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Special Thanks to the Medford Mail Tribune for posting these alternatives in the Sep. 3 edition. We hope to check back with these service providers to see how they are holding up. The last time we checked, the ones we know were swamped to begin with, and swamped again after Route 4 went away. Many private foundations specifically prohibit replacing government services in their grant applications, making it even more difficult for these providers to meet the increased need.

protest sign says the bus is our lifeline

September 3, 2006

Alternatives available for Valley Lift customers

The Rogue Valley Transportation District has compiled a list of alternative transportation services that Valley Lift customers on the canceled RVTD Route 4 can use. Some are free and others charge a fee.

Non-taxi alternatives:

Taxi companies:

RIDER ALERT! Route 4: A Bus Doesn’t Run Through It Anymore

Rogue Valley Special Transportation Update
Route 4 to stop running 6 p.m. Thursday

  Route 4 bus at Barnett Rd. bus stop

            We started attending Rogue Valley Transportation District Board of Directors (RVTD) meetings in late May because we heard that Route 4 was going to be cancelled due to shortfalls in federal funding. Three months, a public demonstration, ten news and radio interviews, a dozen meetings, thirty bus rides and hundreds of hours of staff time later, Route 4 is still going away. We’re glad we could help in getting Route 4 extended for two months, and we’ve learned a whole lot about our transportation district, both good and bad. It’s a long and complicated story that predates us by years. Here’s what it looked like from our angle.
“Over a year and a half ago, the Jackson-Medford Chamber offered to help develop a business plan. They’ve come and offered their help, no charge to do it.”
–Mike Quilty, City of Central Point and Metropolitan Planning Organization, chastising RVTD for still not having a business plan, which Ashland Mayor John Morrison called “absolutely necessary” for any further investment by outside agencies. The RVTD Board has been demanding management publish a business plan for months.
”While it might seem logical to have all the routes cut back symmetrically, it, has crossed our mind that we shouldn’t be penalizing our best customers for using some services extremely frequently.”
--RVTD General Manager Peter Jacobson, on why customers on the busier lines are more “loyal” and better customers than the peripheral route riders. He says this all the time.
“We could face another deficit next year of maybe more than half a million dollars, and another deficit the following fiscal year, of over half a million dollars, so these are not one-shot deficits. They are recurring deficits.”
—RVTD Board Member Ernie Garb, August 17, giving people heads up that this will likely happen again for the next two years at least because of increasing fuel, payroll, and other costs. That’s pretty good notice, the 4 was kind of a surprise.
            April 2006: We attended a long-range planning meeting the Rogue Valley Council of Governments (RVCOG) held in Medford and heard that Route 4 would probably be cut at the end of the year because of the “burden” of paratransit. We spoke out against the route cut, planner Craig Anderson’s characterization of the disabled as a “burden,” and a proposed payroll tax put forward as a solution. It seemed like the meeting was just to rubber stamp the payroll tax. It got a lot more complicated.
            In May, we read in the paper that RVTD was cutting Route 4 after cancellation of $1.2 million in federal grants. We went to the June 8 RVTD public hearing and testified against the cut, because we know people who live on that route, and refused to let them suffer because RVTD failed to plan for cuts it turned out they expected a year ago. Our friends at Ridgeview say they faxed and mailed over 120 letters to politicians, business proprietors, and the public, but got only one response, a form letter from Gordon Smith. There was a month of discussion between the Board and the public, including senior and disabled riders, parents of school children, veterans, staff and students from SOU and RCC, health care professionals, and residents of the Route 4 corridor, but ultimately the Board cancelled the route on June 28th, two days before the cut would have taken place. They gave all those people two days’ notice.
            The Rally
“Mr. Jacobson, I don’t mean to be disrespectful, but I’ve heard you say a few times at different meetings ‘we need to keep the bus service going for our loyal customers on other routes’. I don’t understand, who’s not loyal on Route 4?”
--Nancie Ozimkowski, Aug. 17 RVCOG meeting
            We started telling Route 4 riders about the cut (most of whom didn’t know) in June, posting news coverage and video footage on the Internet, and calling local elected officials asking for help. We called all the folks we could and held a rally on Barnett at the I5 overpass Route 10 stop, which is the closest RVTD buses will come to Rogue Valley Medical Center, the final destination of the doomed Route 4 (special thanks to DASIL, Oregon Action, the Rogue IMC, and Southern Oregon Jobs With Justice!). Enough disabled folks and supporters turned out to draw all our local, non-FOX tv news channels (the local media has actually been incredibly supportive in this crisis). People told us all over that they saw us on tv. Strangers approached us in the bus depot and thanked us for the rally. It was great.
            Our Work Pays Off, a little
            Representative Peter Buckley (District 5 Ashland) listened to our story and called the Board to task for not preparing for cuts it turns out they knew about long ago, and RVTD staff’s failure to put forth a business plan after being so directed by the Board for months. Buckley also tried to encourage the local business community to step in and support Route 4, but business leaders complained that RVTD had failed to show the customary planning any investor would demand before committing to a business that had shown a checkered track record after several capital injections over recent years. No one was interested in supporting RVTD until they showed a believable business plan, which is still forthcoming to this day. Business planning is junior-level coursework at SOU.
            RVTD extended Route 4 one month, and the Metropolitan Planning Organization (MPO) stepped in and extended Route 4 for another month. We want to thank RVTD and the MPO for helping to mitigate the hardship of cancellation with two days’ notice for the many people who used that service. The two months allowed some of those living on the Route 4 corridor to adjust to the loss of a bus that has run for over twenty years. Is that right? I heard a rumor…
          The Survey
            Representative Buckley pointed out that it would be useful to know exactly who was riding Route 4 and why, so we took Route 10 up from Ashland and spent five blistering July days riding the 4, asking riders why and how often they used the bus. We got surveys from 52 different individuals; read the results at www.dudesrus.org “projects.” We met so many awesome and friendly people of all walks of life, who were concerned for their future without public transportation. This had the positive side effect of making 52 friends who thanked us for our advocacy work and were glad to hear about our organization. Special thanks to SOU Economics and Math departments for troubleshooting our survey. Nancie got an A in Math 243 during all this. Shout to Merzhy and Kemball, thanks for being open minded.
            The Meetings
            A special working group was formed by RVCOG to “improve the quality of transportation services for people with special needs, and to improve the means by which these services are delivered and funded.” DUDE secured a seat on that committee and we will update you as to outcomes when they occur. There was also a public meeting called by the United Way between several local private foundations with service providers and advocates to assess how they could help. We have to honor the United Way, the Gordon Elwood Foundation, the Anna May Family Foundation, and the Oregon Community Foundation for hearing our concerns.
            The RVTD Board of Directors voted in July to consider attempting to field a payroll tax on the November ballot but decided in August not to go out for the tax we first heard about in April so long ago. We were originally against the tax because it seemed to be drowning the problem with money without fixing the problem, but when we heard how much revenue a relatively small tax, 5 cents on $10 (give or take) would generate, we changed our minds and lobbied for it. The MPO went on the Jefferson Exchange and advocated for the tax in August, but finally, the Board voted against it, with Directors Mansfield and Garb voting in favor.
”In fact, the first time we ever saw someone from RVTD in our Council Chambers was when you had difficulty, and we have all come here to give you our suggestions and we’d like to hear back from you.”
–Talent Mayor Marian Telerski, August 17, telling RVTD management they waited too long to share information about budget shortfalls.
          At a meeting Aug. 17, attended by a broad spectrum of elected and appointed officials from municipalities, ODOT, and statewide orgs, Roger Martin, Executive Director of the Oregon Transit Association, argued that two months was too short a time to field a tax campaign. MPO Chair and Central Point City Councilor Mike Quilty expressed his frustration that RVTD had not yet come up with a business plan and was in such dire straits after approaching the MPO for money over a year ago. Quilty claimed RVTD knew that years of cuts were coming but failed to reveal that knowledge over the months of MPO injections. Ashland Mayor John Morrison echoed Quilty’s frustrations, saying the City of Ashland could no longer support RVTD until management and transparency improved. Several other elected officials agreed, including the City of Central Point and Talent Mayor Marian Telerski for example.
            Where We Stand Now
            DUDE will join other advocates, special transportation and social service providers, and RVTD staff and committee members on the new RVCOG working group, and we will fight for services for our constituents in those meetings, but it looks as if Route 4 is really going to be cancelled unless a solution is found by September 1. We are grateful for all the support so many people have given us lobbying for public transportation, and will continue to advocate for services as the Valley grows more and more congested and polluted until people realize how important public transit is for all walks of life, disabled, driving, ambulatory or not.
“You can’t wait when you know there’s a problem coming until a crisis. We can’t help with a crisis; we can help with a problem.”
 –Mike Quilty, Aug. 17, complaining that RVTD told the Cities and other agencies about the revenue shortfall too late for them to help, because their budgets had to be published by May, when RVTD went public with the cuts.
Immediate Action Still Needed: Train Wreck Approaches
          We still disagree with a number of the current management’s philosophies and will continue to point out action that needs to be taken to stop the imminent crash of the entire system, if we really are going to sustain two more years of half-million dollar reductions: Who’s next?
•        If farebox revenues will only cover fifteen percent or so of operating revenues, increasing frequency of buses in peak hours will only drive UP costs, rather than make money. This flawed logic is core RVTD dogma at present;
•        The ridership after the July fare increase is RVTD’s ridership who will take the bus regardless of how much it costs, because they have to: trying to compete with the private automobile will never be a sustainable strategy because the two are structurally different. The public sector provides transportation because the people who use it would be a greater tax burden without it, and RVTD will never bid enough people out of their cars to sustain the system, or the private sector would step in and capture the profits. We need to target RVTD to the needs of those who CANNOT find other means of transportation, NOT TO THOSE WHO HAVE PRIVATE TRANSPORTATION! The bus is ultimately for people who don’t have cars, not for those who could drive but choose not to. We want them aboard, but the core ridership has no alternative, will pay whatever fare because they have to, and will wait as long as they have to at the stations;
•        Posting departure times at bus stops will mitigate frustration at long intervals between buses, because people will know when the bus will arrive and find other ways to spend their time rather than simply wait for the bus. We have yet to find a single bus stop in the entire system where arrival/ departure times are accurately posted, even though every stop has a place to post the times;
•        Late-night and weekend service is crucial to the economic survival of the middle- and working-class populations who cannot afford private transportation to work, and the tax burden will be lessened as they stop consuming transfer payments (food stamps, subsidized housing, WIC, etc) as their employment improves with increased transportation;
•        And finally, for now, we are outraged and incensed every time RVTD general manager Peter Jacobsen claims that “loyal customers” should not have to pay the penalty for the revocation of federal grants. How are customers on the 10 or the 60 more “loyal” than customers on Route 4??!!!??? Jacobsen has said this at numerous meetings but we keep shouting back NO! The Route 4 riders are every bit as valuable as the route 10 customers and have the same rights as every one else. This is geographic discrimination and a fallacy because very often, as we found in our survey, the “loyal riders” on the more central routes ARE PEOPLE WHO GOT THERE BY TAKING ROUTE 4!!! This allegation of differential loyalty is ridiculous, obscurantist, and discriminatory.
PS: we didn’t start any of the “rumors”. We have video for all our quotations.

July 16, ’06: survey results:


activists rest on Barnett rd. after protest


DUDE/ RVTD/ SOU Route 4 Ridership Tabular Summary With Comments



            10-19               11

            20-29               9

            30-39               7

            40-49               6

            50-59               7

            60+                  5


Average rides per week                                                6.3

Average rides per month                                               32

            less one unusually high entry                              29


Percent of people who answered “yes, I use Route 4” per activity

(Don’t add up to 100% because could check more than one)


                                                Ride Route 4 to                        Transfer from 4 to

Work                                                   50%                             46.5%

School                                                  14%                             16%

Medical/ Pharmacy                               54%                             42%

Grocery Store                                      21.5%                          35%

Retail Shopping                                    30%                             39.5%

Bank                                                    23%                             33%

Pay Bills                                               16%                             28%

Other                                                   43%                             42%


Percent of riders who answered, “if Route 4 was cancelled, would you…”


Get another ride                                    17%                 (3 unsolicited “taxi” entries)

Walk to destination                               66%

Find a different destination                    11%

Stop doing that activity                          21%

Move somewhere else                          8.5%


Would you ride Route 4 if it ran 3 times per day?

Would you ride Route 4 if it ran 2 days per week?


A number of riders spontaneously entered identical, “No, don’t cut, will ride every day”  entries and circled all days in violation of the conditions of the question.


                                    Raw Data         “Don’t Cut” = yes         “Don’t Cut” = no answer

3 per day                      84%                 94%                             54%    

2 per week                   79%                 92%                             44%



Preferred Days

                        “Don’t Cut” = yes                     “Don’t Cut” = no answer

Mon                 62%                                         61%

Tues                 51%                                         46%

Weds               53%                                         49%

Thrs                 55%                                         52%

Fri                    51%                                         46%

Sat                   34%                                         24%

Sun                  32%                                         21%


Do you have private transportation?                  23% “yes”                    77% “no”


“Do you think people who aren’t physically able to ride a city bus should have access to alternative public transportation?”

                                                                        95.3% “yes”                 4.7% “no”


Route 4 “Other” uses

daycare/ yes/ daycare/ yes/ mental health/ to see my sister/ visit shutins/ save lives/ yes/ see friends/ yes/ sk8 park/ my grandma’s house/ kids/ visit friends/ home/ leisure/ park/ friends & park/ courts & p.o.s/ everywhere/ park/ getting cross town/ visit friends


Transfer from Route 4 “Other” uses

daycare/ Live in Ashland/ yes/ home/ Day care/ mental health/ ya cause I live in Talent/ yes/ visit shutins/ home/ save life/ yes/ leisure/ park/ yes/ visit childrens White City/ yes go home/ movies


Dianne gives the RVTD Board of Directors what for



We need this bus!/ We need this rout because most of the riders doesn’t have any transportation for just going to a docters appointment/ We really need this route!/ You already charge $2 what next/ I have tendonitis—hard to walk/ Must continue!!!/ Keep Rt 4!!!/ Thanks for the 30 day reprieve, we really believe you should pare the entire system, rather than allocating the hardship to the smallest number of people, we believe Route 4 riders are just as "loyal and valuable customers as the rest of the system users, why are other riders "loyal customers," to quote General Manager Peter Jacobsen, and Route 4 riders are not? It's a logical contradiction./ Many, for example “I am psychotic neurotic & I have a boy named Sioux” or “30 rides per month for emergency care, psyche Rx emergency room”/ I work at hospital in kitchen/ We need this bus!/ I heart Route 4 please don’t take it away I wouldn’t be able to go to the sk8 park during the week!/ keep this bus the way it is PLEASE!/ it will suck horrably not having this Route!/ This is a crucial bus to all walks of life. DO NOT cut!/ keep Route 4 going, people count on it/ keep Route 4 running please/ Route 4 is very important to me + my family/ Let’s get with the program I’m from Eugene My what a Big difference./ Keep Route 4 going!/ I need route 4!/ Please don’t take it away


call for names/ contact info


Methodology: We rode Route 4 in the morning, midday, and afternoon over three days in mid July; we asked every single rider who got on the bus to take the survey except when they got on on the last stop or two before the transit station. Most (probably 85%) took the survey; those who did not refused the survey themselves, i.e. we did not select individuals to give the survey to or not. We asked everyone; a few declined. Some had to get off the bus before the survey was completed; a number of individuals tried to take the survey and gave up. Considerations include perhaps that K-12 is out of session; the weather was probably average (hot, dry); we were in mid-month while State checks come out at the end of the month, etc, there are probably more valid known and unknown variables. Nonetheless, and notwithstanding some unexpected, unsolicited but significant alteration of certain question options, we got enough returns to make discussion meaningful and significant. Most questions were answered by over 45 riders or so.


Average age of those who answered was 31, 45 answered; ages by decades were

            11 answered age 10-19

            9 answered 20-29

            7 answered 30-39

            6 answered 40-49

            7 answered 50-59

            5 answered 60+

  Ridgeview residents corner Board Chair


Average rides per week = 6.3, 53 answered

Average rides per month = 32, 51 people answered

Removing one remarkably high answer returns 29 rides per month on average

(5 days per week = 20 days per month Route 4 is currently in operation)


56 people answered the question “where do you ride the bus” with the results

50% took Route 4 to work; 14.% answered “school,” 54% answered “medical/ pharmacy,” 21% answered “grocery store,” 30 % answered “retail,” 23% answered “bank,” and 16% answered “pay bills.” 43% said “other,” with answers such as “daycare,” “mental health,” “visit friends” or family, to go to the park, “everywhere,” and “courts & p.o.s,” for example.


Asked “do you transfer to” any of these destinations, 46.5% said they transferred to work, 16% transferred to school, 42% transferred to “medical/ pharmacy,” 35% transferred to “grocery store,” 39.5% transferred to retail, 33% transferred to bank, 28% transferred to “pay bills,” and 42% transfer to “other.”


When asked how they would replace Route 4, 17% said they would “find another ride,” with 3 of those spontaneously answering “taxi”; 66% said they would “walk to destination”; 11% said they would pursue that activity at another location; 21% said they would stop pursuing that activity, and 8.5% said they would stop doing that activity.


The question “if you could extend Route 4 by one more stop” caused some confusion, many answered with stops that already exist or would be duplicated with new stops; it seems like a simple question but many answered “Black Oak Medical Plaza” for example, which is already serviced by Route 4. Other answers included “higher up highland,” State Street medical/ senior/ veteran services, “Rogue Valley Manor (2),” “across the overpass,” “Dairy Queen,” “WinnCo,” “down to South Gate/ cut South Gate out of Route 10, have 10 take 62 to Ashland,” or  “yes.” “Albertsons” got 5 unprompted entries, the most of any duplicate entry.


The question “Would you ride Route 4 if it ran 3 times per day/ two days per week” provoked some avoidance as well: a number of people answered “yes/no” and then selected “all days” when asked for their preferred two days. Some answered “no” to the 3 per day/ 2 per week question and then circled all days as preferred. We broke them out three ways for interpretation, as answered with raw data, with the 14 people who spontaneously answered no and then indicated they would ride the bus all days included as “yes” answers, and then excluded as not answering the question properly, with the results


raw data:

84% answered “yes, would use Route 4 if it ran 3 times per day

79% answered “yes, would use Route 4 if it ran two days per week”

counting “no, would use all days” as “yes” answers:

94% said yes, would use if ran 3 times per day

92% said yes, would use if ran two days per week

excluding “no, run it every day” answers as incorrect:

54% said yes, would use Route 4 if it ran 3 times per day

44% said yes, would use Route 4 if it ran two days per week.


Preferred days with “no, run it all days” excluded were

Mon 61%, Tues 45.5%, Weds 48.5%, Thurs 51.5%, Fri 45.5%, Sat 24%, Sun 21%


Preferred days with “no, run it all days” answers as “yes” to all days returned

Mon 62%, Tues 51%, Weds 53%, Thurs 55%, Fri 51%, Sat 34%, Sun 32%


23% of the 47 riders who answered the question have private transportation.


95% of 43 riders who answered the question said people who cannot ride the regular bus due to physical limitations should have access to alternative public transportation.


84% of riders answering the question said we could contact them.




July 10, 2006: Going out to ride the 4 some more, to start taking surveys; several people have commented that the survey is really just a smokescreen invented by Buckley & RVTD to throw us off the trail and get us out of the public eye, but this logic is patently flawed in that >we’re actually going to be interacting with the very people we would be organizing if for example we were scheduling another protest< hello, we’ll be interacting with the people who will lose the service, who exactly should we talk to instead?

          And then, if you’ve ever attempted to write a grant, you know that the first question funders ask is, “how do you quantify the need?” Well, when we come out and say, “Don’t cut Route 4, people need it,” and the funders say, “well, who rides it? Where are we going?” well, if we say, “uh, we don’t know, really, we just think some people want it,” the funders will say, “no, you don’t really know anything about this at all, you don’t even know if people will still ride it, you haven’t done the due diligence that proves you won’t just throw the money away again. Next!”

          If we’re going to be making arguments about policy, we can argue from a more solid foundation if we actually have...information! Finally, if all the Route 4 riders really ARE just going to the movies, and that is not important, then we can work on the next real emergency and let Route 4 die a stifled, unnoticed death.

June 19, 2006: We are going out today to ride Route 4 for what could be the last time! Join us

Accessible Housing

Health Care


more later, under construction

updated April 2004