Friday, February 27, 2009


Yes, you generally can't use capital funds for operational costs, and

BUT...TriMet took funds from reserves (which can be used for anything)
that were generally supposed to be used for bus capital costs, put
them to MAX (Red and Yellow Lines) as part of the local match. Thus
the reserves dipped below what they needed to be and ta da, we have
funding crisis.

Further, TriMet sure has no shortage of money to spend on things like
property acquisition for transit oriented development (in which there
were several publicized cases where TriMet sold the property at less
than what they purchased it for - who paid the difference?), the
non-TriMet Portland Streetcar, maintaining a little known trolley
track in southwest Portland, and of course the $50 million shortfall
on WES. Where did that money come from - TriMet doesn't own a
printing press.

Unfortunately, TriMet figures it's easiest to affect the bus riders.
You can't affect WES because there isn't much to cut. You can't
affect MAX because...well...I'm not quite sure. Apparently there is
some contract regarding the Streetcar (which I'd break in a second).
And God forbid Fred Hansen institute management pay cuts. So that
leaves the bus system.

You're right - cut a few buses here and there, no one will get riled
up enough. That's the problem and in Portland in general. There is a
very, very small minority of folks - I'd say about 20% of the
population - that is "involved". They're the ones that are at City
Hall and get riled up; they're the ones that are consistent voters,
you know who they are.

Then there's about 40% that just simply vote like lemmings. They
really don't care either way.

The final 40% is so disenchanted with things, that they give up. I
honestly think bus riders, along with residents of East Portland, much
of the middle class...they call in that 40%. They know that they
don't make a difference. Nobody cares about them because they do not
singly carry any impact. The middle class does not bankroll political
campaigns. They don't build massive developments. They don't eat at
spendy, trendy restaurants.

I would have been at the TriMet meeting yesterday at the Portland
Building if I didn't have other commitments with my family. It's the
only one I would have been reasonably able to attend. TriMet's Board
Meetings are simply impossible for me to attend (else you bet I'd be
there every month) - I have a job and I can't take time off of my job
to pester TriMet about its problems. And despite my calls for Fred
Hansen to ride my bus with me - he doesn't give a damn. He doesn't
have to. I can't recall him or the Board, and surely nobody is going
to hold the Governor accountable for TriMet.

What we do know is that TriMet is a political machine; it acts only
upon political motivation and not the will or the need of the people.
The saying "Of the people, by the people and for the people" just
does not apply at TriMet. Its service is politically motivated and
not people motivated. Its government is not "of the people", it's of
folks politically connected to the Governor. I guess it might be "of"
the people, since I'm pretty sure you have to have legal residency to
work for TriMet and they do hire a lot of people off the street
(Operators, namely)...but I'm sure that besides Operators and
maintenance that most of the positions require you to know someone.

It's just wrong.

Thursday, February 26, 2009


--- In, "Jason McHuff" wrote:
> --- In, "Erik Halstead"
> wrote:
> >
> > But TriMet can, and should, be making investments such as better bus
> > stops and other amenities
> They are on TV Highway:

OK, where are bus stop improvement maps? Where are plans for the new
bus stops? What about pictures of the new bus stops and Transit
Tracker plans?

Here's an example of what TriMet does for non-bus projects:

Wednesday, February 25, 2009


There's a difference between "express bus" and "bus rapid transit".

An express bus is...well...a bus that operates on an express schedule,
frequently routed on streets/highways that have little congestion or
at least higher speeds. Frequently will travel on freeways. But does
not have a dedicated guideway, bus stops are generally ordinary bus
stops (often might more frequently have shelters or other amenities,
because they generally only stop at major transfer points or
park-and-rides or other large traffic generators). TriMet's 92, 94,
96 and 99 are examples of express buses, although only the 94 and 99
are "true" expresses, while the 92 and 96 operate express only on a
portion of their route (i.e. 92 east of Progress P&R, 96 on I-5
between Riverplace and Tualatin P&R).

"Bus Rapid Transit" is in a simplistic view, "light rail on rubber
wheels". It uses equipment that is often styled differently, has
multiple entrance/exit doors (sometimes on both sides of the vehicle),
has dedicated bus stops that are more similar to a light rail stop
than a bus stop, often (but not always) has off-board ticketing, and
has stop spacing that is more akin to light rail (1/2 mile to a mile
apart) than a bus (often as little as two blocks or 500 feet apart).
The nearest example of a BRT line is Eugene's EmX.

A subtype of Bus Rapid Transit is called "BRT-Lite", which has most
everything of BRT but generally doesn't operate on a separate
guideway, it operates in mixed traffic with treatment (i.e. frequent
bus-only lanes, queue-jumper traffic signals). It's intended
generally to supplement local bus service but provide a faster way for
longer trips; at lower cost. The best example is LACMTA's "Metro
Rapid" service - the red buses.

I am entirely in agreement, we need to look at a wide range of
services. Light rail has its place, no doubt. But we can't rely 100%
on light rail as our sole transit investment goal. Portland does not
exist in a linear form, and buses are an important part of our mix
both to connect with MAX, and to provide service where it is not
cost-effective to build MAX, or simply where we don't have the funds
to build MAX yet. Making the assuming that buses are only a "feeder"
role ignores that many of TriMet's successful routes - many of which
are designated "Frequent Service" aren't feeders but are truly
regional routes. The 12 which serves two counties and nine cities.
The 57 which serves four cities. The 33 which also runs through two
counties and four cities (plus a substantial unincorporated area).
The 72 which surrounds Portland, plus serves a portion of Clackamas
County. Lines like the 4, 9, 14, 15, 17, 19, 20, 44. These aren't
feeder routes, these are nearly as important as MAX, and serve some of
Portland's historic "transit-oriented" neighborhoods that MAX will
never come close to.

Monday, February 23, 2009


What do you want me to prove? You have proven that King County
Metro's ridership is about that of all of TriMet's. I have claimed
that Metro's transit ridership increases have been greater than TriMet's.

Here's the proof for that:

2008 ridership increase 7%:

2007 ridership increase (largest in the nation):\



As you already found out, TriMet couldn't claim a ridership increase
in 2005-2007, when bus ridership dropped. With MAX ridership,
TriMet's numbers were a paltry 1-2% at most until 2008.


Denver RTD Rail Operations Supervisor Vehicle:

King County Metro supervisors vehicles:

(these vans are leading a funeral procession for a Transit Operator
killed in the line of duty)

Sacramento Municipal Fire Department supervisor vehicle:

Toronto Transit Commission supervisor vehicle:

Mississauga, Ontario transit enforcement (supervisor/fare
inspector/police?) vehicle:


1. I see no reason why TriMet is bothering with hybrid vehicles,
since apparently hybrid buses (popular with EVERY major transit agency
EXCEPT TriMet) aren't worth their cost. So that's $5,000 per vehicle
wasted (for the Escape). It is not as though TriMet can claim a tax
credit for the purchase, either (as it's already tax exempt).

2. I see no reason why TriMet is buying other than very, very basic
transportation, IF new vehicles HAD to be purchased. Most other
transit agencies use minivans (so that they can be used to shuttle
passengers in an emergency!) TriMet seems to need to have these big
gas guzzling all-wheel drive vehicles...not sure why. If a bus can't
get over the road, a Supervisor doesn't need to either. And since
last winter, TriMet just shut everything down...another reason that
all wheel drive supervisor vehicles are unnecessary.

Here's my recommended supervisor vehicles (all proudly made in the
United States):
(or )

I would have recommended the Ford Fusion, but it is made in Mexico.

Purchasing SUVs is hypocritical at best, and buying them while cutting
back on revenue services...