Author Archive | EngineerScotty

Breaking: TriMet, ATU 757 reach tentative contract agreement

Terms of the deal have not been announced, but multiple sources are reporting that a tentative deal between TriMet and it’s operators’ union, the Amalgamated Transit Union Local 757, has been struck.

I have not seen any official release or announcement from the ATU; will update this post if I find one.

Terms of the deal, which must be approved by both the TriMet board and the ATU rank and file, have not been disclosed.

After years of acrimony, and bickering over pointless things (on both sides), it’s nice to see a deal struck rather than imposed in arbitration (assuming this gets ratified).  Better employee relations make for better service, if nothing else.

Decision time for Powell/Division

Tomorrow, September 29, Metro will host a combination steering committee/open house on the Powell/Division project, in which staff recommendations will be presented.  Not too surprisingly, staff recommendations include:

  • Bus instead of rail (LRT or Streetcar).  This is expected, as the proposed budget and timeframe for the project is simply not compatible with a rail solution, having numerous rail projects happening during the Great Recession (and its numerous service cuts) has made rail a bit more politically difficult, and many preliminary documents and materials have referred to it as a “BRT” project.  At this point, various grades of BRT are being considered, ranging from “dedicated busway” to “frequent service bus plus”.  Even at the low end, the solution calls for 1/2 stop spacings, vehicles larger than a 40′ bus, stations with amenities, and faster boarding (which I assume means fare collection that does not involve the driver).
  • The proposed alignment would be to cross the river using Tilikum Crossing, then use Powell out to at least SE 50th, transitioning to Division between 50th and I-205 (TBD), and Division to Gresham, with a possible connection to Mount Hood CC, with several different alignments possible in Gresham.  A transition at SE 82nd seems to have quite a bit of public support.
  • Riders want a service that is “discernibly quicker” than the existing 4 and 9 bus lines.

Among the next steps are consideration of various potential station areas along the route, and potential impacts/changes to local transit.

A big pile of documents can be found here.

 

Almost October Open Thread

A long nasty project at work has finally wrapped up; apologies for the extended absense.

  • Tualatin voters passed a public-vote-on-light-rail measure earlier this month.  Unlike a similar recent measure in Tigard, this one only affects LRT and not BRT, and does not require the city to issue pointless statements that it is “opposed” to light rail.  Tualatin’s mayor has indicated that any major capital improvements involving city funds would likely be referred to the voters regardless.
  • A major steering committee meeting tomorrow (9/29) for the Powell/Divison Project, one that is likely to narrow the scope of the project somewhat.  A separate post will cover this.
  • Last week there was a Portland Streetcar derailment, when a switch leading to the garage under I-405 was not properly closed, causing a N/S car to jump the tracks when reaching said switch.   A technical question:  MAX signals are designed to inform operators of the position of upcoming switches, and most (if not all) of the primary operational switches are electronically controlled and integrated into the signalling/dispatch system; a MAX operator will (or should) know if he’s about to be routed onto a siding or into a yard.  Does the PSC signalling infrastructure have the same safeguards?
  • A new hassle for the poor and credit-challenged (or at least those who have cars):  electronic repossession (or remote disabling) of automobiles.

MLS All-Star game open thread

Next week, Portland will host one a major cultural event, and you can take MAX to see it:  Ted Nugent is playing the Expo Center.  :)  Oh, there will be a soccer game at Multhomah Civic PGE Jeld-Wen Providence Park, too,

So, another Open Thread.

  • Portland has updated its Comprehensive Plan, and has a rather lengthy (and expensive) list of capital projects that the city would like to do in the next 20 years (not all of them will be done, obviously).   Regional projects that Portland is not playing a major part in (MAX expansions, the proposed I-5/Rose Quarter project) are not on the list, but the list includes lots of transit-, bike/ped-, and freight-related goodies.  Among the highlights are streetcar extensions to Hollywood, north up MLK, and to John’s Landing (LO-lite?); major renovation to South Portland in concert with the SW Corridor, major improvements to rail infrastructure on Delta Park, several bike boulevards, widening OR99E between Harold and Tacoma, and the western half of the Burnside Couplet.  Portland has also developed an interactive “map app” to document the plan and seek public comment.
  • Speaking of interactive transportation tools, Metro has one too.
  • Speaking of streetcars, the debate on this controversial technological tool exploded on the transit internets this past week, with contributions pro and con from Matt Yglesias, Robert SteutevilleJarrett Walker, The Overhead Wire, and Seattle Transit Blog.

Midsummer Night’s Open Thread

Been out of town, and been watching a little sporting event down in Brazil.  Now that that’s over, ’tis time for another open thread.

  • The Powell/Division project is starting to heat up.  A series of outreach meeting will occur in the next couple of weeks, and a few new documents are available.
  • Was in Seattle last week.  While there are parts of Seattle transportation planning that I’m happy not to see replicated here (such as the boring machine stuck below the harbor), I was constantly impressed by the amount of exclusive bus lanes, both on freeways and on surface streets.
  • Beaverton’s planning for the South Cooper Mountain area is also being promoted to the public.  Transit isn’t on the agenda directly, but the proposed street network includes several new arterial routes over Cooper Mountain, making bus service through the area potentially easier.
  • C-TRAN budgets $6.7M in matching funds for the Fourth Plain BRT project; the project (which unfortunately will be mixed-traffic BRT) will start construction next year, and open in 2016.   One interesting question:  The project has long assumed that the CRC and Yellow Line extension would get built, as of now, that’s not happening.
  • Some area freeways going high-tech.
  • Next week, the new SunLink streetcar line in Tuscon, AZ opens, featuring 8 new vehicles from Oregon Iron Works.