Canby Area Transit is known for moving hundreds of riders throughout the community each week, and back and forth between neighboring cities as well. But CAT itself could soon be moving to a new, permanent home at the city shop at the end of North Redwood Street — presuming the financial considerations pencil out.
CAT is currently headquartered in an office building on Hazel Dell Way, next to Wilco, which it leases. Last year, a nearby one-acre parcel became available and CAT pounced on it, with the goal of building a new headquarters for the local transit agency.
The land was purchased from Pioneer Property, an Oregon LLC domiciled in Kemah, Texas, for $380,000. But new Transit Director Todd Wood told the City Council in a work session last week that it may not be the best site for a permanent home.
The location, while convenient and easy to access for the public, is small and would require some creative security solutions because of the close proximity to neighboring properties. CAT’s fleet of buses, currently at 13 but expected to grow to 18 later this month, is already cramped at their current digs.
The main downside, though, is that the mechanics who service the fleet are based at the city shop on the other side of town.
“So, anytime we have a bus issue, they have to come pick up the bus and take it back to the shop,” Wood said. “That takes a lot of their time.”
Even simple repairs, like replacing a headlight or windshield wiper, or routine maintenance, are complicated by the need to either shuttle a bus over to the shop or bring a city mechanic out to the bus yard for a site visit.
The shop is on a 5.5-acre property owned by the city, which also serves as the base of operations for waste water treatment, public works and other city departments, as well as the service crews for the Canby Utility Board. The CUB contingent, though, will soon be brought back into the fold at the utility’s new headquarters on Southeast 3rd Avenue — opening up some space.
Though this property also presents some downsides — most notably, the lack of public access — Wood believes this may be made up for by the benefits of having the mechanics and fleet technicians on site.
“It’s a much better model to have the mechanic and buses in the same location,” Wood told city councilors. “So when there are minor issues like [refilling the] washing fluid or those types of things, they can just walk out, fix it and the bus can be on the road.”
Staff said that public-facing CAT operations, such as the sale of bus passes or sharing of information about routes, could probably be relocated to City Hall and the Canby Public Library.
The shop property would have to be reworked to accommodate the bus fleet and transit operations, and Wood said more engineering would be needed to determine how much this might cost. This could be offset by being able to put the Hazel Dell property back on the market — funds that would go back into CAT’s budget once it sold.
No decision was made or expected Wednesday, but councilors gave the nod for staff to continue its cost-benefit analysis of such a move for later consideration.
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