May 31, 2007
Get ready for hot bike action! The KBOO Bike Show will interview event organizers for Pedalpalooza, the 2-week festival with over 120 free bike events.
9-10AM, Wednesday, June 6th
KBOO FM 90.7
Streamed live at KBOO.fm
Podcast here later that day
May 30, 2007
This came over the transom yesterday afternoon:
CITY AHEAD OF THE CURVE WITH THE ADDITION OF SMART CARS
You're invited to take a ride and learn more about the new Smart cars on Wednesday the 30th.
Contact: Mary Volm
CITY AHEAD OF THE CURVE WITH THE ADDITION OF SMART CARS
BES and the Motor Pool purchased the Smart Vehicles
WHAT: The City of Portland CityFleetand the Bureau of Environmental Services (BES) will roll out the new Smart cars and the new Gem electric vehicle.
WHEN: Wednesday, May 30; 11:00 AM
WHERE: In front of City Hall, 4th Ave side
WHO: John Hunt, CityFleet Manager, Office of Management and Finance
Dean Marriott, Director, BES
Scott Turpen, Facilities Manager BES
Come See, take a ride and learn more about the new Smart cars and Gem electric vehicle and learn how the City is utilizing this new technology.
Portland State University
Center for Transportation Studies
Spring 2007 Transportation Seminar Series
Speaker: Kate Lyman and Delia Chi, PSU Master's of Urban Studies and Planning Candidates Two Topics: Travel Time Reliability AND Pedestrian Crossing Behavior
When: Friday, June 1, 2007, 12:00-1:30 pm
Where: 204 Urban Center
May 29, 2007
The Daily Journal of Commerce is reporting that a panel evaluating the reauthorization of the Transportation System Development Charge program for the City of Portland is unlikely to raise the rates for the charges by more than the level of inflation.
“Cities around the country are paying for big projects, but they’re doing it by voting on it,” Bruce Allen, a committee member representing the Portland Development Commission, said.
Portland residents, he said, “don’t want to support that.”
Increased developer fees could also hurt the city’s ability to attract and retain businesses, according to the 19-member committee, which includes representatives of public agencies, businesses and residents.
An article in Friday's Trib ("Span plan's a puzzle") demonstrates the complexities of planning this bridge. Each option is going to make someone unhappy based on the properties it's going to disrupt.
And that's before we even worry about two lanes versus four...
May 26, 2007
The main portions of the site move are complete, but there are still some loose ends. Drop an e-mail to firstname.lastname@example.org if you see any issues.
May 25, 2007
I had the pleasure of riding one of the new Inekon Trio cars today (Vehicle # 009) for the first time today (at least on this continent). Apparently the safety paperwork finally cleared a couple of days ago, and they're starting to go into service.
I'd like to take the opportunity to express my appreciation to the Streetcar maintenance folks who have been keeping a six-car operation going with only seven vehicles since last fall when the Gibbs extension opened. Incredible job.
Portland Transport will be making a move to a new server.
I expect (hope) the site will be up throughout, but comments are likely to be turned off for a significant period as we relocate the database that drives the site.
I will put up a note when closing comments for the move.
Planetizen is quoting a Philadelphia Business Journal article that suggests that leasing the Pennsylvania Turnpike could produce enough revenue to deal with much of the State's transportation funding needs, including transit service.
But the legislature is skeptical...
May 24, 2007
This article has been updated with improved information.
The original version of this article, posted May 24, 2007, used schedule times from the #5 bus from Spring, 2004, which was during the time period in which the Yellow Line was being constructed, and therefore slowed bus travel times along Interstate Ave.
This revised version (posted June 8, 2007) uses #5 data from the fall of 2000, which is prior to Yellow Line construction and, according to TriMet, represents the highest ridership quarter for the #5 bus. (The general difference is that #5 trip times improve by 3 minutes across the board.)
In the author's opinion, the overall conclusions have not changed, although the numbers aren't quite as favorable to the Yellow Line as in the original version of the article.
Any reader comments posted prior to June 8, 2007 should be evalauted in the context of the original article.
In a number of discussions here at PortlandTransport, questions have been asked and debates have arisen regarding the Interstate MAX Yellow Line.
In those past discussions I've tried to answer questions about travel times, ridership, quality of service, etc. using easily-found data from online sources. More recently, however, TriMet has responded to information requests to fill in some gaps in that information, which makes better before-and-after comparisons possible.
In these two posts, the first on travel times and ridership and the second on the pedestrian environment (coming soon), I've attempted to gather what I know about the Yellow Line, Interstate Ave., and the original #5 bus line into one place.
Take a ride into a land of lists, tables and analysis after the flip...
The addition of light rail to Interstate Ave. has improved travel times along that street and from downtown. However, MAX does not currently extend to Hayden Island / Jantzen Beach or to Vancouver. Riders going to/from Vancouver until recently had to take the #6 bus which did not have travel times as favorable as the old #5 (due to a different operating route and/or transfer waiting periods).
This week is a good time to compare schedules, however: C-Tran began service to the Delta Park / Vanport MAX station on May 13th, allowing for transfers to/from MAX and Vancouver-based bus service. In September, the level of service will be expanded. At that time, the #6 line will be reconfigured to provide service to Hayden Island, but not to Vancouver. (TriMet has provided me with preliminary information about the service changes and this information is subject to change.)
The following chart lists estimated peak-hour travel times (based on the nearest departure to 5pm from available schedules, also see table footnotes) between various origins/destinations using different travel methods.
|Origin/Destination||MAX Yellow Line||Original #5 Bus1||Current #6 Bus - Full Route||MAX / #6 Combo - Transfer @ Lombard2||C-Tran/MAX Combo - May - Transfer @ Delta Park3|
|Downtown Portland4 / Lombard||24 min||29 min||39 min||--||--|
|Rose Quarter Area5 / Lombard||13 min||17 min||25 min||--||--|
|Downtown Portland / Jantzen Beach||--||38 min||51 min||48 min||--|
|Downtown Portland / Downtown Vancouver||--||46 min||59 min||56 min||45 min|
|Rose Quarter Area / Jantzen Beach||--||26 min||37 min||37 min||--|
1Based on Line 5 schedule published September 3, 2000.
2Includes 12 minutes transfer waiting time, apparently the worst-case scheduled wait for this peak period.
3C-Tran Route #44 was used for this table... Routes 41 and 47 also serve Delta Park as of May but only on a couple of runs each day. Travel time includes approx. 8 minutes transfer waiting time.
4The following "Downtown" starting points were used based on the printed schedules: MAX - Pioneer Courthouse Square; #5 - SW 6th & Salmon; #6 SW Columbia between 5th and 4th less 2 minutes estimated offset (based on TriMet online trip planner results) to get closer to other starting points.
5"Rose Quarter Area" for the #6 is NE Grand & NE Pacific.
As can be seen from the table, for trips along the route common to both MAX and the original #5, travel times have decreased by up to 5 minutes (20%) for Downtown-to-Lombard and 4 minutes (30%) for Rose Quarter-to-Lombard.
However, for riders who regularly go to Jantzen Beach or Vancouver, the trip times via the #6 bus are worse than the old #5, depending on whether it is taken as a direct route from downtown, or a transfer is involved -- Worst case: 13 minutes (28%) longer Downtown-to-Vancouver (now a full hour), or 11 minutes (42%) for east-side trips. In the best case, where transfers between MAX and the #6 align perfectly, travel times can be competitive with the old #5, but the likelihood of routinely making such great connections is low.
The new C-Tran connecting service appears to actually improve travel times over the original #5, however this is only true for trips where the transfer wait time aligns well. C-Tran only runs service half-hourly, and there is no mid-day service. A worst-case trip of just missing your transfer and waiting 29 minutes for the next departure clocks in at a whopping 66 minutes... 7 minutes worse than the current #6 and 20 minutes worse than the old #5. On the other hand, a perfect alignment of an arriving MAX train with a departing C-Tran bus 1 minute later results in a travel time of 38 minutes, shaving 8 minutes off of the old #5's schedule, but it would be unwise to plan a trip around such tight margins. It should also be noted that southbound riders from Vancouver do not face as much of a time penalty for missed transfers because MAX runs 3X more often than C-Tran.
In September, C-Tran service, based on preliminary information, will increase to 15 minutes, which will should make the average trip time to Vancouver better than the #5 most of the day, but service to Jantzen beach (served by the #6) will be mostly unchanged.
Another factor to consider is the average wait time for someone wishing to travel without consulting a schedule. At peak times, the original #5 bus departed downtown every 7.5 minutes (8 departures between 4:30pm and 5:30pm), for an average wait time of 3.75 minutes. The Yellow Line now departs every 10 minutes in the same time period, for an average wait time of 5 minutes. This means an increase in average wait times of 1.25 minutes for the casual rider.
Clearly, the changes in travel time, positive and negative, have created winners and losers... The next section on ridership attempts to quantify just how many riders fall into each category.
Ridership, Part 1: Hayden Island / Vancouver
As shown above, riders going to Hayden Island and Vancouver face generally longer travel times than before MAX (except for Vancouver riders whose schedules align well with the new C-Tran service).
The question therefore is how many riders' trips are made longer by this arrangement vs. how many non-Jantzen/Vancouver rider's trips are improved by MAX.
The following table is based on average weekday boarding data provided by TriMet for the #5 bus's highest ridership quarter:
|Original #5 Bus Route Segment||Ons||Offs||Total Ons & Offs|
|Vancouver||902 (12.4% of ons)||895 (12.5% of offs)||1,797 (12.5% of ons & offs)|
|Hayden Island||886 (12.2% of ons)||881 (12.3% of offs)||1,767 (12.2% of ons & offs)|
|All Other Stops6||5,467 (75.4% of ons)||5,397 (75.2% of offs)||10,864 (75.3% of ons & offs)|
6Based on Line 5 per-stop boarding counts, Fall 2000, excluding stops south of Salmon so that included downtown stops are similar to areas served by the current Yellow Line.
At first glance it appears that up to 24.7% of #5 riders face longer trips today. However, a portion of the above boardings/alightings are for trips between Hayden Island and Vancouver. Such trips are served with a similar schedule today by the #6, will be served by frequent C-Tran service in the future, and thus should be excluded from the comparison. This exclusion of "unharmed" riders can be determined by removing northbound Hayden Island boardings and southbound Hayden Island alightings from the totals, and placing those values into a separate category:
|Original #5 Bus Route Segment||Total Ons & Offs||Adjustments for Local Vancouver/Hayden Island Trips||Adjusted Total Ons & Offs|
|Vancouver||1,797 (12.5%)||Southbound Offs: -196||1,601 (11.1%)|
|Hayden Island||1,767 (12.2%)||Northbound Ons: -261||1,506 (10.4%)|
|Local Vancouver/Hayden Island||--||+457||457 (3.2%)|
|All Other Stops||10,864 (75.3%)||--||10,864 (75.3%)|
From the above table we can see that 75.3% of existing #5 riders saw a trip time improvement after MAX opened, while 21.5% saw trip times lengthen (or saw increased uncertainty due to transfers). The 3.2% of riders who travelled between Hayden Island and Vancouver saw no major change.
Where did the #5 Vancouver/Hayden Island riders go? After the #5 was replaced by MAX, the #6 route was changed to add service across the Columbia.
Counts on the #6 (Fall '06) show comparable boardings to the #5 (Fall '00):
|Route Segment||#5 Boardings||#6 Boardings|
This suggests that the Vancouver riders, despite the longer travel times, did not elect to switch to another mode of travel, however some Hayden Island riders may have been lost. (Besides trip times, reasons could also include economic, employer incentives, parking, car availability, ability or desire to drive, etc.)
What about with regard to new ridership? The latest Winter, 2007 averages for the Yellow Line show 13,040 weekday boardings (a gain of 80% over the complete #5 ridership, and gain of 138% over the corridor common to both lines. That could put the percentage of people with longer trip times vs. the people benefitting from MAX in the 11% range, depending on who the new riders are and the nature of the new trips.
But just how are those new MAX riders accounted for? Are they all from Fareless Square? The next section attempts to answer some questions about current Yellow Line ridership.
Ridership, Part 2: A Look at Where People Board
Some critics have questioned whether the increase in Yellow Line ridership can be attributed to boardings/alightings occurring within the downtown Fareless Square area. Downtown, the Yellow Line shares trackage with the current Red and Blue lines, and if the criticisms are true, such service could possibly have been provided by simply increasing the number of Red or Blue line trains. (In 2009 when the transit mall reopens, the Yellow Line will shift to a North-South mall alignment, sharing tracks with the new Green Line.)
The following table explores where people boarded the #5 bus vs. where people now board the Yellow Line (where the routes were common), along with the total number of riders in each segment. I've put the Rose Quarter TC station outside the list of downtown Fareless Square stops, even though it technically is a fareless stop as well. The reason for this is the assumption that Yellow Line boardings at the Rose Quarter are mostly for the purpose of making transfers in the Transit Center... the primary destinations in the area (Rose Garden Arena, Memorial Coliseum, Oregon Convention Center) would only generate significant Fareless Square traffic during events, and only for riders originating from downtown. However, this Rose Quarter data is listed as its own line item so that readers can make their own determination.
|Route Segment||Yellow Line Boardings||#5 Bus Boardings|
|Downtown||4,550 (38%)||1,661 (30%)|
|Rose Quarter TC||1,285 (11%)||880 (16%)|
|Remaining N. Portland Stops||6,028 (51%)||2,926 (54%)|
|Totals||11,863 (100%)||5,467 (100%)|
The above table addresses one aspect: The ridership growth on the Yellow Line is distributed roughly proportionately across the entire line, although of course the Hayden Island and Vancouver Ridership dropped to zero (much of this ridership was shifted to the #6 line). The segment entirely outside fareless square maintains over 50% of the boardings.
But still, just how many Yellow Line rides are fareless? Fortunately, it is not difficult to arrive at an answer... Unlike the Red and Blue lines, the Yellow Line terminates within Fareless Square and requires all riders to deboard at the end of the line.
For inbound trains, we can count all downtown boardings as fareless (riders must deboard somewhere within Fareless Square) and compare with total alightings. For outbound trains, we can count all downtown alightings... by definition these riders got on the train in Fareless Square. The following list breaks it down, again under the assumption that most Rose Quarter boardings are in fact transfers.
- Downtown Outbound Boardings: 3,596
- Downtown Outbound Alightings: 819 (22.7%)
- Downtown Inbound Alightings: 3,731
- Downtown Inbound Boardings: 954 (25.6%)
This tells is that approximately one quarter of all downtown boardings/alightings are truly fareless, or less than 10% of the total Yellow Line ridership. Clearly, the bulk of the ridership growth has not come from the downtown portion of Fareless Square.
But what about the Rose Quarter? For argument's sake, let's assume that all boardings/alightings at the Rose Quarter station which could possibly be fareless are in fact fareless. For inbound trains, this means all Rose Quarter boardings, and for outbound trains, this means all Rose Quarter alightings. Here's the data for those two values:
- Rose Quarter Inbound Boardings: 116
- Rose Quarter Outbound Alightings: 386
Clearly only a relative few riders are taking advantage of free Yellow Line trips to/from downtown and the Rose Quarter. At the very, very most, assuming none of these riders transfer to a bus, they represent 4.2% of the total ridership. Worst-case (the term "worst", of course, assumes you believe legal fareless riders are a bad thing), fareless riders make up about 14% of all Yellow Line ridership, but if the Rose Quarter rider profile is in keeping with downtown percentages, the total figure is lower, closer to 10%-11%.
Ridership, Part 3: The Weekend
TriMet, compared to other transit agencies, has a higher rate of weekend ridership. Does adding light rail to a corridor significantly boost this weekend ridership?
The following table compares the ratio of weekday to weekend ridership for the #5 bus and the Yellow Line:
|Line||Weekday Boardings||Saturday Boardings||Saturday Ratio||Sunday Boardings||Sunday Ratio|
|#5 Bus (Fall 2000, All Stops)||7,314||5,916||81%||4,260||58%|
|Yellow Line (Fall, 2006)||11,863||10,663||90%||6,920||58%|
|Yellow Line (Winter, 2007)||13,040||10,660||82%||6,850||52%|
I've included two sets of numbers for the Yellow Line, one from Fall and one from Winter. The numbers available thus far may indicate that weekend ridership is weather-sensitive. The Winter weekend MAX ridership proportions are about the same as the #5 bus in the fall, but the fall MAX ridership for Saturdays is higher, within 90% of normal weekday boardings.
ConclusionsBased on the data and analysis above, the following statements can be said about the Yellow Line:
- Travel times improved by 20-30% for the corridor served.
- 21.5% of the original #5 bus riders saw an increase in travel time and/or were inconvenienced by transfers.
- 3.2% of bus riders saw no significant change (rides purely between Jantzen Beach / Vancouver)
- Most (75.3%) bus riders benefitted from the decrease in travel time.
- The increased travel times for some riders did not necessarily lead to the loss of those riders.
- The majority of the new Yellow Line ridership is not caused by Fareless Square
- Between 10% and 14% of Yellow Line rides are fareless.
- Utilization of the Yellow Line by place-of-boarding is roughly proportionate to the original #5.
- Weekend ridership may indicate light rail boosts Saturday performance, but less so on Sunday.
September 3, 2000 Line 5 Schedule (Adobe Acrobat .PDF)
Fall, 2000 Line 5 Weekday Ridership (Adobe Acrobat .PDF)
Fall, 2000 Line 5 Saturday Ridership (Adobe Acrobat .PDF)
Fall, 2000 Line 5 Sunday Ridership (Adobe Acrobat .PDF)
Fall, 2004 Line 6 and Yellow Line Weekday Ridership (Microsoft Excel Spreadsheet .XLS)
Fall, 2006 Line 6 and Yellow Line Weekday Ridership (Microsoft Excel Spreadsheet .XLS)
Winter, 2007 Yellow Line Ridership Summary (Microsoft Excel Spreadsheet .XLS)
C-Tran Route 44 Map / Schedule, May 2007 (Adobe Acrobat .PDF)
Line 6 Map, May 2007 (Adobe Acrobat .PDF)
Line 6 Schedule - To Portland, May 2007 (Adobe Acrobat .PDF)
Line 6 Schedule - To Vancouver, May 2007 (Adobe Acrobat .PDF)
Yellow Line Schedule - To Expo Center, May 2007 (Adobe Acrobat .PDF)
Click image for full size graphic
Portland is hosting one of a series of regional conferences on Streetcars organized by Reconnecting America on Friday, July 27th. This will be the first of four such conferences, the others being in Denver, Madison and Charlotte.
But even more exciting, we're planning to hold a session on local (Portland region) opportunities for Streetcar on the Saturday morning following (28th). For City of Portland folks this will be sort of a warm-up for the City-wide Streetcar System Plan starting this summer.
This is just a teaser. I'll have more details soon. But start thinking about what your most promising Streetcar project might be!
We hope to have scholarships available to allow local citizens to attend the regional portion of the conference gratis (the local portion will not have a fee). Watch this space.
May 23, 2007
According to today's Clackamas Review article, a petition signed by hundreds of local residents (including the Mayor's wife) has encouraged the inclusion of an alternate route proposal in the SDEIS process.
The new route would run closer to the heart of downtown Milwaukie, perhaps split along Main St. and SE McLoughlin Blvd.
The article states that the Mayor, who is a member of the South Corridor Phase II Steering Committee as well, has requested a pause in the SDEIS process so it can be determined whether to include a study of a new alternative route.
Personally, I am curious if anyone can remember the entire history of the route selection process. I seem to remember that a decade ago, light rail was slated to go through the heart of Milwaukie's downtown, but local opposition at the time got the proposal shifted to behind the school along the Union Pacific ROW. If so, this new petition would represent an interesting turn of events.
Jim Howell has an alternate notion of how to operate the Streetcar Loop. He's paired it with a Hawthorne Bridge crossing, but I don't know why it couldn't work with a more southernly crossing, or indeed, before the crossing is created.
If streetcars were routed over the Hawthorne Bridge and south to Harrison, as I have suggested earlier in conjunction with an eastside routing of the Milwaukie/Interstate MAX, the streetcar system could operate as three overlapping lines as shown on the attached map:
“A Line” – the existing Northwest/South Waterfront line, “B Line” – An eastside/downtown loop and “C Line” – An eastside line that connects to both the Northwest and South Waterfront neighborhoods.
If each line were operated on 12-minute headways, a streetcar would pass any stop every 6 minutes and a passenger could travel to any destination on the entire system without a transfer.
The first round of public meetings for the update to the Bicycle Master Plan (the one that's going to take us to Platinum) has been announced (you'll also find them on our calendar):
What Daily Portland Activity...
Reduces air, noise, and water pollution?
Improves health and fitness?
Makes Portland a better place to live?
You guessed it, bicycling!
As part of the Platinum Bicycle Master Plan Update, Commissioner Sam Adams and the City of Portland are holding three town halls in June to discuss:
- Current cycling conditions in the city, especially in less bicycle-friendly areas
- Safety concerns
- How the City is working to increase bicycle use
Whether you currently cycle, or are interested in trying, please come talk to us. All forums will have an Open House at 5:00 pm with a facilitated discussion from 6:00 - 8:00 pm. Refreshments will be served. For more information, click here.
East - Tuesday, June 5
East Portland Community Center
740 SE 106th - Portland, OR 97216
Downtown/Southwest/Northwest - Tuesday, June 12
Portland Building, Room C
1120 SW 5th Ave - Portland, OR 97204
North/Northeast - Thursday, June 14
Jefferson High School, Cafeteria
5210 N Kerby Ave - Portland, OR 97217
Portland State University
Center for Transportation Studies
Spring 2007 Transportation Seminar Series
Speaker: Rory Renfro and Max Coffman, PSU Master's of Urban Studies and Planning Candidates Two Topics: Bicycle and Pedestrian Overcrossings AND Carsharing Payment Integration
When: Friday, May 25, 2007, 12:00-1:30 pm
Where: 204 Urban Center
May 22, 2007
COMMUNITY OUTREACH OPEN HOUSES - SAVE THE DATE!
82ND AVENUE OF ROSES HIGH CRASH CORRIDOR SAFETY PROJECT
Over the next year the Portland Office of Transportation (PDOT) and the Oregon Department of Transportation (ODOT) will be working together to improve traffic and transportation safety along the 82nd Avenue of Roses corridor. We’ll be holding three Open Houses in order to help us identify ways to reduce crashes and fatalities, and to improve overall traffic safety for motorists, pedestrians, and bicyclists - and we want to hear your thoughts!
We’re inviting local residents, neighborhood associations, district coalitions, neighborhood offices, business associations, land use, planning and advocacy groups, as well as other interested individuals to come and find out more about traffic safety on the 82nd Avenue of Roses. Attendees will be able to offer thoughts and ideas to us, share concerns regarding transportation safety on 82nd Avenue of Roses, and provide feedback on what changes they’d like to see implemented in our Safety Project. The project aims to make 82nd Avenue of Roses safer and more accessible for everybody using the corridor – on foot, by bike, by bus or by car.
FIRST OPEN HOUSE
Tuesday May 22nd, 5:30-7pm at Lents Seventh-Day Adventist Church, 8835 SE Woodstock
Held in conjunction with Lents Neighborhood Association's monthly meeting, which starts directly afterwards. Targeting residents/businesses between SE Powell and the Clackamas border.
SECOND OPEN HOUSE
Tuesday May 29th, 6:00 - 8:00pm at Montavilla Community Center, 8219 NE Glisan St
Targeting residents and businesses between I-84 and SE Powell Blvd.
THIRD OPEN HOUSE
Wednesday May 30th, 6:00 - 8:00pm at Central Northeast Neighbors’ Fire Station 12 Conference Room, 4415 NE 87th Avenue
Targeting residents and businesses between I-84 and Portland Airport.
FREE FOOD AND DRINK WILL BE PROVIDED!
For more information, please contact Kirsty Hall by phone at 503-823-6981 or by email at Kirsty.Hall@trans.ci.portland.or.us
We are able to provide language translation for these events. Please call us at least 48 hours in advance if you would like Spanish, Russian, Cantonese, Hmong or other language translation services made available.
Please notify the City of Portland no less than five (5) business days prior to our event for ADA accommodations at 503-823-6981, by the City's TTY at 503-823-6868, or by the Oregon Relay Service at 1-800-735-2900.
Randy Gragg is leaving the Oregonian.
And in his final column on Sunday (maddeningly, it doesn't seem to be on OregonLive - go out and find a copy), Gragg throws down the gauntlet and suggests that our region is now approaching transit with timid incrementalism, while other regions are passing $10 and $15B packages for multi-modal transportation improvements.
By way of contrast, a piece on Planetizen yesterday (quoting the NY Times) described Jaime Lerner's approach in Curitiba:
"Back in 1972, the new mayor of the city, an architect and urban planner named Jaime Lerner, ordered a lightning transformation of six blocks of the street into a pedestrian zone. The change was recommended in a master plan for the city that was approved six years earlier, but fierce objections from the downtown merchants blocked its implementation. Lerner instructed his secretary of public works to institute the change quickly and asked how long it would take. “He said he needed four months,” Lerner recalled recently. “I said, ‘Forty-eight hours.’ He said, ‘You’re crazy.’ I said, ‘Yes, I’m crazy, but do it in 48 hours.’ ”"
So how can we assemble the political will to be bolder?
May 21, 2007
There's no denying the problem, but how do we make the economics work for relatively lower-density/ridership routes (or are there high-ridership potential routes)? I was struck by the fact that small transit districts seem to do this better and more economically. Is TriMet burdened with costs that these districts don't have?
I've received a couple of requests to speak recently, and thought I'd let Portland Transport readers know about them in case they want to drop by..
- Tonight (5/21) I'll be addressing Food Front's annual meeting: 7PM at Friendly House (NW 26th and Thurman)
- On July 18th I've been asked to speak about transportation and energy use by Portland Peak Oil (click for details)
May 18, 2007
This may be very appropos to our discussions about where to use what forms of transit. This piece compares Houston with a region in Germany to look at how to combine modes in an area with multiple centers.
The Daily Journal of Commerce reports on a study that found an excess of parking in downtown Beaverton. This creates an opportunity for the Beaverton City Council to lower parking requirements for development, helping spur higher density redevelopment.
Pretty soon Beaverton could have a real downtown!
May 17, 2007
There are three open seats on the Portland Planning Commission, a body that's vital to shaping the future of Portland, and the Mayor is looking for applicants. I'd love to see lots of alternative transportation advocates put their hats in the ring!
Mayor Potter and Planning Director Gil Kelley have announced a search for interested citizens to fill three vacancies on the Portland Planning Commission.
Since 1919, the Portland Planning Commission has advised the City Council on goals and policies to govern growth and development in the city. The current Planning Commission advises City Council on applications of Portland's policies and statewide planning goals for a healthy, successful community and makes formal recommendations for changes to Portland's Comprehensive Plan, Zoning Code and Public Facilities Plans.
Commissioners serve 4-year terms and may be reappointed.
Commissioners' duties can involve approximately 10-15 hours a month, including: attending one afternoon and one evening meeting a month; advising on goals, policies, and procedures related to public projects in planning, transportation, housing, and some tax exemption programs; participating on additional subcommittees and in training sessions; reviewing plans and reports, financial pro forma and detailed Zoning Code language.
Interested citizens should contact the Office of Neighborhood Involvement for the application form by telephone at 503-823-4519 or through the ONI website at www.portlandonline.com/oni. Printed forms also may be obtained from the Bureau of Planning (503 823-5772). Applicants should submit a cover letter describing their interest in the Commission and how their background and experience would contribute to the diversity of the current Commission.
The project advisory committee weighed in on potential stop locations yesterday (indicated on image - click on the image for a larger version). Biggest debate was where to locate one between the Max crossing, Convention Center and State Office Building for maximum effect.
May 16, 2007
Portland State University
Center for Transportation Studies
Spring 2007 Transportation Seminar Series
Speaker: Peter Stopher, Professor of Transport Planning, Institute of Transport and Logistics Studies, University of Sydney
Topic: Using a GPS Panel to Evaluate Travel Behavior Changes
When: Friday, May 18, 2007, 12:00-1:30 pm
Where: 204 Urban Center
RECENT DEVELOPMENTS IN USING GPS TO MEASURE TRAVEL BEHAVIOUR
Current research at the Institute of Transport and Logistics Analysis of the University of Sydney, under Professor Peter Stopher, has been concentrating on using personal GPS devices to collect travel behaviour data of individuals. In this seminar, Professor Stopher will outline the several projects that have been conducted and are currently underway that are using GPS. He will describe the survey procedures, and then provide an overview of some of the results emerging from collection of such data. Of particular interest is that the GPS surveys are being conducted in most cases by using a panel, with at least two waves of data collection, and that panel members carry the GPS devices for anywhere from one week to one month. Initial studies of the variability in daily travel, where there are no fatigue effects from recording multiple days in a diary, are showing some interesting patterns and leading to some important conclusions.
Word came down yesterday that Portland has ranked in a survey as having the most courteous drivers in the country.
A piece I heard on OPB opined that this was because we had shorter commutes and were thus less frustrated. Let me take that a step further and hypothesize a link from have having lower VMT per capita (or that VMT per capita is level or decreasing) makes us happier and less confrontational on the roads (I admit to having no data to support this hypothesis).
What do we think? Is the rain, something in the water? Is it driving less?
May 15, 2007
According to a Jim Mayer piece on Oregonlive, Metro is looking at the possibility of a transportation funding package on the ballot in '08.
Council Brian Newman has been tapped to lead the exploratory effort, says a Tribune piece this morning.
Is the electorate ready for this?
Wednesday is Bike to Work day in Portland, and there's a celebration in Pioneer Courthouse Square from 7:30-9AM.
I hope to join the group leaving from Wallace Park in NW Portland at 7:15. Maybe some other readers will join us?
May 14, 2007
JPACT has voted to slow down the process for the Regional Transportation Plan update. Instead of being adopted at the end of 2007, the planning will go through June 2008.
In general this is good news, allowing more time for scenario development and modeling (we were at real risk of being forced to pick from very rough scenarios to meet the timeline). It will however create some hoops to jump through, as the Federally-mandated version of the plan will still need to be adopted on schedule to avoid losing eligibility for transportation funds.
Thanks to everyone who participated in our discussion of rules of discourse. After reviewing that discussion, I have updated the site rules to the below. Also note that I have changed the description of what happens to comments (they no longer become the property of Portland Transport, you just give us an unrestricted right to do what we want with them - which means you still have the right to do what you want with them too).
Here's to a more civil discussion.
Terms of Service
- Contributors and commenters grant Portland Transport a permanent, unlimited, worldwide non-exclusive license to publish and/or relicense their submissions.
- Opinions in posts and comments are those of the authors, not necessarily those of Portland Transport. Responsibility for those opinions rests with the authors.
- This site HAS a point of view, generally supportive of transit and compact development, and efforts to reduce VMT (vehicles miles traveled) per capita. This is intended to be the general center of the conversation here. While opposing views are welcome, participation that is of a quality or quantity that combines to undermine the purpose of the site may be restricted or refused.
Rules of Civil Conversation
- Constructive disagreement is welcome, but simply repeating your disagreement is not. If your disagreement is simply to protest our point of view, you should find another outlet for your views.
- Passion and robust debate about ideas are what Portland Transport is about. Passion directed at individuals is not, and will be deleted promptly. Please confine your remarks to policy, opinion and data.
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- While you are welcome to disagree, you are not welcome to be disagreeable. Please treat fellow participants with the respect you would give a guest in your home.
- Please stay on topic.
EnforcementComments which are in violation of the terms of service or rules of conversation may be removed in part or in full. Repeated violators may have their ability to comment blocked temporarily or permanently.
May 11, 2007
I suggested a few weeks ago that we try to come up with a way to measure the accuracy of the Streetcar NextBus predictions (since they have been a source of some complaints reported in the press).
Turns out someone has already done it (at least for a small data sample). Rob Bertini of PSU forwarded this student project (PDF, 307K) by Hiu Ng from last year.
As I read his data, the most common result seems to be that Streetcar arrives about 1 minute after the predicted time. If you think about how you would want to bias prediction error in such a system, if definitely seems like you're better off having people arrive a little early than risk having the car already departed by the time you tell them it's going to arrive!
So I think this confirms my anecdotal experience, but I'd still love to find a way to collect a larger data set.
"Toward Car Free Cities VIII" a world-wide conference on reducing auto-dependence has selected Portland as its 2008 venue (mid-June 2008).
The local host is Shift (Shift your thinking to bikes), a member of the world carfree network [contrary to the name, the organization is not about the abolition of cars, just a reduction in reliance on them]. I've been asked to be a member of the local advisory committee, and attended the first meeting yesterday.
The theme for the conference is "Proximity" (the theme for edition VII - to be held in a few months in Instanbul - is "Building a Livable Future in a Changing Climate").
We expect a big attendance draw from Cascadia and northern California. I'm interested in suggestions on how/where we might promote this locally and who we might solicit as interesting speakers on the topic of Proximity?
Please share your suggestions. I'll keep you posted as the conference gets fleshed out.
May 10, 2007
OK, this post's title is a lie... but it's almost true. (I should go into politics.)
An owner of a large SUV achieving only 15 miles per gallon in mixed driving will consume 10,000 gallons of gasoline over a 150,000 mile vehicle life. (Example: A 2007 Jeep Grand Cherokee, 4WD, 5-spd Automatic, 4.7L 8cyl engine, achieves 15mpg in mixed driving under the newly-revised EPA standards.)
If that SUV owner switched to a high-MPG hybrid achieving 45 miles per gallon, they would consume 3,333 gallons over the same 150,000 mile vehicle life. (Example: A 2007 Toyota Prius achieves 46mpg mixed, revised EPA.)
At $3.25 per gallon, the 6,667 gallons saved over the life of the vehicle would cost over $21,600, which just happens to be around the base price of a Prius -- switch today and the car pays for itself. :-)
Now, of course, I do realize that many SUV owners use the vehicle for purposes which cannot be emulated by a mid-size sedan. (Towing, hauling lots of people and gear around, off-road and farm use, etc.)
But, for a person who has found themselves to be primarily a commuter in their large vehicle, and who seldom ferries around more than a couple of extra passengers (a Prius will move 4 people quite comfortably, 5 not-so-comfortably), that person might just want to consider switching, given today's gas prices.
Bonus: If the SUV is already paid for, it can be kept on-hand for when it is really needed, while the fuel savings for daily driving will still pay for the hybrid.
Fuel for thought.
- Bob R.
The Daily Journal of Commerce notes the increase in the amount of valet parking in Portland, and the lack of any regulatory framework for valet parking.
One of the many tragedies of the collapse of the NW Parking Plan was that it included a mechanism for a TMA (Transportation Management Association) to manage issues like valet parking in a way that balanced making maximum use of existing parking resources with managing nuisance issues that might be created in a residential neighborhood.
A sobering article in the Wall Street Journal yesterday. The premise is that we are underinvesting in our infrastructure to the point that it will make us uncompetitive. While it's not apples-to-apples because we're maintaining while the other countries are developing, here are the comparative levels of infrastructure as a percentage of GDP:
Note that this is NOT a modal question - this is about roads, transit, water systems, sewer systems, etc. COMBINED. How to allocate it is a different question. The point here is are we investing at the right level?
May 9, 2007
Via the Shift list, video of some highly provocative street art.
ODOT's Trip Check web site has added a section on Transit providers. The announcement follows. Here's a deep link to the relevant section of Trip Check.
ODOT adds public transit information to TripCheck.com
Find transportation options online
MAY 1, 2007 – The Oregon Department of Transportation’s award-winning travel information Web site, www.TripCheck.com, just added another useful trip-planning tool. In addition to news on the latest road and traffic conditions, now users can find extensive public transit information by clicking on the Transportation Options tab.
“Visitors to the Web site can find local, regional and statewide transportation services including maps as well as links to routes and schedules with just a few clicks of a mouse,” ODOT Intercity Program Manager Matthew Barnes said. “The site is really easy to use. Select the travel area or starting and destination cities, then select any accommodations you require.”
TripCheck.com’s Transportation Options tab includes several different ways to search for information including:
- City or county – allows users to search for transportation options within a specific city or county. Users can refine the search with filters for wheelchair accessibility, bicycle transport, service days and by travel mode, such as bus, train and taxi.
- City to city – allows users to search for intercity public transit connections. Services can be filtered by wheelchair or bicycle accommodations. General information about local transportation providers, including contact information and Web site, is also available.
- Special accommodations – allows users to find transit service that accommodate various mobility devices, provide door to door or curb to curb service, or other specialized services.
“TripCheck.com’s Transportation Options tab represents a distinct step forward in the availability of Oregon transit information,” said Barnes.
May 8, 2007
At a recent Streetcar meeting, we got a briefing on the crossing options (PDF, 3.4M) under consideration for the Milwaukie LRT EIS process. The set to be studies in the EIS will be narrowed soon (indications favor the middle two), so weigh in soon if you have an opinion.
Here's the project page at Metro.
Last week, I had the delightful opportunity join a small group for dinner with Corrado Poli (warning, it's in Italian). Poli is a professor of "Economics and Environmental Ethics" in Padua. He is in the U.S. on a fellowship at Johns Hopkins to do an English translation of his book "Rivoluzione Traffica" (Traffic Revolution).
Poli also spoke at a brown bag session at Metro. Some of the highlights of his ideas:
- The most livable cities in Europe are in the range of 50-500K in population (everything is bigger in the U.S., so he says Portland at 550K is not too big yet).
- Vancouver, BC is an example of what North American cities should be like. Portland is not a North American city (i.e., it's more like a European city).
- We don't live in a mass society, why do we build transportation systems that assume everyone has the same travel behavior?
- Traffic Inflation (what we would call induced demand)
He is also the founder of an interesting ridesharing system called "Poli Cars" (not from his name - or so he says - but from the Greek root "polis"). The system uses a central registration system and communication via SMS to provide a sort of "hitchhiking with trust". When you give or accept a ride from another system member, this gets registered to create accountability. Interesting...
May 7, 2007
Center for Transportation Studies
Spring 2007 Transportation Seminar Series
Speaker: B. Starr McMullen, Professor of Economics and Agricultural and Resource Economics, Oregon State University
Topic: Pros and Cons of a Vehicle-Mile Tax
When: Friday, May 11, 2007, 12:00-1:30 pm
Where: 204 Urban Center
A heated debate broke out on a Streetcar capacity thread. So let's elevate the discussion to its own thread.
Is the original purpose fareless square was designed to meet in 1974 still relevant? Should it be modified, eliminated?
May 4, 2007
Streetcar ridership has followed a relatively consistent cycle of growth. Each summer we see new peaks (the hypothesis is that this is driven by occupancy of new residential units along the alignment), then it drops off a bit in the winter, only to rise again the following summer. New extensions, like the one opened to Gibbs last year, also drive increases in ridership.
Except this winter, for the first time, ridership did not decline significantly from the summer. We're holding level at about 9000 weekday riders. This is creating crush loads in the afternoon from about 2pm-6pm.
We don't know exactly why this departure from the annual pattern is occurring. One hypothesis is that transit mall construction has made Streetcar a more attractive option for N-S trips in the core.
But when the summer peak comes, it's likely to get pretty bad. Streetcar leadership is looking for resources to put an additional car out on the route during the afternoon peak. Today we're a six-car peak operation, we'd be looking for a seventh car in the afternoon.
When the Lowell St. extensions opens in August we're budgeted to go to a seven-car operation, but that extension will also likely bring new riders.
It's a nice problem to have :-)
Well, Ron Sims is suggesting that the concept be examined.
Still, for Seattle, that's pretty bold. Can we get some of that kind of boldness down here?
May 3, 2007
Last year I had the chance to join a group of regional leaders on a Metro-organized tour of the suburban communities of Vancouver, BC.
It was a great experience, and now a follow-up is being organized. So if you'd like to see what's working (and what's not) in BC, here's the scoop. I highly recommend it.
Metro invites you to experience Vancouver, BC: a recognized world leader in successful mixed-use development and planning. Building on the well-regarded 2006 Get Centered! study tour, Metro is planning another trip to Vancouver BC June 7-9, 2007.
Last September over 30 elected officials, business professionals and other decision-makers from the Portland metropolitan area traveled to Vancouver on the first Get Centered! Vancouver study tour. The group met with and learned from their counterparts in Vancouver who have shaped the dynamic metropolitan region. The tour included mixed-use development in downtown Vancouver and also focused on centers development in surrounding suburbs like Port Moody and Coquitlam.
To find out more about the 2007 study tour, visit the Metro website at:
As reported yesterday in the O. Here's the official statement from Mary Fetsch of TriMet:
TriMet has provided ridership data for years. Post 9/11, the issue of what is sensitive security information (SSI) has changed, and continues to evolve. We were directed to withhold information that was considered SSI. Now that the TSA office in DC has clarified that specific time-of-day ridership information is not considered SSI, we can more easily fulfill data requests.
TriMet Communications Director
May 2, 2007
Listen to the show (mp3, 13.1M)
PDOT's Jeff Smith talk with Ayleen and Carl about getting ready for spring and summer riding.
The Columbia River Crossing task force will not meet in May, in fact their June meeting is the only one currently scheduled (what will they be doing all fall?). Here's the update from the project staff:
The Columbia River Crossing Task Force will hold its next meeting on June 26 in Portland to receive a report on the details of alternatives that will be analyzed in 2007. THERE WILL BE NO TASK FORCE MEETING IN MAY.
The CRC project team is working to refine the details of the river crossing and transit alternatives that will be analyzed as part of the Draft Environmental Impact Statement (DEIS). Results of the analyses will be available for public comment. A formal public comment period is expected in the spring of 2008 to help identify the alternative that best addresses the defined problems in the project area.
The Task Force will meet at the Oregon Department of Transportation, 123 NW Flanders Street, Portland, 4:00–6:30 p.m. The public is welcome to attend and will have an opportunity to provide testimony. All CRC meeting locations are accessible to people with disabilities. Accommodations for people with disabilities can be arranged with advance notice by calling the project office at 360-737-2726 or 503-256-2726.
An interesting new paper from VTPI: "Valuing Transit Service Quality Improvements: Considering Comfort and Convenience In Transport Project Evaluation" (that's a mouthfull).
Basically the idea is to look at what the amenities (or lack thereof) are that make a transit trip seem longer or shorter (as a proxy for more or less attractive compared to another mode choice).
It turns out good arrival time info is high on the list, one of the reasons I'm so fanatical about NextBus.
A pilot of countdown information displays at public transportation stations indicates that:
o Waiting is more acceptable (89%).
o Time seemed to pass more quickly when passengers knew their wait duration
o Passengers perceive a shorter waiting time (65% felt this was so).
o The service is perceived as more reliable.
o Of those passengers travelling, waiting at night is perceived as safer.
o General feelings improve towards bus travel (68%).
o About 70% of passengers refer to the display when they arrive at a stop, about
at the sign while they wait, and about 60% look at the sign at least once a minute.
o Passengers approve of the 3 essential pieces of information provided (route number, destination and wait time).
o There is strong overall customer support for the system.
o Countdown has been found to generate a minimum of 1.5% new revenue.
May 1, 2007
Center for Transportation Studies
Spring 2007 Transportation Seminar Series
Speaker: Dr. Susan Handy, UC Davis
Topic: Bicycling in Davis, CA: A Critical Look at Policy and Behavior in the First Platinum Bicycle City in the U.S.
When: Friday, May 4, 2007, 12:00-1:30 pm
Where: 204 Urban Center
Paul Edgar is a retired business automation consultant who has been active in transportation issues for more the 10-years in the Portland/Vancouver region. Last year he was one of the students with the PSU/PDOT transportation class.
Congestion in core Portland is killing people and businesses. We do not have the desire or the finances to add more capacity to our roads and freeways. We know that we cannot make changes in piece-meal fashion where we can destroy any balance that exists with our major connections coming into and through core Portland on I-5/I-405/I-84 and Westside highway 26.
Congestion is most often a result of high levels of commuter traffic in the AM and PM Peak Period Rush Hours (PPRH). This can be demonstrated on with vehicle count information gathered on the mentioned I-5/I-405/I-84 corridors and Highway 26 coming into and through Portland.
We need to create alternatives to the use of these corridors and dependence on the use of these corridors because there are NO reasonable alternatives to their use.
One element in reducing this killing congestion can be found in the use of (Transportation Demand Management) TDM/Tolling methods in Peak Period Rush Hours. We cannot continue to KILL PEOPLE and that is exactly what is happening with, using an example of the I-5 corridor through Portland.
It has been reported by multiple sources that the I-5 corridor between Portland and Vancouver Washington has the 3rd worse air quality conditions found in America right now. The people who are paying the price the most are those who live within 1000 feet of this freeway followed by those caught in the congestion. All of these stakeholders to the most part are trapped by the fate of their choices. Many are however just kids and they do not have a vote or a choice, until they become of age.
So what can we do right now to reduce this level of congestion that is KILLING PEOPLE and that is to put on new and aggressive TDM/Tolling methods on all freeway, interstate corridors and major state highways that feed into downtown Portland. These TDM/Tolling Stations can be placed at each of the metered on-ramps that feed into this network of roads.