Chevrolet Tries In Vain to be Cool!

…and fails pretty bad. There are sites like Buzzfeed that go on about goofy pictures and everything. It puts a laugh on a few zillion faces a day. Recently however I noticed one of the “feed” items was a blatant advertisement from Chevrolet focusing on how lame one’s carpool is. I will admit, I’m stoked they’re suggesting people carpool. Sadly, it seems that’s a rarity except maybe in places like Seattle.

Some of the pictures and labels kind of bug me. First reason is because Chevrolet isn’t actually being very funny. Second is because they really think very little of their customers or people that aren’t their customers. Another is the ongoing assumption that Chevrolet has that anybody in their customer knows or understand anything about public transit or alternates besides being dependent on one of their cars. So let’s take a look at a few of these pictures that Chevrolet thinks is hilarious through their disingenious use of a buzzfeed article.

Being they’ve taken a picture of the busiest Japanese Subway station, one of the busiest in the world and labeled it “you think public transit sounds exciting!” Here’s my simple response to Chevrolet about this particular image/animated gif.

First off, being that I’m not cowering in one of your subpar cages – I mean automobiles – and I’m out there with the community it is rather exciting thank you. I’ve met people I never would have otherwise. I’ve met people outside of my racial group (which automobiles tend to limit because you hide away from ever speaking to anybody outside of your circles). I’ve met others that have very unique lifestyles compared to mine. I met and was able to help out Jared one day because he was super short on a few bucks, and I knew he actually needed it because I know Jared now. I know the smiling lady, if not by name, by the friendly hellos we greet each other with when we are boarding the same bus. I know the hipster fixie rider who likes to skip the uphill. So yeah, the public transit is sweet. I’m not hiding away in one of your crappy cars, so thanks for pointing that out.

…but alas, why is that funny? Oh yeah, because you’re being condescending and treating transit users as if they’re second class citizens and lesser than your “auto dependent” users.

Then there is the next picture about pooping. Ya know, cuz’ that’s ALWAYS so freakin’ hilarious! Again, followed by my immediate thought and response.

So I guess add to the array of reasons to speed Chevy, Smoky and the Bandit wasn’t enough. Jeezum, could you pick a lamer, ancient and more recessively inane thing to post as an excuse for speeding.

Genius. Oh wait, no, the opposite of genius. Stupid.

The last image didn’t bother me so much as actually gross me out. Mainly because I see the result of fast food everyday. I’ve eaten the non-food crap they sell maybe a few times this last year now. I’m impressed by how they still sucker everybody they do into eating the shit. But hey, it isn’t particularly dishonest, the population makes an active decision.

So I only really have one response to the image titled “Every single one of your cupholders has fast cups in them”. No, no wait. I’ve got a few comments.

  1. Holy moly that is just sad.
  2. Stop eating that shit people. For your sake and everybody else’s.
  3. Clean up your car, have more respect for your things. Jeez.
  4. Wendy’s?  Well, I guess at least it isn’t McDonalds… but when comparing a pile of crap to a pile of crap it isn’t much of a stretch.

Anyway, it isn’t so much the behaviors they’r eattempting to make fun of. Those are mostly sad. What really irks me about the car companies these days, especially Chevrolet in this situation, is they’re dramatic increase in disingenous advertising. Attempting to make things just appear as user generated content or otherwise. By mere action belittling and assuming idiocy on part of the consumer. Maybe it’s my desire to not treat people like idiots, to encourage people to do better, or a number of other characteristics that I have that would never allow me to push such an advertising campaign. There’s a million other ads that are legit, honest and straight forward. For example, regardless of the shadiness of whatever companies…  at least their ads are well put together and not a disingenuous mess.

…and…

…and…

Anyway. Chevrolet, just forget it. You’re cars are lame, the population has voted more than once. The company had to be bailed out even in spite of buyers deciding against your cars. Way to impose yourself on the population. Shame on ya, an embarrassment for all Americans.

The CRC is Dead… Now How About A Real Option?

So the CRC is officially dead. At least in its present form. So the question remains, what to do about local traffic, pedestrian and cycle traffic and possibly even freight and transit options? What about Vancouvers dramatically lower standard of living than Portland’s? What about all of Vancouver’s problems, which are growing dramatically?

Maybe the politicians will actually look at some of the very real and vastly superior alternatives that so many had put forth.

I do have one other question… so if Trimet hired those guys that were supposed to work on the “CRC”, what are they doing with those people now?

I’m not sure, nor am I too concerned at the moment. But I’m really happy to see this project dead in the water for now (pun intended?). The CSA, or Common Sense Alternative still appears to be the most intelligent and useful in so many ways.

The Whole Columbia River Crossing, The Other Pending Financial Catastrophe

Dammit. I have things to do, but of all the issues facing Portlanders, Vancouverites and in some very indirect ways the general populace of California, Oregon and Washington, feel the need to inform & provide my frustration with the current state of the I-5 Project. The last few rants and ramblings on Facebook have been without much information, just “go call your senator” and what not. I’d mistakenly assumed that people knew the situation surrounding the I-5 Bridge Replacement.

First things first let’s talk about what the I-5 Project is. This project is generally referred to as the CRC or Columbia River Crossing Project. It is intended to replace the I-5 Bridge, add light rail, and dramatically change out and increase the interchange access for local traffic on Jantzen Beach, access to Vancouver, and a number of other interchanges in Vancouver and a few in north Portland. The total price tag is *estimated* at about $4 billion dollars.

Now a few facts that will not change.

  • Trimet == Tri-County Metropolitan Transit Authority. The transit service, that generally serves the three counties of the Portland Metro area excluding Vancouver.
  • C-Tran == Clark County Transit. The transit service that serves the Vancouver area, which generally equates to express service that travels into Portland and drops off people that work in Portland and live in Washington.
  • This project, overall includes Trimet, C-Tran, PDOT, ODOT, WADOT and other agencies working together, sort of. There’s a LOT of politics and disunion already. (and yes, I’m stating that as a fact, the fighting has become public several times.)
  • The project will cost at minimum $4 billion dollars. Not less.
  • The project includes a toll for traffic coming from Vancouver, because Vancouver doesn’t have the kind of money to build a project like this. The majority of funding, in order, will come from the Federal Government, Portland and then everybody else.
  • The project does include light rail, which Vancouver will INDEED fund part of, regardless of the recent vote because Vancouver/C-Tran has already promised this through other means.
  • The project includes pedestrian access.
  • The current design has to change for various legal, safety and regulation requirements around the airfield and river traffic. (The plan itself generally costs hundreds of thousands and includes millions of dollars of work)
  • The throughput lanes remain the same for the entirety of the bridge replacement.
  • The only net new throughput would be the light rail line into downtown Vancouver that would extend to the community college.
  • The rail bottleneck would remain untouched. This costs over a billion in delays and congestion every year to the metro area of Portland, the city of Seattle, and delays downline to San Francisco, Oakland and even Los Angeles. Yes, it is THAT big of a bottle neck and this project does nothing to change this.
  • The road based freight delays on I-5 are negligible by comparison and much of that freight traffic already diverts to I-205.
  • The majority of traffic that turns into stop & go and delays on I-5 between Vancouver and Portland is 70% local travel. The information available also points out that the majority of this traffic ends up exiting the Interstate within a few exist north or south of the Bridge. In other words, the traffic isn’t even into or out of Portland itself, but only to the immediate areas around the Columbia River. (One using deducation, might say we need a local arterial for this traffic)

So now that I’ve pulled together these facts, let’s look at a few other things not related to the CRC, or also known as alternatives. Here’s one that is really well put together.

This is one of the solutions, or alternatives, that has been put forth. But alas, I’ll include the proponents material too. It’s available via the Columbia River Crossing site that has been put up here: http://www.columbiarivercrossing.org/ProjectInformation/ResearchAndResults/AlternativesConsidered.aspx

Yes, there is a website dedicated to the projects implementation. There’s also the Bike Portland blog that has a great write up on it (it’s not anti-car per say, just informative for the most part).  http://bikeportland.org/2011/04/27/video-explains-common-sense-alternative-to-crc-project-52147

Also, while we’re at it, give a listen to this individual. He points out the damage the Interstate has already caused and many of the related issues that we already have to deal with, without making the problems worse by building a massive bridge that barely resolves any of the traffic issues.

So anyway, go learn about it, and PLEASE take a minute or two and call your Senator about this. This project as it is will dramatically decrease what can be done in the future to actually deal with traffic, it will decrease the amount of funds for other things in the city budget too, such as schools, existing infrastructure, etc. This project is going to expand the debt burden for the next generation, i.e. your kids and teenagers you’re raising now will have a significant debt to deal with from this bridge. All of these debts and such and it will provide no new net capabilities.

I’m not against building something. We need to expand infrastructure capabilities and clean up our mess as a society in this area. BUT, this CRC solution as it is laid out adds more burden than it adds solutions. So get out and get vocal in your opposition.

Just call, leave a message, write, or whatever you feel like doing. It only takes a minute or three. They will not argue with you, they will not insult ya, they will take your opinion and then act upon however they see fit to represent us. It DOES influence things if you make your opinion and knowledge available.

17% Service Reduction?!?! Seriously?

Ok, this sucks. Straight from Metro.

County Executive calls on County Council to enact two-year funding for Metro or face 17 percent service reduction

King County Executive Dow Constantine this morning asked the King County Council to make important decisions about the future of Metro Transit: approve a two-year, $20 congestion reduction charge to help maintain Metro service near current levels for two years, or begin the process of reducing the transit system by 17 percent.

The poor economy has hit Metro hard, causing a drop in Metro’s funding from sales tax. Over the past four years, Metro has cut costs, raised fares four times, dug deeply into reserves, found new operating efficiencies, canceled the purchase of replacement buses, and negotiated cost-saving contracts with its employee unions. These actions have generated nearly $400 million to narrow Metro’s budget gap for 2008-2011 and about $143 million annually for the years ahead—but Metro still faces an ongoing shortfall of $60 million per year.

The two-year congestion reduction charge would be $20 a year on vehicles licensed in King County. The proceeds would be used to preserve transit service while King County works with regional leaders, legislators and the Governor on a long-term funding solution for transportation needs.

In case the congestion charge is not approved, the Executive also asked the Council to authorize a reduction of about 100,000 annual bus service hours in February 2012. This would be the first in a series of reductions totaling 600,000 service hours that the Executive would ask the Council to authorize for the next two years if new funding is not approved.

These reductions would shrink the Metro system by about 17 percent, leading to the loss of an estimated 9 million passenger trips annually.Overall, a reduction of this size would affect 80 percent of Metro passengers—meaning four out of five bus riders would have to walk further, wait longer, make an extra transfer, stand in the aisle, or even see fully loaded buses pass them by.

Other areas have balancing budgets at this point? Why is Seattle still getting hit so hard? Can we stop serving the areas that barely use transit and bulk back up where we get real ROI already?! This is insane.

The other question I have though, is what in the world is this $20 congestion charge? How would it be applied? It appears that this isn’t a concrete idea or maybe somebody knows something more about it?

Transporting the Smarts

While riding the bus recently, I was contemplating the absolutely gregarious myth that public transportation is for the poor and downtrodden.  Of course, this myth isn’t particularly held by those that actually know about cities, urban lifestyles, and other such things.  However there are a large number of people (namely on random AM radio talk shows) that hold this myth to be true.  They hold it as if it is some real redistribution of wealth, some hand out to the poor, or just some hand out in general.

As I sit here riding the #545 toward Microsoft, I realize just how objectively wrong they are.  There are approximately 60+ people on this bus as it travels across the bridge toward Microsoft.  These 60+ people have a median taxable income near the upper 93-95% bracket.  That means the following facts are true:

  1. These people are absolutely not poor, in any sense of the word.
  2. These people are in the bracket that pays the largest percentage of tax share to the Government.  In other words these people pay approximately 1.8-2.4x their costs incurred by the Government.

Think about that for a second.  These people are the bread and butter of America’s Economy right now.  The part of the economy that is actually creating jobs, not shedding them.  The part of the economy that is growing still.

In another part of town, Amazon has thousands of people coming in on busses and even walking to work (which I’d say is a better corporate citizen than Microsoft when it comes to environmental and economic activity).

Again, the facts for these individuals hold true also.  Amazon is growing massively.  They pay very well and need intelligent and highly skilled people.  Everyday they’re hiring more people.

Both of these companies have a large percentage of employees that use public transit to get to and from work, and in both situations both companies provide private transit agencies to get employees back and forth to the various areas of their campuses.  Both of these companies are prime examples of what should be encouraged and perpetuated in cities throughout America.  These companies are also prime examples of employers, that don’t require you to have a car.  Going car free with Amazon or Microsoft is super easy, and with either you could be an urban, suburban, or even rural person and get away with being car free.

So get rid of the myths if you hold them, you’re holding things that are not true in the least if you have that thought.  Public transit is vital to our most productive and growing industries.

#545 Redmond Bound

Today the bus had wifi and I was seriously grateful.  I had a few key things I wanted to research before getting to work today and needed to send and receive a few e-mails.

Today I got to thinking about a number of transit related questions I haven’t verified or researched lately, the most important being a verification of transportation costs for multiple modes.  I’d like to get a baseline, and the extreme costs for $5k, $13k (cheapest option), $22k car (median family car), and $40k car (the cheap BMW or something) and pair that to the same trips on transit for the average commuter.  Then break that down to trips that are transit friendly and trips that aren’t.

The other cost factor I’d like to see is how much we pay the Governments of our respective areas for transportation, infrastructure, etc., and how much we paid out of pocket 50 years ago, 100 years ago, and about 130 years ago (when streetcars were taking off).  My hypothesis is that transportation is actually more expensive today in net societal cost than the disciplined approaches of yester year, but for about 50% of the population it is cheaper out of pocket.  I’ll get to the bottom of this eventually.  Anyone else have some opinions to interject, I’d love to hear others’ hypothesis on the matter.