Temporary Transit Mall, and Now What?

The new transit mall is in use and it is a beautiful stretch through the city.  Now 3rd and 4th have been returned to their previous use as non-transit streets.  The one major difference though is the quality of the street.  It is now crap.  There are dozens of ruts, ridges, pot holes, fills, cracked cement, black top, and other destroyed sections of the street that where in good shape 2 years ago.  All of this damage is bus specific damage.  My question is, what are the city’s plans to fix this?  Is it budgeted?  Have they even planned for it?  Will it be TriMet’s burden?  Is it ODOT’s burden?  In the end, it will of course come out of the taxpayer’s pockets, but that is moot as an assumed point.  I want to know when it will be fixed.

This is one of my ongoing comments about the approach to bus service (I know Erik Halstead has input on this in a number of ways) in the Portland area.  TriMet needs to team with ODOT & the city to make it a HIGH PRIORITY to build primary arterials that buses travel on at a higher quality than mere black top as most of 3rd and 4th are.  It doesn’t do anyone any good to have these streets whimsically destroyed like this because they’re just built crappy.  Often politicians get road funding but then just make sure they get votes for the projects but don’t build the infrastructure for the long term.  That type of nonsense has to stop.

It also brings up the thought, why not really build up the arterials (this is where the pro-bus and anti-rail people and I disagree) that have over 10k-12k riders.  Routes like Powell, Belmont, and Hawthorne should have higher capacity rail options such as light rail or streets (multi-unit).  Rail infrastructure obviously lasts longer than any type of utilized road infrastructure out there, yes at a higher cost, but the costs start to drop once you pay the capital and then inflation makes the price plummet.  Rail that costs a few hundred grand in 1960 is still used today in some cities.  Rail dropped in San Francisco in the 80s and 90s for half of what it would cost now is only at about 1/3 of its lifespan.  Between our monetary inflation system and the lifespan of rail, it easily becomes the cheapest option for high throughput long term right of way.  It needs viewed as such and utilized more.

So with this I mark the closure of the 3rd & 4th temporary bus mall in my own Transit Sleuth kind of way and await, impatiently, the future of transit in the Portland area.  Cheers! (Click on any of the images for the full size (up to 10MP – fair use if you want to use any of them in other media/material – no need to even credit me for these – I just want the street fixed!)

Probably Right Again

I estimated back during my week long commute on the WES, and even before what the rider levels would be.  I was spot on +- about 5 riders per trip.

My original spreadsheet is below (I created this table via Excel back on February 3rd).

Station Total Per Station Drive Up Guess Riders
Beaverton Transit Center 86 15 2392
Hall/Nimbus 76 10 456
Tigard 121 15 760
Tualatin 201 15 152
Wilsonville Station 447 25 1520
Total For Route 931 80 5280
Best Total 1547    
My Estimate Total 1800    
Reasonable Total 1238 My Bet  
Optimistic Total 3000    

Now I'm thinking of doing an estimate for the Green Line to see how close I can get.  Of course, the Green line will take a LOT more calculations as the stations are greater, the inputs are greater, and there are tons of bus lines to figure out.  On that note, maybe Mr. Rose, Al M, Erik H, or some other want to weigh in with their estimates?  If you have any thoughts on what the rider levels will be, please comment, I'd love to have a little unofficial guess work going on.  🙂

So what are the guesses?  I'll narrow it to average riders per day for the first year.  Will it be 6,000 per day, 15,000, or 45,000?  Let me know!

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.

Light Rail Systems

A while back I covered the DART, Dallas Area Rapit Transit System, and today I decided to dig up some information on light rail outside of the US.  Of course, there is some development of light rail in other areas of the world, specifically there is a lot.

Since 1980 England has spent at least £2.3 billion ($3.8) on light rail.  The Government has contributed about £1 billion ($1.65).  There are multiple systems; Tyne and Wear Metro (80-84), Docklands Light Railway (87), Manchester Metrolink (92), Sheffield Supertram (94-95), Midland Metro (99), Croydon Tramlink (00), and more I’m sure.  There are also numerous systems that have failed to start construction, and in general, failed to even really get their planning straight.  It brings up memories of numerous systems in the US that have sputtered along.

Manchester Metrolink

One of the multiple light rail systems England has is the Metrolink in Manchester.  The first thing I noticed when I visited the site (http://www.metrolink.co.uk/) was in the news section the fare evasion fine is £100!  I did a quick calculation for US currency and that equates to $165.37!  Imagine if TriMet did that, wow there would be open revolt!  hahaa.  I’d however support it 100%.  🙂

Currently there are several extensions underway and some that have been proposed.  One of those extensions is currently bound for the Manchester Airport.  This extension will set the overall line mileage at 70 miles with 115 stops.  The current system is 23 miles with 37 stops.

Quick Facts

Daily ridership on the line is 52,000.  Operations began in 1992, the 6th of April.  Stagecoach Group provides operations, GMPTE provided planning, and AnsaldoBreda provided construction of the line.  Top speed of 50mph, track is standard gauge, and line currently is 23 miles long.

Some of the other extensions look toward private sector, as much if not more than we do here in the US.  I’m going to follow up this entry with more about the ridership & other information related to various systems with a bit of focus on TriMet & Sound Transit’s Systems that are about to open or already open.


Light Rail Schedule

Sound Transit Link Light Rail opens:  July 18

MAX Yellow Line Changes to the downtown Mall Alignment:  August 30

MAX Green Line Starts downtown and along I-205:  September 12

I’ll have my Transit Sleuth reporting, photos, and possibly video if everything unfolds appropriately.

In other Transit Sleuth news I will have Phoenix photos & hopefully videos up in October of this year.  More on all this soon.

In my last bit o’ news, anyone up for another Transit Beer/Food/Dinner/Chillin’ get together?