Neil McFarlane: "TriMet General Manager Neil McFarlane says the agency should not be forced to choose between bus and rail service."
The problem is that TriMet HAS chosen rail service over bus service, that much is a clear cut fact. So if he claims we need a balanced system, we need to restore that balance. That may very well mean putting off rail investments for a few years.
Regardless...TriMet has consistently failed to explain why it is failing to take advantage of the various federal grant programs that will pay 80% of the cost of a new transit bus, and is readily available to Portland and other large transit systems.
I personally believe TriMet is using this ballot measure not necessarily to fund new buses...but as a proxy measure to judge whether the public supports the bus system or not. If the public votes no on this measure, TriMet will see it as valid justification to continue investing in a rail transit system while ignoring the bus system. When...in reality this measure exists only because of prior mismanagement by TriMet of its finances, by using money that was supposed to be used for bus replacements and shunting it over to expanding the light rail system as well as WES.
TriMet refused to use Stimulus dollars for the bus system, but heavily poured on the federal trough to the MAX system with numerous improvements.
And TriMet could easily find internal cost savings that would easily pay for new buses as well as restore service cuts...but refuses to. Why is TriMet spending money on the City of Portland Streetcar? Why is TriMet spending money on the Columbia River Crossing project? Why did TriMet spend money on the I-205 Bike Path?
And how can TriMet claim that rail is "cheaper to operate", when WES costs between 7-12 times (that's 700%-1200%) more than a bus to run - a WES train sits idle for 36 minutes out of every 90 minutes of "revenue service"...yet TriMet has to pay TWO crew members for those 36 minutes of time that the train sits still doing nothing. Meanwhile, bus Operators have been forced to work long (and potentially dangerous) runs without the benefit of a break every two hours, and often are forced to take their breaks at odd places (like...the corner of 82nd and Sandy?)