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SMART surveys Villebois residents

Story by: Patrick Johnson
Published to Web: 8/6/2008

It pays to ask.

In response to criticism that there would be no bus service into Villebois until 2011, officials with South Metro Area Transit, have collaborated with the main developer to find out if SMART service would be used in the high-density development.
Questions arose last month when Costa Pacific Communities CEO Rudy Kadlub found out that under the new SMART master plan, Villebois wouldn’t have dedicated transit service for three years. That fact, coupled with the lack of construction of Barber Street, had Kadlub asking city officials what they were going to do to meet the transit needs of his high-density, public transit friendly community.

The questions prompted SMART officials to partner with the developer to find out just how much SMART service would be used if bus service started earlier.
“We want to make sure that we give the people service out there within our budget constraints,” said Cynthia Thompson, interim director of SMART. “Our fixed bus service out there doesn’t start until phase three of our master plan, and we would need additional funding to start that sooner than phase three. We are trying to find out what the demand is, and then we will see how we can provide service.”

Thompson said that currently residents of Villebois could use the agency’s Dial-A-Ride service to commute.
“In the past we have used data we have received from Dial-A-Ride demand to create specific routes,” she said. “Villebois residents are more than welcome to use that service.”

The survey was created by Costa Pacific, with SMART staff making suggestions. Approximately 300 surveys and cover letters were delivered to Kadlub Thursday.

Kadlub said Monday that the surveys would go out next week.

“We hope to receive at least a 20-percent return,” he said.

The survey contains 16 questions, including asking Villebois residents which Westside Express Service trains they would ride – so if service is offered to the community it could focus on specific times, Thompson said.

“I don’t know what the timeframe is for getting these surveys out and the results back,” Thompson said. “I want to do it quickly.”
Meanwhile the recently announced delay of WES opening shouldn’t have an impact on SMART plans, Thompson said. Tri-Met officials announced last month that the WES opening was pushed back from September to an early November date.

“Regardless of when Tri-Met opens up WES service, we are going to start our new routes on November 1,” Thompson said. “In short, the delay isn’t a problem for us.”

Currently the designs of the new routes are nearing completion, with a “few changes” that staff are still making. Thompson also said in January 2009, SMART would be celebrating its 20-year anniversary with an event and new signage.

“We are still using the train station as our hub of operations,” she said. “When the train does start it will just bring another option to commuters.”