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RVTD decides against moving Talent bus

TALENT — A popular bus stop on Talent Avenue will be retained after people voiced concerns over riders crossing busy Highway 99 under proposed changes to Rogue Valley Transportation District's Route 10.

Beginning March 23, Route 10 will follow Arnos Street between Talent Avenue and Highway 99 instead of Rapp Road, as originally proposed. Riders from Anderson Vista will retain their stop at Rogue River Parkway, which had been proposed for elimination. The bus also will no longer travel Talent Avenue from Highway 99 to Arnos but will remain on the highway.

RVTD officials changed Route 10 in Ashland and Medford in an effort to trim time on a chronically late loop. Speed limit reductions, increased traffic and a road diet on North Main Street in Ashland have slowed the route. The changes come as the agency struggles with reduced funding following failure of a levy in November.

“We received feedback from the city of Talent recommending we move the route either to Arnos or Creel,” said Paige Townsend, senior planner with RVTD. Arnos has both bike lanes and sidewalks its entire length, while Creel does not.

Residents and bus riders spoke out about the impacts of the changes at a March 3 Talent City Council meeting, which was attended by RVTD General Manager Julie Brown.

“I think it was really commendable of them to come out for our community and make the change for use that will provide more convenient service over the plan they were proposing,” said Mayor Darby Stricker. "I'm really grateful for that.”

RVTD officials had made the move to cut 12 minutes in the bus travel time to return to a one hour, 43-minute trip from the Medford downtown transit center to the Bi-Mart stop in Ashland and back. Currently the route is consistently taking more than two hours, causing riders to miss connections.

“We heard a tremendous amount of frustration over the years about the route not being on schedule,” said Townsend.

The change to Arnos will result in a cut of 10 minutes instead of 12 because speeds on that street and Talent Avenue are lower than on Highway 99. Stops have been created with consultation from Oregon Department of Transportation on both sides of Highway 99 at Arnos. There also will be stops where Talent Avenue joins Highway 99 north of Ashland.

Bus times will be monitored closely prior to another change coming to Route 10 on June 1, when service will drop from every 20 minutes to every half hour, said Townsend.

If the schedule cannot be met, the agency would consider taking out stops that are close to others, although it doesn’t want to do that, said Townsend.

Another Route 10 change will be made in South Medford, where the bus will take Stewart Avenue rather than Barnett Road. Stops will be by Abby's Pizza on Highway 99 at Barnett and by Carl's Jr. on Stewart. The reroute will save about two minutes as it has two signals rather than three, said Townsend.

Major changes coming to all routes on March 23 are cutbacks to evening service and elimination of Saturday service. Route 1, which had served the airport, will no longer go north of Highway 62 because of low ridership in that area. The change will make the route 30 minutes long rather than 45, resulting in more efficient use of drivers.

A new rider guide showing changes will be available on March 16.

Tony Boom is a freelance writer living in Ashland. Reach him at tboomwriter@gmail.com.