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VIEWPOINT: LTD Attempts to Blindside Us……..Again

VIEWPOINT: Erin Walters – Springfield, Oregon.

Lane Transit District (LTD) has already begun their relentless and focused pursuit of a new EmX line connecting LCC and Thurston. This is a project that will greatly impact Springfield and Eugene.

noemx

I am 1 of 17 members of a Stakeholder’s Advisory Committee (SAC) for the City of Springfield’s McVay-Main Street Transit Study- or in other words, the development of mis-information in LTD’s attempt to ramrod in another ill-guided EmX line. Of course, the committee is stacked in LTD’s favor. The list of committee members can be located on the “study” website. What this list doesn’t show (because it doesn’t provide
a member’s employer) is the overwhelming influence of the public sector and LTD infiltrated non-profit groups. http://ourmainstreetspringfield.org/main-mcvay-transit-improvement-study/

The City of Springfield claims the SAC “is now exploring transit options to address and enhance all modes of travel along the corridor.” But we know this is a sole pursuit of EmX. So why not call it that? The City claims the SAC is a true representation of the citizens of Springfield. In September, Springfield Mayor Lundberg sent the SAC an email stating “The wide range of draft transit solutions that you recently recommended to the Governance Team clearly considered all of Springfield citizens’ interests and concerns.” The Mayor’s statement is unfounded, unless, of course, she is not considering those that will be most directly impacted by the project. But again, this is no surprise, as we all remember how well the City of Eugene listened to its citizens regarding the West Eugene EmX Extension (noted sarcasm).

One SAC member stands out- Mike Eyster, a previous President of the LTD Board of Directors. He is 1 of 38 on the Board of Advisors for Better Eugene-Springfield Transit (BEST). BEST is just another group LTD has infiltrated in an attempt to brainwash the public. Safe to say, BEST is propagating ideals to a non-informed public, much to their delight, BEST doesn’t hide the fact that their main purpose is to facilitate “extend(ing) EmX bus rapid transit to other parts of the Eugene-Springfield area”, yet they also claim they are here “to educate the public about and promote a regional transit system that fosters prosperity, social equity, and a healthy natural environment.” What a deceitful statement. BEST tries to give the appearance of neutrality, yet is just another arm of LTD. Of their 12 Board of Directors, five are previous members of the LTD Board of Directors. You will also notice, the SAC is comprised of 2 BEST Board of Directors, although you have to do a little research to find this out, because the “study’s” website won’t provide you with that.

If you did even more extensive research, you would notice the BEST Board of Advisors is compiled of not only former LTD employees and board members, but of those who qualify for contracts with LTD once a new EmX project has been approved. BEST isn’t hiding the fact it’s in cahoots with LTD, but is it fair to say the SAC is a balanced representation of the “stakeholders”? This study would be a little more believable if the City truly made an effort to inform the private businesses and citizens along the proposed corridor- those that pay the tax to LTD and actually have a legitimate stake in the outcome.

LTD will tell you this is a “high level study” to help determine if there is even a need to pursue the new EmX line. Assuredly, LTD is using this committee to check one of the boxes on their path to destruction. The information they are compiling will be used as the catalyst for LTD’s next attack. The Small Starts process consists of two primary steps: Project Planning and Project Development. For FTA approval to enter the Project Development Phase, the process must have a “description of corridor and transportation problem to be solved”. So, technically we are already in the “Project Planning” phase. This committee has already reviewed and recommended a Project Problem Statement, Purpose & Need Statement, Project Goals and Objectives (PNGO) and related evaluation criteria. And let me tell you, these pieces are all part of the Environmental Assessment (EA) that’s required. LTD is attempting to sneak this right through, disguised as a pre-study to see if “real” study should be completed. Folks, this study is the start of the EA.

After learning of the City of Springfield’s “Community Outreach” efforts, or lack of, I went door-to-door, talking with businesses. Most were unaware of the new EmX study. About 4% said they would support it. One thing this showed me- LTD was hoping to blindside the businesses. Well, they have another thing coming. A stacked committee is not surprising. Actually, it’s pretty smart. This new “high level study” is an attempt to speed up the process so opposition has less of a chance to gain traction. We all know what comes to light when a process takes longer- the truth is revealed. And if the truth of LTD’s intentions and actions were exposed, these new EmX locations would only be a figment of LTD’s imagination.

Here are some examples of truths that even LTD cannot dispute:

1) LTD admitted, during SAC Meeting #7, they are over-servicing the Gateway/Riverbend area with the current EmX line. This means LTD doesn’t have the ridership on that line to justify providing the current amount of EmX service. LTD would like to connect the new LCC EmX line with the existing Gateway line and operate based on a “reduced transit demand”.

So, basically LTD made a mistake when projecting the ridership to Gateway and would like to fix this mistake by providing a new EmX line to LCC that won’t run as often as the current EmX. I find this interesting because data provided by LTD that led to the approval of the West Eugene EmX was based on an assessment of the Gateway/Riverbend EmX. The assessment presented this line as successful. LTD couldn’t stop patting themselves on the back, even though all we could see were empty busses. LTD developed the West Eugene ridership projections with the same analytical process. And now they will be attempting to do the same with this new proposed line.

2) Supporting data was not yet available during the development of the “Needs” and
“Purpose” statements. It would be provided later.How do you develop a need for something if you don’t have proof there is a need- if the data doesn’t exist yet? This in entirety is absolutely backwards. And the examples LTD provided were deceiving. Example:

“During the past year, seven buses were overcrowded to the point that 78 riders were left behind at stop(s)”. LTD fails to mention where or when each of these occurred or what circumstances may have triggered it. LTD states Route 11 has an average of more than 3,500 boardings per weekday. Assuming 240 weekdays a year would mean 840,000 average boardings per year. Although I agree, leaving someone behind at the bus station is not ideal, is 78 of 840,000 boardings enough to create a need for EmX? I believe it’s merely a need for better management of existing transit service.

Erin Walters
Springfield, Oregon

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