Tag Archives: Ronstadt Transit Center

New Sun Tran policy eliminates paper transfers on buses

“REGIONAL TRANSIT TRANSFER POLICY TO CHANGE SunGO Card transfers good for two hours in any direction, fee waived for one month (press release)

TUCSON, Ariz. –Starting on September 1, all passengers must have a SunGO Card or SunGO ID& Card, even if paying cash, for a transfer to be issued when tapped on a farebox. Transfers will now be valid for two hours in any direction on Sun Tran, Sun Link and select Sun Shuttle routes. Paper transfer tickets will no longer be distributed after August 31.

In order to ensure all passengers have a SunGO Card, Sun Tran will distribute cards from 6 a.m. to 9 a.m. and 3 p.m. to 6 p.m. each weekday starting August 22 through September 2, in the information booths at all transit centers:

  • Laos Transit Center, 205 W Irvington Road
  • Ronstadt Transit Center, 215 E Congress Street
  • Tohono Tadai Transit Center, 4540 N Stone Avenue

Limit is one card per passenger. Individual must be present at the time of distribution to redeem card.

Passengers can also get a SunGO Card with the fee waived, from August 22 through September 30, 2016, if a pass or minimum value of  $1 is loaded to a new SunGO Card at a Ticket Vending Machine or at a sales outlet.

For more information on the new regional transit transfer policy, visit www.suntran.com or call Sun Tran’s Customer Service at (520) 792-9222.”

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Feb 19 City Council Meetings: Bus Fare Hike, Ronstadt Transit Center Redevelopment

by Pamela Powers Hannley

At the Feb. 19 study session and evening meeting, the Tucson City Council will consider two issues that could greatly affect bus service in our town.

During the study session, they will consider a proposal to increase bus fares. At the regular evening meeting, they will hear public comments about the proposed redevelopment of the Ronstadt Transit Center. (Proposals and background here.) In between these two meetings, the Tucson Bus Riders Union will have a rally outside of the City Council Chambers, beginning at 4 p.m. (Details and related articles below.)

Here's the information from the Bus Riders Union:

Mayor and Council will hear staff presentations and consider a new proposed Fare Policy as well as Sun Tran service changes based on last fall's Comprehensive Operational Analysis. Come on down to City Hall, 255 West Alameda Street.

The study session starts at noon; these items could come up any time but likely 2pm or later.
 
Find the agenda items here, with documentation in the window to the right when you click on the item:
 
Bus Riders Union invites all to a rally at 4 p.m. in support of LOW FARES AND GREAT BUS SERVICE for Tucson. Opportunity to become a BRU member and share refreshments to hold you over for the M&C regular meeting at 5:30, which as you know includes a public hearing on the Ronstadt Transit Center redevelopment. Documents for that one are here:

Related Articles:
Ronstadt Transit Center: City, Developers Ponder Proverbial Political Football (video)

Ronstadt Transit Center: Community Space or Capitalist Dream?

Ronstadt Center Re-Development: When Is a Public Process Not Public?

Brian Flagg: Tucson has a moral imperative not to raise bus fares

Documents for RTC public hearing

Ronstadt Center Re-Development: When Is a Public Process Not Public?

Ronstadt-dance22-sig-sm72by Pamela Powers Hannley

More than 90 days have passed since the Tucson City Council voted to begin a 60-90 day public comment period to gather information and ideas related to the proposed re-development of the Ronstadt Transit Center. During that time,  the Tucson Bus Riders Union held a public forum at the Rialto, compiled and organized hundreds written comments collected at the forum, met with City Councilwoman Karin Uhlich, and participated in collecting 2800 surveys from bus riders.

What has Corky Poster done? Poster is the architect and planner who was City Council hired to gather the public input. Rumor has it that Poster has held eight “stakeholder” meetings in recent weeks. With the information gathered at those meetings, he has compiled a report outlining consensus goals and objectives and said report was to be delivered to the City Manager’s office last week before Poster left town on vacation. More photos and details on the secret public process and who the real stakeholders are after the jump.

According to activist Suzanne Schafer, Poster has met with the Bus Riders Union (at the big April 2 meeting at the Rialto); the Downtown Neighborhoods and Residents Council; the Tucson-Pima Historical Commission; “real estate advisers” (not much detail who that was); the Mayor and Council’s transit task force; “the immediate neighbors,” meaning adjacent property owners (like developers Madden and Stiteler); Parkwise; and the Downtown Tucson Partnership board of directors.

What you didn’t get an invitation to a stakeholder meeting, and you didn’t see any meeting announcements in the mainstream news? Neither did I. Except for the April 2 public forum and what you have read on this blog, there has been a news blackout on this “public” process. Neither the Sun Tran bus riders survey results nor the public forum comments were ever released to the public– except for on this blog– and Poster’s stakeholder meetings were not publicized.

Unwelcoming sign greets people entering the Ronstadt Transit Center.

At the forum that was public, there was a clear consensus from the speeches and the comment cards that the public wants the Ronstadt Transit Center to remain intact, to remain on Congress Street downtown, and to be improved as a community gathering space. What was the big issue for bus riders? Better bathrooms, lighting, electrical outlets, shade, and people in the kiosks who can answer questions and sell passes– pretty simple stuff. No one said they wanted to have a maxi-dorm built on top of the Ronstadt, no one said the Ronstadt’s Congress Street frontage should be developed as another bar/restaurant, and no one said the buses should move out of downtown.

Decorative brick at the Ronstadt-- where dancers once performed-- has been replaced by rocks.

The people said they wanted a community space with picnic tables and maybe a little play ground for their kids– a place where they could relax and chat while they wait for the bus. As you can see in the picture here, there is plenty of room for this.

Recent “improvements”  to the Ronstadt runs counter to the community gathering space that the people said they want.

According to the city, nearly $3 million in federal funds have been spent on directional signage, lighting, “decorative fencing”, surveillance equipment, and paver replacement.

What we got was a giant no trespassing sign at the entrance, barricade style fencing to control the populace and prohibit seating, and replacement of the decorative brick with dirt-colored rocks. They spent taxpayer money to make the Ronstadt less inviting. When and how were these improvements decided upon? 

The lack of transparency in the public process and in the recent improvements is concerning. The citizens of Tucson are being kept in the dark. We need sunshine on this “public” process.

Ironically, this struggle between the community and developers over the Ronstadt Transit Center is playing out at the same time as West Side residents battle with the city and developers over the fate of El Rio golf course. Will the City Council side with citizens who want open space and community gathering places — downtown and on the West Side– or will they side with business interests? Only time will tell.

There are plenty of dirt lots and run-down buildings aroudn town that could be developed. Why do they need to take our public spaces?

Photo Captions:

Dancers perform at the Ronstadt Transit Center in 2009.

Unwelcoming sign greets people entering the Ronstadt Transit Center. After $3 million in improvements to the transit center, the clock still doesn’t work. (When you’re a bus rider, it’s really important to know the time.)

Decorative brick at the Ronstadt– where dancers once performed– has been replaced with rocks. New barricade fencing prohibits people from sitting on the short walls in the shade.

Ronstadt Transit Center: Community Space or Capitalist Dream?

Privatize316-sig-sm72by Pamela Powers Hannley

The Downtown Tucson Partnership— like other business groups before them– has designs on the Ronstadt Transit Center (RTC). Since the early Feb. 5 City Council vote approving a 60-90 day public comment period before throwing the RTC to the dogs… er … developers,  the Tucson Bus Riders Union held a public forum at the Rialto, compiled and organized hundreds written comments collected at the forum, met with City Councilwoman Karin Uhlich, and participated in collecting 2800 surveys from bus riders. 

When the Ronstadt Transit Center was constructed in 1991, it was billed as a community gathering place. Dance and music performances at the RTC were featured during Downtown Saturday Nights (pre-cursor to Second Saturdays but twice per month in its heyday). At the April public forum, dozens of speakers talked about improving the transit center, making it a focal point for community activities (as it once was), and building community– not commercial develop– at the site.

The big question is: in making its decision regarding the fate of the Ronstadt Transit Center, will the City Council listen to the 41-member Downtown Tucson Partnership or the thousands of Tucsonans who have voiced their opinion on this issue?

Today, May 17, a group of transit activists, downtown residents, and members of the Tucson Bus Riders Union will gather at the Ronstadt Transit Center in a community-building exercise. Wear white, bring your musical instruments, signs, and your community spirit to the RTC at 5 p.m. and let's see what happens. Meet under the clock, and don't disrupt the buses. This is a bus-friendly, community event– not a protest.

For background on the most recent Ronstadt Transit Center struggle, check out stakeholder opinions after the jump.

Downtown for Everyone, Part 1: What Business Wants

Downtown for Everyone, Part 2: What Downtown Neighborhoods Want

Downtown for Everyone, Part 3: What Bus Riders Want

Downtown for Everyone, Part 4: What Tucson Citizens Want

Tucsonans have pushed back unwise development in the past. The proposed downtown Tucson hotel– financed by the taxpayers– is a perfect example of the people rising up and telling the City Council what to do… loudly and clearly. The people won that battle in 2010.

Will the Tucson City Council Throw the Bus Riders Under the Bus?

Busriders318-sig-sm72by Pamela Powers Hannley

With pressure from developers and the budget, the Tucson City Council once again is considering decisions which would reduce– or at least hinder– bus transportation.

Today, Tuesday, May 7, at the City Council study session, Councilwoman Shirley Scott is expected to propose a $2 million cut to Sun Tran services. The Bus Riders Union has sent out an action alert for citizens who want to preserve bus transportation to come to the study session, which begins at 1:30 p.m. Here is a link to the agenda.

Tomorrow, Wednesday, May 8, City Councilwoman Karin Uhlich will meet with members of the Bus Riders Union regarding proposed redevelopment of the Ronstadt Transit Center (RTC) at 5:30 p.m. in the library room of the the Armory Park Center, 220 S. 5th Ave. This event is free and open to the public. Please attend if you want your voice heard. (You can also send comments to busriders@tucsonbusridersunion.com.) More details and results from the bus riders survey after the jump.

You'll remember the City Council voted back in February to start a public process to gather comments about developing the transit center on Congress Street (before they hire a developer to do the work). On April 2, the Bus Riders Union– not Corky Poster, who was hired by the city to conduct the public process– held a public forum at the Rialto. Approximately 250-300 Tucsonans showed up to voice their opinions. Most people talked about improving the RTC and bus service– not cutting it back. No one said, "Oh, yes, let's build a maxi-dorm on top of the bus terminal and put a row of corporate retail shops in front of it." (Here's the story and the video of that event.)

Thousands of public comments have been collected through a bus riders survey of 2800+ SunTran customers, comment cards collected at the April forum, and public speeches at the April forum have expressed a consistent message.

People want public spaces and public transportation at the RTC– not retail shops and student housing. (Seriously, haven't we overbuilt for the student market already?) Most express route riders (83%) and one third of regular riders said they used the RTC and SunTran to go to work. By far the most common suggestion was improvements to the restrooms (73%), water fountains (48%), and customer service booths (48%). Furthermore, bus riders whose routes have been diverted from the RTC during modern street car construction want their routes to go back to the RTC. As expected, business interests have started to spin the executive summary of the survey results.

Below is the summary of the survey results provided by Sun Tran. (You'll note some inconsistencies in the percentages in this report; this is due to distribution of two surveys, one for express route riders and one for everyone else. Most respondents were regular riders.)

SUN TRAN

RONSTADT TRANSIT CENTER BUS RIDER SURVEY

APRIL 2013

 

Executive Summary

 

A survey regarding current usage and future improvements to the Ronstadt Transit Center (RTC) was administered to Sun Tran riders on Wednesday, April 10, 2013.  The survey was developed and administered by representatives from the Bus Riders Union, Downtown Tucson Partnership, Ward 3 City Council Office, Imagine Greater Tucson and Sun Tran.

Surveyors were stationed at RTC from 5:00 AM to 8:00 PM to administer the survey to Regular Route Riders.  Express Route Riders had surveys left on their seats that day because these buses do not currently stop at RTC due to construction detours.  Both populations were asked survey questions regarding their preference on improvements to the RTC, their final destination downtown, as well as the purpose for their trip.  In addition, Regular Riders were surveyed on their method of arrival at and departure from the RTC, and Express Riders were surveyed on their satisfaction with the current diverted routing through the downtown area.

A total of 2,827 surveys were completed by bus riders; 88% of the surveys were completed by Regular Route riders and 12% by Express Route riders.  Data is reported specifically for responses provided by Regular Route riders, Express Route riders and a combination of both groups when appropriate.

Though not a scientific statistically valid survey, the single-day survey results provide a snapshot of the current downtown ridership.

 

Improved Amenities:

The most commonly requested improvements for RTC by combined riders were upgraded restrooms (73%), water fountains (48%), customer service representatives to provide transit information (48%), security officers (45%), safety improvements (44%) and bus service information, maps & schedules (42%).  The top eight improvements were features that directly support transit.  The most commonly chosen mixed-use options were retail food/ produce sales (30%) and restaurants (24%).  25% of all riders wrote in additional ideas, the most popular being designated smoking areas and issues related to security (e.g., fewer drugs/ intoxicated individuals).

 

Trip Purpose:

Completed responses indicate the most common purposes for traveling through RTC are work (39%), transferring (28%), school (16%) and medical & social services downtown (9%).     

 

Express Routing:

The majority of Express Route riders responded that they prefer the original routing that took them through RTC over the detour routing adopted during streetcar construction.  Riders of the 107X and 103X routes most often indicated a preference for the current diverted routing or had no preference for routing.  These are the routes which may be the best candidates for permanent diversion from the RTC; however, due to small sample size, further surveying of these routes may be necessary.

 

Data Summary

 Overview:  Two bus rider surveys were administered on April 10, 2013 regarding current usage and future improvements to Ronstadt Transit Center (RTC).  Representatives from Tucson Bus Riders Union, Downtown Tucson Partnership, Sun Tran, Ward 3 council office and Imagine Greater Tucson participated together in the development and administration of this survey.  The survey was administered on a Wednesday, which is typically the busiest day for Sun Tran riders.  Surveyors were stationed at RTC from 5:00 AM to 8:00 PM on April 10 to distribute the surveys to Regular Route riders.  On the same day, Express Route riders arrived at their buses with a survey and pencil on each of the bus seats.  All surveys were collected that day.

The Regular Route surveys asked riders the following questions:

  1. What changes and additions would make the Ronstadt Transit Center more pleasant and useful to you?
  2. How did you get to the Ronstadt Center right now?
  3. How will you get to your final destination?
  4.  What was your purpose for coming to downtown today?

Riders on Express Routes coming into downtown were asked the following questions:

  1. What changes and additions would make the Ronstadt Transit Center more pleasant and useful to you?
  2. Where is your final destination?
  3. Do you prefer the current downtown routing of your bus or the original downtown routing before streetcar construction started?
  4. What was your purpose for coming to downtown today?

Total number of Surveys:  In total, 2,827 surveys were filled out by bus riders on that day.  2,509 Regular Route riders and 318 Express Route riders completed the survey.

Top needs and requests for changes to RTC:  The top requests for changes to RTC by Regular Route riders were as follows:

  • Restrooms upgraded (76%)
  • Water fountains (51%)
  • Customer service staff (Sun Tran) (49%)
  • Security Officers (45%)

The top requests for changes to RTC by Express Route were as follows:

  • Safety improvements like security cameras, lighting, etc. (58%)
  • Security officers (51%)
  • Restrooms upgraded (44%)
  • Bus service info, maps, schedules (44%)

The requests for changes to RTC by Regular Route and Express Route riders combined are listed in the chart below in order of preference:

The top eight improvements chosen by riders were items that directly support transit.  Upgraded restrooms were the improvement most frequently requested. 

There was little consensus on other improvements at RTC beyond those essential for transit.  In other words, there was not as much consideration of the other uses in a mixed-use transit facility.  The most popular of the mixed-use options were the Retail Food/ Produce Sales (30%) and Restaurants (24%).  13% of all riders mentioned Retail Stores and only 8% mentioned Service Stores such as dry cleaning or shipping.

In addition, 25% of riders listed additional suggestions for changes to RTC beyond the items listed in the survey.  Some of the more common of these open-ended comments were the following:

  • Designated smoking areas
  • Issues related to security (e.g., fewer drugs/ intoxicated individuals)
  • Awnings or shelter over benches for rain
  • Expanded bathrooms
  • Change machine
  • ATM machine
  • Food carts/ food vending machines

And there were a few open ended responses that were less common but could be promising aspects for a mixed use transit center.

  • Electrical outlets for charging phones
  • Blue emergency call phones (like at UA and Pima College)
  • WiFi

Riders arriving at RTC specifically to transfer to another route:  The percentage of riders arriving at RTC specifically to transfer to another route is broken out below for Regular Route riders, Express Route riders and all riders combined.

31% of Regular Route riders indicated that their purpose for being downtown at RTC was to transfer.  12% of Express Route riders indicated that they came downtown by bus to transfer to other routes.  For the combined counts for Regular Routes and Express Routes, 28% of riders indicated that their purpose for being at Ronstadt was to transfer to another bus.  These numbers are consistent with anecdotal and historical calculations from Sun Tran staff.

It is noted that these numbers were determined for the most part through Question 4 on both surveys inquiring into trip purpose.  This was an open-ended question, and similar responses were grouped together.  In some cases, the responses to these open-ended questions were re-categorized based on other information listed in the survey responses.  For example, riders listing final destinations such as UMC, VA Hospital, or the U of A clearly were transferring to other routes and not staying downtown.

Top trip purposes for downtown trip:  Riders were asked in Question 4 about the purpose of their trips downtown.  This was an open-ended question, and similar responses were grouped together.

The trip purposes for the combined group of Regular Route and Express Route riders are listed in the chart below:

Note:  Some respondents listed more than one trip purpose on their surveys (e.g., Main Library, shopping downtown, Special Services Offices) so the total of all the trip purposes above is 111%.

The top downtown trip purposes for Regular Route riders are as listed below:

  • Work (32%)
  • Transfer to other route (31%)
  • School (18%)
  • Medical or social services (10%)

The top responses for downtown trip purposes for Express Route riders are as follows:

  • Work (83%)
  • Transfer (12%)
  • School (3%)

Mode of Travel: Another set of questions were asked of Regular Route riders to determine which modes of travel were used.  72% of Regular Route riders indicated that they arrived by bus to the RTC and would travel by bus to get to their final destination.  A review of the surveys indicated that the majority of riders interpreted the question of “how will you get to your final destination” to mean how they would make their return trip several hours later.  As a result, there was little information to be gained through these questions.  Survey developers often use Mode of Travel questions in conjunction with multiple checkboxes to determine specific modes of transportation such as walking, biking, carpooling, driving to Park & Ride lots, etc.  Follow-up questions to Mode of Travel questions determine information such as the walking distances between boarding and de-boarding locations.

Safety and Security at RTC:  When indicating their preference for potential improvements to the RTC, Regular Route and Express Route riders addressed the issue of safety at RTC.  The charts below compare the safety and security preferences for both populations.

The data showed that 30% of Regular Riders and 36% of Express Riders requested by security officers and safety improvements, while 28% of Regular Riders and 38% of Express Riders requested either security officers or safety improvements.  By comparison, only 42% of Regular Riders and 26% of Express Riders did not indicate a preference for the addition of security officers or safety improvements at the RTC.

Routing preference for Express Bus riders:  Express Route riders were asked if they prefer the original downtown routing that took them through RTC or the current downtown routing adopted during streetcar construction which diverts them from RTC.  Express Route riders could also respond that they had no preference by listing they were “happy with either routing”.  43% responded that they preferred the original routing through RTC, 26% preferred the current downtown routing and 31% stated no preference.  The chart below shows the complete distribution of routing preference for the nine Express Routes.

Responses for Routes 109X, 107X and 103X indicated a preference for the current diverted routing or no preference for the routing.  Because of this, these may be the best candidates for permanent diversion from the RTC; however, because the population size from these routes is relatively small, it may also be advantageous to administer an additional survey on them  in order to confirm this result. Among the remainder of the routes, there was either no clear consensus on preference, or a slight to large majority who preferred the original routing through downtown.

 

Conclusions

Based on the data collected and our review of the responses from both the Regular Rider and Express Rider populations, we can make the following statements:

  1. Regular Route respondents show a distinct preference for improvements to the restrooms at the RTC above all other improvements.  Express Route respondents also heavily support this improvement.
  2. Large percentages of respondents are also in favor of adding or improving water fountains and customer service representatives of Sun Tran and bus service information, maps & schedules.
  3. Although they were rated significantly lower than transit-related improvements, the most popular of the mixed-use options were the Retail Food/ Produce Sales and Restaurants.
  4. Large percentages of Express Route and Regular Route respondents requested security officers and/or other safety improvements, such as cameras and lighting, emergency call phones, increased presence of TPD officers, or generally stricter enforcement of existing statutes regarding panhandling, public intoxication, illegal substances and vagrancy.
  5. Both populations also indicated an interest in the designation of specific smoking/non-smoking areas.
  6. 83% of Express Route respondents replied that they travel downtown primarily for work.  12% of Express Route respondents replied they arrived downtown to transfer, and 3% responded that they took the express bus to get to school.
  7. The top downtown trip purposes for Regular Route respondents are work (32%), transfer to other route (31%), school (18%), and medical or social services (10%).
  8. Express Routes 109X, 107X and 103X appear to be the best candidates for permanent diversion from the RTC; additional surveying of these routes may be beneficial to verify this conclusion.
 

 

Ronstadt Transit Center: City, Developers Ponder Proverbial Political Football (video)

RTCneon326-sig-sm72by Pamela Powers Hannley

Anyone who has lived in Tucson long enough knows that the vitality of downtown has ebbed and flowed with the winds of politics and the fortunes of capitalism.

Thanks to infrastructure investments, tax breaks, land deals, and the promise of Rio Nuevo college students with Daddy's credit cards, downtown is again on the upswing– with swanky bars, over-priced restaurants, micro-breweries, maxi-dorms, and a modern street car to deliver college students to the main gate of the university.

With the smell of money in the air, capitalists are ready to play "let's make a deal" with Tucson's Mayor and Council. One city property that developers have been trying to score for years is the Ronstadt Transit Center, on Congress. Once surrounded by seedy bars, funky diners, and shoe-string art galleries, the Ronstadt Center is now in the thick of downtown's rebirth as Mill Ave South.

Anyone who was around in 2009-2010 when developers lobbied for a land swap deal that would include ~40% of the Ronstadt Center for commercial development  should pay attention to what's happening now. Details and video after the jump.

At the February 5 meeting of Mayor and Council, Councilwoman Karin Uhlich moved that the city contact Corky Poster of Poster Frost Mirto to "begin a public planning process that will create a development vision and set of goals for the Ronstadt Transit Center (RTC) site, incorporating input from the recent Streetcar Charrette, the Downtown Tucson Partnership, the transit working group, the Bus Riders Union, adjacent property owners, surrounding neighborhood associations and the general public… Using the development vision and goals along with the information gathered in the stipulated staff analysis above, she further moved that the City Manager return to the Mayor and Council within 60-90 days with a draft Request for Qualifications (RFQ) seeking a qualified development team to plan, design, construct and own/lease/manage some components of an integrated mixed use development/transit center." [Emphasis added.]

Taking advantage of the 60-90 day public comment period, approximately 250 people filled the Rialto Theater on April 2, for the Bus Riders' Union public discussion about the future of the Ronstadt Transit Center.

After a few short speeches and a brief  history of why the Ronstadt was built on Congress Street in the early 1990s,  audience members were given the floor. From toilet paper and restroom doors that close and lock to sustainable downtown living to adding kid-friendly/people-friendly community space to the Ronstadt, about 20 citizens offered suggestions to improve the space. Not one person spoke in support of the idea of mixed use commercial development that would include retail or more maxi-dorms.

Instead, people spoke about the importance of the Ronstadt Center to their lives, the importance of community spaces to the health of our city, and the importance of an accessible public bus system to downtown.  (Watch a compilation of comments here.)

"We have to look at this from the aspect of what is best for the city–not what is best for developers," local attorney Bill Risner said. Risner and others cautioned attendees about the motives of developers who want to change the Ronstadt into a mixed use facility. He said they are looking at the Ronstadt as a "prime piece of real estate"– not as a resource for the community.

"We don't need a stores, not retail. We don't need a shopping mall above the Ronstadt," said one bus rider.  "We need public spaces for all of us [like playgrounds, band shells, gathering places]. Places where we all feel safe… [We need] things that bring us together and not tear us apart."

The idea that the Ronstadt Center should be developed as a community space– not a commercial space– came up multiple times.

"Make it beautiful."

"Make it a space we can be proud of."

"Act like this is a benefit and treat it that way."

Another common theme was that downtown businesses don't like the looks of the poor people who ride the bus and frequent the transit center. One speaker speculated that businessmen, developers, and even the Mayor and Council would rather push the "poor, the addicted, and the mentally ill"– along with the transit center– out of downtown and out of sight, rather than dealing with the problems that created their predicaments.

In their remarks following public comment, Uhlich and Councilwoman Regina Romero both alluded to their struggles to keep the Ronstadt Transit Center downtown. Although the current proposal calls for mixed use development plans for the Ronstadt, past development proposals have called for moving the transit center out of downtown.

If the standing room only Rialto crowd, the public comments, and the 4-inch stack of comment cards are any indication of public interest, the Mayor and Council need to tread lightly on the idea of commercial development on Ronstadt Transit Center site. The city has not had a good track record on negotiating with developers in the past. Remember the downtown hotel fiacso a few years ago? Former Mayor Bob Walkup and the City Council were ready to put millions of dollars into development of a downtown convention hotel– until the people rose up and said, "No way!"

I believe that the current Mayor and Council should heed the words of former City Councilwoman Molly McKasson when she cautioned against the city putting "all of its eggs in the development basket."

A few years ago when developers closed the gallery row in the 200 block of Congress Street to make way for more bars and restaurants, I wrote this story– What Is Our Shared Vision for Downtown?

My question still stands: What is our shared vision for downtown? Do we want 4th Ave and Congress Street to be Mill Ave South– with college bars and maxi-dorms– or do we want a vibrant community core for all of us?