New Buses and WES

Ok, so TriMet gets these new buses.  TriMet also gets the WES trains.  During the last 3 months I’ve seen and TriMet has received the following.  They’re shorted train vehicles and the buses are breaking down left and right.  I’ve seen no less than 2 busses on a tractor trailer being hauled off for maintenance.  I’ve also seem no less than 5 of the new buses stopped and being worked on.  I’ve only seen 2 of the old buses broken down lately.  In addition to the busted buses the WES Trains have had weeks of downtime and had to call in bridge buses.  WEEKS!  Not days, but weeks of total downtime so far.

I just wanted to blog this observation real quick and then I’ll be back to something interesting again.  Seriously though, has anyone else noticed this?

The light rail trains, the new ones, do however seem to be holding their own.  I haven’t seen them being towed about yet.  Time will tell, but I sure hope TriMet gets their vehicles fixed up and running well.  At this rate it seems we’ll be out a commuter train and down a few dozen new buses.

I Have More to Say About This and The New Buses

Per TriMet "Due to mechanical problems, expect about 15 minute delays for WES service. Some trips are being served by buses."

I was hoping the system well, but it looks like things are still not looking up.  This is, I believe, the 3rd interuption in service, and about the 8th to 10th day of service delays for WES.  At this rate, I'm not sure how the system will be validated to run when the contract for service is up.  TriMet has seriously got to get something figured out to get ridership bumped up AND to get the vehicles running properly.  In addition, they're still short the equipment they need to make the WES as efficient as running buses.

Hmpf.  Still the best ride in town, when you can get a working train.  😦

Mood:  Sad. 

Commute Interview #006 – Sasha Gollish

My latest interview is of the beautiful Sasha Gollish.  Sasha is a BA (BE Sc) with a rather interesting blog at http://www.sashaonthestreet.com.  Definitely check it out, her writing is a good read.  So on to her answers for the world.
1. What is your occupation?  What exactly does the occupation entail?
I went to school for civil engineering and economics and now work for the Ministry of Transportation of Ontario in the planning and design department (aka Highway Engineering). My job is a mix of design, management, and public correspondence/communication.
2. How long have you been in the occupation?
One year. I was previously employed by a design-build foundation company.
3. What city & state do you live in?
I live in Toronto, Ontario – up here in the Great White North, Canada.
Commuting Nitty Gritty.
1. What mode (car, bike, foot, boat, airplane, train, airship, etc) of transport do you use for getting to and from work?
How I get to work varies every day and somewhat by season.
 
My spring, summer and fall commutes are mainly done by road bike. On the days it rains I will sometimes drive but I'm fortunate enough to be able to be dropped off at the subway by boyfriend. This commute entails a short subway ride followed by two buses.
 
In the winter I switch between driving and subway/bus. I know terrible that I drive but below will explain why.
2. How long does each leg of your commute take?  If you don't commute, how much time do you spend getting to and
from your desk or place of work?
If I drive to work it is usually because I have left early in the morning, between 6:45 and 7 and it takes me less than 15mins to get to work. If I drive during rush-hour this time is doubled and instead of taking the highway I take city streets.
 
If I bike it is about a 35minute commute – depending on how tired my legs are. The last stretch is a 2mile/3km uphill!
 
I've also run home from work before. I think it took me about an hour and 5 minutes to run home, and I also think I'll be doing that more this summer.
 
If I take transit, and only if my boyfriend drops me off does it take between 35 and 45 minutes. A 5 min subway ride followed by two buses. Jane Street is what depicts my commute times, sometimes its fast and free flowing and sometimes it's a parking lot. The second bus I take is the Wilson bus and sometimes you can wait 10minutes for it to arrive. It usually travels in packs of 2 or 3 buses instead of being spaced out.
If my boyfriend doesn't drop me off it adds an another 15 minutes to my trip.
3. How do you pass the time while commuting or traveling?  Read, write, compute, chat, other?
When I take transit I almost always read. Sometimes I take a few minutes and catch up on email. I also usually have my ipod on.
4. If you had your choice, what mode would you take?
my bike – every day all year!
5. If there was one thing you could change about your commute, what would it be?
I wish I worked in the downtown core and had the option to take the subway and street car to work more often.
6. If gas went up to $5.00 a gallon, how would that change your commute?
In the winter it would affect the number of days that I drove and I would probably take transit more often. It is far to dangerous to bike in Toronto in the winter!
It was good interviewing Sasha, have a good day and good luck on working in the downtown core one day.  🙂

WES Isn't the Country's Only DMU Problem Child

http://www.railwayage.com//content/view/847/121

Seems WES isn't the only problem child.  Austin can't seem to get their line finished for anything.  It's late, and getting later.  I doubt however, that they have anywhere near the issues with the vehicles once they get them running.  The tracks & systems however, raise suspicion since they're delayed so much…  hmmm.

$15.61 Cost Per Rider

It’s very interesting to see the cost per rider for some of TriMet’s routes.  It brings up the point, that maybe, we SHOULD cut more lines or find some way to make them more efficient.  Such as finding a way to get volunteer drivers or part time drivers that would drive commuter vans or something.  There HAS to be a way to reduce the absurdity of some of these costs.  For instance, and these numbers come from TriMet, a few of these routes are insane.

Bus lines proposed to be discontinued

Bus Line Rides Per Vehicle Hour Cost Per Ride Alternative Service Nearby

41-Tacoma

16.9

$5.50

19, 33, 70, 99

74-Lloyd District/Southeast

21.7

$4.28

4, 9, 12, 14, 15, 17, 19, 20, 66, 70, 75

86-Alderwood

11.3

$15.61

72

153-South End Rd Loop

8.3

$11.20

 

System average:

34.6

$2.72

 

Why in the world, for economic and environmental reasons, do we put up with these routes?  Sure TriMet is trying to expand ridership or whatever, but these routes are and have been absolutely stupid.  I don’t care who they’re carrying around, if the cost is $11.20 or $15.61 I absolutely dread figuring out what the actual environmental impact is compared to anything else on the routes, such as say a nasty ole 10 year old SUV.

One looks at the system average, those are the numbers we need to run transit close to and around.  I’m sure several routes do much better even than the $2.72.  A simple rule should be followed, if one can’t keep the cost per rider below that of a single occupancy Ford Explorer, they should be running that route.  I’m pretty sure, last I checked, a brand new Ford Explorer based on averages would run ya about $8-10 bucks per ride (of course, nobody buying a car EVER thinks of it that way, but it boils down to  about that).

Anyone else out there got opinions on this matter?  Should we be running routes like the #86 and #153?  What do people think about the fact we provide handicap service at over $50 per ride?  Not regular bus service, but custom taxi style service at $50 bucks a ride.  We could pay for actual handicap taxies to provide this service for over half the price!  Why are we giving handicap people crappier rides, shorting taxi drivers dollars and business, and charging ourselves (ya know, we the taxpayers) to provide this service in a rather messed up illogical, environmentally unfriendly (I promise you those Toyota vans the taxis use are WAY more efficient and cleaner than those diesel – even biodiesel – spewing buses TriMet uses), economically unsustainable way?  It’s nice that the city & TriMet decides we should pay for these rides out of public funds but sometimes they need to bring a little more harsh reality into the decision making for these routes.

Free Public Transit?

Meanwhile I read this guys blog every once in a while and honestly find it interesting enough that I have it on my blogroll.  It’s a blog about “free transit”.  This guy proposes all transit to be “Free” in cost to users.  I haven’t seen a single note, thought, or write up regarding how he would propose we actually pay for the transit so it could be free, but he rants and raves about places making transit free (or parts of it, as it usually happens).

Ugh, please, somebody in charge start thinking these things through!  😦

 

…ok, next entry, I promise, will have a more positive non-political rant mode to it.