C-tran Skips, MAX Yellow Line Rocks, C-tran Catches

I left work today with a mission to achieve.  Get to Vancouver, somewhere near where the parents live, during rush hour.  C-tran has all sorts of express buses and such running during rush hour, almost all of them get nowhere near where I need to go.  Vancouver is one of the most pedestrian UNFRIENDLY cities in America, which is ironic, because it is right next to Portland, Oregon.  The #4 Fourth Plain C-tran bus however does go a little closer, within about 1-2 miles of where they live, which kind of gets me closer, and there is the #25 which gets me to within a 20 minute walk (3/4 mile) but is not very frequent at all.

I stepped out of the door at work and headed down to 5th and Stark where the #105 express bus goes by.  My intention was to catch that to the 99th transit center and then take the #25 down as close as I could get.  The #105 has about 3-4 frequencies during rush hour, so I figured it would be fairly easy to catch.  I went down and looked for the stop, which was nowhere to be found.  Slightly frustrated I watched as the #105 poked by heading EAST on Stark (not even on 5th?!?!).  Being one that doesn’t beg or run for transit, I let it poke along since there was no clearly marked place to get on this bus.

At this point, all I had to say is #fail C-tran.  Great job at NOT picking up your prospective riders where you have written you will pick them up at.  #fail #fail #fail #fail #fail

Off I went to determine my next location to jump on the bus then or take the MAX Yellow Line to catch something.  I reviewed my logistical options and decided on a MAX Yellow Line run out to Vanport/Delta Park to jump on the #4.  As I walked up to the Pioneer Square South stop a MAX Yellow Line arrived bound for its northern run.  I boarded and took a plunk down in a seat.  The air conditioning was working its magic as I pulled the laptop out to enjoy the ride.  A few dozen lines of code and unit tests later I arrived at Vanport/Delta Park.

As always the #4 was sitting there patiently waiting for a load of passengers to disembark.  16 passengers got off the MAX and boarded the #4 C-tran.  We departed a few minutes later and pulled into Jantzen Beach where we picked up another 12 people.  With a fairly decent bus load of people, everyone with a seat, we rolled over onto the I-5 Bridge into traffic and across to Vancouver.  Even now at 6:14pm the traffic didn’t seem so bad as to validate an entirely new bridge that would wreck the havoc of a $4.X Billion Dollar price tag.  I’m all for tolling the south bound I-5 routes, but a new bridge just seems absurd when we have so many other things we need done.

The bus pulled around the twisted loops coming off the Interstate into Vancouver and we picked up one more person and dropped off 2.  We cut through Vancouver with a steady stop and go effort, finally pulling out of the slightly urban downtown almost to the routes primary street of Fourth Plain.  Before we got there though another 8 people got off the bus and another 3 got on, one with a bike.  The main bus stop in Vancouver actually had about 8 people waiting for a bus, which is always interesting to see, considering Vancouver doesn’t seem particularly inclined toward transit use.

By the time we got to Fourth Plain we’d stopped for a wheelchair with another 4 people on, 3 people off.  Overall a fair amount of use.  Not bad considering the issues that Vancouver has had with keeping the transit they have going with the funding cuts by voters, now the economic induced cuts, and I’m sure the trouble won’t let up anytime soon.

Eventually my father arrived to transport me via auto to their home.  I got to have a tasty dinner with them and Joleen, enjoyed some conversation afterwards about the economy, general news, and other topics.  My father and I also discussed taking a ride this Sunday (30th) on the new MAX Yellow Line route on the mall alignment.  If anyone else is interested let me know and we’ll meet up for a coffee before or after our loop.

Then it was off the MAX Yellow Line for the trip home.  If C-tran would get their transit tracker going, we’d have jumped on the #25 to get back home, but without it the schedule just isn’t trustworthy.  So we all piled in the Nissan to get a list back to Vanport MAX Station.  After a short 15 minute ride, we arrived to wait for our south bound LRV.  She arrived after a few minutes and we boarded for the trip home.

Another short stretch and we where back downtown.  A short swap to the bus stop and we jumped on the #4 Division/Fessenden Route heading south.  We got off at 20th & Division and took a quick run through the New Seasons to grab some coffee creamer, because, a good trip is always good with a cup of coffee at the end.

Good evening, good trip, good dinner, good night.

Final BART Agreement Passed by 80%

Now this is Union news I like to hear.  High approval, but acquiesce to the realities of the world.  Fact is, there is less money collected.  One can’t just go to the politicians and say, “hey, raise taxes so we can keep paying our employees”.  The only options are;  a: lay off a bunch of people and maintain pay at threat of reducing fare collection and possibly requiring MORE lay offs in the process or, b: decrease benefits and wages until a time when fares, collections, and other funding returns to their previous levels.

To me, this always seems like an inanely obvious solution, you go with the later.  Simple reason is you don’t want to can people, NOBODY does no matter what the general populations’ opinion of companies is.  Force reductions are at most, a temporary solution to anything in the economic activity of the world, and often times don’t work out in the long run for companies at all.  The most rewarded entities are often those that can keep their workforce, maintain its enthusiasm and moral until heavy workload resumes.

I commend those agencies and ESPECIALLY companies around the country & world that can do this.

So hats off to BART for pulling their act together.  Keep that ridership as high as possible, and don’t give anybody a reason to strike.  Let logic prevail and get the job done.

Sound Transit Making Progress

So I get the photo of the week from Sound Transit and read the RSS feeds.  I must commend Sound Transit on their efforts to really get information out there, it seems, they surpass TriMet in this endeavor.  I also can’t help but feel it is the low key nature of Portland that TriMet gets this from, but should step out and take the lead on these efforts.  As I mentioned previously, it would be awesome if TriMet tried to actively coordinate high ridership needs against opportunities such as shows, sports events, etc.  I suppose they do it some, but I barely see any of it via their website.  This should really change.

However, check out some of these bits from Sound Transit.

Here’s a shot of a Sounder Train arriving.  Just think of all those auto f-tards that say nobody rides the train.  Seriously, you auto nuts, look at that image and say that again?  700 people where on that train!  That’s efficient movement of people.  Each passenger consumed the equivalent  of a Prius stuffed with 4 people – but oh wait, they had the use of space, someone else drove em’, and…  oh hell, the train just kicks driving’s tail.  All of these people can consume alcohol and not have a care in the world, they won’t get arrest for DUI after the game!

Anyway, enough of my ranting on the stupidity of driving and the awesomeness of taking the train, it is however kind of a no brainer in this situation.

In other Sound Transit news, there will be some rocking, head banging trains heading to Tacoma Dome for the AC/DC show coming up.  Of course, this is a no brainer too, because how is somebody going to go to an AC/DC show and not drink?  That’s insane, so jump on the train, have a case o’ beer, and take the train home.  That is THE life of luxury right there.

The last tidbit of Sound Transit news is about their light rail.  It hasn’t hit the ridership level of our Blue Line here in PDX, but it has already surpassed the Yellow Line or Red Line respectively.  At over 12k per day already, and on some days well surpassing that.  This is all without the line not even being 100% done.  The airport extension still has to open later this year, which will easily bump it up another 500-1500 per day.  I do think that Sound Transit will hit their ridership expectations of 29k by middle of 2010 as they’ve suggested.  Which will still have them just shy of our Blue Line, however by the middle of 2011 I’m pretty sure they’ll surpass Blue Line Ridership and start needing those 3 car LRV Trains.  Good thing they’ve planned for that, we’re stuck with 2 car trains in PDX unless we blow billions upgrading the entire system.  I believe, even though I need to check, that Sound Transit has blown past their bus route ridership leaders with the start of the Link Light Rail.

…and my last tidbit of info, or rant more like it is simply a message to Sound Transit, “Fix the damn ticketing on the LINK!!!!”   It is annoying as hell.  Even the local media has picked this up!  I know, I know, it isn’t THAT complicated, but the problem is that it is complicated for any new rider.  Sound Transit & TriMet both have this issue of confusing ticketing.  I’m still one for the “buy a ticket for each ride” because it just can’t get screwed up.

In addition to all this, Seattle is much more of a 24hr city, and in turn, runs their light rail and buses many more hours than PDX (which really isn’t smart form a $$ perspective for TriMet, so I can’t blame em’).

So that is some tidbits that I’ve picked up recently, and I just love that Sound Transit plays with the community this way.  I long for TriMet to reach out a little bit more in this regard.

Soon to come I hope to get the website write up done and published – I’ve got a number of sites to review still.  So stay tuned and keep enjoying the ole’ Transit Sleuth’s work.  🙂

I Walked A Long Way…

Ok, so 2.4 miles isn’t that big of a deal really.  However, I had wanted to take the bus.  The transit tracker application I generally use though was out of commission today.

It got me thinking, I like to always keep moving, I’m stir crazy like that.  In some places I wouldn’t have had the option to walk, because the chance would be the trip would have been 4 miles, or even worse 5-10 miles.  That just isn’t feasible to walk, but with the sprawl that plagues most of the US, that is the exact scenario in trying to get around.

I generally find my use of transit drastically diminished without transit tracker.  Just the simplification it makes bus transfer and such adds tremendous value to using a transit system.  Even when I went to New Jersey, days after they implemented theirs’ for their trains I gained invaluable timing information.

So, what would you do?  If the transit tracker wasn’t working, would you just start walking?  Would you just drive, bike, or go some other way?

Cool Videos by punkrawker4783

punkrawker4783 posted some new videos of the new Green Line runs.  They’re pretty cool, gives one a cab view of the trip.  Check out the videos by just clicking below.  If you want to check his blog out (yeah, it is a good read IMO) navigate over to punkrawker4783.blogspot.com.