Keeping Balanced Commuting Views

I’ve got a great commute.  One of the best in the country, as most people living and working in downtown Portland do.  But there are hundreds of thousands of people that have horrible commutes, or at best really long commutes.  I’ve been pondering to keep a balanced view of things, I may try out a unique commute once or twice a month, just as an experiment.  Also, it’s always kind of fun having an extra adventure once in a while.

With that said, I’m wondering what my first commute experiment should be.  I’ve already done the WES, and it was a blast (albeit still an overpriced piece of commuting equipment, it did allow the best ride of the entire system).  So here are some of my thoughts on trying out some different commutes.

Rail Options

  • Blue Line from Gresham
  • Blue Line from Hillsboro
  • Green Line from Clackamas Town Center
  • Red Line from the airport or from Parkrose/Sumner Transit Center

Bus Commutes

  • In bound bus lines from Gresham such as the #4, #9, or others.
  • #77 from Troutdale
  • #31 from Estacada (OMG, that’s like 23089752 miles away!)
  • #33 or #35 from Oregon City or Lake Oswego
  • #12 from Sherwood

Comment with some options, and I’ll run a poll to see which I should take.  I’ll then do a 1-2 day commute from that route and report on the characteristics, people, and other miscellaneous traits of the route run.

Bike Portland Explodes Again, Webtrends Ad in the Crux

There is so much going on over at the Bike Portland Blog in regards to this conversation of taxes for roadways, who pays what, and how much, and etc., etc., etc.  The conversation is long, often tired, and of course tons of things devolve into ad hominem attacks all over the place.  I decided it was time I weighed in, since this is a topic dear to me, as it really makes me rather irate how many people know very little or nothing about how our infrastructure is currently built, maintained (or not), and deemed worthwhile.

Fact #1 The Road System is NOT a product of free-market economics, it is an operationally socialist government mechanism by almost every definition.

Just to start off with the first FACT, our road system is NOT a product of free-market economics, open market, fair market, or anything of that nature.  By morale compass alone Republicans and Libertarians, if they honestly do support free-markets, should absolutely DESPISE our road system network.  Less than 1% is privately owned, maybe 5-10% of it even has a decent return on investment, and about that same 5-10% actually gets appropriately funded and maintained.  Our road system in the United States of America is easily a prime example of socialized (socialism/socialist definition available) ownership and operation by the Government of an industry function, or at least something that in the past was largely an industry function in the United States.

With that fact, that our road system is a socialized operation, one can see obvious reasons certain things are so convoluted in bureaucracy.  The road system is allocated, funded, and maintained as a pull politics bartering tool within the White House and state Governments.  The Federal Government has even used the road funding mechanisms to black mail states such as Louisiana to push through economic trade regulations that don’t meet intra-state commerce clauses.  A prime example is the Federal Government putting thousands and thousands of bars, restaurants, and other establishments in Louisiana out of business by forcing the state to push their drinking age up to 21 from 18.  The point of this being that this encroachment of state rights was done through black mail by our operationally socialist government road system.

Fact #2 The road system is NOT primarily paid for with gas taxes, which fall drastically short of funding our entire road network.

Gas taxes make up enough to fund primarily the Interstates, and at that, they don’t complete 100% of the budget and often require additional sources to meet 100% of budget costs.


Should all citizens continue to fund the massive subsidies provided to drivers?

Lucky Day #13, Metrorider LA Brings It

Day #13 started transit intensive.  We awoke at 8:00am and prepped for our departure.  Packing everything back up we headed out the door at 8:42am.  Near Mike’s place stood a little coffee shop, which happened to be exactly where the bus stop for the OCTA #71 Bus.  There we plunked down all our gear and sat waiting.  The bus wasn’t scheduled until 9:04am, but we figured best be safe than sorry with an unknown transit system.  We sat sipping our morning coffees and I read a bit about the Blood Angels of the Warhammer 40k Universe.

At exactly 9:04am an empty OCTA #71 bus arrived at our footsteps.  I mention empty, only because it was, but I bore in mind that this was the second stop from the beginning of its run.  We boarded the bus with all our stuff and paid the $3.00.  Yes Portlanders, TriMet’s fares aren’t bad at all.  That is $3.00 for two people without a transfer.

The trip went something like this:

9:04am Departure on #71

9:16am 5 ppl total boarded so far.  1 leaves, another person boards.

9:20am Another person gets off, another 1 on.  We’re maintaining our 5 rider count.

Holy Bananas, TriMet’s New Site is Up, WOW!

So far, I’m impressed!  What is your take?  Dig it, dislike it, can’t find stuff, is everything there?

TriMet Multi-Route Wandering

Took the normal route to work this morning, jumping aboard the #9.  Midday Jo and I took a ride on the Green Line MAX from one stop down to another stop, since it was coming.  Saved us about 5 minutes of walking.  After that we rode from Couch & 5th to Pioneer Courthouse, which saved about 10 minutes of walking.

Later in the day, after drinks with friends, I headed over and took a ride out on the Blue Line MAX.  After that I boarded the #77 back down Broadway and into town.  Of course this diversion was just for kicks & because I was conversing with a fellow cohort.

The #77 had a broken heater or something, the bus must have been at least 85 degrees on board.  The regular noisy raspy racket of a diesel engine blanketed the bus with the regular cacophony of sound.  When people spoke, they had to raise their voices to an inappropriate, unfortunately necessary level.  The cell phone user got on the phone and commenced to make even more racket to add to the overall chaos.

I couldn’t help but miss the streetcars of New Orleans.  Even though morbidly hot during the summer, during Fall they where heavenly comfortable.  With the windows down and a smooth coasting motion, the cars stayed a moderate 70-75 degrees.  The humidity almost gave the area a surreal feeling that incurred a heavy relaxation.  Unlike the diesels of buses, the streetcars made almost no sound.  It left one to think freely and gaze upon people passing by.  To look upon the grandeur of the buildings and see the hundreds of years of history.

Portland, has a different kind of and different level of placidness, with no frequent streetcar to compare with.

The frequent streetcar we do have is of a very different nature.  The climate is controlled, in a way, being the doors open all the time.  There are no opening windows.  It also cost 4x as much as the New Orleans Streetcars.  Ours run much less frequently also, at peak reaching about every 12-13 minutes and about 20-30 minutes later in the day.

The streetcar however is very nice.  Often fairly clean, and very smooth.  The turns are a little jerky but that is often what a turn is, jerky.  The ride though, and that brighter appearance make the different though.  I don’t have to hold on to my laptop for dear life.  It simply sits upon my lap.  The ridership on our line seems to be, in general, more genteel than that of many bus routes.  Sometimes there are the entertaining ones, but often it is calm and collected on the streetcar.

With the thoughts of the flanged wheels, I decide to jump off the #77 and board the Streetcar.  In a mere few minutes, I board the next streetcar coming after getting off of the #77.  I’m relieved the wait was only 3 minutes at this hour of the night.

Tonight peaks at about 15 riders, including the volunteer fare inspector.  He’s of course not enabled in the same way the other fare inspectors are, but basically prides (or shames, if you want to be negative) people into buying or not buying tickets.  The irony of course, is that 7 geezerly yuppies (I know, y in yuppies stand for young, but these people weren’t) get on the streetcar and break the calmness of the ride.  They’re boisterous in their middle class uppity zeal.  With a tinge of redneck doltishness they’re asked to pay the fare by the fare inspector.  They all just laugh in their jolly alcoholic doldrums.  None of them pay, instead just laughing it off as the fare inspector gives up and gets off before the fare less zone.  I spurt out, “The fare inspector is here just to encourage honesty…” to which they all continue to laugh about.  Irony being they’re all Republicans, as I notice from various emblems and ramblings.  Strange, the Democrats are fine with abrogating funds via taxes, and Republicans just abrogate funds by not paying.  I guess, again, they’re functionally both the same.

I ride on, with the calmness resumed as they all huddle off of the streetcar toward the MAX.  A few more people get on and we move along smoothly toward south waterfront.  I check my iPhone to see what the ETA is for the #9 I intend to transfer to.  A few moments later a time pulls up, the good trusty #9 is coming soon.  My transfer will only be about 4-5 minutes.  I’m good with that, can’t complain a bit.

All this wondering about, while blogging & writing code makes me wonder what the coming trip will be like.  With that the focus on work I need to do right now comes flooding back into my mind and encourages me to leave this writing.  I decide that it best to do so, and with that I leave the writing to finish the days work.


Yes, Cars, Awesome and Amazing Cars

This is a rarity on this blog, but I’m going to throw down.  Why?  Because I still know an obscenely significant number of things about cars, the dynamics of driving, engine characteristics, piston vs electric vs rotary, and the list goes on.  This entry is about cars that are actually moving the industry forward in technology and cleaning up the transportation industry.

There are a few conjectures that I’ll add right now about the auto industry.

  • Technological progress of automobiles exceeds transit, and other modes of transport by a significant measure for two primary reasons:  The companies are run for profit & privately held,  and they’re accountable to maintaining that.

An Open Invitation

America, I’d like to invite you to come an visit a city that kicks your city’s ass.  As I’ve written here, and here, and here, Portland is pretty tough competitor for anyone who wants to live a truly fulfilling life.