TriMet publishes proposed FY13 budget

TriMet has published its proposed FY13 budget. I’ll peruse it a bit more myself later tonight, but a few observations courtesy of OPAL after the jump (sorry, Facebook access required for the OPAL link).

I’m not endorsing any conclusion which may be implied by OPAL; however, these are good questions to be asking.

  • Contribution to the Streetcar is $9.3M, prior contribution was $6M. Initial planned contribution was $9.6M, the $300k difference has been portrayed by TriMet as a cut. OPAL seems to regard the Streetcar (and TriMet’s contribution thereto) as a luxury item and a waste of money, and appears to skeptical of TriMet getting too much involved in getting into the land-use business, and appears to be opposed to some (if not all) of this subsidy. The increase is due to the upcoming opening of the Eastside Streetcar. TriMet’s position is that its funding of the Streetcar is essentially the same amount of money that it would take to provide equivalent bus service on the route.
  • OPAL also points out that the agency’s contingency fund is $20M rather than $10M. TriMet includes the following comments in the budget (pages 11-12)–apologies if there are any errors, as the budget PDF disallows copy-and-paste, so I’m typing this in by hand:
    Budget “best practice” requires the establishment of reserves or “contingency” to provide an entity with a source of funds to provide for unexpected costs. TriMet’s FY13 Contingency is $20 million, which represents 1.5% of Total Requirements. Under State law, the use of funds in the Contingency requires a resolution of the TriMet Board before funds can be transferred and expended. If the Contingency Funds are not used in FY13, they become part of the Ending Fund Balance and are available for FY13 cash flow. Given the uncertainties facing TriMet in FY13, including the outcome of a decision by the ERB relating to past union health care costs, uncertainty about future health care costs which result from the labor contract, diesel fuel and the cost of other materials, and the economy, a contingency of 1.5% of total requirements is prudent but very modest
    This level of contingency is expected to provide TriMet with sufficient resources to withstand a modest decline in revenue or modest cost increases compared to budget. Given the uncertainties in the economy and the labor environment, the Contingency is sized to provide sufficient funding for operations in the event of adverse results in the fiscal year.

    The big question: Should they lose to the union, can TriMet keep service levels the same by consuming the contingency fund (at least for FY13), or will another round of cuts be coming down the pipe?

82 Comments

82 Responses to TriMet publishes proposed FY13 budget

  1. AL M
    April 23, 2012 at 6:10 pm Link

    What your all forgetting is this contract arbitration is for the PAST!

    The contract expires again in November so this next time around its a whole new ballgame.

    And Trimet mismanagement has done an excellent job pinning all its screw ups and blunders on its union employees.

    Fooled everybody (except OPAL) including the moderators on this blog.

  2. AL M
    April 23, 2012 at 6:13 pm Link

    Contribution to the Streetcar is $9.3M, prior contribution was $6M. Initial planned contribution was $9.6M, the $300k difference has been portrayed by TriMet as a cut.

    This proves how they distort facts!

    They just lie, and then lie some more.

  3. EngineerScotty
    April 23, 2012 at 6:32 pm Link

    Al, I’m quite aware that the current contract arbitration is for the past; however if the union is awarded back pay, it won’t come out of past budget cycles.

    Whether or not TriMet could rescind its Streetcar funding, I don’t know. The agency may well be contractually obligated to the city of Portland to fund the Streetcar at a certain level, just as the agency claims Clackamas County is obligated to pony up $25M for MLR, no matter what the voters there might think. Chris can probably offer a more informed opinion on that topic.

  4. NJD
    April 23, 2012 at 6:59 pm Link

    This IS a reduction in funding, OPAL is the one who is adding spin to this concept. Separate out the existing streetcar funding with new expansions coming on board this year: two different funding contracts. The subsidy is a combined total, with a reduction from promised funds.

    Oh, and EngineerScotty is right, any back pay will come out of this year’s budget. Yet again, more spin.

  5. NJD
    April 23, 2012 at 7:08 pm Link

    “They just lie, and then lie some more.”

    Um, no, that is not a lie. That is accounting. Please understand the subject matter at hand before writing irate critiques of it, as you may find that what you are angry about doesn’t actually exist.

    I’m just glad the budgets I have to work with only effect a dozen or so people, not the entire Portland metropolitan region. There is no way to make everyone happy.

  6. Jason McHuff
    April 23, 2012 at 8:58 pm Link

    Regarding streetcar, I’ve heard TriMet’s contribution has steadily(?) decreased on a per-hour basis. It, of course, should be normally expected to increase to account for inflation and increases in labor and other costs.

    And I’m guessing that the city and Streetcar do see it as a cut, as it seems to be money that they were expecting.

    What I would like to see considered to ease the budget hit is combining Lines 6 and 70. This would be a bus service cut in the area and not create duplicate service on MLK/Grand while keeping access to service for northern MLK somewhat nearby.

    Also, I believe the streetcar contribution is or was supposed to come out of the payroll tax rate increase and not the base funding.

    Lastly, what is Streetcar’s ridership per hour?

  7. Erik H.
    April 23, 2012 at 9:04 pm Link

    TriMet’s position is that its funding of the Streetcar is essentially the same amount of money that it would take to provide equivalent bus service on the route.

    The Eastside Streetcar route is 3 miles long.

    TriMet is claiming that it costs $3.3 million, or just over $1 million per route mile, and that “it is the cost of comparable bus service”.

    I would like to see an audit that clearly and plainly shows that running every Frequent Service bus line costs $1 million per route mile (operating costs only, does not include capital costs such as the costs of building bus stops or purchasing buses). Under TriMet’s very own logic, the #12-Barbur route (Burnside south to Sherwood) should have a dedicated budget of about $17 million annually, along with at least three “Superintendents” dedicated to the route, a dedicated maintenance team of five employees, and a dedicated Operator staff (Streetcar has 18 Operators).

    Furthermore, TriMet’s logic also fails in that TriMet already serves 100% of the Eastside Streetcar route with overlapping bus service. So not only is it giving away money to the City of Portland – but it will also force those overlapping bus lines to take a financial hit because of favorable treatment afforded to Streetcar riders versus bus riders (better bus stop amenities, lower fares). Thus, TriMet continues its anti-bus argument that buses cost so much money – while it hands regional transit operating funds collected from all of the region, and pours it into duplicative, overlapping service that serves an already overserved downtown Portland.

    Five plus ten minus one is not lower than five. It might be less than ten, but it’s still greater than five.

  8. AL M
    April 23, 2012 at 9:41 pm Link

    The agency may well be contractually obligated to the city of Portland to fund the Streetcar at a certain level, just as the agency claims Clackamas County is obligated to pony up $25M for MLR, no matter what the voters there might think.

    Funny what counts as contractually obligated and what doesn’t isn’t it?

    And if Trimet is funding the developers dream ride (streetcar) then who is going to be getting the fares from that abomination? I suppose that will all go into Portland city coffers, what a rip off for the transit dependent riders, it stinks to high heaven.

    Let’s see an intelligent rebuttal to Erik’s argument!

    Scott?
    Jason?

    Once again, I point y’all to the infamous John Charles who is this whole argument presents one of the best speeches on the topic of Trimet and its budget.

  9. NJD
    April 23, 2012 at 9:41 pm Link

    The Streetcar is a contentious transit/development tool. Frankly, I’m surprised Trimet is funding it at all, as I can see solid arguments on both sides.

  10. NJD
    April 23, 2012 at 9:50 pm Link

    Disregard my last post, as Al M’s anger-fueled tirade continues (posted at the same time), my sympathy for the ‘against Streetcar’ side wanes… Especially now that Mr. Charles’ flawed logic comes into play.. sigh… never a civil discussion anymore.

  11. AL M
    April 23, 2012 at 9:51 pm Link

    I don’t expect any anti streetcar stuff from the pro rail blog of Portland, just too much to bear that Mr Charles might be right about something huh?

  12. EngineerScotty
    April 23, 2012 at 10:25 pm Link

    How much should “equivalent bus service” cost? Back in 2010, Chris discussed several different possibilities for Eastside Streetcar service. One option was maintaining the existing NW-to-SoWa service at 12-minute headways and adding a Pearl-to-OMSI service at 12 minute headways; the other was to decrease the existing service to 15 minutes, and have a PSU-to-OMSI service at 15 minute intervals, with overlapping service between the Pearl and PSU.

    Either way, the service would be provided by 6 Streetcars in operation along the route.

    Virtually the entire eastside route, in either case, is drivable by busses. If we assume a bus can run the same route in the same amount of time (busses take longer to board, but can maneuver around obstacles if necessary), that’s six busses for 124.5 hours per week, or 38844 service hours per year. At about $100/hour for a bus, that comes out to very close to $3.8M. I’m ignoring things like reduced frequencies during evenings and weekends, and deadheading time, but $3.3M is not an unbelievable figure for the service provided.

    Now, whether or not these corridors would get frequent bus service (in addition to other nearby or redundant service, like the 35 in SoWa) were the Streetcar not there, I don’t know. One could make an equity argument that lower-income parts of town need the service more. OTOH, the areas along the Streetcar do have significant transit-dependent populations, in the sense that many downtown residents are low-car or no-car households. They may be able to afford cars, but choose not to have them.

    As far as John Charles goes, I believe he’s more concerned about libertarian ideology that about good transit outcomes–he’s for whatever costs the public the least amount of money.

  13. EngineerScotty
    April 23, 2012 at 10:30 pm Link

    And Al, as far as this being the “pro rail” blog, opinions here differ. Chris, obviously, is a big Streetcar supporter, and Bob is heavily involved as well. I’m a bit more skeptical–preferring to spend capital dollars on real rapid transit, of whatever form (though I’m not opposed to the City of Portland building streetcars on their dime should they choose!). I’m not sure what Zef’s opinion on the subject is.

    I consider myself pro-transit, and pro-rapid-transit on corridors where it’s appropriate. If rail makes sense there, fine with me. I don’t know of anyone (here) who advocates building only rail and ignoring bus; I know of several who seem to advocate bus only.

  14. AL M
    April 23, 2012 at 11:18 pm Link

    OK Scott I give you a positive mark in terms of fairness, or better still
    TRANSIT EQUITY TA DA!

    Forget about Charles’s dogma for a second.

    What exactly is incorrect about his evaluation of Trimet finances?

  15. Chris I
    April 24, 2012 at 6:45 am Link

    This is kind of related, and may have been covered on this blog before, but has there been discussion on moving the capital aspects of Trimet to PBOT or Metro? This move would raise huge amounts of money for Trimet, as their tax income could be focused on vehicle acquisition and operational costs. The obvious drawbacks would be the loss of infrastructure control. Have PBOT and Metro contributed to the construction costs on any existing MAX lines?

  16. EngineerScotty
    April 24, 2012 at 7:27 am Link

    This is kind of related, and may have been covered on this blog before, but has there been discussion on moving the capital aspects of Trimet to PBOT or Metro? This move would raise huge amounts of money for Trimet, as their tax income could be focused on vehicle acquisition and operational costs. The obvious drawbacks would be the loss of infrastructure control. Have PBOT and Metro contributed to the construction costs on any existing MAX lines?

    It’s been discussed–I’ve advanced it as a proposal at least once.

    It wouldn’t have any substantial revenue benefit for TriMet–the capital projects are mostly paid for dedicated funding sources such as grants that a) aren’t fungible, and can’t be used for other things like operations, and b) which would likely travel to the new capital agency were such a separation to occur. TriMet’s operational income (taxes and fares) are already focused on operations; though there are a few exceptions to this (unfortunately).

    The city of Portland and Metro contribute significantly to MAX lines, as do other regional governments affected. And planning is already a regional process with Metro, ODOT, and all the local governments involved–TriMet doesn’t plan and build MAX lines on its own.

  17. Nick theoldurbanist
    April 24, 2012 at 8:30 am Link

    “I don’t know of anyone (here) who advocates building only rail and ignoring bus; I know of several who seem to advocate bus only.”

    >>>> The latter part of this sentence applies to me!

  18. Jason McHuff
    April 24, 2012 at 9:11 am Link

    favorable treatment afforded to Streetcar riders versus bus riders (better bus stop amenities, lower fares)

    And who has been paying for that? Isn’t it true that the city has paid (or gotten funding) for all of the capital costs and has been contributing a hefty amount of funding over and above what TriMet gives?

  19. Chris I
    April 24, 2012 at 9:15 am Link

    Also, Trimet has info out on their new Gillig buses:

    http://trimet.org/newbuses/

    It appears that they have added height markers to a vertical bar near the rear exit, I can only assume to identify the height of criminals as they exit the bus?

  20. Chris Smith
    April 24, 2012 at 9:17 am Link

    I’ve been avoiding this conversation because I have an obvious bias as a member of the PSI board. But just to point out a few things:

    1) TriMet only pays about 2/3rds of Streetcar’s operating costs
    2) Cost per boarding is very competitive with buses (a bit better if I recall). When you factor in that TriMet is only paying 2/3rds of that cost, it’s very efficient

  21. al m
    April 24, 2012 at 11:51 am Link

    Why is Trimet paying most of the operating costs for a development tool?

    It’s a city of Portland venture not a regional venture.

    Why doesn’t Trimet just pay 2/3 of the operating cost for the SMART bus then? Or the SANDY bus?
    It’s the same thing!

    Portland is double dipping into the pot at the expense of transit dependent riders!

    At TriMet – The Busses Are Rolling Without any Wheels | Portland Transit Workers Voice

  22. EngineerScotty
    April 24, 2012 at 12:26 pm Link

    Again, Al, the interesting question is this:

    Would TriMet be providing frequent bus service along the streetcar route if the Streetcar tracks weren’t there? (Or a similar route?)

    The westside line does serve a lot of pro-transit neighborhoods; so I would think that yes, some level of service would be provided. By running up 10th/11th rather than the Mall, an alternate N/S corridor is provided, so that line is useful. (Though if it were a bus line, I suspect it would be longer than just NW 23rd to South Waterfront).

    I’m not sure TriMet would run a downtown circulator bus corresponding to the eastside streetcar (or the full Loop); most of this route is served by existing bus service, but not by a single loop route. (A question for Chris. If a more complete Streetcar buildout happened in the future, with lines heading east on Broadway/Weidler out to Hollywood and a St. Johns line north on MLK to Lombard–do you think the planned eastside route would continue to exist, or would we instead see an OMSI-St. Johns line and a Hollywood-downtown or Hollywood-NW 2rd line, with transfers at MLK and Broadway?)

    SMART and SAM aren’t operating within the TriMet service district, other than the connector lines like the SMART 2X, so I’m not sure that’s an appropriate comparison.

  23. AL M
    April 24, 2012 at 12:30 pm Link

    Ya Scott well I have real problems with transit money going to condo developers.

    There should be ZERO trimet buses overlapping any of these streetcars.

    City of Portland basically owns Trimet, they get everything they want and when you want to talk about redundant service just take a look at downtown Portland.

    It’s almost enough to make me want to vote republican. (almost)

  24. Erik H.
    April 24, 2012 at 12:46 pm Link

    but $3.3M is not an unbelievable figure for the service provided.

    TriMet’s entire bus operations budget proposal for 2013 is about $100 million. That’s every single bus, from the 84 Kelso-Boring bus all the way up to the 8 and 72 routes.

    If all things are equal, and 57% of trips taken on the bus system are on the Frequent Service routes, then the Frequent Service network would cost about $57 million – equivalent to 57 route-miles. Well, the 12 line from Gresham to Sherwood is half that, and the 33 and the 57 would shoot you over 57 miles – which means TriMet is getting a lot more bus lines operated essentially “free”, assuming that TriMet is spending its bus budget in an equitable manner to the Streetcar.

    Unfortunately I don’t have TriMet’s exact route mileage (because apparently TriMet only touts such details about the rail system per its fact sheet, but the bus system is relegated to the back page with a mere scant summary of the bus system) but it’s clear that TriMet operates far more than 100 route miles of bus service, and is getting much better financial performance than $1 million per route mile on a system-wide average. And further, the argument that it would still cost $3 million to operate bus service – if it’s already spending the money, what is the justification for spending an additional $3 million on something you are already funding? There’s existing bus service today – it’s already considered in the costs and budget.

    What is the justification as to why TriMet must spend another $3 million for this area, already more than well served by other forms of transit (buses and MAX)? If it is simply that someone is building a Streetcar – than is TriMet equally required, should another town (say Forest Grove) decide to build a Streetcar of their own, to fund it without question or debate? What if Oregon City demanded that TriMet fund its downtown “trolley” it runs through its city center area? Or what if Sherwood and Tualatin took over the railroad between those two towns? And – why is that obligation limited to just rail, and not bus — if Tigard wanted to run its own bus system, why would TriMet not be obligated to fund it on the same terms as the Portland Streetcar?

  25. John Reinhold
    April 24, 2012 at 1:59 pm Link

    If it is simply that someone is building a Streetcar – than is TriMet equally required, should another town (say Forest Grove) decide to build a Streetcar of their own, to fund it without question or debate?

    This always comes up when something is being built, or is almost done being built and about to open (occasionally even after it opens).

    There *was* devate and question about the eastside streetcar loop. Everything from route to funding has been discussed ad nauseum. There have been open houses, public input periods, committee meetings, design meetings, etc etc etc.

    I worked on some of the designs for the eastside streetcar to make it as compatible as possible with bicycles – years ago. That single issue alone had probably 5 or 6 meetings with various stakeholders such as the pedestrian and bicycle advocates.

    Seriously – this stuff *is* debated, and it *is* questioned over and over and over and over.

    When there is good input processes and healthy debate people accuse government of waste. When there isn’t good input processes and debate people complain the government isn’t accountable.

    Look – you can’t please everyone. So I see there are a few commenters who hate streetcar, specifically tri-met contributing to it. There may be thousands who will never comment here yet dislike streetcar. There are thousands of people who like it, thousands who ride it, etc.

    Streetcar *is* transit. Tri-Met is our transit agency. Streetcar may not be your favorite mode – other people may dislike buses.

    I personally enjoy and utilize streetcar. In my personal opinion they are nicer, quieter, and more resident friendly than bus. I also ride buses. I also ride MAX. I see benefits to them all.

  26. AL M
    April 24, 2012 at 2:30 pm Link

    Nobody, especially me, “hates” street cars or light rail.

    This ongoing argument has to do with allocation of what is being represented to the public as scarce funds!

    The emphasis in Portland has been to replace bus lines with rail lines, either light rail or streetcars.

    The agency is gobbling up more and more capital and providing less and less service.

    That, is the discussion.

    You can speak with any long time rider who will tell you the service that TriMet provided to the public was superior BEFORE all this rail building took over.

    The service area keeps shrinking and there are less and less areas covered by Trimet.

    This is the argument, not bus vs rail.

    ALLOCATION OF RESOURCES!

    And from where I sit, the 1% has hijacked the transit agency.

  27. AL M
    April 24, 2012 at 2:34 pm Link

    The service TIMES (not area) keeps shrinking and there are less and less areas covered by Trimet.

  28. Nick theoldurbanist
    April 24, 2012 at 2:43 pm Link

    “You can speak with any long time rider who will tell you the service that TriMet provided to the public was superior BEFORE all this rail building took over.”

    >>>> I’ll second that. During the past 11 years that I have been using Trimet over the whole Metro area, transit has become more and more inconvenient to use in numerous cases.

  29. EngineerScotty
    April 24, 2012 at 2:45 pm Link

    Eric,

    The figure is not a million dollars per route-mile. You’ll notice I avoided route-mile (or cost per route-mile) in my calculations, for the reason that the cost of a route-mile is essentially meaningless.

    The cost per service-hour, on the other hand, is pretty much constant–it’s about $100/hr. More frequent bus lines require more service-hours.

    To know the cost of a route-mile, you need to know the following:

    * The frequency of the bus lines on that route
    * The speed with which TriMet can operate the service (the slower the service, the more expensive per route mile).
    * The amount of time the bus spends deadheading to/from the garage, waiting at a layover point, returning to the starting point (for one-way services), or otherwise not providing revenue service.

    These things are hard to model; which is why cost per time is a better model. Bus drivers get paid by the hour and not by the model, and the driver’s compensation is the biggest piece of the operational cost of a bus line.

    As it so happens, a streetcar-replacement bus line would be expensive on a route-mile basis, as it is both a) frequent, and b) relatively slow. But that has utterly nothing whatsoever to do with the cost of the 57 or the 84 or the 94.

    You bring up a good question, when you mention the OC shuttle. Let me bounce the question back to you: If the streetcar tracks were to magically disappear and the lines to be replaced with bus service using stock TriMet equipment–what level of service (above and beyond existing bus service) do you think the corridors in question would merit? And why?

    And should TriMet be funding things like the OC trolley? Or the Tualatin Shuttle? I’m not suggesting the agency shouldn’t, certainly–it’s a fair question as to what criteria TriMet uses to decide whether to fund (and how much) city-operated transit services within the TriMet service district.

  30. Jason Barbour
    April 24, 2012 at 4:28 pm Link

    And nobody’s mentioned here (until now) that 57% of the budget is going towards “Light Rail Programs,” “Capital Programs,” “Capital Projects,” and “Debt Service,” leaving just under 31% for actual operations. I really hope I’m not the only person to see a problem with this.

    http://rantingsofatrimetbusdriver.blogspot.com/2012/04/where-your-trimet-money-goes.html

  31. R A Fontes
    April 24, 2012 at 4:31 pm Link

    Chris -

    The problem with TriMet’s subsidies to PSI isn’t the 1/2 (as TriMet’s budget claims) to 2/3 (as you point out and PSI’s FY 2010 budget webpage shows) proportion of PSI’s budget, it’s:

    1. Streetcar is about creating demand; TriMet is more about fulfilling existing and future demand. So TriMet wouldn’t necessarily have built where streetcar did until well after demand was established, especially with existing service available either on, or within a few blocks of, the streetcar alignment. It has different priorities.

    2. Streetcar undercuts TriMet fares with its unrestricted $1 tickets, all-day honoring of TriMet 2-hour tickets, and, especially, its $100 annual pass. {Yes, streetcar passes are only good on streetcars and the aerial tram, but most regular TriMet riders use only a single line for most trips. Figuratively, TriMet riders would kill for a $100 annual pass for their most used routes—and TriMet would take a hit to their budget on the order of scores of millions of dollars.} So TriMet is reducing our service and raising our fares (hitting 1 & 2 zone passengers especially hard) while there still is no talk on PSI’s part of eliminating special streetcar deals other than the FRZ free rides — maybe just a little fare tweaking.

    If streetcar were a TriMet operation, it’d probably be built mainly as an upgrade on selected high-volume frequent service routes. And instead of undercutting other TriMet fares, any operational savings would be used to upgrade TriMet services as a whole. They don’t offer discounts on the Blue line or the 72, do they?

    The combination of the impending loss of the FRZ and the opening of the eastside line has got to mean major hits to PSI in the cost-per-boarding-ride area. That will only exacerbate these issues in TriMet’s next budget go-round, especially if PSI continues to undercut TriMet fares.

  32. R A Fontes
    April 24, 2012 at 5:11 pm Link

    BTW –

    PSI’s posted FY 2010 budget shows a grand total of $.5 million passenger revenue out of a budget of $5.5 million. That’s about 9% while TriMet passengers pay around 25% – 35%, depending on what’s included. And we’re subsidizing streetcar riders?

  33. EngineerScotty
    April 24, 2012 at 5:14 pm Link

    Jason,

    It’s useful to examine TriMet’s funding sources. Details are on page 17, in a nice table; but I’ll summarize here. Out of total revenue of $986.6M (“total resources” less “beginning fund balance”)

    * Revenue from operations (fares, advertising, and a few minor categories): $142.65M (14.46%)

    * Operating tax revenue (payroll taxes): $244.46M (24.78%)

    * Other operating revenue (grants, etc): $77.95M (7.90%)

    * Total operating revenue: $465.06M (47.14%)

    * Capital Program Resources: $66.30M (6.72%)
    * Light Rail Program Resources: $443.81M (44.98%)
    * Other non-op resources: $11.43M (1.16%)
    * Total capital resources: $521.54M (52.86%)

    Capital projects is over half the budget on the revenue side.

    Your 57% figure appears to include three things: Debt service at $35.074M (which TriMet classifies as an operating expense), “Capital programs” at $86.65M, and Light Rail Programs at $445.7M.

    The “Light rail programs” on the expense side and the “light rail program resources” on the capital funding side, are nearly the same, differing by less than $2M. This does not necessarily mean that operations is funding light rail construction (though there will be some of that in FY13), as TriMet has money in the bank which it can draw from when expenses don’t precisely match income.

    The “Capital Programs” line item is the interesting one–the $86.6M TriMet is planning to spend on this is more than double what it spent last year. The big reason? Buying busses.

  34. AL M
    April 24, 2012 at 6:44 pm Link

    That budget document is unreadable to anyone except certified accountants and even they would take a week to decipher it.

    Why the heck isn’t the stupid streetcar just another part of Trimet?

    Some kind of intergovernmental shenanigans going on with that.

  35. NJD
    April 24, 2012 at 6:46 pm Link

    More than half of Trimet’s budget is coming from one-time sources for system expansion that cannot legally be used for operations. Why is this such a hard concept for people to understand? I, unlike others here, remember bus service actually getting better for many, many years up to the great recession. In fact, all of Trimet’s figures show increased services not decreased like people here are saying (until the recession). Why have people forgotten the frequent service program expansion of the prior decade?

    So why is Trimet expanding MAX more than buses in its’ current budget? It can’t be the funding mechanisms in place because we could expand BRT from the same sources…

    Trimet total ridership went from 15 million in 1970 (ridership was declining for the previous private operating decade before Trimet’s creation), to 50 million rides in 1990 to 100 million in 2007 (ridership has stayed relatively the same since the recession started). Now, last year there were 1,768,620 bus hours and 264,267 MAX vehicle hours (revenue 1.3 million bus, .2 million MAX), but even though there were drastically more service hours ridership was 58 million for all buses compared to 41 million for MAX (revenue hours 54 million bus, 41 million MAX). Why the increase in ridership year after year? Oh, right, capital programs and service expansions.

    People here are up in arms over scrap statistics they hear from libertarians, conservative radio hosts, and upset-at-current-union-negotiations bus drivers. There are varying and personally selfish reasons those interest groups don’t want Trimet to continue operating how they have been for decades: because unlike most of the transit agencies in America, Trimet has consistently increased ridership in an auto-dependent society, which also could be translated as ‘success.’

    I like what I’ve seen in my lifetime at Trimet, and I am supportive of their decision to co-fund Streetcar operations, expand MAX, and increase the number of frequent service bus lines (although how W. County and Metro convinced them WES’s current limited service model was a good idea is beyond me, but we all have our druthers).

  36. NJD
    April 24, 2012 at 6:54 pm Link

    “Why the heck isn’t the stupid streetcar just another part of Trimet?”

    Because the City of Portland built it without Trimet’s help, but if it makes you feel better it is run by Trimet which makes it Trimet’s as far as the overall system is concerned. Trimet did not originally want to share the operating expenses, but after a lot of public dialogue they changed their minds and saw the value in it.

  37. AL M
    April 24, 2012 at 6:57 pm Link

    “Because the City of Portland built it without Trimet’s help”

    ~~~>Get the heck outtahere! There would be no streetcar without Trimet!

  38. AL M
    April 24, 2012 at 6:58 pm Link

    (Update) Expect MAX Blue/Red Lines delays to continue system wide for the next 1-2 hours as regular service is restored.

    — TriMet (@trimet) April 25, 2012

  39. EngineerScotty
    April 24, 2012 at 7:11 pm Link

    Al,

    What does a MAX service bulletin have to do with the budget?

  40. AL M
    April 24, 2012 at 7:12 pm Link

    Furthermore Mr NJD:

    The truth about Trimet ridership

  41. AL M
    April 24, 2012 at 7:22 pm Link

    It costs extra money out of the friggen budget every time that stuff happens and they always say,

    “oh look how cheap it is to run light rail compared to bus”

    But they don’t bother to factor in things like that, which happen every day apparently.

  42. Jim Lee
    April 24, 2012 at 9:09 pm Link

    I visited the SMART terminus at the Wilsonville end of WES today and saw posters forthrightly stating that only registered service dogs were allowed on SMART buses; companion animals offering psychological support are not compliant with American with Disabilities Act standards and are forbidden.

    Is there a line item in TriMet’s budget to enforce stated policy that pets aboard must be in cages? On the 77 out by Edgefield yesterday a couple of old drunks got on with some sort of big mongrel Doberman cross–I felt sorry for the dog!

    I have seen dogs with their dirty behinds plastered on seats where people are supposed to sit, and smelled others wafting various stinks and allergies. Further malign influences are easily imagined.

    Operators give the impression that they do not like such boarders, but TriMet refuses to back them up. I spoke with TriMet about it a while back, but they intended to do nothing.

    Maybe they should just charge the critters a separate fare; that would make it a budget item.

  43. AL M
    April 24, 2012 at 9:37 pm Link

    “”Is there a line item in TriMet’s budget to enforce stated policy that pets aboard must be in cages? On the 77 out by Edgefield yesterday a couple of old drunks got on with some sort of big mongrel Doberman cross–I felt sorry for the dog!”"

    ~~~~~~~~~>Hahahahahaha………..

  44. NJD
    April 25, 2012 at 9:15 am Link

    “There would be no streetcar without Trimet!”

    Um, no, you have your history wrong. The City of Portland built the first lines and extensions without Trimet, and originally negotiated with them to use Trimet personnel to operate it.

    “The truth about Trimet ridership”

    Apparently you did not read my post because I clearly stated ridership has stayed relatively the same since the recession started. Your attempt to spin that data is ludicrous at best.

    Why am I feeding a troll… bah.

  45. John Charles Wilson
    April 25, 2012 at 9:25 am Link

    Ha! I finally figured out who this “John Charles” person you guys talk about occasionally is. I’m glad to find out it’s not me. Just posting this to make sure people don’t confuse me with him. I am *pro*-transit….

  46. Jason Barbour
    April 25, 2012 at 10:05 am Link

    People here are up in arms over scrap statistics they hear from libertarians, conservative radio hosts, and upset-at-current-union-negotiations bus drivers.

    They provide more information (and more coherent information) than we’re getting from TriMet directly.

    More than half of Trimet’s budget is coming from one-time sources for system expansion that cannot legally be used for operations. Why is this such a hard concept for people to understand?

    It’s not. I’m questioning why anyone anywhere would think a good budget for something that’s supposed to be a public agency and provide service to the public includes 57% for previously stated items. And only 31% for actual service.

    Or, to articulate better–let’s say TriMet was NOT building light rail–how would things be different. And I’m not anti-light rail, just think its wrong that buses are 20 years old and falling apart while more and more light rail is being built and service is being cut/eliminated entirely to places that are not served by rail.

    As for the new 3000-series buses (yes I know this is a “capital expense” but if anyone called me out on this then they don’t understand my POV on the issue)… only time will tell as to whether or not this is simple placation (like the 2900-series buses) or actual eventual replacement of the old buses.

  47. EngineerScotty
    April 25, 2012 at 10:37 am Link

    Jason,

    Would you feel better about things if TriMet only were an operations company, and it was Metro or the City of Portland or ODOT or some other agency which was building light rail, and thus had construction costs and grants on its budget?

    Were TriMet not building MLR, some of the funds currently going to it would likely be available for other uses. The FTA is generally happy to help fund bus purchases; and I suspect TriMet would be able to get matching funds from the state and local governments for that. But I doubt that the monies available for bus replacement and other “mundane” things like that would be anywhere near $1.5B.

    Which service eliminations, in particular, are you concerned about?

  48. EngineerScotty
    April 25, 2012 at 11:03 am Link

    OPAL has now given a presentation on their proposal, which is visible from their Facebook page. The highlights:

    * Maintain operating subsidy of Portland Streetcar at previous levels. OPAL doesn’t offer an opinion as to whether or not they expect Portland to pick up the difference, to delay opening of the Eastside streetcar line, or to reduce service frequencies by about 1/3 to compensate. (A major unknown, to me at least: the fare structure on the Streetcar going forward. Chris–does the current PSC budget still assume a lower Streetcar fare? )

    * Reduce the contingency to $15M–the $10M from last year’s budget, plus a $5M setaside in case TriMet loses the arbitration and has to pay back pay to operators.

    * Use funds saved to restore most bus service cuts; making only cuts to redundant services.

  49. EngineerScotty
    April 25, 2012 at 11:05 am Link

    OPAL’s proposal also appears to not include the fare hikes as well.

  50. Nick theoldurbanist
    April 25, 2012 at 11:12 am Link

    Trimet say that they intend to buy 40 new buses per year after the 55 bus 3000 series order, reducing the average fleet age to 8 years in 2020.

  51. Chris Smith
    April 25, 2012 at 11:23 am Link

    I don’t know that PBOT has officially decided the Streetcar fare yet. The opening year budget is actually not terribly sensitive to the fare amount. $1.00 and $2.30 yield close to the same revenue, but with different numbers of riders. The proposed TriMet fare of $2.50 has not been modeled as far as I know.

  52. EngineerScotty
    April 25, 2012 at 11:31 am Link

    The full OPAL proposal is here.

    Chris–demand on the Streetcar is that elastic? If the fare goes up, where do the extra trips go–to walking or biking, to bus, to car, or not made at all? And–to play devil’s advocate: If demand on the Streetcar is really that elastic, that would seemingly imply that there is less equity impact with raising streetcar fares–it’s when you raise fares and ridership DOESN’T go down, that it likely means that you have a transit-dependent population which is having the loose change shaken out of its pockets.

  53. Chris Smith
    April 25, 2012 at 11:37 am Link

    I would guess that many (the shorter trips) go to walking, along with a mix of the other choices.

    You’re suggesting for the sake of equity we raise fares to drive people away from transit without raising additional revenue? Doesn’t seem like rational public policy to me.

  54. Chris Smith
    April 25, 2012 at 11:39 am Link

    Keep in mind that a big part of the reason the revenue is not so sensitive to the fare level is that about half the riders already have a fare instrument (pass or transfer) and the $1 versus $2.30/$2.50 choice has no impact on their ride on Streetcar. The elasticity is restricted to the other half of the riders.

  55. EngineerScotty
    April 25, 2012 at 11:50 am Link

    At this point, I’m exploring, not suggesting. OPAL has a proposal on the table which is skewed in favor of bus riders (who bear the brunt of the cuts in TriMet’s proposal) by drastically reducing funding to Streetcar (and yes, I consider this a “drastic reduction” due to the existence of new service that the additional dollars are appropriated to fund–it strikes me as somewhat disingenuous to portray this as merely holding the line).

    I’ve asked OPAL (no response yet) about how they think Portland Streetcar, Inc. might deal with or react to their proposal. I have a sneaking suspicion that OPAL isn’t terribly concerned about the fate of Streetcar users, for various reasons, and doesn’t consider the Streetcar to be an essential service. OPAL is fundamentally a group of poverty advocates, and accordingly seems to value mobility outcomes (particularly for the poor) higher than they do other beneficial outcomes of transit (such as reduction in VMT or place-making). I think a broader focus is more appropriate, and dislike the rail-vs-bus framing that many in OPAL tend to promote, but this is OPAL’s proposal, not mine.

    That said, I’d love to have a $1 fare (or a $100 pass) on the 62. Where do I sign up? :)

  56. EngineerScotty
    April 25, 2012 at 11:55 am Link

    Keep in mind that a big part of the reason the revenue is not so sensitive to the fare level is that about half the riders already have a fare instrument (pass or transfer)

    How many of those fare instruments are the Streetcar-only pass, and were that to be eliminated (or priced at a far less extravagant discount compared to a full TriMet pass), how would that affect things?

  57. Jason McHuff
    April 25, 2012 at 12:12 pm Link

    only registered service dogs were allowed on SMART buses

    My understanding is that, up until now, the Federal rules have been very lenient in the definition of a service animal and have forbid any registration or other requirement/limitation.

    I know there has been a rule-change process going on and TriMet has been working on using that allowance, but I’m not sure what the status is or if registration can actually now be required.

    Regarding Streetcar, what is the expected fare revenue with Eastside line being open? It seems it should be a sizable increase, especially given that none of the extension is expected to be free. Also, I think one good figure to consider is the value of service that is provided for no additional charge to TriMet riders–specifically, the amount of fares that Streetcar would get if every rider who has a (completely, not just same-day) valid TriMet fare paid (separately) to ride.

    Lastly, as I asked before, what is Streetcar’s ridership per hour, as in how productive is it?

    I would guess that many (the shorter trips) go to walking

    Philosophical question: Is that a good thing or a bad thing?

  58. Chris Smith
    April 25, 2012 at 12:51 pm Link

    A couple of points:

    1) Anyone who thinks that people who are economically disadvantaged don’t ride the streetcar has not ridden the streetcar lately.

    2) The proposal is that the streetcar annual pass WILL go up in price over several years (so as not to be too jarring in any one year) to reflect the fact that the system is no longer fareless.

  59. Jeff F
    April 25, 2012 at 12:52 pm Link

    The last I heard, TriMet could limit animals to service-only but operators were unable to quiz passengers about whether the animal qualifies. If there has been a more definitive decision I would like to hear it.

    Transit agencies are allowed to require human beings meet specific qualifications for paratransit or Honored Citizen fares, but not dogs, apparently.

    Written/spoken entirely from my own observation and opinion and in no way the opinion of my employer.

  60. Cora Potter
    April 25, 2012 at 1:02 pm Link

    1) Anyone who thinks that people who are economically disadvantaged don’t ride the streetcar has not ridden the streetcar lately.

    I would go further and say anyone who thinks that people who are economically disadvantaged don’t ride the streetcar has never ridden the streetcar or goes around with blinders on to anything that contradicts their preconceptions about humans in general.

  61. EngineerScotty
    April 25, 2012 at 1:11 pm Link

    OPAL has now posted a response to my query on their FB page: I asked them:

    A question regarding the Streetcar: Given that the $3M in additional funding is due to the opening of the Eastside line, does OPAL have a position on how Portland Streetcar ought to make up the funding gap (i.e. reduced service throughout the system, delaying the Eastside Line, greater subsidy from the City of Portland, fare harmonization with the rest of the system?)

    To which they responded:

    Thx for your question, Scott. Streetcar is a City of Portland property that (as Jim Howell, a retired TriMet transit planner testified) is not intended as a transit line. It’s intended to attract development to the downtown core. It definitely has benefits for the City of Portland, and we’re excited about any transit-oriented development that comes out of it. But TrIMet’s mission is to provide public transit that moves people to where they need to go (not in a limited loop). City of Portland needs to find funding for its Streetcar project The Tri-County region cannot continue subsidizing fully half of the operating costs of Streetcar.

    Interesting. While I would agree that the Streetcar is intended as a development tool, the suggestion that “it’s not intended as a transit line” does strike me as a bit much. A better way of putting it IMHO would be that it’s less mobility-focused than other transit lines–but it does in fact operate as a transit line, a happenstance which is not by accident.

    I’ll let Jim address whether or not his words are offered in the proper context.

  62. Allan
    April 25, 2012 at 1:23 pm Link

    Perhaps the Streetcar should be funded out of the URA’s that started the streetcar in the first place? As ridership increases, the subsidy could go down.

    If the City of Portland had instead bought nice buses and painted them specially and launched a ‘premium’ bus service to serve the area that the streetcar is serving as a development tool, would TriMet subsidize it? Why or Why not?

  63. Chris Smith
    April 25, 2012 at 1:30 pm Link

    Tax-increment financing from Urban Renewal Districts is restricted by State law to capital uses. It cannot be used for operations.

    The policy model is that TriMet is paying 2/3rds of Streetcar operating costs as the ‘core transit’ value, roughly equal to the cost of operating buses on the same route. The City is paying the ‘premium’.

  64. Allan
    April 25, 2012 at 1:56 pm Link

    I guess I would point out that if TriMet was asked to run its nicest buses on a money-losing line by the City of Portland that didn’t serve an under-served area, was within 1/4 mile of other service and ran through neighborhoods which didn’t currently meet good ‘demand’ characteristics but it would hopefully develop over time, and additionally, TriMet would have to continue running this subsidized service and expand it over time, would they really say yes?

    If so, wouldn’t all of our lines be based on special-interests who had good lobbying abilities to run lines where they wanted to run them?

  65. Chris Smith
    April 25, 2012 at 2:02 pm Link

    if TriMet was asked to run its nicest buses

    The City of Portland bought and paid for the vehicles, TriMet did not. Bad analogy.

    I think you’re suggesting that it’s NEVER good public policy to invest in transit service that shapes neighborhoods that are sustainable and livable.

    Following that line of thinking, we should never build a street until after the subdivision is fully built and populated…

  66. R A Fontes
    April 25, 2012 at 2:17 pm Link

    Just for discussion, three guesstimates:

    WES provides so few rides that every dollar of a surcharge would gain less than $.5 million a year. If we shut it down, we’d have to pay back the feds plus possible penalties to PNWR, Washington County, Wilsonville, etc. While we might be able to save $20 to $30 million over the remaining 17 years of the 20 year guarantee period, the first year savings would only be about:

    $1 million

    If PSI instituted TriMet’s fare structure, with no special streetcar exceptions, we could reasonably expect a significant loss in ridership with the elimination of the FRZ, but a much higher farebox recovery rate per boarding ride. At least for a few years, the eastside loop doesn’t seem to have the potential for the kind of ridership that the current line enjoys. Still, eliminating the $100 annual pass would be a biggie and the savings to TriMet with full fare agreement could be in the range of what OPAL proposes:

    $3 to $4 million

    TriMet, like many, but not all, transit operators, goes well beyond federal and state requirements for reduced fares for the old, disabled, and Medicare recipients. “H” fares are set to remain unchanged. This includes the $26 monthly pass, compared with the $81 & $92 adult passes which would go to $100. Since TriMet sells almost 18,000 “H” passes a month, each dollar increase would mean over $200,000 per year. Even without taking advantage of the peak commute exception, if TriMet brought “H” single fares up to the 50% max and raised passes to half the adult cost, it could gain an extra:

    $7 to $8 million

    The point is that as much of a debacle that is WES; as indefensible as are the back-door fare breaks for streetcar riders; if we really want to eliminate TriMet service cuts, we also need to at least look at the extra breaks given with “H” fares. These three together could cut the deficit by at least $11 million, far more than would be needed to prevent service reductions even if TriMet loses at the arbitrator’s table.

  67. EngineerScotty
    April 25, 2012 at 2:27 pm Link

    The issue as to whether transportation infrastructure should lead or lag development, is an interesting one.

    Certain sorts of infrastructure are easier to install in a greenfield than they are in established urban fabric. On the other hand, speculative infrastructure sometimes “gets it wrong”, and many objections to TOD seem to come from people who want transit infrastructure where they actually live, as opposed to where they perceive planners as predicting people will live in the future (or where they think planners want them to live). On the other other hand, many places where people actually live are really hard to serve well with transit, and there’s quite a bit of reason to believe that gas prices will continue to stay north of $4/gallon and that low-density development will become less attractive in the future.

    A good bit of advice for Jarrett Walker, concerning transit-focused development is to be on the way.

    But beyond that–how receptive is TriMet, or should TriMet be, to other TOD proposals. A while back we discussed the South Cooper Mountain parcel–a bunch of land between Scholls Ferry Road and Cooper Mountain in South Beaverton which was recently added to the UGB, and is slated for high-density development. The only transit service that comes close right now is the 62 (which gets as far as Murrayhill) and the peak-hour 92. Geography is a definite constraint; as unless someone wants to spend millions to tunnel under Cooper Mountain (all the roads over Cooper Mountain are likely impassible by busses), the area’s a transit dead-end.

    Yet the city of Beaverton intends to zone this at high densities (for the suburbs, at any rate), and Beaverton School District wants to build a new high school there, etc. If developed according to plans, it would be a good neighborhood for transit, and be consistent with regional planning goals.

    When should TriMet plan to bring bus service (let alone things like light rail or streetcar) to South Cooper Mountain? As soon as homes go for sale? At a certain level of occupancy?

  68. Aaron
    April 25, 2012 at 3:49 pm Link

    I don’t know that PBOT has officially decided the Streetcar fare yet.

    Is it up in the air, or just not “official” yet? Were the $2.50/$1.00 plans considered both flat fares across the entire streetcar system? I don’t quite understand why they can’t just keep the parts that are fareless now free, and just charge TriMet fare for the extensions. Then you’re not decreasing ridership or screwing over the poor folks who use it on the westside, but are still getting the new revenue from the new service. This seems like a better compromise than $1.00 fares everywhere. Certainly would be a lot less ugly come September when a lot of people discover what’s new the hard way.

    What does the total revenue and ridership look like with what I just described versus a $1.00 flat fare or $2.30/$2.50 flat fare? Is projected Eastside/NW 23rd/SoWa ridership so low that they just don’t think that could meet revenue goals?

  69. EngineerScotty
    April 25, 2012 at 4:00 pm Link

    One other thought on Streetcar fares. Part of the new service map includes removal of redundant bus service from streets with the Streetcar, such as the re-routing of the 77. How does that affect analysis of what fare is fair?

  70. Chris Smith
    April 25, 2012 at 4:01 pm Link

    Is it up in the air, or just not “official” yet?

    Just not official yet, as far as I know.

    Fundamentally neither the City nor PSI are willing to keep the west side free while charging east side riders a full TriMet fare. And charging everyone a full TriMet fare produces lower ridership and not a significantly greater amount of revenue. A $1 fare recognizes that most riders use Streetcar for a relatively short trip (compared to trips on TriMet).

  71. Chris Smith
    April 25, 2012 at 4:02 pm Link

    One other thought on Streetcar fares. Part of the new service map includes removal of redundant bus service from streets with the Streetcar, such as the re-routing of the 77. How does that affect analysis of what fare is fair?

    All of the modeling for Streetcar was done BEFORE the TriMet budget proposals. You’d have to ask TriMet if they’ve done any modeling on ridership patterns post-revised-budget.

  72. EngineerScotty
    April 25, 2012 at 4:15 pm Link

    TriMet now has an official, approved budget for FY13. I’m assuming its the same as the proposed budget; have put in a question to TriMet to confirm.

  73. AL M
    April 25, 2012 at 4:26 pm Link

    Jim Howell at the April 2012 Trimet board of directors

    Says streetcar is a land use planning tool!

  74. Allan
    April 25, 2012 at 5:19 pm Link

    I think you’re suggesting that it’s NEVER good public policy to invest in transit service that shapes neighborhoods that are sustainable and livable.

    Following that line of thinking, we should never build a street until after the subdivision is fully built and populated…

    I am a fan of livable communities. I like the idea of shaping neighborhoods. My point is not that we shouldn’t do that, my point is who should pay? I don’t want to get caught up in details, because they constrain what can be done in ideal world to what can be done in the real world. In my opinion, TriMet should have realized before making those commitments that it might mean reducing service in the rest of their network beyond what the additional service might create. And that is a substantial PR and budgeting problem. TriMet doesn’t benefit from the livable, sustainable community except that more people who live there might use the service. And the relatively short-term projected increased revenues from that service should roughly the amount of subsidy that goes into the line. I seriously doubt that the east-side streetcar will come close to bringing in the amount of subsidy which is being provided.

    I am all for creating neighborhoods. Hopefully it doesn’t require de-funding TriMet to do so.

  75. Chris Smith
    April 25, 2012 at 5:21 pm Link

    who should pay?

    TriMet didn’t pay any of the capital costs, and only pays operational costs equal to a bus. The ‘urban development premium’ is basically on the City’s dime.

    The payoff to TriMet is if the newly developed district draws employment which contributes to the payroll tax base.

  76. Jim Lee
    April 25, 2012 at 5:42 pm Link

    Just to keep up with tales of STRANGE BOARDINGS, today I saw a Blue Line operator throw off a young woman with a MOTORCYCLE at Pioneer Square.

    YEA, OPERATORS!

  77. Allan
    April 25, 2012 at 5:42 pm Link

    who should pay?

    Historically, like 80 years ago, when neighborhoods were built, the streetcars were funded by developers, and eventually this funding mechanism failed the riders for a number of reasons. Ideally, IMO, TIF funding should be able to cover some amount of operations of a new line like the East-Side line because the line exists at least partially to stimulate development. I realize this might change the calculus of when to put in a streetcar line, but I think additionally, it might encourage a larger build-out. Part of the problem with the loop project is that at most people will want to travel (on the loop line by itself) about 2 miles. I think building the extensions towards Hollywood, north to Killingsworth, and the others which have been proposed in the streetcar plan will, once built, significantly increase the utility of the lines that currently exist. I’m hoping we can figure out how to fund these lines.

    The ‘urban development premium’ is basically on the City’s dime.

    I don’t think this is true. TriMet has to run these lines whether they want them or not. They can’t stop running the streetcar like the other lines they run and I imagine there are frequency requirements as well.

  78. EngineerScotty
    April 25, 2012 at 5:54 pm Link

    To echo Allan’s comment, I’m pretty sure TriMet wouldn’t be running a U-shaped frequent service downtown circulator from OMSI to LLoyd to the Pearl to PSU, because:

    1) They don’t presently do so.

    2) TriMet is fond of the grid topology in the Portland core (i.e. West Hills to I-205), and a downtown circulator loop (or U) is kinda disruptive to that. The issue with what to do with the 6 is illustrative of this. A northbound MLK streetcar and a eastbound Broadway streetcar would be more useful as they would fit the grid better, and not either duplicate or require disruption of bus lines.

  79. Chris Smith
    April 25, 2012 at 6:11 pm Link

    You’re probably correct that TriMet would not of it’s own accord run a circulator loop in the Central City. But the City has a strong interest in that.

    TriMet has a strong interest in high capacity transit service between the Central City and the suburbs. They could NOT build them without Portland’s help on the capital side. It’s a partnership.

  80. Jason McHuff
    April 25, 2012 at 6:21 pm Link

    It needs to be remembered that, if the level of streetcar service is fixed, the cost of additional riders is very little and the capacity is often there so it doesn’t really matter if there’s higher ridership without higher revenues.

  81. AL M
    April 27, 2012 at 6:44 pm Link

    Just FYI ATU 757 members voted to change from the status quo contract to partial payment for health care benefits.

    That’s a major change in the union position.

  82. AL M
    April 27, 2012 at 7:04 pm Link

    I was so torn over the question that I abstained from voting.

    On the one hand I understand that compromise is absolutely necessary on the part of the union members. But then again there were raises that were that were cancelled because we preferred to have the medical benefits to the cash. (this was never mentioned by mcfarlane of course) Of course nobody could have predicted the ridiculous rise of health insurance and the inability of our leaders to formulate a decent health plan for all citizens.

    Then there was mcfarlane, who decided to use heavy handed tactics and vicious propaganda to get his way. With that in mind I was totally against any sort of compromise with this man.

    Hence I abstained.

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