Joseph Rose Stabbing Into Transit Again

…with some facts and some incorrect facts (which is fairly good considering how confusingly complex the maze of transit is).  "TriMet ridership numbers sliding as opening of MAX line approaches" he writes.  I wrote this comment on the blog, but wanted to post it here also, this is my response,


  • A: You can’t have ridership if you don’t have something for people to ride yet. Use some common sense.
  • B: $557 million Green Line is NOT the price of the Green Line alone, it also is the cost of the bus mall renovation. The mall AND the Green Line cost that much, and keep in mind, about $150 million or so of that was solely for mitigation – i.e. moving pipes, making sure people can walk across the street, union costs/dues, minimal traffic impact, etc. Even though it was a total of $557 for both, it was ALL money that actually went into the US economy, unlike that $3.00 bucks a gallon people keep dumping into gas.
  • C: Ridership is down for many reasons. One that is a LITERALLY HUGE impact that no one ever seems to pay attention to is the fact it is summer. People stop taking transit in the most heavily utilized area – downtown – and start riding bikes, walking, etc. That couple point drop has a large contribution from this factor, so don’t forget it.

Personally I’d rather see that drop regularly during the summer. People biking instead of transit means that many less fat people, that many less oil dependent people, that many less people living in economically and indirectly environmentally unsustainable areas of the city in relation to their work. Hats off to em’.”

As usual there are a few missed points in this whole thing.  In addition, even though I hate this, keep in mind the brunt of this line and the downtown line is once again the budget of the Federal Government.  So Portland isn’t using local monies to pay for all this (except in that odd round about indirect kind of way).  That means more money for operations (since many seem to be seriously concerned about this).

Also I must rant against the article in and of itself.  It is standard zealous media news at its best.  In spite of actual facts, certain facts are picked out and other just left aside.  I don’t even see anywhere that references are made for the data that is available.  Fortunately I know where it is at so I go and dig it up.  In Rose’s defense though, it is merely a blog entry right?  Blog entries aren’t under any sort of agreement to provide references, I just do because I want people to know I don’t just make this stuff up.

Hopefully this provides some clarity among all the din of noise from the comments.  Most of which are from obviously uninformed individuals.  It sure would be nice to see some actual discussion sometimes.  I suppose I can only turn to my own blog for that.  Even Portland Transport often turns into a negative tirade about all sorts of things, which I’m sometimes guilty of myself (because there is endless politics on the site).

As Kathleen and Joseph point out, I completely missed the link to the actual blog entry.  So click here for a read of the original entry.


  1. Hi. As long as we’re talking about facts, I would at least hope that you point out to your readers that you are commenting on one of my post nearly a month and a half after the fact (it went up May 13). The post refers to ridership numbers that are now months old. They were just musings on my blog, random thoughts on the 205 line, that spurred a great discussion from people who wrote to me to let me know why they think the line is important. Watch for a column int he coming weeks.
    Joseph Rose


  2. Aigh… a link there at the bottom. Also wanted to mention. I am mostly writing this blog entry in regards to the comments. BTW – I have couple entries on the Green Line also and the development potential.

    Thx for reading and commenting! I’m going to add ya to my Blog Roll… AND…

    …now that you know Al M and crew you ought to make a point to show up for Transit Beer. Which btw, when I post an update to thoughts on where to meet – make sure to post a suggestion or two – even if you can’t make it.

    Kathleen – that goes for you too! You ought to swing out for a Transit Beer/Pizza/Foodz & chat. It’s fun every time! 🙂


  3. How do you figure there will be MORE money for TRIMET operations?

    The fed’s might have paid the bulk of the installation costs, but TRIMET has to come up with the operating revenue!

    And you know where that comes from right?

    CUTS IN BUS SERVICE, mostly from the suburbs.


  4. Simple. Trimet pays directly from their budget for operations something like $2.50 cents per bus rider, to provide bus services. TriMet pays about $1.25 for light rail service, directly from its operational budget.

    Those numbers aren’t exact (and I’m collecting that information from TriMet & other sources right now for a blog entry), but they’re REALLY REALLY close. Based on that information it costs 1/2 as much to provide light rail service for a large number of riders than it does for bus service for those same riders.

    …another way to look at it is, if TriMet used their 40′ buses to provide the same bus service as the MAX provides now, via BRT, it would cost 2x as much as light rail.

    …anyway, on that note, since you and Erik got me researching like a mad man about all this, I’ve been getting together some wicked interesting numbers which I’ll post in the next week or two. As Erik pointed out in various other discussions, it isn’t always easy to get information out of TriMet directly, they like the fudge around with the numbers first.


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