Is TriMet Failing? Could Transit Improve in Portland? Let me know!

I’m just curious where my readers stand. If you could take a few minutes to fill this out and hit submit I’d greatly appreciate it. Also I made the email address empty, but it is just going to me, I’m not selling any of your information and many of you know me. So don’t be alarmed – it would make it easier for me if you did enter your email.

After a week or two I’ll post all of my answers also. Last thing, if you’re from Seattle, Vancouver WA or wherever feel free to fill this out if you keep up with Portland politics. I know some of you do. 😉

Learning From Each Other

Trimet, which considering comparative performance, does a great job comparative to King County Metro on a cost basis. Crazy you say, crazy not I say. They carry less per capita in their city core (i.e. the city itself, not the metropolitan area) than Trimet does, yet Metro does so at almost 2x the price per passenger as Trimet. Even though I think there isn’t much Trimet should imitate from Metro, there are two things I absolutely think they should invest in. These two things, would be easy investments since our neighbor Seattle has so much experience with them and has done most of the research and data gathering around it already.

  1. The first one is easy. Let’s get trolley buses back. Trimet’s diesel buses are nasty, especially those older buses. The older buses, based on what information I’ve been able to gather are dirtier than people riding in a bunch of huge SUVs. They’re barely worth running from an environmental pollution perspective. We need to toss those puppies in the recycling bin and get on board with the some trolley buses. If we’re really serious we’ll get trolley buses that can serve in my second suggestions…
  2. 60 ft BRT buses and some BRT routes to go with those buses! I love the light rail and over time the light rail will save the city a huge sum of money over BRT. But right now we need increased capabilities on the #72, the #9, and many other routes. Matter of fact, let’s toss WES and replace it with a nice clean BRT that can be bumped up to serious rail service – ya know – when Portland is like 4 million people. (whenever that happens)

These two things I know have been on the table and off the table, and overall Trimet has done alright. But they really need to start looking at some of these options. Once the city has a complete north, south, east, and western build out of light rail it is time to build up those rail lines even more by interconnecting them with BRT routes. Then the BRT routes can be shifted over the years as the BRT routes are bumped up to LRT or such. But for now, let’s get some serious frequency and capacity along the core routes of the city and build out those areas even more.

Anyway, that’s my 2 cents. I’m not going to complain like some of the light rail haters do and bus lovers gushing over buses do, but overall, Trimet should put a little emphasis on the services around the light rail.

A Salem Commute, TriMet Almost Messes it Up and a Video of the Trip

Arriving in Tualatin.

Arriving in Tualatin.

Today started at 4:30am for me. I had some business meetings to attend in Salem, Oregon. This seemed like a good opportunity to take a trip to Salem with my girl Kristen. This commute would have us following this trip:

  1. Walk 6 blocks to the MAX Galleria transit stop (check out TriMet’s Map).
  2. Depart on 5:16am MAX to Beaverton Transit Center.
  3. Arrive and depart on the WES to Wilsonville, Oregon.
  4. Then take the Cherriots 1x to Salem, Oregon.

A relatively simple trip really, except for the 3 transfers and a theoretical 21 minute transfer wait to the WES. That’s kind of a bummer. However, what really caused stress is we ended up with zero transfer time. Cuz ya see, the frikkin’ 5:16am west bound MAX NEVER ARRIVED! That meant standing there on pins and needles hoping to catch the next MAX, which at that hour doesn’t come for…  drum roll please… 21 minutes!  Yeah, exactly 21 minutes, which would mean if everything departs on time then the transfer to the WES couldn’t occur, which meant the Cherriots transfer wouldn’t occur, which would mean I’d either be 30-60 minutes late.

WES Train o' The Day

WES Train o’ The Day

But as the trip started, amazingly, we caught that next MAX which was precisely on time 21 minutes later. Amazingly, the WES had not departed when we arrived in Beaverton TC. I guess, TriMet had managed to delay the train? Maybe the conductor or engineer on the train had held knowing familiar faces weren’t aboard. It is totally possibly since the WES crew generally tends to roll that way – they’re good with the passengers.

Either way, I’ve arrived, Kristen is off to work, and I made this silly video with happy goofy travel music (cuz it is canned, and it is a pain to find music that isn’t copyrighted on the Internet).  Next time I might add some of my own custom music, a little shredding for the soul always kicks a trip into overdrive.


Surly Cross Check

As one may know that reads my blog. I bike, a lot. Even by Portland standards I ride regularly. By the regular lazy American’s standards I probably seem obsessed. Well today I just stepped up the ante again. I purchased a Surly Cross Check from Clever Cycles on Hawthorne here in Portland. Great shop, great service. My Giant will become my “secondary” and “loaner” bike when riding with people in from out of town.

Surly Cross Check in Black

Surly Cross Check in Black

So the Surly Cross Check has some awesome Portland features. What do I mean by Portland Features? Read on and I’ll explain.

1. First off, the bike is a great road bike. With 100% Surly proprietary 4130 CroMoly tubing. TIG welded. Double butted main triangle it’s a brutally strong bike. It’s got more in common with my Redline freestyle bike than my other bikes. But that’s a good thing, ya see, I’m not a soft rider. I ride hard, brutally hard sometimes, and sometimes have a tendency to break really strong bikes. That’s one of the first things I’m stoked about, strength is important.

2. The bike fits (and this is one of those Portland Features) on the bike racks on Trimet Buses really well, and easily comes on and off with a single hand. I don’t have to balance it or hold the bike with both hands, making the movement to hook the front wheel much easier.

3. The bike is much lighter than my current main bike. Making it even easier to mount on a rack on the MAX or mount on the WES racks. Another Portland Feature! This of course also makes it easy to mount up on the racks on the LINK in Seattle and other cities like San Francisco, Los Angeles, etc.

4. The bike rides with much less resistance than my current ride. It also has a multi-positional handelbar setup. The setup includes the Cane Creek 40, Salsa Bell Lap, Tektro Cantilever Brakes connected to Tektro Brak Levers. Topping all this off with Shimano SL-BS77s. This makes riding for hours or days possible, without me ending up a bent mess of a human being!

So I’m setup, ready for a long ride. I think I might pull off one of those tonight. Anybody in Portland up for a few dozen miles?  🙂


Measuring Things…



Other interesting facts are the distance people travelled (shorter is generally better for a more sustainable environment and activities), the energy consumed or expended per passenger, etc. Some of these are hard to find, some are a little easier. King County and TriMet do a decent job providing this data, mostly. TriMet has a vastly easier website to find data on vs. King County’s, which seems to have been forced to use the “how not to build a website book”. I’m sure some bureaucrat had some say in the misguided approach, but the data is there, ya just gotta dig for it.  🙂