Hawthorne Bus Island Fix

Where a bus island needs to be on Hawthorne, desperately.

Portland’s Better Blocks Broadway

Here’s a short review I did of the redesign. The bus island was something that really shows in this city how these should be implemented. Well designed and well built, we should have these as standard on almost all major roads with bus stops so there isn’t the existing conflict.

Transit Header Images

I’ve just cut up a bunch of header images and just thought I’d post them. Any favorites? The next round I’ll aim for a few buses since this primarily came out of my MAX photos from the last 8 years.


I’m Just Now Catching up to Al’s April 2014 Video of Me…

I’m sitting here digging through videos on YouTube and here’s this video Al took a while back. I’m not entirely sure who did the edits, but I have a few minor contention points. Here’s the video first:

Is the MAX dangerous based on un-correlated and non-causal crime?

Minute:Second 2:28 – 2:50 – I’m seriously not even going to respond to this insertion of media alarmism and FUD in the middle of this clip. That is a seriously disingenuous association, it is dishonest to even associate that with failure or success in any way. Pulling in outlier data, and pushing and implication that the MAX is a crime train or something of that nature is just extremely cheap and petty. So it’s not even getting an answer from me… just bring data next time and stop being disingenuous. I can argue this but it’s just ridiculous that this is even inserted in there, it’s at best a distraction to simpletons that will then immediately say something ignorant like, “see, it’s a failure there’s some stabbing…”

Is MAX Ridership Not 100k (or more) ?

Minute:Second 2:57 – There’s a flash of some stats from an unspecified time that are supposedly Trimet’s ridership numbers. I’d stated that Trimet ridership on the MAX was 100k or more per day, which was a conservative estimate on my behalf. The data that was shown however was not accurate. Check out the actual PDF of performance information from Trimet itself. Now scroll down to the ridership data for April of 2014 which is the post time of this video (and relatively close +1 a month or so when Al and I actually met and had this conversation). The data for April 2014 is shown below:

Note the MAX Ridership for April 14 is at 121,400. A mere 1.1% decrease over the same month in 2013.

Note the MAX Ridership for April 14 is at 121,400. A mere 1.1% decrease over the same month in 2013.

As you can see, I was being extremely generous in saying the MAX carries merely 100k passenger trips a day, when in reality it registered over 121k that month.

Answer: Yes, I was correct in stating that the ridership is at least that much. It’s the opposite of hyperbole, it’s a conservative estimate, which makes the implication I was making absolutely true.

Is bus ridership barely 3 times what MAX ridership is even with 50 or so bus lines as I said in the video?

The ridership for Trimet bus lines, all of them (not including the paratransit, which is only 21k trips) comes in for the month of April at 335,030 passenger trips. That’s some pretty good ridership.

Bus Ridership at Trimet

Bus Ridership at Trimet

but if we do some math, if Trimet MAX’s ridership is 121k, and we multiply that by x3, we get 363k, clearly more than the 335k trips that were registered.

Answer: Yes, again, my statement was a simple conservative statement that again proves the point that the MAX, by line count, carries dramatically more people than the entire bus system put together. I made no other correlations than that, so no I’m not saying one could exist without the other, or any such thing. I merely stated one point.

So are there only 50 bus lines in Trimet’s System?

Well I did a little manual count (maybe I’m off by +-1?) but I got 80 bus lines on Trimet’s page here. Feel free to count. But agian, a conservative guess at the number of bus lines (and yeah, I should know the number of bus lines by now, but I only knew a very rough low balled amount). This makes the point even more direct to the point I’m making, in that the bus system has 80 bus lines and ONLY carries 3x as much as the MAX.

Answer: Yes, there are at LEAST 50 bus lines, after counting them there are 80.

So is MAX a failure by this measure? Is it truly ridiculous?

The MAX, based on this number of lines, carrying 25% of the passenger trips but only making up 1/20th of the actual lines is by no measure a failure. Looking at that same data for April we can even find more evidence that the MAX lines are doing fine, with a cost per passenger trip at $2.02 while the bus is at $3.27.

Answer: MAX is in no discernable way a failure based on metrics of subsidies and rates of usage for buses. One could make strong arguments that it even does even better against other Trimet modes too (re: Streetcar, WES).

Is MAX Blue Line the only successful line?

Minute:Second 3:26 – Is the Blue Line the only successful line? Study the data more. None of the MAX lines are operationally expensive compared to any bus lines. Even the most efficient bus lines (like the 72, 9, 4, 14, etc) do only slightly better than the Yellow Line and sometimes better than the Green or Red Lines. Most of the time they’re all extremely efficient in cost per passenger trip.

Answer: No, they’re all successful by the metrics available, even the dramatically lower ridership Yellow Line.

Is the Skytrain the only unquestionably successful transit in North America?

Answer: Yes, go look it up, I’m not digging that up for you. But it turns an actually net operational profit, which means that it makes more money from fares during operations than it takes to actually run the trains. That money, is then in turn used to subsidize the less efficient bus service throughout the city that costs more to run per passenger trip.

…then during 4:20- some time Al wants to now say that none of this matter that transit is a human right or something, but when we compare things we have to have a metric. Nobody said anything about what transit modern purpose is, we’re comparing what is success or failure, and actual metrics.

Green Line stole ridership, is it between 22-28k per day?

Minute:Second 4:44 – Current Green Line ridership passenger trips is 24,300 at last count.

Answer 1: Yup, the ridership is at the levels I stated.

Answer 2: It did not steal ridership from the bus routes. Every route that the Green Line crosses that travels east and west (this include sthe #4, 9, 14, 15, and a number of other buses) all have seen ridership increases during the time since the Green Line opened. The #72, which runs parallel and crosses under the Green Line has also seen its ridership maintained or increased over that same period, month-to-month and by any other metric. The data is available, to get some of the specifics you will have to get a FOIA for Trimet to dig it up, but the data is there, just from the totals that are provided on the site (just look at the link above and check out the ridership for bus/MAX) and you’ll see that overall the ridership has generally seen an upward trend since the Green Line opened in 2009 versus a downward trend.


…this blog entry is dedicated to Al. Cheers man! It’s always fun.

Bus on Route 70 Heads North from Milwaukie

Trimet is Taking Your Input & Preparing for Bus Route Changes… Have You Weighed In?

Bus on Route 70 Heads North from Milwaukie

Bus on Route 70 Heads North from Milwaukie

Here’s some of the suggestions that are in the lead to actually be implemented. People have pushed for more weekend service on the 19 route, they want the 31 and 33 to create one new line that will increase service and frequency on Harrison Street and King Road, which would then serve to connect Clackamas Town Center. You too can weigh in easily by going to the http://trimet.org/alerts/pmlrbuschanges/index.htm page and just click any of the “Weigh In” bubbles to the right of each route description and an email with a pre-populated subject line will appear. Add your comment (and likely your name, address and where you do or plan to live in that area and how it would affect or effect your daily travel).

Continue reading →

What Infrastructure Would you Want To See in Oregon and Portland?

I’ve been pondering what ideal wins the infrastructure czars (you know, the Governor of the state, mayor of Portland, Bend, Eugene, Salem and all the other leaders of Oregon) could and should push for these days. With the recent and still ongoing absurdity of the I-5 Bridge to the epic nature of the new bridge in Portland that is Bike, Ped, Bus, Light Rail and Streetcar only bridge, it begs the question. What infrastructure would be awesome to have added to Oregon, and specifically Portland, Eugene, Salem and other such cities and towns? What is reasonable and what would actually be a good return on the effort and investment for the state? What is a good investment to direct a good and effective future path for the state? That’s just the beginning of the questions though, one could write a thick book of endless questions.

But with that in mind, here’s a few I’ve been thinking of just recently.

  1. Rail service enhancement into Vancouver from Portland. Rail service that could be used for, but doesn’t necessarily mean passenger service initially. The bottleneck on either side of the Columbia River is a problem space, however with some solid double tracking, or even triple tracking from Portland north through Vancouver to the Battle Ground area and even out toward Camas we could get some serious benefit from this. Freight could be handled by rail into the city and out of the city more easily, putting intermodal points at locations that better serve Portland and Vancouver instead of so many trucks driving into and out of the cities via interstate. The other notion would be, at some point, with appropriate access real commuter rail service could be offered easily from points north like Battle Ground, Camas, and other locations and have them funnel through Vancouver’s station and into Portland. We’re talking about 15-30 minute commutes. Light rail will never accomplish this, bus service won’t accomplish this, only passenger rail could accomplish this. As the current service, albeit not effective as commuter rail, already serves the corridor from Vancouver to Portland in about13-16 minutes, pending they get a slow order or not. Regardless, for bang for the buck, subsidizing a rail infrastructure expansion here would go far beyond any other motorized infrastructure investment in the area.
  2. Cycle track system, not just a few cycle tracks. Not faux bike infrastructure but real bike infrastructure. Let’s put 20-30 million into it every year for the next decade, then let’s see where we get an truly reevaluate that. For the $200-300 million it would cost to get Portland true bicycle infrastructure on a world class scale similar to Amsterdam, it would easily give us the ability to hit the 25% mark for cycling. This in road bike infrastructure however is a joke to most people, and seriously, it still just exacerbates the more neanderthal drivers to freak out the less assertive cyclists. Very frustrating to see such an opportunity go down the drain. As for that investment, we already know the more cycle oriented parts of town are doing crazy good business, have healthier, happier and more effective citizens then the auto oriented areas – so seriously, we need to get our ass in gear in this regard.
  3. BRT – Bus Rapid Transit needs to be put into play in a number of areas from Eugene to Salem to Portland. BRT would be highly effective in acting as core arterials feeding the existing light rail systems, and as systems feeding directly into the city cores. BRT should be implemented as true BRT, not the faux junk implemented in Seattle, but as dedicated – possible to upgrade to LRT or even heavy rail in the future – with regular 5-7 minute service for more than 10 hours a day. Ideal points to connect in Portland would be Gresham down Powell to downtown Portland, 39th street north and south as a feeder from St Johns out and down to Hollywood and into Milwaukee, and another possible great route would be to setup a core run somehow on Barbur and put some traffic calming into place so motorists stop killing pedestrians and other motorists on that arterial. BRT could play a huge part in future build outs, especially since we need to bulk up ridership with frequency more than “luxury light rail”. Light rail is still needed, but with the completion of the Portland-Milwaukee Light Rail, we’re good for the next 10-20 years for rail infrastructure as our corridor backbone. Let’s get to feeding it as we should to make it easier and faster to use.
  4. My last thought is actually a huge way to spend a little money and over time save millions upon millions. There are untold miles of roads in Portland that we can’t afford to maintain, along with roads in Salem, Eugene and every major city and even more road miles in rural parts of the state. We should designate some of these roads as either toll roads, no longer maintained roads (i.e. close them unless a private entity wants to take responsibility for them) and especially in the city let’s figure out which roads we can cut out, stop maintaining, turn into parks, do turn outs or cut offs to improve neighborhoods and decrease costs or one of another zillion options. Simply, we have too much road infrastructure for a limited budget at the national, state and city and county levels. Let’s scale back appropriately. If motorists want to pay more to have more infrastructure, let’s actually foot the bill instead of continually pawning it off to bonds of various sorts that often end up in foreign hands. Our current road funding models are just insane, let’s budget what we can afford instead of living so far past our means. This would economically, environmentally and socially be logical as well as getting people to face the reality that we’re overbuilt on debt and poorly run infrastructure – we can do better.

That’s my top 4 that ought to have something done sooner than later. I’d love to see what your top choices would be. Leave a comment or three with your thoughts, I’ll put them into a larger write up that might even be put forth to implement. Cheers and happy riding!

Meetings, Starting the Day and Trimet Bus #4

Overall, I have an odd day compared to many people. I don’t go to a specific office, nor location, but often to many different locations. I do this so that I can go to the people that I need to meet. I don’t use a car, that would make this style of life a rather unfortunate and morbid business. Not to say I haven’t experienced this lifestyle with a car, I have, and know it’s an unfortunate and morbid business because of that. In great luck and fortune I’ve been able to work my life into living and working this way. It’s a great benefit to myself and also a great benefit to those that I work with.

Today I had a number of places to go to throughout the city of Portland. One in the north eastern part of the city, one meeting in the south easy and one in downtown. Each of these meetings was business related, but also personal, for each of the people I’d be going to meet are friends. Again, one more thing to work towards in life, work and live in and around friends. It beats the hell out of working and living around mere acquaintances and enemies.

Another key to this day, each meeting was spaced perfectly. I wouldn’t need to hurry between each meeting so I could use a more relaxed and slower form of transportation. I decided it was going to be a transit only day. Usually, when there are a lot of meetings I use the fastest mode for city transportation, the bicycle. Yes, that’s right, and don’t even get me started, the bicycle is easily the fastest way to get around in any urban landscape. The automobile has to be one of the slowest (along with NYC buses). With that key bit of information ascertained I was off.

I started the day in north east Portland near Alberta street. Walking down the street on this cool brisk day my first ride was going to be the westward bound #72 Bus. The first meeting just a short 8 minute ride away at Coffee House Five at Albina and Killingsworth. The #72 is a great bus, usually arriving much more often than a freqent service bus (this by Trimet’s definition is every 15 minutes). Usually the #72, as with any non-dedicated right of way running transportation, gets bunched at times. Everything from traffic lights to people crossing the street throw a wrench in the scheduling, so the #72 is sometimes running in clumps of 5, 7 or some short variance between buses. Today was no exception. As I walked to the stop a bus drove by. But as I arrived at the stop another #72 arrived which I boarded.

Westward the bus rolled. The short distance was covered in not 8, but 7 minutes. Yes, I timed it because I tend to count everything. I strolled into Coffee House Five. Inside the regular chill crew was slinging the rounds. A cappuccino here and a macchiato there. It’s a consistent shop with a precocious vibe. Something that’s pleasant considering the onslaught of “San Francisco” vibe style coffee shops invading our Portland vibe these days. I enjoyed my cap and a standard boring bagel and cream cheese. After my meeting I walked across the street and waiting two minutes for the arrival of the south bound #4 heading into Portland.

The bus pulled up and she and I left for Portland.

Conversations Overheard

I pulled out my laptop, as I do, to write this blog entry and other material related to other things. While sitting in the raised rear seat by the back door of the bus a lady joined me. I went on with my typing and into the trip a ways she received a phone call. That phone call was rather interesting, and went something like this.


…  [the other person talking]

“Yes, funny thing, I’m on the bus and I dropped off the car to get detailed. It’s actually a lot easier to just leave the car and take the bus into town, it only takes about 15 minutes.”

… [other person asking why she even brought the car down]

“Oh, I wanted to get it detailed. But usually I drive and then just park it somewhere to come into town. No really, it’s far easier than trying to park and figure out what is close to where I’m trying to go.”

… [other person realizes, yes, that this is obviously true, then says something about coming into town]

“Yeah, since it would take only 30 minutes to get into the city just take the bus.”

… [says something about the MAX]

“Oh yeah, that would actually be faster to get there [referring to Lloyd Center] and then you can just take the MAX or bus over to the city.”

… [says farewell, thanks and something else]

“See ya later.”

Then she turns to me and asks if Couch is closer to this or the next stop. I tell her the first stop we’re coming to is pretty close by one block. She then decides to get off there.

It just strikes me interesting when people make this realization, that there is little reason to drive into downtown Portland and that it is indeed, actually a bad idea. Just go to a park and ride or otherwise and do everybody and yourself a favor, leave the car outside of downtown.

Willamette Crossing

The bus went through downtown, turned onto the southern part of the #4 route toward Gresham and left downtown via the Hawthorne Bridge. I looked south toward the new bridge construction for the transit, bike and pedestrian only bridge. It’s a gorgeous structure that will eventually be immensely useful. I can only imagine what the final through count on that bridge will be when the buses, light rail, cycle and pedestrians are rolling across it daily.

Onward up Division the bus rolled, I eventually got off near 50th, close to where my next meeting would be and decided I’d hang out at Stumptown for a few. In I went and wrapped this blog entry up…   happy transiting all, regardless of your mode; feet, hull, wheel or wing.