August 31, 2007
TriMet has a new display up at the 7th and Holladay MAX station that looks a lot like a Transit Board™. Imitation is the sincerest form of flattery :-) [Actually, I have no idea if this design was inspired by Transit Board or not, it's not like the design is especially original.]
Does anyone know if these are slated to be rolled out at more locations?
But speaking of Transit Board, our re-release of the documentation a few weeks ago inspired several e-mails with suggestions for enhancements, and I wanted to put them out there to see if they resonated with other users:
- Integrate schedule information with the real-time arrival info to show listings further out than one hour for people who need a long lead-time to arrange their departure (or have a long walk to the stop).
- Allow an option to sort by boarding location rather than next arrival.
- Have a different (less intrusive) effect (we currently use a 'window-shade' effect) for the data update transitions.
Please comment and let us know if any of those ring your bell (or if you have other suggestions).
Oregon's bridges are safe, apparently.
August 30, 2007
Based on a suggestion in our open thread for suggesting topics, here's an attempt to refocus the Bus vs. LRT debate we seem to have here constantly.
Taking MAX out of the equation (you can either assume we stop building more MAX or that we have enough money to both buses and MAX), how would we improve bus service?
- How and where would we improve existing service?
- Where would we put new service?
Remember, no beating up on MAX :-)
Tuesday's Tribune had an interesting feature article on the Portland Harbor and the conflicting demands on it: working industrial land, port facilities, riverside trails, environmental cleanup and habitat restoration.
The Willamette River was Portland's very first transportation system, and is still one of our most significant. Indeed, the confluence of Freeway, Rail and Marine transport is still one of our big economic advantages.
How do we balance all these conflicting aspirations for the river and river-front?
August 29, 2007
Hosts Sara & Tori will talk to Michelle Poyourow, the coordinator of the BTA's Bike Commute Challenge, an annual competition that promotes cycling to work. An additional guest will tell us about the upcoming cycle-cross race season.
9-10AM, Wednesday, September 5th
KBOO FM 90.7
Streamed live at KBOO.fm
Podcast here later that day
I actually find myself agreeing with U.S. Secretary of Transportation Mary Peters.
No, not when she says that bicycle paths aren't transportation infrastructure.
But in yesterday's O, she has a letter to the editor pointing out that increasing gas taxes would not help deal with congestion.
She's right, congestion pricing would be a much better way to go. So are progressives (because it incents desirable policy outcomes) and conservatives (because it's market-based) going to find middle ground on congestion pricing?
August 28, 2007
There was a lot of discussion in various media and blogs last week about the traffic jam that didn't materialize when I-5 was severely limited during construction in the Seattle area. Demonstrating once again that all those drivers apparently do have real choices. Either the trips really weren't vital, or they have other options. Here's a column from a Seattle paper, quoted on the Pricelines blog:
The short answer is that this is always what happens….
In 1998, British researchers studied what happened to traffic in more than 100 highway and bridge shutdowns in Europe and the U.S. They found that on average 25 percent of all car trips simply evaporated.
People still went to work. Some commuters drove, some found another way in. Some other trips were just not made.
“Drivers are not stupid,” (Oliver) Downs says. “They change schedules. They don’t take some trips, or they delay them. The net effect of all these little decisions can be dramatic.”
There’s that word again. Is it me, or does “little” keep rearing up when the subject is our big problem, transportation?
Seattle’s primary transit corridor, the downtown bus tunnel, is closed. Gridlock was predicted. We dodged that by doing a “thousand little things,” such as moving bus stops and banning cars from Third Avenue.
Now we have closed part of our largest freeway. Still no gridlock. You drivers made sure of that. You did “fifty thousand little things.”
Yet all the plans for what to do next are big. Build big rail lines. Bigger roads. Paid for by the biggest tax increase.
Maybe some answers to our traffic mess are little ….
This is not limited to the Seattle region. Recent local examples include the diversion of West Burnside for sewer construction and major maintenance on the Interstate Bridges.
The Columbia River Crossing project has scheduled several additional open houses in October:
Wednesday, October 17
5:30 p.m. - 7:30 p.m.
Former Hayden Island Yacht Club
12050 N. Jantzen Drive, Portland, Oregon
Saturday, October 20
10:00 a.m. – 2:00 p.m.
Lincoln Elementary School
4200 NW Daniels, Vancouver, WA
And the only remaining task force meeting scheduled in this calendar year will be held in November:
Columbia River Crossing Task Force
Tuesday, November 27, 2007
4:00 p.m. – 8:00 p.m.
WSDOT SW Region Headquarters
11018 NE 51st Circle, Vancouver
August 27, 2007
There was a suggestion last week on the 'open thread' that we have some kind of forums section here on Portland Transport (i.e., a place where anyone can post, without requiring approval from the management).
I'm interested what people think about that. I must say I'm a little worried that the trolls would take it over.
But I will also say that I continue to be interested in publishing a wide variety of voices. So if you have something to say (and can say it in an interesting and civil way), I'm always open to publishing a guest post.
The latest polling reveals reasonable support for a combination of funding sources to help pay for reducing Portland's $422M street maintenance backlog and helping fund a variety of safety projects. The PDOT press release is copied below. You can also find the overview presentation on the polling on portlandonline.com. And here is the Oregonian coverage.
Key indications are:
- There appears to be support for a City gas tax up to about 3 cents per gallon, but not much more.
- Support did not vary much across several levels of Street Maintenance Fee (a fee added on to your water bill) up to about $6/mo for an average household.
- A number of optional features that made the package more 'green' had popular support.
- Support for bicycle boulevards was reasonably strong under the logic of 'reducing conflict with cars' rather than providing more bicycle connectivity.
- There is interest in a regional component to the package to help provide funding for maintaining the Willamette River bridges.
The final configuration of the proposed package will be determined after another series of neighborhood open houses.
Public Opinion Survey Shows Support for Local Funding
Options to Tackle Maintenance and Safety Backlogs on
Local Streets and Willamette River Bridges
Citizen Stakeholder Committee Reviewing Options; Neighborhood
Public Open Houses Scheduled for September; Board and
City Council Consideration in January, 2008
(PORTLAND, OR) - Repairing streets, neighborhood and pedestrian safety improvements, signal synchronization to help with congestion, repairs to the Willamette River bridges, and bike boulevards to reduce motorist/bicycle safety conflicts are at the top of Portlanders' transportation "To Do" list.
These results were revealed in a recent scientific, city-wide survey of 900 Portland voters conducted by Davis, Hibbitts & Midgall, Inc. The survey also found majority support among likely voters in the May 2008 election for any of the following funding sources: a 3 cent local gas tax, a monthly residential street maintenance fee between $2.60 and $4.50, and a $27.00 annual vehicle registration fee. The survey also showed likely voter support for a combination of these fees, when each fee was at a lower amount.
The survey was completed as part of an effort by Portland City Commissioner Sam Adams and the Multnomah County Board to explore local transportation funding options to address the city and county's combined $747 million transportation related backlog in street paving, bridge maintenance and safety measures.
"There is strong support out there for a funding package that includes fixes for roads, Willamette bridges, and signal improvements. Reducing car/bike safety conflicts was also ranked very high," said pollster Adams Davis. "When asked in general terms, around 70% of people asked said they would support spending up to $6.25 a month for transportation improvements. And when asked about specific funding options, at least three get a majority support and the 'greener' you make each option, the better it does."
County Commissioner Maria Rojo de Steffey, who has long advocated for better Willamette River Bridge maintenance, said, "I appreciate the public's support for fixing our local streets and Willamette River bridges."
Rojo de Steffey, Adams, and the "Safe and Sound Streets" Stakeholder Committee were briefed today by Adam Davis on the survey results.
The City is facing a transportation maintenance backlog of $422 million to repave roads in poor or very poor condition; replace old and failing traffic signals; add sidewalks to arterial streets that currently lack them; repair city bridges in disrepair (not including those that cross the Willamette River); and make safety improvements for pedestrians, bicyclists and motorists. The cost to repair Portland's transportation infrastructure will continue to increase by $9 million each year if nothing is done to address the issue.
Multnomah County is facing a $325 million maintenance backlog on its Willamette River Bridges, including the cost to replace the aging Sellwood Bridge.
The Stakeholder Committee of over 70 community leaders from businesses; neighborhoods; bicycle, pedestrian, and transit communities; elected officials; and the traffic safety community met with Commissioner Adams to discuss Portlanders' local transportation priorities and potential funding sources.
Davis's presentation also outlined the projects with strongest public support, which include adequate maintenance of bridges and overpasses (81%), signal timing on major city streets to reduce congestion and environmental problems (81%), focusing on long delayed maintenance that will reduce the future cost of repairs (79%), an expansion of programs that promote travel options other than driving alone (68%), and the development of bike boulevards to minimize conflicts between bicyclists and motorists on some of the city's busiest streets (68%).
Residents surveyed previously showed support for a funding package that balances the burden between businesses and residential properties.
In his presentation to the citizen's committee, Adam Davis emphasized that the complexity of transportation responsibilities and funding is not understood in great detail by the public.
TriMet, the City of Portland, and Multnomah County are often conflated as the general providers of transportation services, regardless of their specific duties over the transportation system. The group discussed the importance of making it clear to the public that funding sources being used for many new projects, such as the proposed eastside streetcar extension, are not available for basic paving and maintenance. "We must be clear with the public that money is not being taken out of our maintenance budget for things like streetcar and MAX," said Commissioner Adams.
The citywide survey findings mirror results of the less scientific surveys conducted at the neighborhood district Town Halls led by Commissioner Adams in June and July. "There is a growing understanding about the problem and increasing agreement that now is the time to come up with a solution," said Commissioner Adams.
A series of Open Houses are scheduled for September, and another round of Town Hall meetings will be conducted in October where residents will be given another opportunity to learn more about the problems faced by Portland's transportation system and lend a voice in shaping the possible maintenance and safety projects for their neighborhoods.
The "Safe and Sound Streets" Stakeholder Committee will guide the process to address Portland's transportation problems and solutions and to formulate a funding package that will be reviewed at the October Town Halls. The funding package will be fine-tuned through a rigorous audit process.
Complete results of the survey were made available at the meeting and are available online at www.portlandonline.com/transportation, under the "What's New" heading on the right of the screen. To provide your input on this effort, visit the web site or call (503) 823-1394.
August 24, 2007
According to an article in the O, a consultant reporting to the Clackamas County Board of Commissioners has concluded that TriMet routes are not aligned efficiently for commute trips:
"We're behind our neighbors and the rest of the nation," said Yung Ouyang, who presented the analysis to Clackamas County commissioners Tuesday. "Nobody can get to work on time using TriMet."
Although most Clackamas County workers are within walking distance -- defined as a quarter mile -- of a bus stop, they use public transportation less than workers in Multnomah and Washington counties.
Clackamas County commuters who take the bus spent an average of 45 minutes one way, according to figures from the 2000 U.S. Census, compared with 39-minute trips for Multnomah County and the state.
Thanks to the reader who flagged this for me since it didn't appear in the Portland edition of the O. Beyond talking about the current state of the project planning, this article has a nice set of links to the (greatly varying) perspectives on this project in various west side communities.
Presentation on Dutch use of the bicycle as transportation, at Metro - 8/29
Wednesday, August 29th
Noon - 1 pm
Metro, 600 NE Grand Ave., Portland
Loek Hesemans is a Senior Policy Officer for The Netherlands Ministry of Health, Welfare and Sport. His presentation, "Cycling in The Netherlands," will explore some of the political and cultural influences that have made the bicycle a dominant mode of transportation in that country and some of the challenges that derive from that.
Mr. Hesemans is in North America on a study tour as part of his course work for a Masters degree in Public Administration through the Netherlands School of Public Administration and Simon Fraser University. He has just spent several weeks in Vancouver, B.C. studying bicycle policy and culture and is doing similar work here in Portland. His presentation will also touch on his findings from both North American cities and compare them to The Netherlands.
Local photographer Laura Domela will add to the presentation with work from her book "Fietsen," a visual study of cycling in Amsterdam.
August 23, 2007
And interesting sequence of e-mail forwarded by Sharon Nasset regarding the Columbia Crossing and the Coast Guard.
Forwarded Message: Subj: RE: Earthquake & Bridges from the Oregonian Date: 12/21/06 6:53:08 PM Pacific Standard Time From: Moeller.Jim@leg.wa.gov (Moeller, Rep. Jim) To: Sharonnasset@aol.com
Thanks for your email. I understand the bridge needs to be demolished due to river traffic safety concerns at the insistence of the US Coast Guard. Additionally, I understand the lift towers to be unstable and at risk of falling during an earthquake.
Thanks for writing.
Rep. Jim Moeller
Subj: RE: Earthquake & Bridges from the Oregonian
Date: 1/4/07 8:16:50 AM Pacific Standard Time
From: William.A.Pratt@uscg.mil (Pratt, William)
The Coast Guard has no jurisdiction over seismic integrity of bridges. Our focus is navigation. We have no final design as yet to review. We will evaluate the retention of any of the old structures when we have a final design. Our concern is with the configuration of these existing dual bridges with the downstream rail drawbridge as it confronts navigation, and not with the seismic status of any of the three structures.
13th Coast Guard District
PS I'm not a Commander but a civilian administrator
From: Sharonnasset@aol.com [mailto:Sharonnasset@aol.com]
Sent: Wednesday, January 03, 2007 7:26 PM
To: Pratt, William
Attached is what CRC staff is telling elected officials after the Sept.
20th hearings. It is not what I heard at the hearings. What is the truth?
There's been a lot of anecdotal complaints about the accuracy of the Nextbus system we use to display Streetcar arrivals. While I find it useful for the way I use the system (I walk until a Streetcar catches up to me), I set out to gather some data. So for a couple of weeks I had the same routine that pulls data from Nextbus for the Transit Surfer do some data capture. I picked one stop (NW 10th and Couch) and had it record predictions once per minute.
This is a limited check, there's no independent verification of when the vehicles arrive, all we can do with the data is compare how the predictions track over the course of a trip. So that's what I did. We assume that the final prediction before the arrival is correct and use it to establish the time of arrival. We can then compare the prior predictions against the time they were recorded to see how accurate they are. Hint: there are some problems.
My fundamental conclusion is that Nextbus' calibration algorithm is not dealing well with the time of day variations in Streetcar's rate of progress.
I've shared the data with Streetcar management and I suspect it will be a topic of conversation with Nextbus. But I wonder if we want to re-evaluate our strategy? Would it be better to display the location of the next vehicle (e.g., 10th and Yamhill) rather than a time prediction? Would that be more informative or more useful in making choices?
August 22, 2007
Back in June I blogged that I had signed on for the Project Homeless Connect event coming up on September 18th.
I'm happy to say that we're getting a good response from the bicycle community. The Community Cycling Center there with their "create a commuter" program. And several mechanics have volunteered to help out!
At this point, there are still a few things we could use:
- Some auto-related services (for some, a car is their temporary home). Any suggestions on where we might procure things like free oil changes, tires, or other relatively interchangeable (i.e., not model-specific) services?
- A bike shop to anchor the repair area for the day, along with the individual mechanics who have volunteered
- Someone to act as deputy area leader for the morning shift (10am-3pm)
If you have suggestions or would like to help out, e-mail email@example.com. Thanks!
August 21, 2007
In last Friday's Daily Journal of Commerce, Metro Councilor Robert Liberty shares his concerns about the Columbia River Crossing project.
Monday's O includes this article (originally from the Detroit Free Press) about how much various auto makers spent lobbying Congress on the CAFE standards.
August 20, 2007
Discussed in the Oregonian today, with an emphasis on the fact that the savings stay in the local economy.
You can hear Joe discuss the "Green Dividend" on this week's Smart City podcast.
Original Post 7/18/07
I'm late to the party writing about this one, it's been bouncing around Portland for a couple of days, but I can't let it go by.
Local economist Joe Cortright (a past guest contributor here) has published a report for CEOs for Cities (PDF, 186K) that quantifies Portland's "Green Dividend", the economic benefit (not hardship) created by our greener choices here.
For example, on average each of us here in the region travels about 4 miles less per car than the average American. This saves us $1.1B per year just in gasoline, and the time we save not being in our cars has an economic value of about $1.5B annually.
Green and smart!
City Club's New Leaders Council has arranged a tour of the emerging South Waterfront neighborhood. They've invited me along to talk about the Streetcar (don't worry, they'll also be someone from PDOT there who actually knows what's going on). Here's the notice from their web site:
New Leaders Council tours South Waterfront
What does it mean to develop an entire neighborhood where there previously was nothing? How does the South Waterfront area relate to our definitions of community? New Leaders Council will explore these questions as it continues its Get to Know Your City series with a tour of the South Waterfront Saturday, August 25.
The tour will be led by three leaders of the area's real estate development and transportation system: Homer Williams, a developer for both the Pearl District and the South Waterfront; Art Pearce, South Waterfront project director for the Portland Department of Transportation; and Chris Smith, chair of the Portland Streetcar Citizens Advisor Committee.
There will also be a brief tour of the inner workings of the tram's drive equipment.
Date: Saturday, August 25; 10 AM to noon
Location: South Waterfront Aerial tram terminal
Cost: free; $4 for tram ride (includes a brief tour of the inner workings of the tram)
The tour is open to all, though space is limited. RSVP to Kim Adams McCool at firstname.lastname@example.org or call (503) 228-7231 x103.
One our readers, who in fact suggested the idea in a comment himself, passed along this article from the Columbian.
Apparently Vancouver leaders are thinking about a Streetcar as a catalyst for their waterfront development.
August 17, 2007
Updated 8-18-2007: Various YouTube video clips from the event are added at the bottom of the post.
Today marks the opening of the Portland Streetcar Lowell extension in the South Waterfront district. The event was celebrated with live music, a chartered streetcar (or two) for the crowd, food/coffee, and speeches from officials including Oregon Governor Ted Kulongoski.
I managed to grab a few photos and an assortment of video clips.
More photos after the jump...
The arrival (nearly silent) of the first ceremonial charter streetcar to carry celebrants to Lowell. Actual regular service began earlier in the day.
The band 3 leg Torso provided live music while in transit to Lowell. (Unfortunately, the camera I was using had almost no bass response, so the audio doesn't reflect the excellent performance.)
Governor Kulongoski's introductory remarks - This is mainly introductions of other officials, but contains a great moment at the beginning where the Governor chides Sam Adams for wearing a borrowed "Motorman" hat - warning him about the fate of politicians seen wearing hats such as Michael Dukakis.
Governor Kulongoski's main speech.
3 leg Torso, accompanied by singer Valerie Day performs "Clang Clang Clang went the Trolley". (Again, sorry for the lack of bass response.)
We've been having Streetcar extension opening parties on a more-or-less annual basis for a few years. But the next one is probably 3 or 4 years away (at OMSI). So all the more reason not to miss this one:
11AM - Friday August 17th
SW Lowell and Bond
- Entertainment by 3 Leg Torso and Valerie Day!
- Speeches! (come anyway)
Free Streetcar Rides Fri-Sun!
Free Tram rides Sat, Sun!
TriMet is conducting a survey on using bikes in conjunction with MAX. Here's their announcement:
"TriMet wants to learn more about people who ride both bikes and MAX light rail. We have very little information about how many people are taking bikes on MAX and/or biking to MAX. This survey will tell us where bikers are coming from and where they are going. We also want to know how riders are using our bike parking facilities and about the types of trips they are making (work, recreation, school, etc.). This information will help TriMet improve integration of bicycles and MAX. The survey can be accessed by clicking here."
I'd be interested to see a similar survey for bikes and buses!
August 16, 2007
This week has been all about locking down the local match for the Streetcar Loop project. A deadline looms on September 7th to get the necessary info to the FTA to get a $75M Federal grant into the President's next budget, so a number of things happened this week on the way to September 6th City Council vote on all the necessary funding commitments for about $72M in local match:
- A briefing before Portland Development Commission, which appears to have been trying to ignore the fact that this project exists even though Sam Adams testified before them almost 2 years ago that he was asking them for $31M in TIF.
- A briefing before City Council in which it appeared pretty clear that City Council would commit $27M in TIF whether PDC wanted to our not.
- First reading on the formation of an LID that will contribute $15M to the project
It's not surprising that this process is a little rougher than past projects. It took us from 1997 to 2007 to assemble the $100M that built the existing alignment. Now we're trying to put together about 3/4s of that amount in a much shorter timeline. Under normal circumstances we probably would have taken another year to do it, but we're rushing to meet what is essentially a gold-plated invitation from the FTA to be the first Streetcar project funded under the Small Starts program.
I haven't written much about it here, because I've been spending a lot of time on Amanda Fritz' blog clarifying what this project is and isn't about and where the money is coming from. You can check out that conversation here and here.
This post is intended to serve as the landing page for permanent user documentation for our transit tools, and will be linked from our sidebar navigation to make it easy to find.
Currently Portland Transport offers several different tools designed to make it easier for transit system users to access TriMet and NextBus data for real time arrives on buses, MAX trains and the Portland Streetcar. We are happy to say that we are an authorized developer under TriMet's web service and proudly display the following:
Route and arrival data provided by permission of TriMet
Our current tools are:
Transit Surfer™ - provides real time arrival information via an xHTML interface designed for use on cell phones and other hand-held devices.
Transit Board™ - provides real time arrival information in an HTML/Ajax format intended for use on full-size computer screens.
August 15, 2007
This is part of our series documenting the Transit Tools offered by Portland Transport.
Transit Surfer™ is our cell phone web browser interface for accessing real time arrival information for TriMet and Streetcar routes (route and arrival data provided by permission of TriMet). It's named 'Surfer' for those of us who 'surf' the transit system, making real time judgments about what route or vehicle will get us to our destination most quickly. As such it's designed to put comparative information on the screen and let you quickly access related information.
For those of you who follow cell phone technology, this is technically an xHTML interface. It will also work on a desktop web browser. I'm afraid we do NOT have support for older phones that only implement the WAP interface. The good news is that new phones coming out generally support xHTML if they have a web browser.
You can find Transit Surfer at http://tsrf.us.
There are three screens you will encounter when using Transit Surfer. The entry screen lets you either type in a route or stop id number, or select a route from a pulldown list:
The landing screen for Transit Surfer™
If you either type a route number or select a route from the pulldown, you'll wind up on the stop selection screen, where there are two pulldowns, one for each direction, to select the stop.
The stop selection screen.
One you select a stop, either from the landing screen or from the stop selection screen, you'll get the results page. Not only will the results show you all the lines arriving at your stop, it will also give you links to the nearest lines at other stops, so you can 'surf' to alternate choices.
Also note the forward and backward linked arrows next to each line. These links will take you to the screen for the next or previous stop on that line. One of my favorite ways to use Transit Surfer is to walk in the direction of travel until the bus or Streetcar catches up with me. By just clicking to the next stop each time I pass a bus stop, I can keep track and make sure the vehicle isn't going to pass me between stops!
The results screen.
Like the Transit Board, Transit Surfer also supports the idea of 'choice sets', collections of multiple stops and routes (rather than just a single stop). Here's a set that lets me see three different lines at three different stops that can get me home to NW Portland from central downtown Portland:
(I hang out at City Club a lot.)
Right now, we can set up 'choice sets' on request. In the future we hope to offer users an interface to build their own, so that ultimately you can have a menu of your 'favorite transit places' to steal a phrasing from Windows.
As always, let us know what you think.
Transit Surfer™ is a trademark of Portland Transport.
I had a chuckle yesterday morning when reading in the O about the opposition simmering in response to Washington County's consideration of forming an Urban Renewal district to pay for roads, sewers and other infrastructure for the North Bethany UGB expansion area.
I've actually been party to discussions at MPAC about using urban renewal as a tool to advance development of centers (unlike Portland, which is very close to the legal limit on the percent of the City in districts, many local governments have not utilized this tool extensively) and it's not an unreasonable strategy.
But the chuckle came on two fronts:
1) When Portland forms a district, it's typically the county and school district that complain about losing revenue. Here it's the fire and parks districts, since those are not city functions as they are in Portland. So you have more governments to argue with :-)
2) The definition of blight has now apparently been extended to include "doesn't have roads". I'm beginning to agree with the cynics who say anything can be declared blighted. Maybe we can created a definition of blighted for not having bike lanes and curb extensions :-)
But after the chuckle there's a more serious point I want to make: adding infrastructure is not free just because you're on the edge. The federal subsidies that used to make this easy are gone, and local government has to look deep into its own pockets to fund the cost of growth. Generally growth in centers, where sewer lines and roads are shorter, because densities are higher, is going to be the more cost-effective way to go.
August 14, 2007
The Daily Journal of Commerce is reporting that Metro will "crunch the numbers" for running Milwaukie Light Rail through the Central East Side instead of over a bridge into downtown.
It's a little bit hard to tell from the article, but I get the sense that this is a side exercise by Metro staff at the request of the Council (or a Councilor), not part of the formal EIS process (can someone who was at the meeting clarify?).
But I imagine Jim Howell is smiling this morning :-)
Arrival information for 3 lines downtown split across two SMS messages, displayed on an iPhone.
Not everyone has a web-enabled cell phone that can use our Transit Surfer™ interface. But most cell phones can do text messages. So we have partnered with a 3rd party SMS gatgway company called 411sync to offer TriMet (route and arrival data provided by permission of TriMet) and Streetcar arrival times via text message. You get back a very terse reply, like:
Streetcar to SW Lowell and Bond: 2m,18m,34m; 15 Parkrose TC: 3m,17m
For each line at the stop, you get the line identifier, terminus and the times of the next few vehicles.
You access this service by sending a text message to 415-676-8397 or email@example.com with the following message text:
trimet <stop #>
August 13, 2007
This post is part of a series documenting the transit tools offered by Portland Transport.
Transit Board™ is a web browser interface designed to be used in a fixed location, perhaps as a kiosk or as an intranet page for a company office, allowing users to see multiple transit lines departing from a particular place or general vicinity.
One TMA has already implemented it.
There are two ways to set up a Transit Board. One requires help from the admins at Portland Transport, the other can be done on a do-it-yourself basis.
The first model requires defining something we call a 'choice set', which is a list of transit stops and specific lines that serve them. If you'd like to do this, send e-mail to firstname.lastname@example.org and we'll work with you. With the custom approach we can tailor colors and create special messages as well.
The do-it-yourself form just requires a URL with a list of stops. Here's an example:
This particular board is designed for a hypothetical kiosk in the middle of Pioneer Courthouse Square, so it uses the MAX stops on either side of the square. You could add in as many stop=
You can get stop ids by looking on bus stops, or by using TriMet's Transit Tracker and noting the URL of the tracking page, looking for the locationID parameter.
We'll eventually have a tool that will let you click your way through setup of these, but not quite yet - hey, we're only volunteers.
The URL above works great as standalone page, but you can also put it inside another web page with an IFRAME tag, like so:
<iframe src="http://tsrf.us/cgi-bin/tboard.pl?stop=8334&stop=8383" frameborder=0 width=600 height=950>Frame could not be displayed</iframe>
[TIP: Play with the height= attribute of the IFRAME to balance extra white space against scroll bars depending on how many rows show up.]
Which would yield this...
And remember, if you want custom colors, font, bus lines, etc.; let us know, we can customize a Transit Board for you. We also now have a custom version that will work in a pop-up window!
Transit Board is a service and trademark of Portland Transport. Route and arrival data provided by permission of TriMet.
"The concept of 'complete streets' — with bike lanes, sidewalks and room for mass transit — has attracted a diverse national alliance of supporters, including advocates for senior citizens and the disabled."
"Fourteen states, six counties, 10 regional governments and 52 cities have complete streets policies, according to the National Complete Streets Coalition. In Illinois, a complete streets bill awaits the governor's signature. In California, a bill passed one house."
Just a heads up that this week you're going to see some posts that are intended to hang around as documentation for our various transit tools. They'll be written less in a 'current' tense and more in an archival kind of way.
August 10, 2007
Here's the actual recommendation document (PDF, 490K).
Original Post: 7/12/07
According to coverage in the Daily Journal of Commerce the Lake Oswego Transit Alternatives Analysis Project Advisory Committee (LOPAC in Metro acronym-ese) is divided on the mode choice. The area subcommittees for the north and south segments favor Streetcar while the segment in the middle prefers bus rapid transit.
“As attracted as I am to a big, sexy project like the streetcar,” Brian Lantow, a representative of Riverdale, the unincorporated land between the two cities, said, “I don’t see it serving the population of the neighborhood.”
And then there is the question of which alignment to use through John's Landing. Staying on the Willamette Shoreline trolley right of way would put the Streetcar only a few feet from some residents' windows, but reduce total travel time by several minutes. Putting a the Streetcar in Macadam would increase ridership and development potential, but also increase project cost.
It's going to be an interesting summer for LOPAC and the Steering Committee of local electeds who will sort through this. The first formal public hearing by the Steering Committee on this topic is Monday at 4pm at Metro.
The City of Portland is ramping up its efforts to make our streets more environmentally friendly. From the Daily Journal of Commerce:
A policy approved by Portland City Council in April makes green street features like curb extensions, bioswales and stormwater planter systems a required part of all city-funded infrastructure projects in the public right-of-way.
August 9, 2007
At least one commentator thinks so: via Planetizen.
From Multnomah County:
Traffic plan set for Providence Bridge Pedal The 12th annual Providence Bridge Pedal on Sunday morning, August 12, will involve ten Willamette River bridges in Portland. The event includes three different cycle routes and one for walkers. As usual, the event will require some changes in how motorists get around the city, especially when crossing the Willamette River. Several bridges – including the Broadway, Morrison and St. Johns -- will remain open to vehicular traffic in both directions, despite the presence of cyclists and walkers. Here is the traffic plan for Bridge Pedal, starting with bridges from south to north:
Bridge Pedal will also require traffic changes on several state highways and Portland streets Sunday morning, including:
- The Sellwood Bridge will be closed westbound from 6:45 am to 9:15 am.
- The Ross Island Bridge will be closed westbound at 4:00 am and will reopen by noon.
- The Marquam Bridge/Interstate 5 will be closed northbound (upper deck) at 4:00 am and will reopen by noon.
- The Hawthorne Bridge will be closed eastbound from 6:30 am to 10:30 am, with TriMet bus service operating in both directions. The outside eastbound lane will be closed beginning Saturday at 6:00 pm.
- The Morrison Bridge will be open in both directions. The outer two eastbound lanes will be closed from 6:30 am to 8:30 am.
- The Burnside Bridge will be closed from 6:30 am to 11:00 am. (The bridge will be closed for lift span repairs starting at 8:00 pm on August 9 and is not expected to reopen until after Bridge Pedal.)
- The Steel Bridge will be closed in both directions from 6:45 am until 11:30 am. TriMet bus and MAX service will operate in both directions.
- The Broadway Bridge will be open in both directions. The outermost westbound lane will be closed from 7:30 am to 12:30 pm.
- The Fremont Bridge/Interstate 405 will be closed southbound (upper deck) at 4:00 am and will reopen by 12:15 pm.
- The St. Johns Bridge will have one lane open in both directions (the other two lanes will be closed) from 6:00 am to noon.
The Broadway, Burnside, Morrison and Hawthorne drawbridges will not be able to open for river traffic between 6:00 am and noon. TriMet buses and MAX trains may experience delays up to 15 minutes in downtown during the event. Many downtown lines will have minor detours and lines 12-Sandy, 19-Glisan and 20-Burnside/Stark will cross the Morrison Bridge instead of the Burnside Bridge. The following bus lines will also have minor detours: 12-Barbur/Sandy, 14-Hawthorne, 15-Belmont/NW 23rd Ave., 17-Holgate/NW 21st Ave.-St. Helens Rd., 19-Glisan/Woodstock, 20-Burnside/Stark, 33-Fremont/McLoughlin, 35-Macadam, 43-Taylors Ferry Rd., 44-Mocks Crest, 70-12th Ave., 72-Killingsworth/82nd Ave., and 77-Broadway/Halsey. Signs will direct riders to nearby stops where buses are on detours. The Oregon Department of Transportation maintains the Fremont, Marquam, Ross Island and St. Johns bridges. Multnomah County maintains the Broadway, Burnside, Hawthorne, Morrison and Sellwood bridges. Union Pacific Railroad owns the Steel Bridge. Keep Portland Moving is a multi-agency effort to coordinate public works construction, manage traffic impacts and coordinate public information. Agencies include the City of Portland’s Transportation and Environmental Services bureaus, Multnomah County, Oregon Dept. of Transportation and TriMet. For more information, visit www.keepportlandmoving.org. For Bridge Pedal information, visit www.providence.org/oregon/events/bridge_pedal.
- I-5 and I-405: Motorists approaching the Marquam Bridge on northbound I-5 will be routed to northbound I-405 during the temporary Marquam Bridge closure (from 4:00 am to noon). All lanes of southbound I-5 will remain open at all times. All southbound lanes of I-405 will be closed between U.S. 30 and the Marquam Bridge. Motorists headed for southbound I-405/southbound I-5 will take northbound I-405 across the Fremont Bridge to southbound I-5.
- The right lane of eastbound U.S. 30 will be closed between NW Kittridge Ave. and the St. Johns Bridge from 6:00 am to noon.
- Motorists traveling eastbound on U.S. 26 (Sunset Highway) to southbound I-405 will be routed to northbound I-405, across the Fremont Bridge to southbound I-5. This detour will be in place from 4:00 am to noon.
- SW Macadam Ave./Highway 43: One northbound lane of Macadam/Highway 43 will be closed between the Sellwood Bridge and Ross Island Bridge, with some delays accessing areas east of SW Macadam Ave. from 6:00 am to noon.
- Highway 99E: One southbound lane of Highway 99E will be closed between SE Mill St. and the Milwaukie Ave. off-ramp. from 6:00 am to noon.
- Naito Parkway: Closed in both directions between SW Columbia and the Steel Bridge. NW Naito Parkway/NW Front Ave. will be closed southbound from NW Nicolai to the Steel Bridge. SW Naito will be closed northbound from SW Harrison to SW Columbia.
- N Willamette Blvd.: Closed eastbound between N Richmond Ave. and N Portland Blvd.
- N Greeley Ave.: Closed southbound from N Killingsworth St. to N Interstate Ave.
- N Ivanhoe St.: Closed between N Leavitt Ave. and N Philadelphia Ave.
- N Interstate Ave.: both directions closed between Larrabee and Mississippi, southbound only closed Fremont to Multnomah.
- SE Milwaukie Ave.: southbound only closed between Schiller and Ellis.
- N Russell St: closed both directions between Kerby and Mississippi.
- SE Clay St.: West of Martin Luther King Blvd., access for local traffic only to Water Ave. (OMSI access provided).
August 8, 2007
As the Willamette Shoreline Transit/Trail analysis proceeds to a Locally Preferred Alignment decision in September, it's becoming evident that the trail component is going to be a challenge.
There simply is not enough width in the right of way in some spots (tunnel, trestle, etc.) to accommodate both rail and trail. The work-arounds to this are very expensive (initial estimate on the order of $60M).
While some might argue to use the right-of-way for a trail and punt on transit (e.g., just improve bus service on 43), that's not likely to be the outcome for a few good reasons:
- Portions of the right-of-way are not owned outright, they are easements that may lapse if rail service is not maintained.
- The right-of-way is valuable, it's potentially worth $50-75M as match for Federal funds for a transit project (there are no equivalent programs for trail projects).
- Bus solutions in Highway 43 are going to get caught in congested traffic as the corridor sees growth in traffic over the coming decades (and the motivation for the transit project is in part the impossibility of widening the road).
So what happens to the trail? I certainly hope we don't give up. The Daily Journal of Commerce reports on one Metro official suggesting Metro might 'punt'.
I'm not sure that's going to be the case. It seems pretty clear that the trail project will split from the transit project, if only because of Federal processes (the Federal Transit Administration does not fund trails). But I hope we keep the trail project alive in its own process. This is a key regional corridor, and the analysis so far suggest it will get lots of use. Since the trail will cross city and county boundaries it would seem like Metro is a likely sponsor. Let's hope the Council doesn't forget that as they bless the transit decision.
We'll probably never build a $60M trail, but let's keep the planning alive so we can keep looking for more cost-effective alternatives!
Planners in Tallahassee, Florida are resisting calls to add more ramps to I-10, trying to prevent congestion:
"A lot of locals are using I-10," said Tommie Speights, a spokesman for the department. "That's what's causing the congestion."
August 7, 2007
The New York Times reports today that the Governor of Minnesota, who twice vetoed gas tax increases, is now open to the idea.
It also highlights the fact that Rep. James Oberstar, the Chair of the House Transportation and Infrastructure Committee (of which Peter DeFazio's Surface Transportation Committee is a sub-committee) is from Minnesota, which creates interesting perspective on how the Federal gas tax (which, like Oregon's gas tax, has not been raised since 1993) is allocated between maintenance and new construction.
For some time TriMet has had an 'unofficial' SOAP/XML web services interface to some of their data, including real-time arrival (also known as AVL - automatic vehicle location) data.
Portland Transport uses the SOAP interface for our Transit Surfer, Transit Board and SMS interfaces for real time arrivals.
They didn't advertise it, but if you knocked on their door and asked nicely, the would tell you where it was.
Now they've taken it to the next level with a full-blown (and documented) set of REST interfaces (and as a web developer, I can tell you that REST is much better for 'information' type web services).
I got a sneak peek a few weeks ago, and have already begun to shift some of our infrastructure to use the new interfaces.
TriMet has announced the interface (which requires registration and an API key) on a transit industry list, so I think I can let Portland Transport readers in on the info. You'll find the documentation at:
Thank you, TriMet!
August 6, 2007
This time it's in the Daily Journal of Commerce, where guest columnist Craig Honeyman (of the Oregon chapter of Associated General Contractors) calls for a continuing coalition of business and local governments to keep the heat on the Legislature to provide a comprehensive transportation funding package.
August 3, 2007
Our first thoughts of course are for the victims of the I-35 Bridge collapse, and for their families and loved ones.
The natural second thought is "could it happen here?" Local officials are rushing to tell the media that, no, it can't, but given that we don't know why the bridge failed, it's hard to feel reassured.
And of course we can't help thinking about the Sellwood Bridge, rated at 2 out of 100 on the Federal maintenance scale.
Is this a case of aging infrastructure (the I-35 Bridge was built in 1967 according to Wikipedia) like the steam pipe explosion in NYC? Or is this a design failure (the Marquam Bridge has the same basic design, although unlike the I-35 Bridge, it has mid-river piers)?
What are you thinking about?
Fatalities per billion kilometers driven from 1970 to 2005 for selected countries
We (the U.S.) used to lead the world in traffic safety. We've plateaued and others who lagged far behind are about to pass us...
August 2, 2007
A few weeks ago, we unveiled a prototype interface for getting TriMet arrival times via txt message.
This is just a quick update. The reply messages have been condensed based on your feedback. The typical message now looks like this:
Streetcar to SW Lowell and Bond: 2m,18m,34m; 15 Parkrose TC: 3m,17m
For each line at the stop, you get the line identifier, terminus and the times of the next few vehicles.
As a reminder you access this service by sending a text message to 415-676-8397 or email@example.com with the following message text:
trimet <stop #>
Keep giving us feedback!
Streetsblog is reporting that after removing railings and signage, the Kensington High Street in London is now twice as safe.
Does this operate along the same theory as removing traffic control devices to make drivers pay attention? If we make pedestrian feel less protected, do they pay more attention? How far do we go (I note that the median refuge has been retained)?
Would Interstate Ave be safer without all those railings around the MAX stops?
August 1, 2007
Listen to the show (mp3, 13.0M)
Carl and Ayleen interview Portlanders who gave up driving for the month of July as part of the Low-Car-Diet Challenge. Hear how bikes fit into their transportation mix. Chris Smith will discuss transportation aspects of the upcoming Project Homeless Connect, along with volunteer opportunities.
The Daily Journal of Commerce is reporting that the Gov will make transportation funding a focus in the 2009 legislative session. But will it be for maintenance, or new capacity?
I couldn't resist. Here are photos from Saturday's Streetcar Workshop. See if you can spot the Portland Transport regulars. Thanks to PDOT staff for the photos!