Is a bus in M-I's future

MONMOUTH/INDEPENDENCE -- A local real estate developer wants to create a public transportation system for Monmouth and Independence.

Steven Ribeiro, the developer of Independence Station, recently purchased a 28-foot Gillig Spirit that was once used for public transportation in Los Angeles.

He spoke with community organizations and business leaders earlier this month about donating the bus to the communities and creating a transit system that would shuttle residents between the cities.

An initial route would run from the Independence Amphitheater to Western Oregon University, with stops in between, Ribeiro said.

Ribeiro said he would like to donate the bus to Independence, or more preferably, find a coalition of community organizations that would manage a transportation system.

Independence City Manager Greg Ellis said the city would probably not accept a donated bus if the town had to subsidize it.

"We don't have the money to operate a public transportation system," Ellis said. "We wouldn't mind entertaining proposals for it ... but (Ribeiro) would have to show some operation that would make it self-sustaining."

Ribeiro said plans to put together a management framework and timeline to implement it within the next couple of weeks for presentation to city officials.

He also has spoken with members of the Independence Downtown Association, the Monmouth-Independence Chamber of Commerce and the student government representatives of Western Oregon University about forming a partnership.

"There's nothing wrong with public-private partnerships," he said. But "I think it would better to have one bus sponsored by lots of folks."

He roughly estimates the cost for a local bus operation as $35 per hour to cover insurance, maintenance and personnel expenses.

Rider fees would be about $1 for citizens and 50 cents for students, Ribeiro estimated.

Ribeiro said the idea for a bus system originated with his plans for Independence Station a couple of years ago. The 58,000-square-foot, mixed-use building is being constructed with many environmentally friendly design elements. Ribeiro hopes to have it certified by the United States Green Building Council.

Some of the innovations include a stormwater management system that uses rainwater to flush toilets, and electrical generators powered by waste vegetable oil -- the same fuel source that will run the bus.

Alternative transportation is another of the sustainable design benchmarks needed to achieve a high green building rating, Ribeiro said.

"One concept with Independence Station was to provide a place ... where people don't have to drive," he said. "If they need to go somewhere, we can keep those dollars in Monmouth and Independence."


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