"Increased service can only happen by EXPANDING coverage to outlining areas."
No, that isn’t true. Some of the largest increases, at the lowest costs, occur right in the urban area of Portland itself. Just look at the ridership statistics available. The only bus line that runs at an operational profit is the #72, which SHOWS that the existing areas can receive increased service and not cost much additional money. Only problem now, is the #72 is basically at peak service. Even articulateds aren’t going to help much at this point, they simply need to put BRT or LRT down somewhere or somehow along that route. The Green Line, however might take a ton of traffic from the #72, if so that would alleviate a lot of issues. For one thing, the Green Line will be vastly faster than the #72.
But overall, the idea isn’t to sprawl further and attempt to service that area (which is vastly expensive to the city & TriMet). The idea is the build up and increase service along existing corridors. It is much cheaper and more efficient.
"Bus service is functional for many reasons;
-0 needs to be spent to put it in
-can be moved at will
-not subject to track disruptions"
…and costs about 10-20% higher than light rail (including light rail capital and excluding road costs for buses) after a period of 20+ years. After 30 years and inflation it approaches even greater returns as the equipment costs are vastly less expensive at this point. Buses don’t even last that long, so the second 15 years of a bus line in operation along a route effectively, and needlessly doubles, because of the need to replace buses.
The "0 needs to be spent" is 100% erroneous. Buses don’t drive themselves. A route that last more than 20 years, the most expensive part of that route becomes THE PERSONEL needed to run it. i.e. the driver, repairmen, maintenance, etc. So really, if we’re going to talk about costs as an end result – we should talk about replacing the necessity to have so much staff. JAX, Vancouver BS & some other cities run automated systems which are VASTLY cheaper than any human operated line hands down.
"These arguments always get to the point that it is CHEAPER to operate the rail than the bus,"
Yes, they do. It’s all written down in the accounting costs.
"WHEN YOU DON’T INCLUDE THE COST TO PUT THEM IN!"
If we included the damage that buses do to the roads, there isn’t really much point to run them. We ought to run large "vans" to transport people instead, they do vastly less damage to the road and the roads would literally last many years longer WITHOUT bus service on them. We start adding the other costs, like the additional staff it takes to keep a bus service going, the maintenance staff, etc, it gets even worse. This is one of the reasons light rail has become popular. Especially as road budgets dry up even more, Departments of Transportation love the idea of removing some of their funding responsibilities. Either way, as you said, the taxes come out of our pockets. I’d rather buy rail any day than more roads. For environmental, economic, and life choices.
"The cost to put this stuff in MUST be considered in any serious discussion on cost."
I agree. So let’s include the road costs and maintenance for bus routes. (How about not, because that even further invalidates the reason to have buses).
"It’s clear what the HONCHOS WANT, and its not bus service."
That’s part of what I’ve been trying to get across. Some people like bus service, the people that VOTE and pay for this stuff want light rail and trains. Especially in the Portland area. That’s why we keep getting more of it. Aside from the fact that the Blue Line is absurdly cheap now in overall costs. The vehicles cost originally about 2x what a bus does now, except many of the buses bought around the same time are in desperate need of replacement while the LRVs are just starting their second leg of life. In addition, that equates to an LRV costing almost the same as a single 40’ bus over the long term, but providing transport for more than 2x what a bus carries. In effect they’re "free" now, as they’ve been paid for already, but we’re still buying buses because we can’t keep the old ones on the road (nor some of the new ones).