June 16, 2024

Whole Community News

From Kalapuya lands in the Willamette watershed

BEST: APTA grant will rebuild the EmX coalition

4 min read
Rob Zako said the $10,000 APTA grant will be used to bring back the original coalition that supported West Eugene EmX 11 years ago.

In public comment at LTD’s June 21 board meeting, a status report on the American Public Transportation Association grant from Better Eugene Springfield Transportation.

[00:00:09] Rob Zako (BEST): I’m Rob Zako, executive director of Better Eugene Springfield Transportation. I just want to give you a little update on the APTA grant that we would not have gotten without your support, LTD’s support, an effort that we’re calling Better Streets. We’ve been beta testing it on campus over the last month and reached out to students about Franklin Boulevard and so far have gotten over 200 responses of what people think about Franklin Boulevard. We feel like we’ve got a pretty good instrument or mechanism for reaching out to people.

[00:00:37] What I want to do just the next couple minutes is give you a little preview of what’s coming next and a little bit behind the scenes. This is a local coalition grant that APTA has awarded across the country because they understand that transit agencies can’t do big things without, they can’t, you can’t do it on your own. You need a coalition of public, private, nonprofit partners. And so they’ve given us a little bit of money to help bring together that coalition.

[00:01:03] What, but what does it mean to be part of a coalition? What would we be in support of? We’re in support of better streets generally. We’re asking people if streets are good enough or if they could be better. We’re using very simple language and trying to meet people where they are, but we’re developing an instrument where we’re asking people to sign a pledge or resolution or something like that that has a few principles: Better streets for people and businesses.

[00:01:31] We need to move people. We need to serve businesses along the streets. They need to have access for their customers, their workers, their suppliers. And we want to make sure that streets work for everyone or that everyone has an alternative.

[00:01:46] So Franklin Boulevard, does that mean that it has to have roundabouts? Maybe, maybe not. Do you have to have bike lanes along Franklin Boulevard? Maybe, maybe not. But if you’re a pedestrian, you should be able to cross that street safely one way or another. If you’re a bicyclist, you should be able to travel east, west in some way safely.

[00:02:05] If you’re a business, does that mean you get all the parking lot? Maybe, maybe not. But do your customers, suppliers, and workers need to have a way to get to you? Absolutely. So we’re developing this instrument.

[00:02:16] We’re going to reach out to individuals, community leaders, businesses, partner organizations, government agencies, and ask everyone to join the coalition that we share these values, these principles.

[00:02:26] We’ll be rolling this out next week, announcing to the public, and then working on this through the summer. The grant has to be done by Sept. 1, so it’s going to be pretty quick. We’ll update you over the next couple months. Thank you very much.

[00:02:41] Susan Cox (LTD board vice president): Okay, thanks Rob. Can I ask a question? When you said this project is a part of a coalition, those coalition individuals or organizations are being recruited now, or was the proposal including specific coalition partners?

[00:02:58] Rob Zako (BEST): The way that we pitched it to APTA is, we said, ‘We formed, BEST formed as Better Eugene Springfield Transit (Right) 11 years ago, and we had a coalition back then in support of West Eugene EmX.’ We haven’t been able to keep that coalition together over the last 11 years because that was a long time ago and no additional EmX lines have been built in that time.

[00:03:19] So we told APTA we want to go back to our original partners, bring them back together, say, ‘We’ve upgraded this. We’re not just about transit, we’re about transportation choices and safety’ and refresh that or update it to the present. But we want to bring in new coalition members. We want to reach out along Franklin Boulevard, along Main Street in Springfield, along River Road, to our community and say, ‘We believe we all need choices. This is what we believe. Join us,’ and make that offer open to everyone.

[00:03:45] Susan Cox (LTD board vice president): And in rural communities as well?

[00:03:49] Rob Zako (BEST): For this particular project, we’re focusing on major streets, and it’s in the Eugene Springfield area. That’s how we’re branding it right now. BEST, as our name indicates, is primarily an urban organization.

[00:04:04] We do do work throughout Lane County on safety issues. But those tend to be different and the way that it’s communicated and branded would be different. So we can only do so much with $10,000.

[00:04:15] Susan Cox (LTD board vice president): Thank you. Good luck. I think that sounds like a worthy project.

[00:04:19] John Q: Rob Zako is getting the band back together.

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