12,300 Jobs Mean What? TriMet gets FTA Approval for Milwaukee Light Rail

TriMet received approval from the FTA for preliminary engineering of the Milwaukee extension of light rail.

That’s awesome in my book, it gives me X more options that I can get to comfortably by 2015.  That is, if things go as planned.  There are a few things I have to nitpick though.

  1. Why do we put up with these plans & construction taking so long?  It should take about 8-12 months to do all construction and get a line running once the blue prints/engineering plans are signed off.  It shouldn’t take longer than a month or two to get the plans verified and signed off.  I understand what the problem is, and I find it absolutely unacceptable, it’s morbidly sickening how long it takes to do a project like this and adds vast amounts of money to the cost.
  2. The line will create 12,300 jobs.  I don’t know why they prospect such nonsense.  There won’t be a 12,300 job increase in the area, they can’t accurately estimate an increase in the area, basically it is a found-less accusation.  I hate it when the Government(Government entities) makes these asinine projections.  Please TriMet, and other entities working on this, try to keep it to the facts and facts only.  If you’re going to market something, at least market it with some truth standards.
  3. They don’t mention a key fact.  TriMet has in the news release, “The Portland-Milwaukie project funds are a combination of federal, state and local funds and cannot be used to offset the agency’s $13.5 million general fund shortfall for FY2010. Federal funding is expected to cover 50-60 percent of the light rail project.”  Why don’t they mention the fact that operations along this line for persons carried will drop drastically when the light rail is opened.  Of course they’ll put some money into it, but the Feds will pay most of it enabling TriMet to keep more money by eliminating redundant service along the corridor and working toward arterial feeder lines instead.  They don’t mention that at all, even though it is a MAJOR selling point for light rail.

Oh well, now that I’ve got the partially negative grumpiness out of the way I’ll hit on the good news.

  1. This extension connects to one area that will absolutely use light rail extensively.
  2. The motivation for individuals along this route to go car less will increase.
  3. The travel time will be more sustainable than the current #33 (in theory).
  4. The light rail will most likely attract a 5-25% increase in transit usage in the corridor.
  5. The opening of this line, in 2015, will possibly push Light Rail MAX usage past bus ridership levels.

…and the most important reason to me.  It will motivate me to actually go explore the areas south of downtown along the corridor every once in a while, just as it will others.  Currently there isn’t much reason for me to jump on the bus or something to go down that way, but the light rail I’d board to go explore.  Same goes for Clackamas Town Center.  When the Green Line opens I’ll definitely head out to that mall every once in a while as I’m sure hundreds of others will also.  The mall could prospectively see an increase of 2-6% in sales.  Just the corridor alone will get a boost.  The I-205 mall area will definitely get some more visits by myself and the GF.  Currently we travel out that way via the #15 maybe once every 2-3 months for bulk commodity (like dish soap) just for fun.  The Green Line will enable us to cut costs by traveling there more frequently to buy bulk items.  However that same event will decrease some of the commodity items we end up getting at local areas in the south east, but not significantly.  Most of it will be 100% new purchases.

That’s it for my rambling on the new line(s) and the prospect of the Milwaukee Line.


  1. "The travel time will be more sustainable than the current #33 (in theory)"

    What I would like is a comparison between off-peak Line 33 and MAX between Pioneer Courthouse Square and Milwaukie. Right now, many comparisons have been to South Waterfront or PSU, which the 33 does not serve and require backtracking (though that could be partly solved by returning the 65 to Milwaukie by using McLoughlin to 17th to the Ross Island Bridge, and having it stop at 1st & Arthur and/or somewhere near 4th, which are close to PSU and have excellent connections). North of Milwaukie, the 33 is pretty fast, using the Superhighway and making few stops.

    That being said, I have seen McLoughlin get congested during rush hours even today and there is no stop at Bybee, though that could possibly be changed without MAX.


  2. I think their is a LARGE part of partisan ideals that cloud or cause some to ignore the facts. The politicians allow slips like this because they know nobody in the Portland are will listen to slight slips like the lie that 12,300 jobs would be created.

    Plus I think many are apathetic, if they even know about the fact that there won’t be a net increase of 12,300 jobs and just ignore the whole statement in the first place.

    …either way… I’m all for the light rail line, but they should sell it on its merits (free federal money, consistent timing/scheduling, increased ridership in the corridor, etc) and not sell it on lies such as this mythical 12,300 jobs it’ll create.


  3. That’s the whole problem with Portland transit planning.

    Who cares about the riders…ridership is just a little, meaningless fluff number. Let’s talk about property tax values (huh?), development, jobs, etc.

    We need to return to basics…government is **supposed** to serve the public. What is wrong with a transportation project…serving the public? What about creating transit from where people are to where people need to go? What is wrong with improving current transit — after all many of the pro-transit folks say "we can’t build our way out of congestion" and then turn around and build a completely new light rail/streetcar line, while an existing bus line suffers? (The better solution is to improve the bus line, even if it means replacing the bus line with a rail based line?)

    Even I admit that while I have my misgivings about light rail, and that the Yellow Line did eliminate a lot of bus stops, yellow line ridership is far better than 5-Interstate ridership. (Of course how much of that had to do with better bus stops and security? There was once a time that North Interstate was a scary place…)

    With regards to Milwaukie Light Rail…this will simply repeat the arguments against the Eastside Light Rail – the only way ridership will be achieved is by elimination/reduction of a dozen bus routes. The 31, 32, 33 and 41 bus lines between Milwaukie and downtown Portland are already de facto expresses due to the fact that McLoughlin Boulevard is a limited access expressway with virtually no afronting businesses or residences. So anyone from south of Milwaukie will now have a transfer that they do not currently have.

    Further, TriMet will have to reduce/eliminate service on the 17, 19 and 70 routes as they virtually overlap the same service area. (The 41 is already proposed for elimination in September.) And somehow I can see TriMet messing with the 9 route under the argument that the 9 would be bracketed by MAX lines at either end PLUS the middle, so TriMet would find a way to force riders onto MAX.

    Is this "serving the public"? What about convenience? More than once when I lived in Beaverton, I chose the bus over MAX for a variety of reasons. In Tigard at my new home I’ll be choosing bus over WES. It’s one thing that when all else is equal that the train is more desirable than the bus, but to use the phrase by infamous blogger Terry Parker, "social engineering" serves nobody in the end, and that’s exactly what TriMet does when it claims that bus and rail are equal, but it reeks of the "separate but equal" water faucet photograph…


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