Wednesday, October 3, 2012

Canby Area Transit (CAT): New Fares and Service

We've all seen the CAT busses around town.  The Canby Area Transit system is our main public transit system in town.  It assists citizens in getting around town, as well as to and from Woodburn and Oregon City.  We are required by the state to have this transit system.  Years ago, city staff and council made the decision to have our own transit system versus using Tri-Met.  Service would be better, coverage would be better, and ideally better service.  This also allowed the money that local businesses were paying into Tri-Met to be kept locally.

When it was born, it began with no working capital and has had to play catch-up every since.  BETC (Business Energy Tax Credits), which had been funded by businesses and helped fund CAT, has been dramatically decreased.  A budget shortfall thus ensued. 

October 1st, a $1 fare is being added to the service, to help cover the rising costs of operating the service.  I was on the council that approved this fare in lieu of raising the taxes that businesses pay for the service.

Is the system working well?  Is it providing the services our citizens need?  Are improvements needed?

At a recent luncheon at the Canby Adult Center, I spoke with citizens regarding the service they rely on.  There were concerns regarding the 24 hour advance notice needed for the Dial-A-Ride option.  What if someone need to get to a doctor and had no other means of transportation? 

I think we need to be creative on how we fill such a gap.  Solutions definitely need to be proposed for our disabled and senior population in regards to transportation.  For example, Kathy Robinson at the Canby Adult Center is trying to spearhead a volunteer dial-a-ride program where drivers are "on call" to provide immediate service to those that need transportation.  As a councilor and if elected mayor, I would welcome and support such efforts to make our system work. 

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