TriMet is Run By Pull Politics, DUH!

I commonly see this statement that TriMet is disconnected from its ridership.  Of course it is, ridership & customer retention are one of the lower priorities.  One would expect such from a publicly operative entity that is run primarily by Government means.

TriMet Priorities (Public Government Entity)

1. Assure funding from Government/taxes.
2. Assure continued interest from key officials.
3. Maintain operations and incur as large a tax collection/service base as possible.
4. Maintain fare revenue through ridership.
5. Maintain equipment to assure maximum ridership via lowest cost.
6. Encourage and gain ridership.
7. Maintain employee happiness.

Those first two priorities pretty much sum up the largest part of concentration on TriMet's part.  Which really equates to TriMet being more about appeasing the city & Metro than the citizenry and users of the system.  One of the MAJOR problems of disconnecting the system from a profit or Trust (Business entity) based priority.

If TriMet where truly a private entity and where allowed by removal of subsidies to competing systems, we could get some honest priorities.

TriMet Priorities – (Privately Operated)

1. Make money & profits for owners & primary constituents.
2. Server as many people as possible to increase revenue.
3. Assure employees are happy to maintain efficiency and encourage further ridership & revenues.
4. Expand system.

TriMet Priorities – (Privately Operated non-Profit)

1. Make money to maintain system.
2. Server as many people as possible to maintain revenue.
3. Assure employees are happy to maintain efficiency and encourage further ridership & revenues.
4. Expand system.

TriMet Priorities – (Publicly Owned, Privately Operated – i.e. group owndership)

1. Make money to maintain system.
2. Server as many people as possible to maintain revenue.
3. Assure employees are happy to maintain efficiency and encourage further ridership & revenues.
4. Expand system.

One can see easily that the priorities are less, and the functional push forward is much more focused.  When you withdraw these tertiary motivators (the City, Metro, & other urban planning engineering manipulators) you'd have priorities that aren't perfectly matched to the rider, but at least VASTLY more aligned than that of the current public entity.

As it stands, unless there is a national awakening, we have what we have.  It is one of the, if not the best system for this city size.  But we won't do better unless the restraints and unfocused issues are removed, and that is FAR FAR outside of TriMet's control.

TriMet's behavior is a symptom of larger issues, and should not be contested.  What needs to be focused on is the problems associated with the City, Metro, and Political Pull System.  We fix that, we'll get our transit system back.  Until then, there isn’t any point in complaining about TriMet’s politically motivated behavior, because that’s exactly what WE the citizenry have allowed by letting the Government encroach in the business of transportation.

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MAX Photo, Transit Beer, and other Bits

OurPDX Reports Borking

Leave it to Aaron Hockley of www.dogcaught.com and other tech fame in PDX to take a great shot and notify people of the upcoming delays for wiring the new Green Line into the MAX System.  :)  Check it out on OurPDX in “TriMet Warning: Gateway Area to be Borked Starting Tuesday”.

Transit Beer Rocking

Transit beer rocked.  Conversation ranged from transit (shock!) to subsidies for sports teams.  The community of people interested in transit (at least at Transit Beer) tends to be a rather intelligent group.  Thus the topics are wide ranging, with the normal focus on transit.

Other Bits

Amtrak isn’t actually spending any of the money they received from the stimulus on anything that will actually create economically, environmental, or otherwise sustainable work.  Most will be done within 1-8 months and the money will be gone in short order.  Most of it is probably going to be used on things that are ill prepared for purchase.  Also there isn’t a penny so far allocated to new service.  Every penny seems to be going for security or maintenance systems.  Don’t get me wrong, it is cool that they’re getting sustainment funds, but because of the “hurry up and spend it to save the country” clause it isn’t getting spent as intelligently as it should.

Transit Beer Decisions

We decided as a group the most intelligent next steps for TriMet would be to bump up the primary routes to BRT (or at least articulated buses for christ’s sake!).  On the west side the heavy rider lines need to be bounced up to AT LEAST frequent service.  I personally think shit should be done even at the cost of cutting some other low ridership lines.  Anyone else got any ideas on that?

That WES Shot

I published a photo from the WES free ride over at Dog Caught, go check it out.  🙂

#12 Transit Beer w/ #9, #19, the Streetcar & More!!!

So if you’re going to come out and about tongith and want to chat transit for a bit, we’re meeting for grub, and maybe a beer, for the 4th Transit Beer at Pho Thanh Long.  It’s at 635 SW College St in Portland.  The #12 stops right out front and the streetcar stops about 3 blocks away at PSU.  Check out the Google Map.

Click on the map to get a closer up image, and if you’re taking transit make sure to click on it and enable transit.

http://maps.google.com/maps?f=q&source=s_q&hl=en&geocode=&q=pho+thanh+long&sll=45.510005,-122.684183&sspn=0,359.997936&ie=UTF8&ll=45.519579,-122.680035&spn=0.000851,0.002064&t=k&z=14&iwloc=A&cid=15260158253271033245&output=embed
View Larger Map

Buses that stop nearby within 1-3 blocks:  #8, #9, #19, #68, #1, #12, #44, #94, and the #17.  The streetcar stops approximately 3-4 blocks away also, depending on if you’re coming from the north west or south east.

So come join us.  We’ll be there at around 7:30pm, maybe a few minutes after, pending delays.  😉

Final Call for Saturday Transit Meetup (aka Transit Beer)

So were are we meeting at?  We narrowed it down to the #12, south west area, Saturday about 7:00(ish) and we'll hang out & talk until we're done or last bus!

Everyone throw in an idea and I'll finalize and post location this afternoon or early tomorrow.

Amtrak, What Do We Get for $137,200,000.00 Dollars?

That is the question!  Railway Age has a piece on this titled “Amtrak gets funding for Western services”.  As quoted from the article, “The Coast Starlight, running between Los Angeles and Seattle, will receive $81.1 million; the Cascades, supported in part by the states of Oregon and Washington, will get $56.1 million.”  So I want to know!  Will we get increased service?  Will we get more equipment?  We ought to get more trains AND more service for that amount of money!

$81.1 million should EASILY buy enough sets to almost double frequency on the Coast Starlight Route.  Amtrak might of course need to split some existing equipment and such, but the point is, they could do it.  Maybe they could fix a few of those stretches that have wretched slow orders too?  I’m almost scared to actually know what we’ll get for the money.  I dread to think that it’ll all go to silly absurd things like painting stations or adding something stupid like parking, but I’ll give’em the benefit of the doubt.  I look forward to the news.

As for the Cascades landing $56.1 million, we better get some more of that service Washington (and Oregon sort of) has promised us for years!  We could easily double the passenger carried by doubling the number of trains.  With $56.1 million that should get the system AT LEAST a few more engines and another 1-2 train sets.  Of course those FRA regulatory mafia will have to lay off in order for Amtrak to get anymore of those excellent (and VERY safe) Talgo Trainsets, if Talgo would even sell us anymore.

So does anyone have any news on this?  Any word lemme know!!!  I’m chomping at the bit to know!

The Catastrophe of Wal-Mart or Interstates or Zoning

I got to thinking, with all the heaping of hatred on Wal-Mart about destroying small towns and encouraging sprawl, what really played the largest part of encouraging sprawl?

Wal-Mart, Interstates, or Zoning?

I kind of see the joint catastrophe of zoning changes the Government made to enable sprawling housing, that then needed an enabler which was provided by the auto industry, which then was further enabled by pouring Government expenditures into Interstates & highways, which then landed us with Interstates.  This exacerbated the situation.

With a growing demand for ever cheaper stuff and the change in zoning and lifestyle changes based on the automobile larger and larger consumption volume was met with larger and larger stores.  In turn we finally got the mediocrity that is Wal-Mart.

It appears, that it be a downward spiral to lower and lower standards.  The majority, and key actions that kicked off the spiral I still stand by, where primarily Government actions to “engineer” a new lifestyle and to mitigate many of the problems post-WWII.  Such as what to do with a market that had nothing for the 10,000,000 soldiers coming back from war, the plunging of the economy back into the depression which wasn’t truly finished before the war, and other issues.

Agree?  Disagree?  How did we really end up in this mess?  Did people really choose cars & sprawling mess because of choice or where there other key motivators?  Any other key indicators that lit of this ongoing catastrophe?  How did we lose our transit, really?  I still contend strongly, that the Government and NOT the market got us into transit unfriendly, pedestrian unfriendly, non-human, auto oriented lifestyle.  What are your thoughts on that notion?

Images From the WES Commuting Voyage #1 (and commentary)

This first shot I got of my trip out to Wilsonville was classic.  Click on it and look at that speedometer!  Yeah, I was rolling!  The next shot just tells the future ever so brashly.

The WES silently slipping by while I'm in traffic...  moving oh so fast.  In the rear view mirror you can see the rest stacked up waiting behind me.  In the near future, as traffic gets worse along Highway 217 the WES becomes more and more viable as the real alternative to commuting along the corridor.

Conductor walking the platform before departure.Yeah.  Passed up with not a sound.  The WES flew right by me while I rolled a double digit 20 or so MPH.  Behind me in the rear view mirror you can see the traffic stacked up.  This was at 6:07pm.  I ended up in scheduling and alarm clock debacle after debacle.  I ended up driving out Monday which really sucked, I could have been on that ride instead I was stuck in traffic in the ole’ Zed (350Z for those non-Nissan peepz).  Real good use of a sports car, NOT.

The next day I grabbed a few good shots.

 

Here I grabbed a shot of the conductor walking the station before departure.  I think the sign embodies the ideal of the system from the perspective of Wilsonville & Beaverton.  Because really, out of all the riders, all but about 5 total people went into downtown Portland.  Everyone riding the WES went somewhere within the corridor or transferred to a bus or MAX heading westward.