EmX bus rapid transit (BRT) to west Eugene via West 11th/Highway 126 continues to draw mixed results. While the signs along the route give the impression that it is distinctly not wanted, quite often public opinion voiced at Eugene City Council meetings and in other forums call for support of the system.
Lane Transit District conducted its own poll recently which has drawn a new set of mixed results, with about half the respondents supporting the west 11th/Hwy 126 leg. Other polls by Lindholm Company, posted on the company’s blog and reported in Forum Lane, show results that demonstrate waning support.
An editorial in today’s Register Guard headlined, “Not a vote of confidence” concludes that the “LTD poll finds EmX support lukewarm at best.” Well stated. See the entire editorial here.
Having heard and read many hundreds of testimonies in an array of venues—email, LTD forums, Council Forums, Joint Elected Officials Forums, on the side of the street on West 11th, the list goes on—I decided to ask people who use a business along the route what they thought. I held a pair of open house meetings at Courtsports Athletic Club on Commerce Street. Commerce is the proposed terminus for the BRT line. The target audience for the meetings was intended to be club members, however the word got out and a lot of non-members showed up.
It was a non-sponsored event that I conducted without any support, other than maps, from city or LTD staff. I held it on a Monday evening and a Tuesday morning in February and invited both oral and written comments. Greg Evans, an LTD board member accepted an invitation to join me to help answer questions. In that it was not a scientifically selected group of respondents I will not say that the results are in any way an accurate measurement of the community at large. I will say, however, that the people who use the facility at the end of the BRT line wanted to be heard.
I received nearly a hundred comments on 3 X 5 cards. Comments were grouped into three basic categories: response to the terminus location, response to EmX in general, concern about LTD’s other service.
Here are a few samples of comments received:
“We totally need EmX rapid transit. It will connect West Eugene to the rest of the city…but please have LTD (leave) us parking spaces for the gym—we need them.”
“Why choose the W11th route? These businesses are mostly auto services and drive through. Other routes would be better.”
“Have the turnaround where nobody parks, like (empty ends of parking lots.)”
“The Wal-Mart parking lot closest to west 11th…”
“Why spend all that money?”
“I live west of Eugene and would like the EmX terminus on Commerce and would regularly ride the EmX. The west Eugene EmX is an important leg of a metropolitan wide system. With global warming we need (it),”
By and large the many people who wrote love LTD and many are riders. But like the editorial in today’s paper I found the response to the proposed west 11th extension and terminus on Commerce to be “lukewarm at best.”