October 29, 2008
Via the OTRAN list:
Cutting Carbs: A workshop for transportation professionals looking to cut some greenhouse gas emissions
December 3, 2008
Mark your calendars! On Wednesday, December 3rd, the Oregon Environmental Council (OEC) will host a workshop for transportation professionals. The goal: to build knowledge and skills for reducing greenhouse gas (GHG) emissions from the transportation system.
Who should attend? Planners, engineers and project managers who have a day-to-day impact on transportation plans and projects around Oregon. We welcome consultants and clients alike and encourage teams! The workshop will focus on information and skills that you can use to boost your organization's resources and improve Oregon's environment.
What will you learn? How climate change and transportation legislation in Salem, Olympia and Washington, D.C. could impact your work. What tools you can use to measure or estimate GHGs from transportation projects. Which strategies can make the most cost-effective dent in GHGs. We'll explore the leading edge in these areas, hear from the innovators, and work on how you can make a difference.
If you would like to be on OEC's mailing list for this event, please send an email to Chris Hagerbaumer at firstname.lastname@example.org. Look for more information in October.
Brought to you by: CH2M Hill, David Evans & Associates, HDR, Metro, ODOT, Port of Portland, Portland Office of Sustainable Development, TriMet, and URS.
Chris Hagerbaumer| Deputy Director
Oregon Environmental Council
October 28, 2008
via the OTRAN list...
Governor Kulongoski has released his climate change agenda for the 2009 legislative session. A major omission noted by many is the absence of a cap-and-trade carbon trading system as contemplated by the Western Climate Initiative.
Here's the transportation section:
The Governor recognizes the dual need to both invest in transportation while also advancing options that reduce greenhouse gas emissions. That's why the Governor's climate change and transportation packages must be complementary, addressing the state's growing transportation needs while also takings actions to reduce carbon. The Governor's package will put forward several sustainable transportation measures that focus on reducing vehicle miles traveled, expanding transportation options, and encouraging new vehicle technologies.
Encouraging Alternative Vehicle Technologies: The Governor's transportation initiative will encourage the use of alternative technologies like plug-in hybrid and all-electric vehicles. The state will shift its business and residential energy tax credits from widely used hybrid vehicles to new vehicles that produce less carbon. As vehicle manufacturers introduce new technologies, the state will pursue public and private partnerships to ensure Oregon is the place to implement new vehicle technologies, such as charging stations for electric vehicles.
Adopting Low Carbon Fuels: This will authorize the Environmental Quality Commission to develop a low-carbon fuel standard similar to standards in Washington and California. This standard will require fuel providers to reduce the average carbon intensity of fuels sold by 10% over time. A low-carbon fuel standard will help reduce greenhouse gas emissions but also provide companies with flexibility to meet the standard through innovation and new technology.
Expanding Transportation Options: The Governor is committed to setting an overarching vehicle miles traveled (VMT) reduction goal for the state. Reducing discretionary trips in single occupancy vehicles will be a high priority, particularly in urban areas where more transportation choices exist. This will include an expanded Transportation Options program to help provide relief from high fuel prices and enhance community livability through expanded pedestrian and bicycle programs, increased numbers of carpools and vanpools, a statewide rideshare program, education and marketing, and incentive programs designed to reduce cars on our roadways.
Developing a Least Carbon Model: This legislation directs the Oregon Department of Transportation (ODOT) to develop a least carbon planning model - similar to what utility companies currently use - that will be applied when solving transportation problems. This modeling directs ODOT to consider the least carbon option, such as increased investments in rail or transit, in order to relieve congestion, rather than just building additional capacity.
I'm curious what a Least Carbon Model analysis would say about the Columbia River Crossing...
October 25, 2008
When set in Directions mode, Maps now offers three icons -- car, public transit, and walking -- centered at the top of screen, in between the "Edit" and "Start" buttons. Selecting the transit icon provides a list of transit choices that can include subways, buses, or a combination of the two.
A list of departure times and estimated commute times accompany each transit option. Once you select a particular method of transit, the Maps application will serve up step-by-step directions from your current location, usually directing you to your chosen departure subway or bus stop on foot. During commutes, Maps will specify when you should board or disembark from a bus or train.
Read the full article for screen shots and more information.
My comments: Although each local transit agency (and transit-supportive local web sites) may offer tools more directly tailored to a locale, this effort by Google and Apple will provide a valuable tool for frequent travelers with a consistent interface, and the additional visibility this provides, just from a PR perspective, may prod more transit agencies to provide real-time and schedule data to service providers like Google.
October 23, 2008
The new 10-member "project sponsors council" for the Columbia River Crossing will hold its first meeting on November 4th at 3pm at WashDOT in Vancouver (details in the Trib).
Will this new group lead us to better results than the 30+ member stakeholder committee did? With David Bragdon now subbed in for Rex Burkholder, will some of the conditions Metro and the City of Portland put on their LPA approvals receive attention?
Streetfilms has an incredible interview/walking tour with NYC's transportation commissioner about what they've done with their streets.
Sam, hurry up! We're falling behind.
October 22, 2008
OK, I admit that the framing of my question was very local-centric without considering the full path of a freight trip.
But a reader passed along an interesting article that suggests that this can still be successfully managed in a sleepy little rail town called Chicago.
Original Post, 10/20/08:
Jim Young, chair of Union Pacific, was interviewed in a "Q&A" in Sunday's Oregonian (if it's online, I haven't found it).
Here's an interesting exchange on Commuter Rail:
Q: Do you see Union Pacific getting into the business of passenger rail with the new emphasis on mass transit?
A: There's an infrastructure challenge on the highways. We are approached by city leaders who want to put commuter rail on the freight rail. That's a complete mistake. The last thing we want to do is take freight off to make room for commuters. That freight just ends up on the highway.
For example, a load of lumber moving out of the Pacific Northwest displaces two to three trucks. Capacity is so tight, it wouldn't be a good thing for the environment or the country. I can understand the community's perspective. But what I have to protect is the freight business.
Is that the right way to look at the trade-off? If a freight car load of timber displaces 3 trucks, would a passenger car displace more than 3 trucks' worth of cars? Assuming 3 cars = 1 truck for highway space, as long as a passenger rail car has more than nine passengers on it, isn't that a win?
And wouldn't the freight be more likely to be able to shift out of the AM and PM peak (if on trucks) than the commuters would be?
How many cars to do we have to remove to cancel the negative environmental impacts of the added trucks?
Seems like the tradeoff is a little more complex than Mr. Young paints it?
Of course, we could always invest in more rail, rather than more asphalt...
Streetfilms has a great video of the bus system in Boulder, CO. Erik is going to salivate.
I particularly like the bike storage in the luggage compartment. We could use room for six bikes on the #96, which I've pretty much given up on because the bike racks are always full.
October 20, 2008
Portland State University
Center for Transportation Studies
Fall 2008 Transportation Seminar Series
At the beginning of the Fall term, we still had a few Friday slots to be filled. Well, now they have all been filled up. Plus we have updated the seminar website, and have put the archives (by date or by subject) on separate pages. So please take a look at the website for the most up to date info: http://www.cts.pdx.edu/seminars/index.php
Next Friday's seminar:
Speaker: Ted Buehler
Topic: Bicycling in Davis, CA: Rise and Maturation of Bicycle Engineering, Advocacy and Policy from 1960s - Present
When: Oct. 24, 2008, 12:00 - 1:15p.m.
Where: PSU Urban Center Building, SW 6th and Mill, Room 204.
October 17, 2008
I'm at the JPACT retreat this morning, where among other things the regional legislative strategy for the 2009 Oregon Legislative session is being discussed.
The Port of Portland lobbyist is inculcating a mantra of "job creation" as the top line message for the Columbia River Crossing.
I was muttering under my breath: "environmental destruction."
October 15, 2008
A new national advocacy effort is being launched today:
Transportation for America (T4) is a broad coalition of housing, environmental, public health, urban planning, transportation and other organizations focused on creating a 21st Century national transportation program. T4's goal is to build a modernized infrastructure and healthy communities where people can live, work and play by aligning national, state, and local transportation policies with an array of issues like economic opportunity, climate change, energy security, health, housing and community development. www.t4america.org
October 13, 2008
I had several readers drop me a note late last week about the episode of PBS's NOW magazine show that aired on Friday:
Driven to Despair
NOW on PBS
With gas prices spiking and home values crumbling, the American dream of commuting to work from the fringes of suburbia has become an American nightmare. Many are facing a hard choice: Paying for gas or paying the mortgage. How did it come to this? It's not just about America's financial crisis; it's also about big problems with our national infrastructure. Overstressed highways and too few public transportation options are wreaking havoc on people's lives and hitting the brakes on our already-stretched economy.
This week, NOW on PBS takes a close-up look at our inadequate transportation network and visits some people paying a high pricein both dollars and quality of life just to get to work. Do we have the means to modernize both our infrastructure and our lifestyles?
It didn't disappoint.
October 10, 2008
The 50 organizations that make up the Oregon Conservation Network are gathering signatures for a letter to State elected leaders:
Dear Elected Leaders,
One year ago, gas was about $2.80 a gallon. Now, with gas prices hovering around $4 a gallon, many Oregonians are struggling with increased transportation costs. And they're looking for alternatives to driving everywhere they need to go.
Oregonians are also concerned about the impacts of global warming pollution. Increased greenhouse gas emissions threaten Oregon's environment, our economy, and our cherished quality of life.
There is a way to help Oregonians grappling with rising transportation costs and - at the same time - tackle global warming.
Common sense transportation investments will give Oregonians better options to get where they need to go. More effective public transportation and safer streets for biking and walking will reduce our dependency on the automobile. These investments will not only ease the pinch on our wallets, they will also reduce the amount of global warming pollution we send into the atmosphere and promote healthier, more active lifestyles.
Alternative modes of transportation have significant benefits to the health of Oregonians. By promoting more active lifestyles with increased walking, biking, and public transportation, we will help to prevent obesity, diabetes, heart disease and other chronic conditions. This will likely save lives and save millions of dollars in health care costs.
As a national leader in environmental protection, Oregon has made a commitment to reduce our contribution to global warming. HB 3543, passed by the 2007 Oregon Legislature, requires Oregon's greenhouse gas emissions to be reduced to 10% below 1990 levels by 2020 and to 75% below 1990 levels by 2050.
The transportation sector accounts for nearly 40% of Oregon's greenhouse gas emissions.
Technologies like electric cars and lower-carbon fuels will help reduce our global warming pollution, but to achieve our statewide goals, Oregonians also need more opportunities to reduce the amount we drive.
The best way to reduce our need to drive is through a combination of common sense transportation investments and more efficient land use planning. Allowing mixed use neighborhoods where jobs, schools, and shopping opportunities are within an easy walk of our homes helps reduce our reliance on the car.
Governor Kulongoski identified transportation as one of his top priorities in his March 21, 2008 State of the State address, declaring, "Oregon must have the greenest transportation system in the country."
We agree. Making the appropriate transportation investments and creating more efficient land use planning would be a win-win for Oregon families:
• More money in the pocketbook
• Better options to get around by transit, walking or biking
• Reduced reliance on the automobile
• Reduced global warming pollution
We urge the 2009 Legislature and Oregon's Congressional delegation to include the following concepts in any transportation funding or global warming policy package:
1) Funding for all Transportation Options - Any package must ensure adequate funding for greenhouse gas-reducing transit, pedestrian and bicycle facilities. Funding for these investments should be a legislative priority.
2) Establish Statewide Targets for Reducing Oregonians' Reliance on Driving & Implement Metropolitan Land Use and Transportation Strategies to Reach the Targets - Adopt and apply a greenhouse gas reduction planning tool for transportation and land use decision making to meet the state's greenhouse gas reduction goals. The technology already exists to estimate likely changes in driving from changes in land use and transportation systems. This technology needs to be deployed in all six of Oregon's metropolitan areas (Bend, Medford, Eugene, Corvallis, Salem and Portland).
3) Support Community Planning and Design for Reduced Reliance on Driving - Help cities and counties improve their land use and transportation plans to provide Oregonians more choices of where to live and how to get around, including: encouraging mixed-use development; investing in connections like bike paths, sidewalks, and local streets that make biking, walking, and short driving trips more convenient; and making Oregon communities more compact and efficient by limiting outward expansion and sprawl. Link these local plans to the metropolitan strategies for reducing transportation emissions.
4) Support Technologies that Reduce Global Warming Pollution - Improvements in fuel-efficiency, such as plug-in hybrids, and the development of lower-carbon fuels, such as second-generation biofuels, are critical steps towards reducing transportation's impact on our environment.
Oregonians are trapped between rising gas prices and a future compromised by global warming pollution. Oregon families need more transportation choices. Local governments need the tools to make our communities more efficient.
Please address transportation-induced global warming pollution during the 2009 Oregon Legislative session and the 111th United States Congress.
October 9, 2008
From Willamette Week:
Metro's Transit Program director, Richard Brandman, is taking a top job at the Columbia River Crossing project. While Brandman might not be a household name, the move may signal that the project's two sponsor agencies--the Washington and Oregon departments of transportation--want to make the proposed $4.2 billion bridge to the 'Couv more attractive to its many critics in Oregon. Metro and the DOTs typically have very different views, which could be described as planning versus paving. Brandman will be on loan for two years to the CRC and replaces ODOT's John Osborn as CRC's co-director.
Does this signal that Governor Kulongoski, ODOT Director Matt Garrett and Metro President David Bragdon have reached a meeting of the minds on what the project should look like?
An article in Wednesday's O shows concepts for three different design variations for the transit bridge proposed as part of the Milwaukie Light Rail project.
I'm not an architect, what do readers thinks?
October 8, 2008
The City of Portland is seeking members for its Pedestrian Advisory Committee
Portland Seeking New Members for the City's Pedestrian Advisory Committee
(PORTLAND, OR) - The City of Portland is seeking new members for its Pedestrian Advisory Committee. Portland's Pedestrian Advisory Committee is a standing citizen advisory committee active since the early 1990s. Its purpose is to advise the Mayor and City Council and City departments on all matters that encourage and enhance walking as a means of transportation, recreation, wellness, and environmental enhancement.
Committee members meet monthly in the evening on the third Tuesday of each month. They review and make recommendations on the following:
* planning documents affecting pedestrians
* pedestrian projects
* projects with pedestrian facilities
* funding priorities for pedestrian-related projects
* activities of other jurisdictions that affect pedestrians in Portland
* maintaining and periodically updating the Portland Pedestrian Design
Guide and Pedestrian Master Plan.
The committee is composed of 9-13 members appointed to a four-year term. To qualify, applicants must meet the following criteria:
* be a resident or own a business in the City of Portland;
* have an interest in promoting the use of walking for transportation and recreation;
* commit to attend monthly meetings and participate in the work of the committee.
Individuals interested in issues that affect pedestrians and the pedestrian environment are encouraged to read the Pedestrian Advisory Committee Bylaws and submit their application. Forms are available online at www.portlandonline.com/transportation.
Interested individuals may also request an application and supporting materials from Caitlin McCollum at the Portland Office of Transportation, 1120 SW 5th Ave, Room 800, Portland, OR 97204. Email:
email@example.com or Fax: 503-823-7576.
Applications must be received by mail, email, or fax no later than November 12, 2008.
October 7, 2008
As the Streetcar Loop moves into final engineering TriMet has assigned colors for the system map for our soon-to-be-two-line system. The current alignment from South Waterfront to NW 23rd will be the Amber Line, while the new Loop route (which won't really be a loop until 2015 or so) will be the Aqua Line. I am told the general 'family' for streetcar colors is from precious stone colors (then why don't we have a Diamond line?).
If someone comments that bus riders are discriminated against and under-served because their lines don't get colors, I'm going go throw myself under a rail car.
Meanwhile, weekday ridership on the existing line (everybody practice now: the Amber line) was 12,600 during the summer ridership counts. That's up about 25% from the year before. Saturday ridership was 11,700, Sunday 7,300, both also records.
October 6, 2008
Here's a diagram of all the projects on the table for South Portland. Lot's of moving pieces!
Open House for South Portland Transportation Projects
The City of Portland Office of Transportation is hosting an open house focused on transportation projects (and potential funding for the projects) in the South Portland Neighborhood which includes the South Waterfront District, the historic Lair Hill neighborhood and the North Macadam Urban Renewal Area.
Join us for an Open House!
5-8 p.m. Tuesday, October 7, 2008
David Evans and Associates, Willamette River Room
2100 SW River Parkway, Portland (served by Portland Streetcar)
Information will be available for:
SW Gibbs Street. Pedestrian Bridge - See the proposed bridge including computer-generated pictures of what the constructed bridge might look like. The Pedestrian Bridge will create a link for cyclists and pedestrians across I-5 adjacent the Portland Aerial Tram. At the open house, the project team will have information to share about the selected bridge type, the plaza area on the east end of the bridge, and pedestrian improvements on the west end of the bridge
If you can't attend the open house, you can review materials and complete an online survey at www.gibbsbridge.org. The online survey will be available through October 17, 2008. For more information, please contact Jody Yates at (503) 823-5835 or firstname.lastname@example.org
North Macadam Transportation Strategy - Review the selected bicycle, pedestrian, transit, and motor vehicle projects. For more information, please contact Art Pearce at (503) 823-7791 or email@example.com.
North Macadam Transportation System Development Charge (SDC) - View the proposed list of eligible projects and potential rates. For more information, please contact Kathryn Levine at (503) 823-7085 or Kathryn.Levine@pdxtrans.org
North Macadam Transportation Management Association (TMA) - review a proposal to start a Transportation Management Association that will serve North Macadam residents and businesses. For more information, please contact Dan Bower at (503) 823-5667 or Dan.Bower@pdxtrans.org
Representatives from the City of Portland Office of Transportation (PDOT), Portland Development Commission (PDC), Parks? TriMet? as well as consultants will be present to provide information and answer questions.
October 3, 2008
As part of the New Look/Regional Transportation Plan process, Metro is examining patterns of public infrastructure investments. A joint TPAC/MTAC (the technocratic advisory committees) workshop will be held on Monday, October 13th from 2-4pm in the Metro Council Chambers (600 NE Grand in Portland) to look at scenarios for transportation investment choices.
October 2, 2008
From a press release I just sent out. I hope the Portland Transport crowd will be well represented!
National Transit Passenger Advocates
Hold Outreach Meeting in Portland
Board Members of Rail Users' Network to meet with Portland transit users and advocates.
October 1, 2008 - RUN - the Rail User's Network will hold an outreach meeting in Portland on Wednesday, October 15th at 7pm. The meeting will be held in Room C on the 2nd floor of the Portland Building, 1120 SW 5th Ave.
The meeting will present a rare opportunity for rail advocates in Portland and elsewhere in the Northwest Region to meet with the counterparts from elsewhere in the nation, to exchange ideas for improving both transit in the region and advocacy efforts toward better transit. "Cities like Portland and Seattle represent the future in American transit, where new lines get people out of their automobiles and into downtown" said David Peter Alan, a RUN Board member and a rail advocate in New Jersey. He also stated: "We also want to help the advocacy movement grow in places like Portland, so transit riders can have as much of a voice as possible in making decisions about their transit."
The RUN meeting will feature representatives from the Citizens' Advisory Committee for the Portland Streetcar, the Association of Oregon Rail and Transit Advocates (AORTA) and All Aboard Washington, a coalition of Washington State rail advocates. RUN members from other regions will attend the meeting, as well. The meeting is scheduled to coincide with the Fall meeting of the National Association of Railroad Passengers (NARP), which begins the next day. NARP advocates at the national level for improvements in Amtrak intercity trains. A number of NARP Directors are also expected to attend the RUN meeting.
Chris Smith, chair of the Portland Streetcar Citizens Advisory Committee is acting as local host. If you are interested in attending the meeting, please RSVP to firstname.lastname@example.org.
RUN, the Rail Users' Network, is a nonprofit organization dedicated to the improvement of passenger rail service and rail transit. Our primary concern is expansion and improved management of local transit, including commuter rail, heavy rail, light rail and heritage streetcars. We are also concerned with the quality of travel on intercity trains operated by Amtrak and VIA Rail, and connectivity between intercity trains and local rail transit.
Our members are experienced rail advocates from around the nation. Many of us are active with state and local rail advocacy coalitions and transit-appointed advisory committees. We come from all walks of life, including law, engineering, business and rail management. We publish the RUN Newsletter quarterly, hold meetings in New York and around the country and sponsor conferences focusing on improved advocacy for better rail and transit service.
October 1, 2008
TriMet has delayed the opening of WES until February 2nd, primarily due to problems with the railcar vendor.
From the press release:
TriMet purchased three self-propelled Diesel Multiple Unit (DMU) cars and one trailer from Colorado Railcar Manufacturing (CRM). TriMet contracted with CRM, the only U.S. firm that builds DMUs that meets federal safety standards and complies with the Buy America requirement.
CRM has been financially distressed and is six months behind schedule. In January 2008, TriMet stepped in to ensure the cars' completion, including providing financial and rail engineering expertise and on-site technical assistance to CRM, as well as paying suppliers to get parts delivered and maintain CRM operations. When the third DMU arrived in September, TriMet engineers determined that it would not be ready for service this fall.
See the press release for more details about the opening, the delay, and train testing.
Listen to the show (mp3, 20.0MB)
Portland's bike economy is surging. Tori and Carl talk about the bike industry in our region with guests Jennifer Nolfi (Portland Development Commission), Jessica Roberts (Alta Planning), and Matt Cardinal from Signal Cycles.
Federal officials awarded $6 million to the Point Defiance Bypass Project, which is intended to reroute Amtrak service near Tacoma. The new route would avoid a tunnel and a congested area near the Port of Tacoma, saving six minutes on the 3-1/2 hour Portland-Seattle trip.