For the past four months, my Community Planning Workshop (CPW) team has been working with the Rogue Valley Transportation District (RVTD) to gather perceptions of transit services in the Rogue Valley region. The perceptions will help RVTD better understand the feasibility of implementing a High Capacity Transit system in the region. With a number of moving parts within the project, much of the work we’ve done thus far (meetings, policy analysis, survey development, and background research) has been done to prepare for the central focus of the project – public participation.
With one afternoon of intercept surveying under our belt, we set out to Medford, OR on Friday, April 4, to conduct the second round of intercept surveys and our first focus group activity. After a number of coffee induced pit stops, we finally made it to Southern Oregon, leaving the van one-by-one, taking our positions at RVTD bus stops, ready to ask bus riders to participate in our survey. The team received a total of 33 survey responses, leaving us just eighteen short of our target goal of collecting 100 surveys total.
After a quick lunch and debrief, we arrived at Twin Creeks Transit Oriented Development (TOD) to conduct our first ever focus group. We had a total of seven members of the Twin Creeks Retirement Community join us for the activity. The focus group asked the community members to discuss their thoughts on RVTD services, elements of transit that were appealing or important for them, and opinions on sketches displaying what a transit stop in the community could look like. Overall the activity provided wonderful conversation, insightful information, and great next steps.
Essentially the ‘meat’ of the project, public participation is exactly what attracted me to this project and why I’m particularly excited for the remaining months of work. In the coming weeks, we will engage in a variety of public participation strategies – interviews, online surveys, in-person surveys, focus groups, and meetings. Beyond becoming well versed in public participation strategies, the biggest takeaway for me has been the level of importance RVTD gives to public opinions to inform themselves and their work.
Prior to this project, a conversation about public transportation would have lasted a minute. Since beginning this project, I’ve thought and talked more about transit than I ever knew possible. By the end of this project, our team will have created a community engagement report, providing RVTD all the information, lessons learned, and recommendations gathered from talking to every and any willing soul about transit.
About the Author: Lokyee Au is a second year Community and Regional Planning and Environmental Studies concurrent master’s student at the University of Oregon. Originally from Los Angeles, Lokyee received her undergraduate degree in Sociology and Environmental Studies from UC San Diego in 2011. She is interested in community development as it relates to social justice.