MINUTES FOR THE STUDY SESSION MEETING
ASHLAND CITY COUNCIL
August 3, 1999
Civic Center Council Chambers, 1175 E. Main Street
CALL TO ORDER
Council Chairperson Don Laws called the meeting to order at 6:05 p.m. in the Civic Center Council Chambers.
Councilors Laws, Hanson, Fine, Wheeldon, Reid and Hauck were present. Staff present: City Administrator Freeman, City Attorney Nolte, Administrative Services Director Dick Wanderscheid and Assistant City Administrator Greg Scoles.
1. Discussion of transit issues and RVTD.
Council discussion regarding limiting the scope of the direction for transportation planning. City Administrator Freeman explained that the ideas brought forward are in draft form and are to be taken only as a beginning point for discussion.
Councilor Reid stated that it is important to discuss the RVTD situation, but emphasized that there are bigger issues regarding transportation that need to be addressed. Council agreed that all ideas should be discussed. Councilor Laws suggested that the missing part of the transportation element has to do with mass transit and parking, and recommended that this be the main focus now.
Freeman voiced his concern with re-opening and re-prioritizing the Transportation Plan when staff has already been given direction and begun implementing initial steps. Freeman emphasized that there needs to be some discussion of transit issues as discussion has not occurred in this area.
Wheeldon stated that she was comfortable with dealing only with the transit issue, but suggested that there needs to be a more comprehensive discussion blending all elements of transportation similar to what was done in the Aspen Plan.
Reid pointed out that there needs to be Council discussion regarding the proposed bus shelters and if these are still necessary. Freeman stated that staff intended to put shelters only at "main stops" where service is going to continue. Because this item is being scaled back, there will be some funding available for shelters when the bus issue is resolved.
Wheeldon emphasized that transit will continue to be an issue, and shelters will be needed even if buses will only be running every half-hour at the present time.
Laws summarized the draft transportation plan which recommended the following: 1) That staff, along with a consultant, present information to Council on transit demand, options, financing, and details of other communities’ experiences with transit programs; 2) That a committee be formed, to be made up of community members, service providers and businesses involved in transit; and 3) That the City Council develop a charge for the committee, a list of issues to address and expected outcomes.
Hauck explained, based on his experience as a former RVTD board member, that there is an established tax base to provide bus service. Emphasized that RVTD is viable within their current budget, and that under the current budget they could likely continue one route to serve the valley from White City to Medford and Ashland for the next twenty years.
Wheeldon suggested looking at different configurations that would enhance transit, including the possibility of smaller buses in Ashland and providing complementary transit service to supplement RVTD service. Freeman stated that if Council would like to explore transit options he would recommend hiring a consultant as no staff members are well-versed in the intricacies of this issue.
Fine would ask the committee to work on a very short time line, not looking for longer term solutions, and giving a lot of thought to whether the city should withdraw from RVTD and provide some wise choices that the city could consider over the next three to five years. Laws stated that transit will be an integral part of the whole transportation planning process, and that an interim short term strategy may not be feasible given the immediacy of the issue and the speed with which it is moving ahead. Fine voiced his concern with citizens paying double for transit services and stated that there is no proof of how tax dollars collected are spent and distributed through RVTD.
Hauck noted that the issues raised by Fine need to be looked at, but stated that the City could also look at RVTD providing service to a point in the City, and a City transit system taking over from there. Freeman explained that the additional $300,000 asked for by RVTD was just for Route 10 service in Ashland.
Wheeldon suggested looking at the levels of service in Medford in relation to levels of service in Ashland and tax dollars, and emphasized that she would be very reticent to cut off from regional service. Asked that the committee explore how Ashland compares to other cities in relation to service level and tax dollars spent, and also to look into the cost for 10-minute service.
Council discussion regarding time line for when committee would bring information back to council for direction. Freeman confirmed that there are consultants that could be hired to provide the type of information that council would need to have in order to determine the charge for the committee.
Fine would like to have the committee discuss whether a transit system should be city owned, or merely a city-subsidized private enterprise. Laws stated that in this discussion, subsidizing RVTD to provide enhanced service could be looked at. Laws emphasized that it will take a minimum of a year to get something in place.
Laws suggested that the SOU Student Ridership Program be revisited with RVTD as soon as possible.
After discussion, Council determined that they would like to see implementation by September 2000. Laws suggested that this item be placed on tonight’s agenda for approval. Councilor Reid reminded council of the need to have someone from the School District involved in discussions.
Wheeldon requested that a rough time line be established. Freeman explained that it would be simpler to wait and establish a time line after a consultant has been secured. Freeman confirmed that a transit demand survey would not be included in this process with a consultant, but that the consultant would be working from existing information on transit demand.
Laws summarized that there was unanimous agreement that a study was needed, that a consultant needed to be hired to provide background data, and that this process needs to move along quickly.
Wheeldon commented on how the news releases were being handled in regards to transit services and how bus passes could be obtained.
Meeting was adjourned at 6:49 p.m.
Submitted by Barbara Christensen, City Recorder/Treasurer