Wednesday, March 17, 2010


Posted by SP Red Electric
March 17, 2010, 8:00PM

Passadore gave Hansen "an A-plus."

An A-Plus? Really? Let's see:

1. Total dismantling of "Frequent Service" bus service, with all major bus routes operating at 17-20 minute headways during peak hours. (Most major transit systems consider "Frequent Service" to be 12 minutes or better.)

2. Operation of the oldest bus fleet of major transit systems, with one of the most unreliable, and least fuel efficient systems. Hansen has steadfastly refused to purchase hybrid-electric buses, despite their popularity with major transit systems such as New York's MTA, Los Angeles' MTA, and even Seattle's King County Metro. Hansen's shining achievement was the "NASCAR-inspired" electric cooling fan array, a system that few transit agencies have opted to purchase.

3. A total lack of investment in the bus system, bus stops - very few bus routes were started on Hansen's watch (the last major bus service upgrade occurred in 1998, and was planned by Hansen's predecessor). Hansen cut numerous bus routes and required bus riders to abandon TriMet, or forced multiple transfers onto pet light rail routes.

4. Failure to follow the annual Transit Investment Plan. Hansen failed to deliver on promised bus service upgrades, including new and more frequent routes in Clackamas, Forest Grove, Tigard and Tualatin.

5. During the fuel oil crisis of the mid-2000s, most transit agencies recorded double-digit ridership growth. TriMet, on the other hand, recorded virtually flat ridership - and a decline in bus ridership, for three consecutive years.

6. TriMet's fares went up from $1.35 to $2.30 in the ten years - a 60% increase. Inflation during the same time period? Less than 28%. TriMet's fares increased faster than most everything else.

7. Much of the growth in MAX came from huge park-and-ride lots and garages, not intermodal connections to/from local bus services. TOD has not taken off as it frequently promoted; numerous tracts of land near MAX stations remain undeveloped to this day. The Red Line was supposed to serve a huge mixed-use development at Cascade Station; we got another strip mall anchored by the Swedish Wal-Mart: IKEA. The Green Line has virtually ZERO TOD opportunities; neither does WES.

8. WES was a failure, plain and simple. You cannot blame the economy; it was a political porkbarrel project that even the most optimistic federal transit planners failed to approve of. Today, the cost of WES is seven times that of the dreaded, expensive to run bus that Hansen so frequently decries.

9. TriMet has one of the most archaic fare systems. WES and many MAX machines won't allow you to pay with cash; you can't use a credit/debit card on buses. Most major transit agencies have advanced stored value cards that are easily refillable and popular with even occasional riders; TriMet eschews them. To this day, there is still no accurate way to count ridership because the bus fare boxes can't even keep track of what kinds of fares were purchased, just the total of money stuffed inside it.

10. TriMet refuses to purchase high capacity buses, and match bus capacity with ridership. Buses (even in our horrible economy) continue to pass up willing riders because the buses are at crush load; while other transit systems have made investments in articulated or double-deck buses (which have proven to be extraordinarily popular with riders).

I could go on...but I'd sure like to know: What did Hansen do? He built a bunch of MAX lines (at the expense of bus service). He stuck his nose in Vancouver politics. He jetted off to exotic destinations on the taxpayer's dime. He earns more than every comparable transit General Manager, yet manages a much smaller operation and is largely a "hands-off" manager. He openly shows his disdain for the public and TriMet's riders. He was M.I.A. during every TriMet meltdown, allowing TriMet to all but shut down in poor weather - just as many Portlanders actually begged for TriMet to show them a better way to travel.

If Passadore feels Hansen deserves an A-Plus for his work...I should be a tenured Doctorate for just paying my fare 100% of the time, riding TriMet's busiest bus routes (thus requiring little if any subsidy from TriMet), rarely using Park & Ride lots... Maybe it's time for Passadore to retire as well, require that all Board Members be elected from the public, and turn TriMet into a customer-focused organization, not an organization designed to just provide cushy political jobs to insiders and donors to the Governor's race. When the DMV and the TSA provide better service...something is seriously wrong........