Jo and I, while checking out the new apartment in downtown on Sunday, decided to swing by Powell’s to find some books. We arrived with no fuss via the streetcar and went about our business. As we walked through though I noticed a table where TriMet was taking a survey of drivers, riders, or whoever. I decided I was a perfect candidate to take the survey so went back after walking by to put in my two cents.
First off, I have to complain. Whoever setup the survey setup a broken survey, but I get the gist of what TriMet was trying to get to. The key points were as follows:
- What type of stop do people prefer.
- What type of vehicle/mode do people prefer.
- What is the wait time people allow before driving.
- What type of seating to people prefer.
- What type of security do people prefer.
- Walking vs wait time.
- How important is vehicle/mode cleanliness.
- How important is driver friendliness.
- What of the above is more important to you.
1. I don’t care about the stop, and personally am bothered by the wasteful amounts of money TriMet spends on some of the stops. Especially for the streetcar. There are lots of streetcar systems, some with better frequency and ridership, that basically have no real curb or stop of any sort. The extra time it takes for these fancy stops in mixed traffic modes is just annoying. Forget it, non-functional. Give me a marker and a schedule and I’m a happy rider (maybe a shelter in places where the traffic may splash waiting riders, etc)
2. This is easy. In order based on Portland’s available modes: Light Rail (Type 2 & 3, Type 4, and Type 1), streetcar (2nd gen, 1st gen), and bus (high floor bus, others…)
3. As long as I have transit tracker, I’ll schedule around the bus. Without transit tracker the bus better have a 10 minutes or less frequency, otherwise I won’t use transit. The simple rule I go by, is I’m not standing at a stop for an extended amount of time if at all possible.
5. Security is not TriMet’s responsibility. Saying it is, the fact that TriMet is somehow forced to be responsible, is a direct violation of logic. It is stupid to have TriMet setup this way, the plain fact is society allowed police departments to be setup for the purpose of personal security. It is THEIR JOB to enforce security within society. The police, not TriMet.
On another point that I have contention with. Anyone that relies on others for their personal security endangers themselves and those around them. Always, ALWAYS be prepared to flee, defend, or otherwise take charge of your personal security. If you expect others to do this for you, you might as well give up.
6. I’ll walk up to 10 minutes if it is an infrequent trip, and up to 8 minutes for a daily commute. For multiple trips during the day I won’t walk more than 2-6 minutes to a stop. Once at a stop I prefer not to wait more than 5-6 minutes at most. This is of course resolved by simply timing my walk & wait times with Transit Tracker.
7. Cleanliness only gets to be important to me when things are really dirty. If a mode is dirty, I will turn around and call a taxi if it is too bad. Otherwise newspapers, mud on the floor, water, etc is not a big deal. Human or animal feces, other rancid items, or overpowering stenches will have me in a taxi without a second thought.
8. I get along with the fact that many drivers are not much more than blank faces and spent as human beings. But I commend and LOVE when a bus drivers enjoys, loves, and thrives as a driver. I like it when I hear a driver make announcements and chats with riders. Al M, Dan Christensen, streetcar driver Fred, and others come to mind. These drivers are GREAT! This is VERY important to me. It is (and Al may hate this statement) to me the last semblance transit has to the private existence it started as in this country. The streetcar operator stories, the human elements, these are the things that draw transit into the very human existence that it is. Put simply, this is the one thing that buses have over light rail and the “modern streetcar” of Portland. The human-less, face-less experience on light rail and streetcar is frustrating. Here Portland is building a human city versus a car city and we have these faceless transit modes. But I will choose the financially reasonable option that provides more for society than the human face of the bus, only because the community is still involved in the ride, but I’d rather have both features.
9. The most important aspect of transit to me is complex. It however boils down to something that isn’t the actual transit itself. Instead it is the lifestyle that it allows. The car-free, worry free, relaxed lifestyle and relaxing trip enabled by transit service. The ability to get home and not be strung out or mentally warped and skewed from commuting via the automobile. The zoning changes and more compact and connected communities that transit also enables (more so than automobile based zoning). So overall, it is the lifestyle, not particularly the transit. But one really doesn’t go without the other.
So what are your priorities? What are the most important things for you in the transit service you use (or don’t use)?
[11/14/09 – Correction: I stated “and personally am bothered by the wasteful amounts of money TriMet spends on some of the stops.”, which is a faulty statement. TriMet does not and did not fund any of the stops for the streetcar, the City of Portland, or more specifically the non-profit subsidized Portland Streetcar spent the money on those stops. I still am bothered by their spending taxpayer money
(and lots of it) on stops that are ridiculously overbuilt.]