Where Am I Going? The Transit Oddities.

First off, just look at these awesome Google Transit Maps. I’ve got a few thoughts below though.

Trip Part I

View Larger Map

Trip Part II

View Larger Map

Trip Part III

View Larger Map

Ok, there are a few issues with TriMet‘s Bus System, and 90% of those issues are on the west side. That’s what I want to discuss and these maps show so well.

First off, the central business district and east of Portland pretty much have the touted “best transit” system that TriMet often calls itself.  However, the west side has barely a mediocre system, and in many places is completely disconnected from any mode except automobile.

West Side Core Transit

The core of the west side consists of the MAX, #57, and basically the #12.  Beyond that, there are some infrequent routes, feeders, and split service bus routes (ala the #56 & #54, the #76 & #78, etc).  The easiest areas to get to, from downtown, are areas directly along the MAX.  This is also the only timely route to take from anywhere east of the “west hills” (for those not from the area, that is the big green slice on the maps above just barely to the west of downtown).  What other routes are effective from an east to west side transport perspective?

Besides MAX, West Side Routes

Gas Hits $4.35, Finally Pays Full Road Costs

In fact, the subsidy ratio (or, in the case of roads, the "Asset Value Index") for TXDOT's infrastructure makes Amtrak's taxpayer-supported needs absolutely pale in comparison! It is estimated that gasoline taxes would need to be six times higher than they are today just to bring revenue in line with expenditures.

In other words, the average cost of one gallon of gasoline in Dallas would instantly jump from today's approximate of $2.50 (for regular grade) to an outrageous $4.35!

Finally, it seems some organization has published some truth, along with the appropriately made factual correlations.  I found this beauty written up in the Progressive Railroading Journal’s Website, written by Garl B. Latham titled “Do Roads Pay for Themselves?”.  Now, in addition to me being able to show, in simple math terms why roads don’t cover their cost anymore than other modes, I have this actual DOT report that backs up the obvious fact.  Roads are heavily subsidized.

Now of course, at this point, since we can all finally agree all modes are subsidized at heavy levels we can step back and determine if that is a good thing or a bad thing.  My take, is varied, dependent of course on what we as a society are actually trying to achieve.

As far as subsidies are concerned, what are others take on these expenditures?  Should policy be to selectively encourage more efficient usage based on environmental concerns?  Should policy be made to reduce overall subsidy so that the end user foots the bill relative to actual usage?  Should policy be made to actually equalize subsidy regardless of any particular condition; environmental, economic, or otherwise?

I’m betting somebody has some great ideas out there, it’s just a matter of getting them implemented.  ; )

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.