With last year’s passage of “Keep Oregon Moving” (HB 2017), a new dedicated source of funding was established for expanding public transportation services in Oregon: The Statewide Transportation Improvement Fund (STIF). Starting in 2019, these funds will be distributed to qualified entities (mass transit districts, transportation districts, counties without a mass transit/transportation district, and federally-recognized tribes). Each qualified entity is required to provide a detailed 4-year plan of how each agency will use funds to serve low-income households, youth, and diverse populations. Additionally, qualified entities must form Advisory Committees to advise and assist in the application.
Our Pacific NW Regional Policy Manager, Becky Gilliam is Vice Chair of the Cherriots STIF Advisory Committee (STIFAC) and since the August kick-off, has been making recommendations for improved equitable access to public transit and the reintroduction of a free Youth Pass for the region. This first round of STIF funding has an expedited timeline with a November 1st deadline, so opportunities for significant budget revisions to Cherriots’ project proposals were limited.
The STIFAC held lengthy discussions on the importance of a free Youth Pass for the region and received impactful testimony from youth who rely on, but often can’t afford to ride the bus. Working within strict time constraints, a free youth pass would have required a major shift in Cherriots’ proposed projects (including weekend and evening services requested by the community), and was unattainable in the current application cycle. At the last meeting, the STIFAC agreed with Cherriots staff to revisit a free Youth Pass in the next STIF application period, and approved the following proposed youth rates as a “starting point” for the initial biennium:
Proposed Youth Fare:
- One ride: $.50 (currently $.80)
- Day pass: $1 (currently $1.50)
- 30-day pass: $10 (currently $22.50)
- Summer youth pass: $25 (currently $40)
- Annual pass: $120 (currently $270)
Going forward, the STIFAC may also consider developing new strategies for community engagement, and a closer evaluation of what kinds of services and fares are most needed for the region. We ultimately recommended a plan that includes notable fare reduction for youth, added weekend and evening service hours, as well as increased service along routes serving low-income populations in the region. Pending approval by the Board of Directors this Thursday October 25th, the application will be submitted by ODOT’s November 1st deadline. The STIF Advisory Committee will reconvene in 2019, where we will continue to push for a free Youth Pass and increased community engagement.
Click here for a deeper look at the proposed STIF Plan (starts on page 27). What do you think of the proposed changes? Consider attending the Board of Directors meeting this Thursday and make your voice heard! Click here for meeting details.