Author Archive | EngineerScotty

Valentines Day Open Thread

Today is Valentine’s Day, and Oregon’s birthday to boot.  For it’s birthday, the Beaver State gets a new governor, as John Kitzhaber will resign next week.

  • The Willamette Week takes a look at Oregon’s governor-to-be, Kate Brown.  As Governor, she will have the power to fire and appoint TriMet’s board of directors.   She has plenty of opportunity to make her mark on the agency–currently there is one vacancy on the board, and four directors who are serving beyond the end of their terms as Governor Kitzhaber did not nominate replacements.   She’s familiar with the agency on many other fronts–she helped secure state matching funds for the PMLR bridge, and her office led the recent audit of the agency.
  • Speaking of which, TriMet has recently announced that it has implemented the recommendations of said audit.
  • It’s time, once again, for another five-year review of the Urban Growth Boundary (and possible expansion).  Disagreement in Clackamas County, though, may slow down the process.  (And the expansion areas in South Cooper Mountain and South Hillsboro are still being planned at this time, and haven’t seen any development yet).
  • From Joseph Rose at The Oregonian:  Portland is preparing to issue nearly 300 more taxi permits.  The Sellwood Bridge replacement is over budget, but Portland is balking a bit at paying its share of the cost overruns.  And despite the impression one would get if one follows @trimet on Twitter, Twitter users are friendlier to TriMet than transit riders in many other cities are to their local transit authority.
  • The Southwest Corridor steering committee has further culled some alignments and accessory elements from the scope of the project (a good summary of the changes is not yet available).   And Bike Portland has spent the past week taking an extensive look at SW Portland.
  • Metro is soliciting public comment on Powell/Division through a new online tool; the steering committee for that project expects to make alignment decisions in mid-March.  If you want to comment using the tool, feedback needs to be submitted by March 4.

Rose Bowl 2015 Open Thread

Happy New Year!  There’s a little football game happening next week.  Of course, yours truly is an Oregon State alum, so I’m not quite as excited about that as some of you…

  • More public outreach on the Powell/Division project, as Metro asks southeast residents about safety.
  • TriMet is touting a 3.2% increase in ridership last fall (compared to Fall 2013), with a 6.3% increase on the bus system.  (MAX saw a small decline; the system was down for several days due to the switch upgrade project–in addition to a few unplanned disruptions).
  • Vox takes a look at how several big-city downtowns in the US were transformed by freeway construction.
  • OregonLive.com maps pedestrian and bicyclist deaths in the Metro area from 2008-2012.

Could Bus Multiple Units (BMU)s bridge the bus-rail divide?

Here at Portland Transport, we (both editors and commenters) frequently like to engage in a bit of technical speculation, hoping for future improvements that will allow transit agencies to do more with less.  There’s lots of talk around here about electric buses, of driverless vehicles, of different vehicle configurations, and even more exotic concepts like Personal Rapid Transit (PRT) and bus/train hybrids.   And it’s a tradition ’round these parts to announce groundbreaking new transit technologies the day following March 31st.  :)

We also discuss the merits of bus vs rail a lot, and the various types thereof:  Local bus vs various grades of Bus Rapid Transit.  Streetcar vs light rail vs heavy rail (high-platform long-consist trains found in many large-city subway systems) vs commuter rail.  Some of these debates can get spirited.

Today, I’m going to discuss some utterly speculative technology that might help bridge the operational gap between large rubber-tired passenger-hauling vehicles running on paved roads (“bus”) and steel-wheeled vehicles running on steel rails.  Since I’m not aware of any existing, well-used name for the technology I’m about to discuss, I shall call it a Bus Multiple Unit (BMU).

More after the jump:

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December 2014 Open Thread

A few items for your consideration:

November 2014 Open Thread

Time to turn the clocks back, start thinking about shopping, and have another Open Thread.

  • Next Tuesday is election day.  If you haven’t voted already, there are many places to drop off ballots around town (it is likely too late for mail; ballots that don’t reach the elections office by the close of the polls on Tuesday are not counted).  Transportation/land use are on the agenda in several races:  Measure 34-221, a proposed motor vehicle surcharge in Washington County to pay for road maintenance; Metro measure 26-120 would continue a 12-year ban on Metro requiring cities to upzone, and the Tualatin mayor’s race includes a candidate who supports the city withdrawing from TriMet (though there are questions as to whether it legally can).
  • Metro is finalizing plans to reduce greenhouse gases.  And speaking of turning back the clock, Clackamas County wants to reduce greenhouse gases by building more roads.  It’s the old theory that reducing congestion improves air quality by reducing engine idling–which is kind of like an alcoholic trying to prevent hangovers by staying drunk all the time.   In case you’re wondering:  This ignores the issue of induced demand–rather than free-flowing roads, you instead get congested highways with more traffic.  Also, electric cars (and many hybrids) don’t idle when stopped.
  • Portland Streetcar recently passed the 20k weekday ridership  threshold (scroll down).
  • A recent bout of TriMet ticket fraud was apparently an inside job.
  • Halloween Night featured far too much carnage on our streets.  Four trick-or-treaters in Vancouver, and two children in Gresham, were seriously injured when struck by cars.  And two people were killed in Vancouver when their car struck a power pole.