MAX Line Skateboarding Adventures!

Today on the way home I rode my bike down to the Tilikum and across to the eastern shore of the river. There I boarded the Orange Line MAX north. The next MAX pulled into the station shortly after my arrival and I racked my bike. I threw the lock on it since I planned to sit on the raised floor section away from my bike.

Once up on the raised floor section I sat down and pulled the laptop out to get some work done while riding. Tons of people boarded at the PSU stop and each subsequent stop, it was after 16:00 so a lot of people were heading home.

As the train approached Burnside and began to cross the driver rang the bell rapidly and started to apply brakes a bit harder than one might expect. However the driver let up quickly and a guy stood on the north street corner of Burnside with a defeated look.

I wasn’t sure what, but he was looking at the MAX intently as we continued onward past where he was standing. We missed our light into the Davis Street Station Stop so we stopped just short at Couch Street. There this same individual came quickly up to the side of the MAX and looked undernearth. He looked relieved but unsure.

The driver popped the side window and asked, “Can you safely get it?” He confirmed with a nod of his head and a verbal yes at the same time. The driver then said, “go ahead and get it.” The guy leaned down in front of the MAX.

To the side I could look over and see where he was leaning down in from the MAX. He was definitely in a position that if the MAX lurched forward he’d easily be caught, crushed, and killed. It would easily be a very painful way to die. But the driver of course held the train steady. In the mirror I could see him working something out from under the train.

Then he stood up and I saw what he had retrieved. His skateboard had slid out from under his feet and managed to land under the MAX as it had passed by on Burnside. So here he was, relieved, that it had stayed entirely intact, and just been pushed along by the lower bar in front of the wheels of the MAX.

All emergencies diverted! Onward we rolled, skateboard destruction averted!

Thoughts from Oakland on Portland, To 2015!

This last week has been a whole host of madness. I’ve tried to kick off the new year with some solid riding, which I’ve been partly successful at. I’ve also started my planning around activism and advocacy for cycling and transit in Portland. There are a number of projects, but the top three I’m aiming to put effort into are as follows:

  1. I’m working with others to begin citizen observation and video recording of traffic scofflaws. Those that ignore diverters and other traffic control devices are on watch. Think of this as a neighborhood watch but with the prospect of actually pressing charges utilizing citizen citations. Those that endanger others through their actions are officially on notice.
  2. I’m trying to figure out a way, and would love any assistance, at figuring out how the city can crowd fund and allow citizen activists to actually help maintain infrastructure amenities. All of those downtrodden bus stops, MAX stations, and other areas that seem to be in disregard – I’d like to find a way that myself and others can volunteer to help out with these amenities.
  3. I’m starting efforts to organize and sustain more regular rides, both cycling and transit rides, that will culminate in various activities that might include: bonfires, camping, hacking (coding), hardware hacking (building cool stuff that does cool things), and possibly hardware build outs (like hacking bikes and building rigs of various sorts).

No bets yet, I hope I’m successful at all three, but I’ll be happy if I can knock out #1 and one of the other two.

Other Network Building & Learning Efforts

I’m also intending to actually meet, face-to-face, a number of individuals that I’ve been aiming to meet for years in the Portland area. Hopefully if I don’t accomplish the later two of my goals above, I can help others knock out a few of their goals for the coming year in activism and advocacy.

For now, cheers, happy new year, and all that jazz.

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 →

Looking northwest to downtown Portland (click for full size image)

5 Reasons the Portland Milwaukie Light Rail Project already Rocks!

Crossing the Hawthorne on the #4 looking south toward the Marquam, Tilikum, and Ross Island Bridges.

Crossing the Hawthorne on the #4 looking south toward the Marquam, Tilikum, and Ross Island Bridges. (click the image for full size image, or the respective bridge names for their Wikipedia entry)

I left about 11:30am today to get some lunch and take care of some coding, video taking, and some exploration. I’d been meaning to get into Milwaukie to check out how the work has been going on the Portland Milwaukie Light Rail (PMLR) line. I also wanted to snap some photos and video of the area. It turned out, I was in luck. I was able to get a lot of this done along with getting a few shots and commentary put together for numerous different parts of the Portland Milwaukie Light Rail line.

So here are a few of my discoveries…

Continue reading →

Portland’s PMLR Project, Where I’m Moving (One of These Days)…

First point of context. The PMLR stands for the Portland-Milawukie Light Rail Project. The name is somewhat misleading, because it is dramatically more than merely a simple little light rail project. I’ll add more context to what exactly it is over the blog entries following this one. For now, I want to detail a particular chunk of the area where the PMLR is being built that I’ve decided I’d like to live one day.

As I’ve been traveling back and forth between southeast and downtown Portland I’ve made many trips through the inner southeast industrial area near OMSI. The Tilikum Bridge is going in just south of OMSI and a number of streetcar, light rail, road, bicycle and pedestrian amenities are being added to the area. It’s rather exciting for a future prospective resident of the area surrounding the line.

The Tilikum Bridge looking west almost a year ago.

The Tilikum Bridge looking west almost a year ago.

Currently I’m still pretty much a downtown urbanite Portlander and also have spent a few years living on the inner east side near Clinton (closer to Division for a year and closer to Powell for another year). But with the addition of the PMLR I intend to buy a house and move somewhere near the first 2-3 stops of the line on the east side of the river. At least ideally. Basically, somewhere in this area:

A simple map of the area around the PMLR where I'm intending to buy a home.

A simple map of the area around the PMLR where I’m intending to buy a home.

Here’s a map from Google Maps that shows more detail specifically where I’m looking and where some sweet spots will be in relation to the PMLR. There’s a bunch of others, but these are my picks so far.

The prospective areas I'd like to move to, rated by priority choice (at least at this time, maybe that'll change)

The prospective areas I’d like to move to, rated by priority choice (at least at this time, maybe that’ll change)

The areas that have ? marks in them have planned development, mostly towers or higher density housing stock. This could be cool, but also could be super lame, I’ve no idea nor is anything certain in that area. I’d also like to not look directly at an interstate or major highway of any sort. The further from a primary arterial and the closer I can be to people and places that depend on bicycles, transit or walking the better.

Over the next few weeks I’m going to add a lot more information about the PMLR and why it’s acting as a major impetus to actually move to the area and buy (of course, depending on a number of other things that take place in the next few years in this nation and based on the actions that this date kicked off).

Anyway, enjoy, the countdown has begun. Trimet even posted a massive countdown clock!

PMLR Countdown Site (Officially 358 days from opening!)

PMLR Countdown Site (Officially 358 days from opening!)

Proposed Additions to Trimet Service and Modifications

This last week Trimet released information regarding what bus service will look like that serves the new Portland Milwaukee Light Rail line area of operations. There are several specific bus lines that will have some added service enhancements and changes to the routes: 9, 17, 28, 31, 32, 33, 34 and 99.

Here’s a little cut of what the current routes look like and the area they cover.

Current Route Service Area. Click for full size image.

Current Route Service Area. Click for full size image.

One thing to note, is that all routes are to maintain frequency service levels. So if it is a 15 minute frequency or a 30 minute frequency, we can expect it to stay at those service levels. The differences in almost every route is an increase in net area of service, and slight alterations to the route that will make the service more reliable. Here’s a map of the proposed changes.

The Proposed Routes. Click for full size image.

The Proposed Routes. Click for full size image.

Out of all the changes there are two that will be the biggest changes of all. One I had no idea about and the other I’ve been looking forward to since initial discussions of this line many years ago.

Tilikum Bridge Changes

The Tilikum Bridge is the first transit, cycling and pedestrian only bridge in the city (probably in the United States west of the Mississippi I’d suspect, but I’d love to be corrected about that). The bridge is interconnecting many different points of transportation and hubs on both sides of the river. On the west side of the river it will connect to OHSU and the south waterfront, interconnect the streetcar, several bus routes and also connect the buses and light rail to the Lincoln Street Harbor Structure.

By funneling many of the buses onto the harbor structure and across the Tilikum Bridge Trimet will be making the bus routes dramatically more reliable and also increasing their speed into downtown. With the general frequency of each of these routes there may be some morning congestion between the MAX, #9 and #17 buses but overall the #9 and #17 will be much better off than trying to ply the streets with auto traffic across the Ross Island Bridge.

The #28 Does What?!?

The other change, which I’d not even realized was on the table, and I’ll admit complete ignorance about the route, is the #28. Honestly, I didn’t even know Trimet had a #28 route. So if anybody has any thoughts on this route I’d love to read them.

On that note, since I’m completely uninformed and have zero experience with this bus I intend to, in the coming next week or two, go and ride the bus for it’s entire current length. Likely during rush hour, but maybe in the middle of the day, I don’t know as I’ve no idea about its schedule either. So thoughts or if you’re interested in riding, let me know and we’ll take a trip together to sleuth out this route.

Trimet’s Complete List of Changes So Far

Here’s the complete list of changes so far. Trimet is still looking for input to determine the best changes and ways to serve the customers along these routes. So if you have any contention with this list or would like to see any other changes, get in touch with them at any of these meetings or communication means.

  • Line 9-Powell
    • Maintain existing frequency, days and hours of service.
    • The proposed routing change would shift the line from the Ross Island Bridge to the new Tilikum Crossing and then connect to the Downtown Portland Transit Mall.
    • Riders can transfer to the MAX Orange Line at OMSI/SE Water Ave, South Waterfront/SW Moody Ave or Lincoln St/SW 3rd Ave stations, plus all stations on the Downtown Portland Transit Mall.
  • Line 17-Holgate (no change to Broadway leg)
    • Maintain existing frequency, days and hours of service.
    • The proposed routing change would shift the line from the Ross Island Bridge to the new Tilikum Crossing and then connect to the Downtown Portland Transit Mall.
    • Riders can transfer to the new MAX Orange Line at five stations: SE 17th Ave & Holgate, SE 17th Ave & Rhine St, OMSI/SE Water Ave, South Waterfront/SW Moody Ave or Lincoln St/SW 3rd Ave stations, plus all stations on the Downtown Portland Transit Mall.
  • Line 28-Linwood
    • Maintain existing days and hours of service (weekdays about 6 a.m. to 7:30 p.m.).
    • Increase frequency from about every 70 minutes to about every 35 minutes.
    • New route into Downtown Milwaukie via Linwood Avenue, Johnson Creek Boulevard, Tacoma Street, and Main Street (including service to Milwaukie Park & Ride); continue south from SE Jackson Street as Line 34.
    • Riders can transfer to the new MAX Orange Line at SE Tacoma St/Johnson Creek or Milwaukie/Main St stations.
  • Line 31-King Rd
    • Maintain existing frequency, days and hours of service.
    • Maintain existing route to Downtown Milwaukie, where route would turn around.
    • Riders can transfer to the MAX Orange Line at Milwaukie/Main St Station (about a five-block walk from SE Jackson Street).
  • Line 32-Oatfield
    • Maintain existing frequency, days and hours of service.
    • Maintain existing route to Downtown Milwaukie, where route would turn around.
    • Riders can transfer to the MAX Orange Line at Milwaukie/Main St Station.
  • Line 33-McLoughlin
    • Maintain existing frequency, days and hours of service.
    • Maintain existing route to Downtown Milwaukie, where route would turn around.
    • Riders can transfer to the MAX Orange Line at SE Park Ave and Milwaukie/Main St stations.
  • Line 34-River Rd
    • Maintain existing days and hours of service (about 6 a.m. to 7:30 p.m.).
    • Increase frequency from about every 70 minutes to about every 35 minutes.
    • The routing between Oregon City to Downtown Milwaukie remains the same, and the line continues service north from SE Jackson Street as Line 28-Linwood. Line 28 would serve the Milwaukie Park & Ride, SE Tacoma/Johnson Creek Park & Ride and Clackamas Town Center.
    • Riders can transfer to the new MAX Orange Line at Milwaukie/Main St Station or at SE Tacoma St/Johnson Creek Station via Line 28.
  • Line 99-McLoughlin Express
    • Maintain existing frequency for the weekday rush-hour only service.
    • The proposal would add service from Downtown to the south during the morning commute and from the south to Downtown during the afternoon commute. Service in both directions during weekday rush hour runs between about 5:30 a.m. until 8:45 a.m. and 3 p.m. until 7 p.m.
    • New route into Downtown Portland via Sellwood Bridge with limited stops on Tacoma Street, Macadam Boulevard and Corbett Street to existing route on the Downtown Portland Transit Mall. The route change would occur when the Sellwood Bridge is open to bus traffic. In the meantime, interim routing is being reviewed.
    • Transfer to MAX Orange Line at SE Park Ave, Milwaukie/Main St or SE Tacoma St/Johnson Creek stations, plus stations on the Downtown Portland Transit Mall.

Over the next few weeks I’ll be looking into these routes more and will have a few opinions and thoughts about it. Overall, this route, the bus changes, the amenity additions along the entire route and more are the biggest win for the Portland area in a number of years.