD will complete three key steps in the development of EmX in west Eugene. First, the project must compete with transportation projects from around the United States for federal funding. LTD is preparing a grant application that will be submitted in September.
Second, an environmental analysis will be completed and submitted for federal review. Following the FTA review, a public review will occur in late 2011.
Third, the LTD board and Eugene City Council, after analyzing the data currently being collected — including an analysis of operating costs — again will hold a vote on the project.
Exciting things are happening in our community. New retail opportunities, such as the debut of Cabela’s, have popped up along existing EmX corridors. Three significant projects are under way in downtown Eugene, plus the addition of the new hotel at 5th Street Public Market, all around the hub of LTD’s downtown transit station. Having just completed the Matthew Knight Arena, the University of Oregon is working on a new residence hall and a new science building. PeaceHealth is moving forward with reconstruction of Sacred Heart Hospital, University District, creating even more opportunities for employees and visitors to make full use of both EmX and other LTD bus service.
To prepare for current and future growth, an enhanced transportation system is critical. The goal of a west Eugene EmX extension line would be to make these destinations more easily accessible to people throughout Eugene-Springfield, while simultaneously making businesses and residences in west Eugene more easily accessible by more people. Taking one step at a time, we will meet the needs of today while ensuring that our children and grandchildren will be able to enjoy our community for generations to come.