If Measure 15-128 does not pass on Tuesday Rogue Valley Transportation District Officials say they fear a dramatic decrease in services will follow. First on the chopping block will be evening and Saturday bus service as well as new routes in the works. Some 150,000 riders may be affected but RVTD says it will not have the money without the measure because their federal grant runs out next year.
Measure 15-128 proposes an increase of thirteen cents per thousand dollars in property taxes for Jackson County property owners. According to the ballot, “[h]omeowners with taxable value of $154,210 would pay an additional $20.05 per year.” This is the first increase in RVTD’s local share of funding in over thirty years.
If the measure passes RVTD will not only maintain the current hours and routes, but also provide new routes to East Medford, the McAndrews and Springfield Road neighborhoods, as well as Rogue Community College’s Table Rock campus.
RVTD points out that bus services are an important part of infrastructure, providing options for those who cannot drive and providing and environmental service because buses take individual cars and drivers off the road. Driving 15,000 miles per year, according to AAA, can cost on average $9,122 annually. Not only does decreasing the amount of cars occupied by a single person save people money, it also reduces the harmful effects of carbon emissions into the atmosphere. Meteorological studies identify the valley “ . . . as one of the two areas prone to air pollution episodes.”The natural boundary of the mountains create a bowl “ . . . in which the vast majority of the county’s population, and very nearly all of the county’s industry, reside.” This geographical layout provides a great barrier to natural and man-made disasters; however, as many people have witnessed with wildfire smoke, it can also increase the potential for harmful air lingering near the valley floor. The Oregon Department of Environmental Quality identifies two types of inversions that raise the risk of pollutants being trapped near the Earth’s surface: surface inversion and subsidence inversion. The surface inversion occurs when the air near the ground cools at night, while the warmer air remains aloft, causing the trapping of pollutants near the surface. The subsidence inversion occurs when the surface air cools and does not mix with the descending warm air, trapping the pollutants near the surface. Driving less can positively impact the environment and help save money. Utilizing public transportation and the bicycle paths to commute ensures the quality of life for everyone in the valley.
SOU students can purchase an unlimited RVTD bus pass for $15 per quarter. The first time you purchase the pass, you also have to pay an additional $15 for the card with your picture on it. Supporters say even if you do not use this deal, the students who commute via public transportation need your help passing the measure on this November’s ballot. If you haven’t dropped off your ballot yet you can still do so by the Tuesday deadline at Stevenson Union.