Rob Zako spoke at the April board meeting of the Lane Transit District.
Rob Zako: Hi , it’s Rob Zako, Executive Director of Better Eugene Springfield Transportation (BEST). First, let me commend (LTD) staff on the overall organization and appearance of the budget book. It’s clear that there’s been an effort to be more open and transparent and to explain what LTD is doing and we really appreciate that.
That said, and I don’t mean to sound grumpy: I had a really hard time reading the budget book and I mean that literally. I couldn’t read it at all on my laptop computer because it’s a booklet that’s 11 by 17 that doesn’t really fit on my screen. But even putting it on a bigger screen, the numbers, the detailed numbers must be like 7 pt or 8 pt print. If it’s possible to reformat, it’s really physically hard to read it.
That said. More importantly (squinting): The big picture that we take away is, obviously, this past year has been very difficult. Revenues have been down, although not drastically, compared to other transit agencies around the country. Operating expenses have definitely been up significantly.[00:01:05] We commend LTD for running safe operations and taking care of riders and drivers alike in this difficult time. Looking ahead, there is federal funding to fill the gaps but it looks like the cost of operating , the customer revenue service hour, is up something like $59, if we’re reading that correctly. It’s a pretty significant increase in costs to provide the same level of service, and so, it is going to be more expensive to continue providing service in the future.
Otherwise, we’re seeing that the long range plans are not that changed from a year ago. There’s a lot of uncertainty in the future. We’ll be looking for the Strategic Plan to provide more clear direction on where to go. But we don’t have any significant comments on the budget at this time.[00:01:49] I have to say this: COVID-19, it’s a little bit weird. Not seeing you or you seeing me, it’s not quite as intimate, but I hope that you feel B.E.S.T.’s presence with COVID relief monies coming your way with support for electric buses.
And tomorrow on Earth Day—and I will share this with you—you’ll see a letter from a coalition of advocacy groups across Oregon to Oregon’s (federal) congressional delegation, our two senators , our five representatives, asking for more funding for transit. That’s what we’ve been working on. Happy Earth Day.[00:02:20] John Q: To help review the strategic business plan, LTD board members can each recommend five persons: neighborhood leaders, major employers, influencers, community organizations, et cetera. To contact your board member, see https://ltd.org.