Transit: Needing to evolve to meet diverse and changing needs

By Rob Zako
December 30, 2023

BEST supports better transportation services in both urban and rural parts of Lane County.

Ms. Wheelchair Pacific Northwest Melinda Preciado
Ms. Wheelchair Pacific Northwest Melinda Preciado. Source: Lane Transit District

Nationally, we are reading stories that public transit keeps running out of money. Remote work is hurting ridership. Low ridership and low revenue continue to plague transit agencies. A looming “fiscal cliff” shows deeper problems with transit funding. Some say that transit funding problems are too big for even Taylor Swift to solve! Turning the transit industry’s “doom spiral” into a “virtuous cycle” will require rethinking the foundations of how we fund mass transportation—and adding a whole lot of service. But voters continued to voice their overwhelming support for public transit by approving 14 out of 19 measures supporting public transit.

Locally, passengers are packing Lane Transit District buses. But LTD is lacking bus operators more than funding, as labor shortages continue after the pandemic.

LTD is looking to evolve into “LTD 2.0” by revising existing services and possibly adding new ones in response to community needs.

Meanwhile, the Lane Council of Governments (LCOG) and the Oregon Department of Transportation (ODOT) are exploring options for rural transit to serve the needs of people living outside LTD’s service area, some of whom lack access to a car.

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