Drastic Bus Cuts Effective Next Week

By Alexander Mesadieu, Staff Writer

RVTD

From next week on you will not be able to ride the bus at night.

On Mar. 23 Rogue Valley Transportation District (RVTD), the city bus system, will cut all routes running after 7 at night. RVTD is also changing the paths of some routes. The busses will no longer go to the Medford Airport and cut through talent on Highway 99 South or Arnos Rd instead of Talent Ave. The bus also is eliminating the loop starting at the Ashland Albertsons going through East Main St. and ending at Bi­-Mart.

The impact will hit some students hard. RVTD Senior Planner Paige Townsend told us, “we actually had plans to have the service reduction happen on march 2 the first Monday of the month and we heard from Southern Oregon University and Rogue Community College student groups about the hardship that that would cause about classes that had been scheduled the term prior and if we could they asked if we could extend the service until the end of this week so that it would get all the students transportation through the end of the term .”

The routes changed both to increase the speed of services and because RVTD ran out of money from a three year limited grant, and citizens did not pass a ballot initiative to fund RVTD through increased property taxes.

The ballot initiative proposed increasing property 13 cents per $1,000. If the tax levy had passed the average Ashland home would pay $34.04 more in property taxes.

Townsend believes the ballot measure was not passed because of Southern Oregon’s high unemployment rate which may make voters wary of new taxes, misunderstandings in the messaging, and another tax measures voters saw which may have lead to feeling over burdened. Townsend explained, “there was also another tax that had been applied to properties for the Jackson County Library District and unfortunately the timing was terrible because the tax bills came out within a couple weeks of the ballot so a lot of families saw the cost of that library tax immediately before they were putting their pen on paper to vote.”

However, RVTD plans to campaign in the future for a tax levy. According to Townsend after these reductions are put into effect RVTD will be able to run without any future cuts until 2018. Nobody knows if the public will vote for RVTD tax levies in the future after seeing the real changes of not passing the last one, but he’s hopeful.

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