September 20, 2006
Attitude in Washington County
There's a new report available about attitudes toward transportation in Washington County (PDF, 669K), based on data collected from 403 interviews this spring.
There are a number of interesting tidbits in this report:
- Transportation issues are top-of-mind for two-thirds of respondents. Education was second at 34%.
- The system is better than it was ten years ago, but roads are under-funded.
- The average commute among respondents is 12.6 miles [contrast this to a regional average of 7 miles, as quoted by Rex Burkholder] and longer commutes breed dissatisfaction.
- Hillsboro has the highest MAX usage, at 22%.
- More people walk to work (12%, at least part way), than bike (6% at least once a week).
- Efficient use of tax dollars is an important value.
- Residents are split down the middle on mass transit spending: 49% oppose it and 47% favor it.
- System Development Charges are the most commonly mentioned source for funding transportation.
That's an interesting puzzle to figure out!
September 20, 2006 12:32 PM
Ross Williams Says:
It pays to read more than the executive summary.
1) The question they were responding to was:
In the next 15 years, the population of Washington County is expected to increase by more than 200,000 people. What do you believe are the one or two most important challenges facing the residents of Washington County because of this growth?
Traffic congestion was mentioned by 36% compared to education's 34%. The other transportation concerns was maintenance and repair of roads and transportation/infrastructure. They lumped these together into a single category.
Its not clear whether the designation "transportation/infrastructure" means all mentions of "infrastructure" were included in transportation or that they specifically mentioned "transportation infrastructure". Since there is no other mention of infrastructure, I suspect all general mentions of infrastructure were lumped in with transportation.
There was also this tidbit:
"Nearly 8 in 10 (78%) respondents say they own their own home and just 20% rent. While this is higher than the 2000 U.S. Census estimate of a 61% homeownership rate in Washington County, this is consistent with other research we have done in the County."
This seems like a fairly substantial variation. Essentially there were half as many non-homeowners in the sample compared to the actual census. Perhaps someone more familiar with the census data and these kinds of studies can explain why this is treated as a non-issue?
the longer a person’s commute time, the lower the performance ratings given to the County’s transportation system. Among the 20 respondents who give the lowest average ratings to the County, the average commute distance is 18.3 miles (the highest of any segment), whereas those who give the County high performance ratings spend much less time on the road (average commute of 9.2
I don't understand the conflation of time and distance. Distance is a poor stand-in for time and yet the author of the study uses them interchangeably. It becomes even more problematic when you realize that commute distances are longer in the rural, less congested, parts of the county.
Residents are split down the middle on mass transit spending: 49% oppose it and 47% favor it.
The actual question was whether they agreed or disagreed with the following statement:
"If I had to choose between spending money to expand major roadways and spending money to
improve mass transit, I would spend the money to improve mass transit."
Strongly disagree 28%
Somewhat disagree 21%
Somewhat agree 16%
Strongly agree 31%
This is quite different than whether people support "mass transit spending", the question is whether they prefer mass transit spending to widening roads if forced to choose. And the difference is well within the margin of error.
And remember, this survey has half the proportion of renters the census bureau says live in Washington County. The survey found renters far more likely to use mass transit, including buses.
September 20, 2006 2:17 PM
nice work there. hey, since i am lazy, could you suss out this 22% rate of Max usage from hillsboro. it would suprise me if it was that high. especially with the home owner bias in the study.
September 20, 2006 2:27 PM
No wonder support for mass transit may be lukewarm
here: the bus system in Wash. County is not
really designed to serve the people of the county; it is designed to serve an agenda.
As they say, you reap what you sow.
September 20, 2006 3:46 PM
Terry Parker Says:
"No wonder support for mass transit may be lukewarm here: the bus system in Wash. County is not really designed to serve the people of the county; it is designed to serve an agenda."
The agenda is downtown Portland. The fact is that TriMet is not a truly regional transit system. The basic design is a spoke system radiating into downtown Portland in the same manner as the original interstate freeways were designed for a benefit/subsidy to downtown Portland. For instance, take a look at light rail. Every single Max train goes through downtown. If Portland had a truly regional transit system, Max trains would go directly between the Gresham and the Expo Center, there would be an Eastside Max by pass connector on the planning table as part of the proposed Milwaukie Max, and there would be express East-West bus routes bypassing downtown that would actually be faster than the light rail crawl through the streets of downtown. What Portland and the tri-county area have is a “to and from” downtown based transit system, with a few other transit routes thrown in for good measure and to make the system appear truly regional.
September 20, 2006 4:40 PM
Paul Edgar Says:
This is an excellent study and report. I read it completely through and Yes, Ross there is a lot more in the detail for most all to read who care about transportation.
Washingtion County has received significant dollars and attention when you include all of the westside highway 26 investments and the dollars and infrastructure associated with the westside MAX over the last 20-years.
They have received these transportation investments at a significant higher level then lets say Clackamas County and maybe Multnomah County.
Why I say this is important because these investment and this sways the thinking of many who see results on both roads/highways and mass-transit investments.
This same study done in Clackamas or Multnomah County could bring significantly different results.
Quality employement opportunities in Washington County are wonderful and reachable by most all modes. Shopping is equally easier to do and can be also reach by most all modes in Washington County.
Businesses are and have been moving out to Washington County from Portland to be close to the workers.
There are 3-business friendly counties that want to help solve Portland's and Multnomah County's transportation problems; Clark, Clackamas, and Washington Counties.
Just the fact that Washington County did this study is excellent. I just wish the sampling would have been bigger.
September 20, 2006 5:36 PM
i really dont see how a survey that is biased against renters that STILL turns up a 22% usage of max could be considered evidence of a LUKEWARM response to public transport. thats a huge number.
its still a very new system, and there is still a lot of MAX integrated development in the works, so the number will grow. which ultimately means that those who choose to drive will have fewer and fewer cars to face off with during the commute.
not sure who this doesn't benefit...
September 20, 2006 5:38 PM
Ross Williams Says:
They have received these transportation investments at a significant higher level then lets say Clackamas County
I'm not sure that is true on a per capita basis. There have been a fair number of investments in Clackamas County. But Clackamas county has not been willing to tax itself to pay for road improvements in the same way Washington County has over the past 20 years.
could you suss out this 22% rate of Max usage from hillsboro. it would suprise me if it was that high. especially with the home owner bias in the study.
There is nothing obvious. But the rate of Max use among young people is very high. I don't know the demographics, but it would not surprise me if there are more renters, low income folks and younger workers living in Hillsboro. All of those will spike transit use. Obviously the presence of several Max stops makes using the Max in Hillsboro relatively easy even for short commutes within town.
September 20, 2006 8:48 PM
Jason McHuff Says:
I would not say that the Wash. Co. transit system is designed to serve Portland. This is especially true since MAX service started and replaced buses like the old 58 & 88 that did not serve any points between Shute Rd or 158th and Portland. MAX, on the other hand, makes a decent amount of stops along most of the route, meaning someone who wants to go only part way in can do so. Overall, it is easy to get between, say, places on 185th Ave and Cornell or TV Hwy.
Also, I agree that the slowness in downtown is a weakness of MAX. I would prefer it to be in a tunnel specifically to help Wash. Co.-eastside riders. And I think it is fair to have people who are not going in the primary direction (which is to/from downtown) to transfer.
September 20, 2006 10:08 PM
Jason McHuff Says:
After reading the report, I must also say that I was suprised when I saw that only 28% of WA Co. residents think TriMet is resonsible for mass transit (pages 36-37). I can understand if people don't know if their rental is in the city or not, but you'd think they'd be able to read what it says on the buses and trains. Also, road-wise, there's no mention of the fact that some major arterials, like TV Hwy, Farmington and parts of Hall are state-owned.
September 20, 2006 11:16 PM
Chris Smith Says:
For those who don't want to read the report line-by-line as Ross did, there's also a 'presentation' style version available in PDF:
September 21, 2006 3:57 PM
What I meant by Trimet's "agenda" is its program
of designing the bus routes in Wash. County to
force-feed the MAX, to make rail look good, instead of having the bus routes designed to take
people where they want to go around the county.
With all this development along MAX, its corridor
might be generating enough ridership so that the
feeder lines are not necessary. I would prefer
a grid-like bus system design like we have on the east side of Portland to serve Wash. County.
Also, paving the West hills MAX tunnel for dual-mode use (hybrid buses), so that more Wash. county
routes have a one-seat ride to downtown Portland.
Maybe then, support for transit in Wash. county
September 21, 2006 6:29 PM
dick BARNARD Says:
I get thoroughly pissed at outsiders who attempt to solve our [Wash county] problems.. Butt out...
I regularly use the park and ride to go into town, is slower but counting total time [as in finding parking] is much more convenient to use MAX... would like to see the new rail line [Wilsonville to Beaverton] be made the airport[s] line, can connect the two airports, Aurora airport is readily expandable and would be a better alternate to Hillsboro..
September 21, 2006 8:52 PM
Erik Halstead Says:
Somehow, Tualatin must not be in Washington County anymore. Our bus service consists of the slow-poke 76, the express 96 - both of which serve a single route through the business core but completely miss much of the residential areas east of I-5 (except for the 76 to Meridian Park Hospital, but no further), the areas off of Boones Ferry Road, the commercial/industrial area off of Tualatin-Sherwood Road, or the mixed-use area off of Tualatin Road - all totally transit unfriendly. Tualatin has two very heavily used park-and-rides, but if I am to drive across Tualatin to park and wait for a bus, what is the benefit vs. driving to my destination?
There is the 12 (which I use, and serves Tualatin's extreme border which is Highway 99W), and the soon-to-be-discontinued 95 express bus. Line 94, which is also an express bus, serves no stops within the city limits of Tualatin (including the somewhat busy stop at Hazelbrook, which is not only my stop - but serves two major apartment complexes and a residential neighborhood.) The 12 doesn't even run as a frequent service bus south of Fischer Road.
However, Dick Barnard's suggestion:
would like to see the new rail line [Wilsonville to Beaverton] be made the airport[s] line, can connect the two airports, Aurora airport is readily expandable and would be a better alternate to Hillsboro..
Is one I actually support but for different reasons, and having little if anything to do with Washington County - rather, as part of a commuter rail route from the Portland area to Salem - utilizing the under-construction Beaverton-Wilsonville segment, the much more desirable Union Pacific line from Hubbard to Salem (which is already built to passenger train standards) - connected with a new segment about five miles long using the state-owned right-of-way of the Wilsonville-Hubbard Highway (Highway 551). Since there is little to no reason for that highway to be widened, why not put rail in the extra right-of-way, and if Aurora State Airport ever becomes a reliever to PDX - there will be an existing commuter rail line operating at the western boundary of the airport.
September 23, 2006 6:50 PM
Sorry, Dick, but I will most vigorously butt in
about Washington County transit.
I live in the NW District of Portland and often
use Trimet (#20) to go to Wash. County for
shopping, eating, and social events, spending
money in Wash. County businessees. First hand
I put up with the half-assed bus system Trimet
has foisted on the county for its pro-rail agenda.
I directly experience how inconvenient it can be
to get around the county.
IMHO Trimet is harming the cause for transit instead of helping it. I am paying to use the
facilities in Wash. County and will definitely
speak out if I think things are lacking.