Transplanted from PDX to Salem - Geoffrey Blackmer Profile
Former Portland resident Geoffrey Blackmer rode the bus everywhere in Stumptown. He didn’t own a car and never felt the need to get one.
A year after moving to Salem, Blackmer remains a dedicated bus rider but he misses Portland’s transit system.
“It was jarring to move from Portland, where the bus is a huge part of everyday life, to Salem, where the bus doesn’t run after 9 o’clock or on the weekend,” said Blackmer, who works for the Division of Child Support at the Oregon Department of Justice.
Blackmer, an affable 37-year-old, is reluctantly shopping for a car for the first time in years. Cherriots lack of later evening service and weekend service has vexed Salem area residents since 2009 when budget cuts reduced the transit agency’s operations.
New state funding for transportation provided by Oregon House Bill 2017 will change things for the better. Cherriots hopes to restore later evening and weekend bus service sometime in 2019. Cherriots riders and others can take a survey to express their views on service improvements by clicking HERE.
In the meantime, Blackmer said he plans to continue to ride Cherriots on weekdays, even if he gets a car. Blackmer, who has a degree in linguistics and taught English in South Korea for several years, said the region would benefit from reduced congestion and cleaner air if more people chose to ride Cherriots.
Why he rides
“I don’t want Salem to be Portland, but I really feel an improved bus culture would help a lot of people,” he said
Blackmer said he rides Cherriots to save money and because it’s better for the environment. He has learned to make good use of his travel time, listening to podcasts and audiobooks.
On weekdays, he leaves his south Salem apartment at 6:15 a.m. to catch the Route 21 bus and then transfer to Route 3 at the Downtown Transit Center. His commute ends with a 12-minute walk to Capitol City Business Center, an office park in northeast Salem.
The early morning bus trip gives Blackmer time to wake up and get ready for the day ahead, without having to deal with rush-hour traffic.
Blackmer said he is impressed with the professionalism of transit operators in Salem. He sent Cherriots an email that praised one of the transit operators for taking the time to calmly explain a policy to an upset rider.
Blackmer uses a smartphone transit app and online sites, such as Google Maps, to plan his trips. He said the technology is handy, but be aware of its limitations.
For example in the Salem area, the digital tracking of buses isn’t displayed in real-time on smartphone apps. It may appear that a bus is only minutes away from a bus stop when it’s actually running behind schedule.
“Give yourself enough time to get used to the rhythm of the buses,” Blackmer said.
Cherriots intends to upgrade its technology, making real-time data on the movements of buses visible on smartphone apps. By winter 2018-19, a computer-aided dispatch and automated vehicle locator system should be operational.
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