The Policy Folly of Park and Rides

Over at Human Transit, Jarrett has an excellent post detailing why dedicated park & ride facilities (as opposed to shared use of existing parking lots that have another principal function – like church lots) make no sense from either a transportation or land use point of view, especially when there is no charge for parking. We see this absurdity locally, with TriMet charging for card-lock cage bike parking, but allowing autos free parking. (My beef is NOT with charging for bikes, it’s with the free auto parking!)

Historically I think we owe this pattern of development to a degree to the Federal Transit Administration. They used to grade New Starts applications on a metric called TSUB (Transportation System User Benefit) which was essentially a score for how many people you move how far, how quickly. In that formula, boarding a lot of riders from park & rides probably gave you a boost in a score, at least in the early years of operation of your corridor (before TOD built out).

22 Comments

What Makes a Friendly Street?

PSU Transportation Seminar:

Impact of Route-Level Features on Decisions to Walk or Bike

Speaker: Joseph Broach, Portland State University
Topic: Impact of Route-Level Features on Decisions to Walk or Bike
When: Friday, October 31, 2014, 12-1 pm
Where: PSU Urban Center Building, SW 6th and Mill, Room 204

Summary: Some travel routes attract people walking and cycling, while others may scare them away. What features of street environments are most important, and how do available routes affect decisions to bike or walk on a specific trip?

Research to date has focused on either large-scale areal measures like “miles of bike lane nearby” or else has considered only shortest path routes. Neither method is suited to capturing the impact of targeted route-level policies like neighborhood greenways. This session will present a new technique for measuring bike and walk accessibility along the most likely route for a given trip. The method is applied to travel data, and results provide new insight into the relationship between route quality and travel mode choice.

2 Comments

Updated 4X: WE HAVE A DEAL! TriMet, ATU 757 ratify contract agreement

Breaking news:  ATU Local 757 has ratified the tentative contract agreement; TriMet’s operators are now operating under a contract (excluding those retroactively imposed by OLRB) for the first time in, seemingly, forever.  The deal is retroactive to November 2012, and expires in November 2016.  The deal will produce savings for the agency of $50M compared to the current collective bargaining agreement; don’t know how it compares to TriMet’s earlier proposals.


 

 

 

 

Terms of the deal have not been announced, but multiple sources are reporting that a tentative deal between TriMet and it’s operators’ union, the Amalgamated Transit Union Local 757, has been struck.

I have not seen any official release or announcement from the ATU; will update this post if I find one.

Terms of the deal, which must be approved by both the TriMet board and the ATU rank and file, have not been disclosed.

After years of acrimony, and bickering over pointless things (on both sides), it’s nice to see a deal struck rather than imposed in arbitration (assuming this gets ratified).  Better employee relations make for better service, if nothing else.

Update:  A statement from the ATU, posted on the “Transit Voice” Facebook account:

TriMet and the Amalgamated Transit Union, Local 757 have reached a tentative labor agreement on a new contract. The parties reached this agreement after 45 sessions with the assistance of State Conciliator Janet Gillman. The agreement sets the terms of a new Collective Bargaining Agreement for four years through November 30, 2016. Additionally it resolves two cases pending before the State Court of Appeals as well as cases pending at the State Employment Relations Board. The agreement is subject to ratification by both the TriMet Board of Directors and the membership of the ATU. The parties bargaining teams will be recommending the details of this agreement soon with their Board and membership.

Update 2:  Someone ATU President Bruce Hansen  appears to have postedleaked the contract terms to a Twitter account.

Update 3:  The authenticity of the Twitter account @BruceHansen11 appears to be in question; indeed, given that the terms of the contract are supposed to be confidential, a leak from ATU management would be unlikely.  A certain former bus driver (and former PT contributor) is not happy with the deal, and appears to believed that the leaked terms are genuine.

2 Comments

Rethinking I-205 MAX service

An occasional Portland Transport commenter and longtime reader, Nick Schillaci is a world traveler, who has been a foreigner on transit on every continent. He holds a humble BS in Planning and Public Policy from a little-known University of Oregon program, and has been a TriMet rider for decades.

I greatly enjoy both Red and Green lines, and I don’t think we need any radical Green or Red line changes. I would never propose something as radical as to operate both Red and Green trains as the same line all the time. But could service be boosted from blending the Red and Green line trains? There is a lot of color-changing between Red, Blue, and Green lines in the evening, so simplification, frequency, cost savings, consistency, and mobility all come in to play.

Each weekday, between 8pm and midnight, there are 29 trains between Gateway TC and downtown (Blue, Red, and Green). This means there are about 6-7 trains per hour, or an average of about every 8-10 minutes. The Blue line alone operates at frequent service intervals until past 9pm, while the Red and Green lines operate less frequently. The Red line, in fact, ends service among the earliest of all MAX lines, with its last departure from PDX at just around 11:45pm when there are still about 15-20 arrivals at PDX (I’m counting some close calls, so maybe you need 45 -60 minutes to get off the plane, grab bags, and catch the last train comfortably, if it’s on time).

graph2

Extremely high inbound late night frequency aside, notice the redundancy and gaps. Trains at 10:23, 10:30, and 10:33, and then no trains until 10:58. Three trains in ten minutes, then none for 25 minutes.

Blue lines continue just about every thirty minutes through the end of their service, and Green lines, on the other hand, stutter to a halt (most continue east as Blue lines and terminate at Ruby Junction). Green line trains also stop operating relatively early. The Yellow line, for example, has a PSU departure an hour later than the last Green line. So given that very little service would be lost along Green and Red lines due to redundancy and service span of interlining routes, here’s what I’m getting at: evening-only service between PDX and CTCTC. The switches appear to all be there at Gateway for the trains to do such a thing. If you’d like to call it something more unique, why not call it the Purple line.

picture12

Because travel time between Gateway and Beaverton on the Red line takes a whopping 47 minutes (thank you downtown Portland) and travel time on the Green line between Gateway and PSU takes 25 minutes, over an hour and ten minutes is saved for each pair Red and Green lines that don’t continue past Gateway. Of course, this number doubles when they don’t return for a savings of 140 minutes (not counting layovers).

This all matters, because trains operating from Gateway to Downtown and beyond are all redundant service over the Blue and Yellow lines (and eventually Orange). How many riders would be turned off from a possible transfer to downtown? Some riders from the airport already may have to transfer (to go east or south from Gateway, East to Gresham, or beyond Beaverton).

With the time saved, a couple more Blue lines could be added at night to make up for the lack of Red lines continuing (especially since the Red departs Gateway later than the last Blue currently). This plan could also effectively boost Red and Green line service later in the night, with more frequency (a round trip between Clackamas and Airport would take about one hour). With the addition of the Orange line operating as a redundant Portland Mall line, no service needs to be lost through downtown either.

 

49 Comments

Making BRT faster

No, I’m not talking about travel speeds.  As Portland currently has no BRT, there’s nothing to make faster (other than existing local bus service, over which any decent BRT would be an improvement).

Instead, I’m talking about rolling out BRT faster.

Right now, Portland has two BRT (or potential BRT) projects that have advanced passed the line-on-a-map-in-a-planning-document phase:  The Southwest Corridor, and the Powell/Division project.  (There’s also the Fourth Plain BRT in Vancouver, being planned and built by C-TRAN).

A few other ideas have been discussed in significant detail; probably the most prominent of these a proposed BRT line along TV Highway between Beaverton and Forest Grove (or at least Hillsboro).  TV Highway has been the subject of a corridor study  which included BRT as a recommendation (and it’s been on numerous planning maps since), but there is no project to actually build out BRT in the 57 corridor.

Powell/Division’s project timeline calls for it to begin service in 2020.  A firm timeline for the SWC doesn’t exist yet–the start of the DEIS phase has been delayed–but given the scope of the project, we’re looking probably at a decade or more before service opens.  Major capital projects, particularly those that seek Federal funding, simply have long lead times.

But Portland transit riders can benefit from improved bus service today.  (Improved rail service as well, but this article is focused on the bus system).

There’s probably not much to be done about big capital projects–the politics and red tape involved is not likely to go away.  But are there ways to bring BRT on board without large capital outlays?

Some thoughts, after the jump.

Continue Reading →

18 Comments