Public hearing this morning for city bus changes
When they convene a long-promised public hearing Thursday, Yamhill County commissioners can expect an earful from bus riders concerned about route changes proposed to McMinnville’s route 3.
The hearing is set for 9 a.m. in Room 32 of the county courthouse, and one transit activist is already raising issues by e-mail.
After implementing an extensive package of changes in July, the board of commissioners and transit authority promised to analyze the impact with an eye to some fine-tuning based on initial experience. And they promised to hold a hearing on whatever emerged from that analysis.
The plan up for consideration Thursday calls for elimination of route 3’s stop at Lafayette Avenue, which is already served by rural commuter routes 33 and 44. It calls for addition of route 3 stops to serve apartments, assisted living centers and a mobile home park along 27th Street and Highway 99W.
To accommodate urban short-haul riders needing to reach points along Lafayette Avenue, the plan calls for authorizing route 33 and 44 buses to make unscheduled “flag” stops on Lafayette.
In addition, the plan calls for replacement of route 3’s Booth Bend Road stop with a stop north, designed to better serve Roth’s, Bi-Mart and Albertsons.
“What we heard right away was that people were unhappy they could no longer use the city route to get to Roth’s, Bi-Mart and Albertsons,” said Commissioner Leslie Lewis. And she said a survey showed not many riders were using the Booth Bend stop.
“We listened,” Lewis said. “We can’t obviously meet everyone’s needs, but we’re trying to do what we can that will meet a lot of people’s needs.”
However, regular rider and persistent critic Ronda Armour isn’t satisfied.
While she appreciates the effort to better accommodate riders, notably by relocating the Booth Bend stop, she said the plan raises some new concerns while failing to address old ones. And she plans to express that opinion Thursday.
She said the proposal hasn’t been disseminated widely enough among riders, particularly those not fluent in English, its only language of availability. She is also concerned about lack of stops at Fellows Street and the Ford Street Dip, both of which serve large apartment populations.
In an e-mail sent to commissioners and transit officials, Armour also said, “I continue to be concerned for the low-income community that works shifts other than Monday through Friday 9 a.m. to 5 p.m. I believe this presents an economic impact to the city of McMinnville businesses, nonprofit organizations, and most of all to the low-income workers. It is a discriminating hardship to this population.”
James Hicks, who uses public transportation to see clients in McMinnville, is also preparing to protest. He said he isn’t paid for travel time, and the proposed changes would extend it.
“Again?” he exclaimed when he learned of the proposal. “They’re making changes again?
“My day gets stretched out longer and longer,” he said. He risks missing the last bus home, he said, noting, “It’s a long walk in the dark, I’ll tell you that.”