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 ( 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?

X-System 3 Transfer Transit Adventure

Today I headed out on the 9:33am arrival of the #9 north bound.  My destination being Little Italy Restaurant in Vancouver, Washington.  This means that I’ll have to travel on the #9 to downtown Portland, jump the MAX Yellow Line and then transfer the Vanport (Race Track – PIR) stop to the C-TRAN #4 bus.  This will be the second time ever that I’ve actually transferred from the TriMet System to the C-TRAN System.

#9 Ride

The trip to downtown was simple enough, the standard trip I make at least once, if not several time per day.  It consists of boarding the bus at 21st & Powell and then heading west on that street, through the major Powell & Milwaukee Intersection, and onto the Ross Island Bridge.  This segment takes about 2-3 minutes, unless traffic bad which sometimes makes it about 5-8 minutes.

The bus takes about a minute to get across the Ross Island Bridge and everyday I enjoy this part of the trip.  While driving one cannot look around and really enjoy the beauty of the river, the view of downtown north of the bridge, or the quaint areas south of the bridge.  Riding the bus one can really take in the view.  Sometimes we’ll catch the streetcar zipping along the only higher speed (30mph) section of the streetcar line.  Toward the end of the bridge the view of South Waterfront is nice, watching the vehicles plying the streets, but even better the pedestrians travelling to and from and around the buildings, boarding the tram, or the streetcar boarding or deboarding riders by the dozens.

The streets just west of the Ross Island Bridge and the downtown bus mall are kind of nice, and messed up all combined.  Immediately off the bridge we pull into a tree lined street, but also one of the most absurd interchanges of the Portland area (more on that below).  Once thru the tree lined section there is a ghastly open expanse while cutting into exiting Interstate Traffic and over the Interstate Bridge.  From there we pull immediately into the bus mall, which simply put, is much nicer than this small expanse just south of the city.

MAX Yellow Line Ride

I got downtown and took a walk for some cash from the ATM, a stroll through Saturday Market, and then boarded the MAX Yellow Line toward Expo Center.  The day has been overcast for my trip so far, but the sun is just hiding behind the clouds so it’s still almost not cold.

The Yellow Line is always a really nice ride.  Traveling through the neighborhoods along Interstate Avenue, with slower speeds, makes for a pleasant run of scenery.  In addition the area is steadily building up and orienting more and more toward transit oriented development.  Some of the density has increased slightly along the line, but nowhere near what it can or eventually will be.

While on the Yellow Line I also managed a short discussion about Nissan Z cars with a older guy.  He was heading to the race track to race, or at least today watch watch the Porsches race.  When we pulled up on the raised section heading to the race track (Vanport Stop) I could see the Porsches lined up and ready to hit the track.  It looked like a fun day of racing, but I wasn’t headed that way, so marked that up to another time or later in the evening (if they’re still running).

C-TRAN #4 Ride

The C-TRAN bus, first thing I noticed, was that it was much cleaner than the TriMet buses, and had slightly nicer seats.  C-TRAN’s ticket pricing appears much smarter than TriMet’s.  Buy a ticket for a one way trip.  Why won’t TriMet do that instead of all this stupid transfer mess that leads to endless  confusion?

The other nice thing was that the bus was sitting and waiting for Yellow Line transfers.  About 8 of the 9 people where transfers from the Yellow Line and the previous Yellow Line arrival.  All boarded we departed and something odd happened.  The bus driver asked all the riders, “Anyone going to Jantzen Beach?” to which the bus replied, “No”.  So she simply replied, “neither are we then”.  At first I couldn’t believe this, what about prospective riders there waiting?  I suppose, maybe since the mall  isn’t open yet they don’t stop there?  Not that I even know when the mall opens, but I was attempting to find a reason to justify this.

I arrived and attended the meeting, introductions ensued and I met a number of interesting people.  Food was good, conversation was good, and a general good time was had.  Interesting discussion on the stimulus funds and other zillion funding methods to get things moving along the northwest rail corridors.  Two bits I found interesting where the wish list items for 3 additional Talgo sets that we need desperately.  The other interesting topic brought up was the need to increase Internet presence, social interaction at that level, and other means to really get people interested and vested in passenger rail travel.  This has been one of my ongoing discussion points on this blog and it continues to be a pain point in this country, everything not involving cars and planes has an extremely difficult time garnering any attention.  Anyway, more on that later.

Upcoming CAC Meeting I am Planning to Attend

Upcoming CAC Meeting

Thursday, June 18
6–7:30 p.m.
Agenda for June 18 (15 KB PDF)

St Phillip Neri Parish, Carvlin Hall
2408 SE 16th Avenue

Served by bus line 4-Division/Fessenden
Plan your trip on TriMet.

Any other Portlander’s pondering checking this out?

TriMet’s Portland Bus Mall

I finally had a good photo outing on the downtown bus mall here in Portland.

Started out with the semi-reliable, and very useful Transit Tracker.

At two minutes I walked over to the stop and sure enough, here comes the #9 headed for downtown.

Since a lot of people seem to be complete illiterate fools that like to delay buses, slow down progress, and generally get in the way I follow the "Go with the flow.  Exit rear door."

Took a shot of my downtown stop, the #9 zipped away and a #17 pulled in as I got the photo.

Smooth flow during rush hour went well, as it has been going.

Even though in the above shot I said rush hour, but really, it was about 3pm "ish".  But as always with TriMet downtown is generally always busy during the day.

I got a few more bus mall shots when the sun ran away from the sky and I escaped from a productive day of work.

This is about 8:45pm and there is still steady ridership flowing on and off the buses.  Here two are stacked up at a stop on the north stretch of the mall.

A little bit of an artsy shot of the mall looking toward Union Station.

A clear shot looking the other way.

#4 Division bus using one of the new TriMet Buses, a rarity since it is an east side only line.

Yup, another artsy shot.  Anyone guess what street this is?

Another display of people’s illiteracy, more of non-Portlanders than Portlanders.  I also must say it is evidence people do not know nor follow most of the rules of driving.  Double whites YOU DO NOT CROSS IN ANY FREAKING STATE PEOPLE!!  If something says Bus Only it means Buses Only!  How is that complicated Mr. & Mrs. California, Mr. & Mrs. Suburbanite, Mr. and Mrs. Washingtonian!  Seriously, out of the almost 2000+ tickets TriMet has handed out almost ALL of them are for people not from Portland.  I don’t know about you, but that is fairly solid evidence that at least Portland drivers pay attention.

Last but not least, one of my top 3 stops.  Why you might ask, it’s near Stumptown on 3rd.  :)   I practically live at that place (and Stumptown).  With the bus mall rearrangement it might actually decrease my usage of both places by about 5-10% because they’re 2-3 blocks further than the 1 block they where previously.  Eventually I’ll get it figured out.

New Urbanism, Old Urbanism, Traditional Neighborhoods

…and economic reality.

I just was watching this winning video, and the video properly states what New Urbanism is; AKA Old Urbanism, Traditional Neighborhood design.  Of course, as with all Government agendas they don’t mention we should actually return to the effective monetary policies and zoning practices that allowed the creation of these old urban and traditional neighborhood designs, they instead want to dictate and control the build out of these “new urban” designs.  This does cause concern from me, as it is against any notable choice, individual liberty, or freedom of the individual.  Often times the planners and Government leaders push forward with these efforts as if people choose not to live in cities and choose to live in the suburbs.  The politicians and planners often forget, the main enabler of suburbs, sprawl, and the whole damnable aspect of the wasteful, weakness inducing American stereotype is them and they’re debt increasing subsidization of sprawl type development.  Now they try to hold us all accountable to this and people don’t even realize they’re living a heavily subsidized lifestyle.

Anyway, some of the comments on Youtube I just had to answer, because I’m always amazed at the lack of insight, context, or knowledge they often proffer.

From electer1776 these questions for the utopians:
1. How will you get people to leave their nice suburban homes? Force?
2. How will you stop people from fleeing your overcrowded utopia? Force?
3. How will you stop an explosion of crime in your overcrowded hell?
4. What will you do to control concentrated pollution in your overcrowded areas?
5. What size army will you need to oppress the people into your utopia?

This is simple.  There are many cities that prove these answer I’ll provide, including but not limited to;  Portland, OR, New York, NY, San Francisco, CA, San Diego, CA, even gasp Los Angeles, CA.  Add to that density increasing cities of Seattle, WA, Tuscon, AZ, Miami, FL, and hundreds more around the world.  When given options, people do NOT always choose a sprawling suburb.  Just as often, and usually more often, when provided a choice (which we haven’t had for years in the US) of a good city urban life versus the burbs, people will choose the urban lifestyle.  So, to the answers.

1. Offer then a choice.  Over the years people that want culture, night life, development & education, will often leave the burbs for the higher intensity of brain trust & creativity that is alive within cities.

2. People fled American cities for a number of reasons; white flight, mass subsidization of Interstates that encouraged sprawl, a drastic change in zoning which disabled people from living in cities or allowing cities to grow intelligently.  There where a number of reasons, and the flock often goes the way the herder encourages, so thus the people fled cities per what the Government thought was a grand idea – suburbs!  Now we’re slowly finding out, as the market told us before, that suburbs aren’t exactly feasible.  So after 50+ years of debt induced sprawl, we’re being forced to cut back.  No longer is China and others so willing to keep buying our debt.  We’re going to have to start buying our own lives back now, and we’re deeply owned by others already – it’s a tough road ahead.

3. Crime?  Crime is a unique trait of lower income areas generally, NOT of a particular land development.  New Orleans is a prime example of a million plus people, with very high crime for the US.  Portland, Oregon is a prime example of a million plus people, with very low crime in the US.  You are simply correlating incorrect data points.  Correlation is not causation, simple fact.

4. Populated areas often have less pollution than less populated areas.  Take Portland & Seattle for example.  Compare that with Jacksonville, Florida or Atlanta, Georgia.  Both of those cities have tons more pollution, dirtier air, entire ghettos that are polluted in ways many don’t even know anymore.  These ghettos, are primarily suburban sprawl.

5. What size army?  Hell, Portland & Seattle don’t even need police in large number compared to sprawling areas like Atlanta or Jacksonville.  Jacksonville is close in population to Portland, it had more than 2x the murder rate for the last 30 years.  Atlanta, a little closer to Seattle, still vastly higher.  Don’t even get me started on other places like that.  As urban centers have lost the chaotic destruction caused by mass Interstate Subsidy and white flight, they’ve started to become lively again.  As suburbs mature they become more despotic and crime ridden.

I could go on for days.  The defense of suburbia is ridiculous.  The defense is infeasible.  Already, we can’t afford our military or the economic impact of this lifestyle.  So what do we do?

No matter what, we change.