Luggage, Luggage, and Stuff, Using Seats for Butts

I was reading TriMetiquette, Portland’s local transit blogger of etiquette.  I actually found a point that I disagree with.  Here’s why.

First, the point that was made was,

“It was interesting reading recent posts about having bags on seats. What is the recommended etiquette for traveling to the airport on the Red line with luggage?”

TriMet is really lenient about luggage and other things on seats.  However MBTA, New Jersey Transit, MTA, Metra, and about every other system in the country, and especially the world hold to a simple rule.

“Seats are for the posterior of a human being”

So luggage does not go in a seat.  Neither does your dog that is legally or illegally on transit.  Your feet absolutely do not go in a seat.  The list goes on.  People often however don’t respect this, and I actually don’t profess much need to straighten someone out about it like I do many things.

If the objective is etiquette though, I’d personally take a queue from the rest of the world and NOT put anything except my butt in a seat.  On an aside, that just enables you to not have to pick up your luggage and put it on the ground if someone requests the seat next to you.  Because if there is an available seat that a human isn’t sitting in, you must release the seat.  If you refuse I believe you can even be fined on most systems, often they fine you before there request is even made, and at TriMet I believe they can fine a person in relation to this.

If you refuse me, I’ll just move your crap and it is getting tossed on the ground.  Even though I rarely say anything about stuff being in a seat, if it’s the only one, I’m going to sit there.  So respect the riders, leave seats for butts.

As I wrote this I thought, the Muni Manners ladies also wrote some things about this.  I went digging and realized they’d written multiple entries on this topic;  Etiquette Rule #8, Etiquette Rule #23, and Etiquette Rule #34 too.

Thx for riding!

Transit Flowers

I went walking around yesterday, just for fun and snagged a few IPhone pictures of the streetcar.  There was one thing I noticed, which I find to be one of the superiorities of open track streetcars and rail versus flat non-porous roads.  Flowers.

You might be thinking, WTF are you talking about Adron!  Well I’ll explain.

Tracks, with standard road bedding allow for water to run off but also run into the ground directly from the tracks.  It also allows for plants to literally grow in and between the tracks.  Sometimes this is ok for the trains, sometimes it isn’t, but more often then not weeds, grain, or even flowers can grow up and live without interrupting the transit and without the transit interrupting the plants.  An Interstate, Highway, or almost 99.999% of the roads in the US and the world can’t allow this.  Between the black top, concrete, and high coverage of tires on roads it just can’t support life of any sort.  Roadways are the embodiment of death in this sense.

Wow, Portland Kicking Seattle’s Ass might be a Problem?

Warning, this is about transit, but a lot of other rocking Portland topics also.  After writing the recent article about Portland kicking other city’s asses I realized, that this is in fact a problem for other cities!  Shock took hold of me, except not really.  I already knew this, it is why I’ve moved to this city twice, over 1800 miles the first time to get here and 2400 miles to get here the second time!  That is no small accomplishment but stands as evidence of Portland’s rocking, kicking, kewlness.  The reason I noticed this though is because I started reading a number of articles where where interesting:

Those two where fun.  I knew our design, our residents, and our communities rock here.  People here really reach out to each other and work together (even when we don’t, we do more than other cities).  Alberta is a great example of what regular citizens can do when they put their minds to it.  As for the food, yeah, Portland has become a serious foodie mecca.  So no doubt there either, but New York, that’s pretty serious.

Another article even delineated the 5 reasons Portland beats LA.  This I had no problem grasping either.  LA, doesn’t really do anything except vacuous movie stars well, and it has been short of those for ages – at least producing them home grown.

However the one that really brought it all home was this article, written by the Seattle Mag titled “Seattle vs. Portland, which city reigns supreme”.  Well first off, the fact that our biggest city in the north west feels the need to pit itself against us is, well, rather hilarious.  Simple though, is the fact that Seattle is not human scale, a sprawling monstrosity by Portland comparison consuming way more than 2x the space for just 2x the people – which is a massive problem Seattle doesn’t have under control.

…and this is where I get back to the transit topic again, which the last article didn’t lead off with – shock!

Seattle’s transit, albeit a decent bus system downtown, sucks.  Their online usability breaks almost every UX design standard, and basis of common sense for usability.  Everything is multiple clicks past TriMet’s site.  This might seem like nothing, but it means there are thousands that don’t use the site because its such a flippin’ mess.  The other problem, which is also a kind of plus too, is that they have several major transit agencies in the area which have various conflicts of interest.  In turn they did create Sound Transit which is a great agency, yet it makes TriMet’s goof ups like the WES look like massive successes.  The money they’ve managed to spend on things with minimal return will take 2-4x longer to get any ROI than Portland’s efforts.  Don’t get me wrong, their commuter rail is awesome and massive, but because of bad zoning and sprawl, is the only reason they need something like that and can make use of it anyway.  Don’t even get me started on the billions of dollars they’ve sunk into the commuter rail and light rail, which isn’t even completely done.  They’ve been short changed (Seattle Citizens) on their transit infrastructure and their leaders have waited so long to get started its taking vast amounts of money beyond what Portland spent to get ours up and running.

So when it comes to transit, Seattle is desperately trying to play catch up.  But hey, I aint complaining, I’m glad they’re working on catching up.  Both cities could learn from each other.

What all this boils down to is that about 95% of Portland is about 20-30 minutes at most from downtown.  About 15% of Seattle is about 20-30 minutes from their downtown.  This bodes a problem.

Neighborhoods are another thing.  Seattle has some great neighborhoods, if you make the money to live in em’, otherwise you’ll be damned to living in suburbia.  So go ahead, go enjoy that, 45 minutes from downtown Seattle.  Same thing in Portland will put you 15-20 minutes from downtown, with far more options.

What’s the biggest transit reason Portland kicks Seattle’s buttocks?  Simple.

Try going car free in Seattle, then try going car free in Portland.  In Portland it is highly unlikely that after 3-6 months you’d even miss your car, in Seattle you’ll be having a number of issues.

So back to this article though, let me hit on their topics, since they felt the need to write an article on throw down the ole’ competitive forum of online debate.

  • It’s way too far away from Vancouver, B.C. When things get really nasty in the U.S., Seattleites can take comfort in the knowledge that the border—and sweet Canuck-style freedom—is just 2.5 hours away.”  We in Portland tend to prefer fixing our problems and not running away to Canada.  Plus, we in Portland have Portland, why would we want to leave?  One thing Seattle has on Portland, is that it is only 2.5 hours away from Vancouver, but better yet is it is only a 3 hr train trip away from Portland!  Yeah, that’s the ticket!
  • Too many beards. Seattle hipsters may be caught sporting and ironic mustache now and again, but Portlanders never met a furry face they didn't like. We're all for recycling up here, too, except when it comes to food bits stuck in fuzzy facial hair.”  Really?  You’re bringing up beards?  Portland was a logging city, I guess it just runs in our blood.  Irony?  Maybe.
  • Don’t forget the gas stations—what’s more awkward than having someone rush out to pump gas into your car? As if we can’t do it ourselves! Where’s that Northwest independent spirit, Rose City? Sheesh.”  Hahahaa, I’ll be the first to fuss about the stupidity of our gas pumping laws.  But wait a second, we pay how much for gas?  Seattle pays how much for gas?  Oh wait, its rarely a few pennies off, but usually more expensive in Seattle?  No way, really?  That’s impossible.  Yeah, read it and weep.  We get it pumped for us AND it isn’t any more expensive than other places on the west coast.  Besides, why do we give a two hoots about who is pumping our gas, cuz ya see, in Portland we only need to fill er’ up about once every month or two.  I can see why that is a concern for Seattle because you have to fill up EVERY SINGLE FREAKING WEEK!  Oh dear, the humanit!  😦  Not cool Seattle, not cool.
  • Did someone say mountains? Well, they sure grow ’em short down by Portland. Mount Hood rises to a measly 11,245 feet (paltry compared to Rainier’s 14,410 feet). It’s awfully pointy, too. Couldn’t they smooth it out a bit with an exciting eruption?”  The mountains has zero to do with the city.  It’s a flippin’ mountain and they’re WAY outside of the city, for Seattle&
    nbsp; and Portland.  Aside from that, I suppose if you really like skiing you can go to either mountain, depending on your location.  As for eruptions, hey, what can I say, a little exitement is kind of cool.  At least a vast segment of our metropolitcan area isn’t within the doomsday area of our active mountain though. (re: Tacoma is gone if the mountain ever erupts there – That’s a couple hundred thousand people gone – vamoosh)  Which would also spell trouble for Seattle because it is losing the largest port in the north west title to, Tacoma.  Ok, so enough mountain talk, back to the city maybe?
  • “The Portland waterfront. I mean, come on! It’s on a river instead of a sound, there’s no view of the Olympic Mountains, no sculpture park, no aquarium and no thrill of wondering whether it’ll collapse before the seawall is reinforced.”  Uh.  Yeah, whatever, I’m not even going to respond to that.  I don’t need to say anymore than “Alaskan Viaduct Highway Monstrosity”.  Done.

But I must confess, the writer of said article did confess Portland has some untouchable strengths which I thought where absolutely awesome!  Jamie Galvin writes, and writes these well;

  1. Mass transit. It exists. Portland eases the burden with frequent and mostly clean mass transit. MeAs I said, amen!  🙂
  2. Our beans are supreme. We grew Stumptown. ’Nuff said. Me Ditto, ‘Nuff said.
  3. We’re tougher. You can see four volcanoes from downtown Portland, each of which could erupt at any second. Me I suppose, they’re really far away.  They’re actually less scary than the fact the entire city is on a fault line.
  4. We don’t have to try. Did we ask the New York Times to crown us the new “sixth borough”?  Me As listed above, we also have Alberta Street (and Hawthorne, and Belmont, and Division, and… the list goes on, but I’m not giving away anymore)  But yeah, when New York concedes to ya, that’s pwnage!
  5. What’s a sales tax? All we have to do is whip out our Oregon driver’s licenses and—poof—instant 6.5 percent discount.  Me Ok, I’ll trade ya for your sales tax actually, our net economic loss from this… argh whatever, it is pretty sweet.  🙂

So yeah, that’s the massive summary of why Portland kicks your city’s ass.  Without the self censorship of the past entries.  😀

Even amid all my Transit Sleuth watch dogging and complaining about WES or whatever, Portland still totally rox – fini.

New York says this is why "Portland Kicks Your Cities A@#!"

I started a series a long while ago about why Portland rocks so much.  It seems I really didn't need to because there are dozens of other people out there doing it for me.  One of those entities is the New York Times.  The paper has printed, or at least blogged/webified numerous articles about parts of Portland that rock.  One of those was the recent write up with Random Order Coffee House as the picture of the emodiment of Albera Street.  You might ask, "alright, Alberta street may be cool, but what has that got to do with transit?"

Oh yeah, this blog is about transit!  Well that's an easy question!

The #72 is net profitable on operations, which is the line that serves Alberat Street.  It is a vital connector for the area, connecting the street to MLK, and other area east and west.  The reason the #72 route is net profitable is because an insane number of people ride the bus on this route.  In the middle of the slowest hours one is likely to see the buses running every 10-15 minutes with at least 20 people, during peak hours they run every 3 minutes, often stacked up with the maximum number of possible passengers loaded on every single bus.  The #72 also connects to 82nd, which is one of the most active streets in Portland for commerce, especially for the Asian, Latino, and African American Populations and they use the bus service extensively!  It is, by far, a route that TriMet would do well to replicate and extend (i.e. get bigger buses for it).  The route could even tangibly run 24hrs a day without losing its net profitability on operations status.

But back to Alberta Street, and the similarities that are seen on this bus route all the time.  The community is lively, vivacious even, and effervescent in connecting with each other.  A large percentage of the residents live, play, and work in the area and use the transit.  They see and interact with each other every day and the bus is part of that.  This interconnectedness of the neighborhood is what makes Alberte one of the great areas in Portland.  The individualism, the creative work, the vitality of life itself among the people in the area is contagious.  So far this has all been done on a citizen basis, by private endeavor, and hopefully the city won't ever try to interfere with what is a well balanced area.  Alberta needs to Gentrification, or no more, it is set.  It is a beauty unto itself.

In addition to the #72 connecting Alberat east and west the #9, #73, #8 and #6 all connect to Alberta in the core and on the edges of the Alberta area.  These routes provide important connections to downtown Portland and to the immediate north and south points of interest.

One last note, is the #72, because it is a bus (not a streetcar) works very well on such a street because on art walk day it is re-routed.  The route is maintained a block north of Alberta because about 20 blocks of the street becomes pedestrian only and is packed with art walkers.  Because of this flexibility, it makes Alberta one more reason Portland kicks your city's a@#!

…and if you read the NYT article you'll see that Portland snagged two individuals from Seattle, because, Portland kicks that city's a@#! too.  🙂


(Please note, it's in jest, so don't go gettin' yerself all fussy that I'm saying your city isn't as kewl as Portland.  Sides, it probably isn't!)  :p 

Open Mall Day!!

Today is the day, the bus mall is opening up!  I've heard so much positive vibe about this I'm honestly somewhat surprised.  Everytime I've gotten on a bus in the last 2-3 weeks I've heard mentions of the bus mall opening.  As the date has gotten closer even more exuberance has bubbled up.

A couple chatted about the time they'd save when they come downtown to shop, since the bus mall is better aligned to all the stores they tend to frequent.  Another couple discussed how nice it will be to eat at sidewalk seating without the buses coming by directly on 3rd & 4th.  Another person was talking about how much further from their work they'd have to get off, but they didn't mind and would be happy to walk the extra block.  They followed up that statement with, "but it'll be nice that the bus will actually get through downtown faster so it'll actually be faster even though I have to walk further".

Also the jaywalkers have been getting ticketed and other "Darwin Effect" prevention officers, as I call them, have been out in force trying to get people to realize and know the bus mall will have traffic en force starting this work week.

Overall the negative vide that everything is going to wreck into everything and pedestrians and cyclists will be crushed by LRVs has died a silent death.  Now that people have seen the LRVs running back and forth for a few weeks now, and they've started seeing buses back on the bus mall, the worries have drastically subsided.  I'm in that camp myself, as there is still vast potential for wrecks and death, it is a lot less than I had imagined.  The final judgement will be when operations start this week and the work week resumes after memorial holiday.

I'm pretty stoked, how about you?