Western Conference Semifinals Open Thread

The Portland Trail Blazers have won a playoff series for the first time since the Clinton Administration, so it’s time for another open thread.  (Plus, the calender says its May…)

  • A draft revision of the Oregon Rail Plan is now available for public review.  This plan covers all varieties of freight rail, Amtrak and inter-city passenger rail (Amtrak, commuter rail, HSR).  It doesn’t cover light rail, streetcars, or other non-FRA urban transit, however.
  • The long-delayed, way over budget, Pioneer Mountain/Eddyville project on Highway 20 between Newport and Corvallis, is set to resume.
  • Speaking of project management disasters, the latest on Seattle’s Deep Bore Tunnel project.
  • Oregon’s primary election is Tuesday, May 20; registered voters should now have received ballots in the mail.
  • TriMet is going full bore with its Service Enhancement Plans, and is seeking input now for four regions (Southwest, Southeast, Eastside, and North/Central).  The Westside region (mainly Beaverton and Hillsboro) is mostly complete.
  • C-TRAN looking at a fare increase.  (Even with the proposed increase, C-TRAN fares will be cheaper than TriMet).
7 Comments

7 Responses to Western Conference Semifinals Open Thread

  1. EngineerScotty
    May 5, 2014 at 2:09 pm Link

    Former Congressman Jim Oberstar, long a friend to active transportation, has died. He was 79.

  2. EngineerScotty
    May 5, 2014 at 2:55 pm Link

    A couple relevant stories from the Oregonian today: According to a report, 2/3 of high school students in Portland Public Schools use TriMet to get to and from school (YouthPass funding is, once again, being debated), and Joseph Rose reports that if the federal Highway Trust Fund runs dry this summer (which it will without additional revenues), numerous road projects in Oregon could be delayed or cancelled.

  3. EngineerScotty
    May 9, 2014 at 10:18 am Link

    Today’s xkcd is amusing and slightly on-topic.

  4. EngineerScotty
    May 14, 2014 at 1:32 pm Link

    After King County voters defeated a tax proposal last month designed to prevent service cuts to King County Metro, the city of Seattle is floating a plan to tax itself to stave off transit cuts within the city. (Seattle voters supported the prior tax measure, but voters in the suburban parts of the county voted no).

  5. EngineerScotty
    May 21, 2014 at 10:04 am Link

    Something I missed last week: TriMet is proposing to lower youth fares. (It will also reduce its subsidy of YouthPass by an equivalent amount, so that the net effect on the program is a wash).

    • Allan
      May 21, 2014 at 10:23 am Link

      the net effect on the budget may be a wash, but the net effect is not a wash as YouthPass is only for Portland Public Schools. Young folks that don’t get YouthPass now will get a discount with the new fares

  6. EngineerScotty
    May 21, 2014 at 4:38 pm Link

    [Moderator: Edited to fix URLs]

    More fun and games in TriMet vs ATU:

    * Last week, TriMet declared an impasse in the negotiations for a new contract to replace the one that expired in 2012.
    * Today, ATU 757 files an unfair labor practice complaint. At the present time, there’s no nice URL to link to, but the following was posted to the Transit Voice Facebook page (it’s a Facebook link, so don’t click if you’re allergic):

    UNION FILES COMPLAINT THAT TRIMET BARGAINED IN BAD FAITH – Today, the bus operators’ union filed unfair labor practice charges against TriMet charging that the agency’s top managers have bargained in bad faith. “TriMet spent thousands of public relations dollars claiming that its 44-year unfunded retiree medical insurance obligation (OPEB) has to be eliminated. Yet, getting TriMet to provide timely, complete, accurate information about health insurance and that unfunded obligation has been impossible,” says Bruce Hansen, the Amalgamated Transit Union president.

    When asked why the union chose to file today, Hansen said. “We finally got permission to meet with TriMet’s actuaries on May 13, 2014. These are the folks who came up with the unfunded obligation number. While we were in meeting with them, Randy Stedman declared impasse, putting an end to the bargaining period. We didn’t even have a chance to apply the information we learned to our proposal.”

    Asked why knowing the facts underlying the unfunded obligation is important, Hansen explained. “The whole idea behind TriMet’s PR campaign is that the 30-years-in-the-future number has to be reduced. First we have to know that number is legit. Turns out it’s inflated. Second, we need to know the fairest way to reduce that number. For example, how much impact does taking away a benefit, lower that number?”

    Hansen again reiterated that his union’s members know they will have to take a reduction in medical insurance. “But, it is ridiculous for TriMet management to claim that these folks today are responsible for over four decades of TriMet management’s bad fiscal decisions. For 44 years they promised to provide retiree health insurance. Our members agreed to lower pensions and a ten-year vesting period just so they would have health insurance. What we learn now is that for 44 years, TriMet saved not a single penny to fund that promise. So, who is really to blame here?”

    There’s a problem with insurance costs as well. “We’ve learned TriMet is overpaying for insurance. We are supposed to pay part of the premiums and have lower benefits. We’ve offered to work together with TriMet to come up with better insurance plans and rates. They refused to even discuss it. Yet, every other public agency in the area uses this joint labor-management approach.”

    Hansen says there’s been no improvement in either agency transparency or labor management relations. “The state auditor and the TriMet Board have clearly stated TriMet needs to change how it works with the Union. Both called for collaboration and cooperation. Management still hasn’t gotten the message because they continue to make the situation worse.”

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