One Last Trip of the Day

6:33pm Departure.  I finished the other entry, totally forgetting I had another leg of my day’s journey’s to complete still.  As I sat waiting for departure, for the first time I heard it called via dispatch, “High ball!”  One has to love that.  ๐Ÿ™‚

We headed out into the street running segment of the trip with barely any traffic in Beaverton now.  The jams of the 4 and 5 o’clock hour where gone.

As we pulled through the crossroads and onto the mainline I noticed that some idiot had smashed into the east bound crossing gate.  I tell ya, people in cars, they’re special kind of idiots.  It really, honestly, sincerely doesn’t take that much more effort to pay attention.  The inherent problem is a lack of wrote training and such.  People just don’t watch what they’re doing when driving.  I ponder, if people had a short little 20 hours worth of training what our fatality and accident rate with cars would drop to?  It’s low already, but would probably be safer than air travel in a short period of time.  But oh well, I don’t much care as I just try to stay off the road and away from the American Car Driving Louse.

With 18 people aboard we arrived at Hall/Nimbus.  2 left us and we gained none.  The conductor did walk over to someone buying a ticket on a bike, but the cyclist was just getting a ticket for later or something.  The conductor turned and stepped aboard as the doors began to shut.  We were off again en route to Tigard now.

In Tigard we gave up 2 more riders.  We now had…  …7 people.  ?  ๐Ÿ˜   Argh!  I sure hope ridership picks up.  It is about what TriMet expected though.  We met the double train here and as always, the conductors exchanged their data bits about the trips and I’m sure a bit of friendly chat.

We rolled through the yard south of Tigard and I noticed the engine I saw previously in the day, dubbed Willamina by Portland & Western, sat there idly.  I dig that they name their engines, it adds an element of the going theme this week of pride.

The other thing I noted was that in Tigard the north bound train had easily 30 people aboard, more than 2x what our single DMU had.  I get the notion that most of the north bound trips are going to have more riders than the south bound trips.  However that is working it appears to be true so far this week.  Maybe people go north but then end up heading back south via some other means.  Maybe it is just an oddity for this week?  I’m not particularly sure but it is what I’ve observed.

As we pulled into Tualatin the skaters where at the skate part hard at work shredding away.  Traffic here had died down to tolerable levels also.  The town center next to the station opposite of the Haggen Grocery Store seemed not to stir at all.  I’m tempted to go wonder around in the area sometime, but the draw just isn’t quit there.

We left Tualatin with about 4 people, including myself and excluding the conductor and engineer (I always exclude them).

At this point, that gives us a whopping 3.x MPG per passenger.  Roughness.  ๐Ÿ˜ฆ

Ok, this is the last one of the day.  I’m done with the ole’ blog for tonight.


  1. "At this point, that gives us a whopping 3.x MPG per passenger. Roughness. :("

    I think C-Tran had a figure of something around 5.6 MPG for a bus… TriMet is a little less and King County Metro still a little less, around 3 something.

    I question King County’s numbers, given that they run a lot more articulateds (same engine, more weight = more fuel), and they have a bunch of "divide by zeros" — trolleybuses (zero diesel consumption). I don’t know the methodology of their MPG calculation but I do question what I’ve seen.

    I think TriMet is putting way too much faith into their little "NASCAR-Inspired" technological feat. Also called a "mini-hybrid" system, it’s very simple. It’s an electrically driven fan. That’s it. Most buses have a mechanically driven fan. The claim is 10-20% better fuel mileage but there is absolutely no sound proof of it. Unfortunately the hybrid-electric buses aren’t giving as great of performance as a Toyota Prius, but it also seems that many transit agencies aren’t using the hybrids correctly. Seattle, for example, ran a lot of hybrids on freeway express routes (where the MPG goes down, not up unlike a conventional motor vehicle). They’ve since changed their operating practices and seem to be happy with hybrids.

    WES…like any rail application, requires quantity to work. A diesel locomotive tugging around just a handful of cars is NOT going to be more fuel-efficient than trucks doing the same work. But a train hauling around a 100 car intermodal consist IS more fuel efficient. Same with passenger rail – an Amtrak train with 12 cars running mostly full is efficient. An Amtrak train that’s running at 50% load factor, plus a handful of non-revenue cars (baggage, lounge, dining cars) is less fuel efficient than Greyhound buses pulling the same number of passengers. WES, as a single-unit car with two diesel engines, can only be efficient if running full, and preferably running with the trailing coach full as well — but TriMet only has one such coach.


  2. Overall, without a minimum of 20 ppl on a bus, or 40+ on the WES or 50+ on a double car consist we don’t see anything that is really better than the average MPG of regular motor vehicle use in the United States (which is already absurdly low 20-24mpg?) When we see 30+ on the bus and if we saw 75+ on the WES we’d finally hit what I last checked where European averages. If we made our buses and equipment better we could however easily exceed European averages with our transit vehicles, but with all the oddities we follow that isn’t going to happen.

    U mention however, the cost difference with Greyhound and Passenger trains. It really isn’t an apples to apples. Compare one of the luxery 28 seat buses with a train and it is a better more accurate comparison. If we shove people onto trains like sardines, as Greyhound does, trains would shoot up past Greyhound in efficiency. I personally would prefer we don’t go for MAX load but instead make better, more comfortable (ya know, cushy seats and such) buses and vehicles that run clean, forget how efficeint they are. It’s a nice stat to get good numbers with but cleanliness & comfort I honestly believe need to be higher priorities.

    Agree/Disagree? I might have to make this a topic.


  3. "Compare one of the luxery 28 seat buses with a train and it is a better more accurate comparison. If we shove people onto trains like sardines, as Greyhound does, trains would shoot up past Greyhound in efficiency"

    Greyhound is bound by federal law – you can’t have standees. The average motorcoach has 47 seats.

    I’ve been on some "sardine" Amtrak trains between PDX-SEA where I felt like I was on Greyhound, and in more than one way. I haven’t ridden Greyhound in quite awhile but when I did, I never had a problem – it was basic transportation alright, but I had a seat, it was comfortable (for the distance I was going) and I wasn’t cramped.

    Yes – a 28 seat "luxury" bus would make a train more efficient…but it’s like comparing a Boeing BBJ to a Boeing 737-700. They’re both essentially the same airframe, but one is a luxury jet interior and the other is a coach interior. The point of mass transit is…mass. Just as owning your own private railroad car for you and your friends, while would be the thrill of one’s life (and boy would I love to do that!) would not be very efficient.


  4. My point being, seat space on a Greyhound, unless they’ve drastically changed them since I was last on one (which is possible), is crap. It’s like an airplane with zero of the advantages. Once couldn’t even use a reasonable sized laptop (15") without contention. The train offers a LOT more space in every measurable way.

    Either which way, it’ll be over my dead body before I ever get on a Greyhound again. Stereotype or not, what I’ve seen and what I’ve experienced on a Greyhound is far removed from what I ever want to deal with again in my life. The train, I’ve never had to deal with or be in such cramped quarter.

    Less efficient on many runs, but the price difference is minimal at best.


  5. "The train offers a LOT more space in every measurable way. "

    Kind of goes back to my argument that trains are gold-plated and buses aren’t.

    You can build a bus with the same seat-pitch as a train, and you can build a train with the same seat-pitch as a bus.

    In fact I prefer riding a 1700/1800 bus over anything else in TriMet’s fleet because the seat pitch is a little larger; especially compared with the 2000s when I can’t ever seem to sit in comfortably.

    I think what you ought to do is go up to Tacoma for a day and ride one of Sound Transit’s ST Express buses from Tacoma to Seattle and see how you like them. Same model as a Greyhound bus but transit (not longhaul) configuration. I had the opportunity to ride on one in the downtown (Seattle) fare-free zone and thought it was REALLY comfortable. Could I use a laptop? Don’t remember but frankly I don’t carry (heck, I don’t own) a laptop with me, and the majority of transit riders I ride with don’t (although some do, even on the bus).

    BTW: May 9 is "National Train Day" and you get QUADRUPLE Guest Rewards points if you are a member. That means you earn 800 points on a round-trip, and you only need 1,000 for a free one-way ticket on the Cascades. I’m planning on riding to Tacoma and back that day to get some really good Fish & Chips in Tacoma, plus let my son ride the train. Probably won’t ride the bus but might ride Tacoma Link into downtown Tacoma.


  6. …usually though, agencies seem to get crap seats for buses. But I do know what you mean.

    …The Sound Transit express buses on the regular urban style (non-express) are nicer than the Sounder Train, but the express/greyhound/highway style buses have horrid seats. The Sounder Train seats are by any measure not as comfortable as they should be. The urban style express buses though ROCK. Ride quality is still an issue, but that is mostly because of street quality as I’ve pointed out in the past. Many of the streets in the Seattle area, just like here in Portland, are crap. Potholed, pitted, and smashed or pushed up at curbs.

    …and yeah I know, I’m a special case laptop using transit user. So it is a pet peve of mine.

    …and on National Train Day… I’m hoping to catch a trip up to Seattle or Spokane for the day/evening/weekend or something. Just to get a trip in, get out of town, and do some fun round and about stuff. Heck, maybe I’ll run up to Tacoma.

    Speaking of which, Tacoma does have the nice bus seats that ROCKS! I did about a year and a half working 4 day weeks there, rode the buses a number of times.


  7. Wow, that’s an interesting comparison. I did ride a Gillig Phantom (in ST Express/commuter configuration) once but it was quite awhile ago. So I don’t have a good comparison between the Gilligs and the MCIs, but I believe the Gilligs tend to run the west-east routes (since they are operated by King County).

    Honestly, I want to ride one of the "Double-Talls" (Alexander Dennis double-deck coaches, operated by Community Transit).

    At least the Seattle area tries…TriMet doesn’t even try. While the 2600-2900s have the newer "ergonomic" seats…the seat pitch is still horrible on those buses.


  8. I concur. In all reality, I’m surprised you haven’t pointed out the horrid seats on the Streetcar here in PDX. ๐Ÿ˜ฎ They are truly an embarrassment to any developed nation.

    Hopefully we can get something done about that. What do ya think it would cost for TriMet to re-upholster all the vehicles (except WES of course, those are wonderful) with nice cushy comfortable seats?


  9. Yes, the Streetcar seats SUCK in every way imaginable, and the seat pitch is just as bad. But I don’t ride the Streetcar often. I almost jumped on the Streetcar this morning just to increase my carbon footprint (since I normally walk the four blocks, using the Streetcar would save two blocks of walking and burning some good ol’ Montana coal in Boardman).

    The WES seats are great; in fact I took my son on a short WES ride yesterday to get him out of the house. Cushy. Just goes to show that TriMet gold-plated WES but leaves bus riders behind. Even riding King County Metro buses…their seats are nice and plush, and that’s the local (non-commute) fleet! I understand that some C-Tran buses have the same seats…


  10. Yeah, C-Tran buses suck pretty bad too. I think the new hybrids that come to downtown PDX have the nice seats though. Not sure, gotta give em’ a ride sometime. ๐Ÿ™‚ Speaking of which, that sounds like another transit adventure. Plotting ensues… ๐Ÿ˜ฎ


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