Mall Discontent

The Portland Tribune is reporting this morning on continuing opposition to TriMet’s plan for Light Rail on the Transit Mall.

While some of the opposition seems a bit cranky, there are also some serious names, Ron Buel and George Crandell, expressing significant concerns about unintended consequences on the downtown environment.

The critics will present an alternative plan at the Downtown Neighborhood Association meeting on Monday (2/13, 5pm at the Lovejoy Room in City Hall).

44 responses to “Mall Discontent”

  1. How do you have an intelligent public discussion about what is essentially an engineering / traffic flow / operations research issue? The plan I’ve seen makes no sense to me, weaving busses and trains in and out of lanes… what a mess. But what do I understand about the science of traffic management? Technocrats claim it is all possible. Common sense tells me it’s a mess.

    And no one has ever perusaded me of the value of a north south axis…. UNLESS trains will continue in a southerly direction across a new bridge or toward Lake Oswego. But are there serious plans for that kind of spending? If not, we gain a very few extra stops downtown for a system that is a commuter line … not a local downtown circulator like the street car… So it’s all a mystery to me.

  2. I have to say I’m mystified by the complaints in the article. What’s so crazy about buses and trains weaving? The buses do that by themselves now, and they do it on the basis of understood rules rather than traffic design. If the bus doing pickup/dropoff looks like its finished, the buses in the center lane wait for them to pull out. If the center lane drivers perceive that the right-lane bus is still actively handling passengers, they go ahead.

    This happens on EVERY block now. Under the new system, the buses will alternate blocks with the MAX, and presumably at the MAX stops there will be separate traffic signals as there are at current intersections with the MAX.

    Did you notice how far into the article you have to go to discover that Buel and Crandall’s main beef is that cars will occupy the mall? Thank the business community for that one; they wouldn’t kick in for part of the costs unless people could have “drive-by” capability past their storefronts. I actually think the auto part will be smoother too, when you’ll be able to drive the whole length of 5th and 6th without having to turn off unexpectedly. And something tells me drivers will instinctively avoid the center lane with MAX tracks–a problem currently, as bus drivers and police cars constantly have to wrangle cars back into the left lane.

    Dante, Berbati’s and Voodoo are just crying to cry. How many buses are “staging” at 10pm on a Friday? Not many. And what did they think was going to happen during construction? Hovering air platforms? Further, I think they’re being a little short-sighted. When it’s done, a rail line bringing people from the Pearl will drop folks off two blocks from their businesses. (Sure there’s a line two blocks on the other side now, but it only goes one stop into NW before going across the river, and many folks are wigged out by Skidmore at night).

    I do have some issues with the plan (which I talk about here), but I think the Trib’s article is a little overblown–and Trimet is right; where were these people during the comment period?

    Chris, will you be at the meeting Monday to hear about the alternate plans?

  3. I don’t think torridjoe gets it. Operationally, this is a stupid plan. Did you read the APTA Peer Review? They kindly called it “less than optimal.” The only way to make it safe is slow speeds and reduced bus volumes. On opening day, the Mall will not have sufficient bus capacity, so some bus route diversions are permanent. All growth in peak bus volumes must occur off the mall. The video simulation is not reality, ok? There has got to be a better way. Why not better off-peak and evening bus shuttle service connecting PSU via the Mall to the Pearl and keep the trains where they are? Or won’t Pearl District folks ride a bus?

  4. No, I get it. I can’t accept that safety is a major factor; there’s nothing about the new plan that substantially increases the risk beyond what exists now. Mixed-use roadways do not cause a rash of injuries and accidents in Amsterdam that I’m aware of–and they add bike lanes to the mix!

    Also note that the “50 of 140 buses” data point is a little distorted. That reflects departures in a peak hour, not bus lines. If you look at just four lines being moved to Jeff/Columbia off the Mall–6, 92, 95 and 96–you’ll find that they represent over a third of those “50 buses,” since during the 4pm hour they constitute 18 departures.

    As to using bus service connecting Union Station and PSU–the spur represents the terminus loop of the Green Line. So it’s not just designed to cater to Pearl people; it’s also the primary way that I-205 riders will get downtown, without having to change trains.

    I agree there IS a better way–kick the cars off the mall–but without the cars, the Mall’s business interests wouldn’t have agreed to absorbing some of the non-federal costs. For that community to complain about the results of that, seems highly disingenuous to me.

  5. toridjoe says “…the spur represents the terminus loop of the Green Line. So it’s not just designed to cater to Pearl people; it’s also the primary way that I-205 riders will get downtown, without having to change trains.”

    There is a rail turnaround at 11th Avenue. Adding a power switch to activate the third track would provide a Green Line turnaround for less than $200 million. Then the businesses could pay for chopping through the four blocks where the auto lane is currently interrupted. Businesses get what they want, bus riders do not lose out to subsidize rail riders (yet again). Spend the Federal transit money on transit that makes sense, like extending the Yellow Line north. It is currently way underutilized.

    By the way, you assume it is terrible for Green Line riders to transfer, yet you approve of forcing all line 96 riders with destinations north of Jefferson to transfer.

    There is a new McCarthyism (see the Oregonian Editorial earlier this week) that says anyone who criticizes TriMet is anti-rail or anti-transit. Please, folks, lets have some independent, critical thinking here.

  6. The Yellow line cannot go any further north…? It is already nearly to the river’s edge. Washington is not interested.

    I’m not sure what you’re proposing regarding 11th–you want the Green Line to go down streetcar tracks on 10th and 11th instead of the bus mall? That’s no good; it’s too far west to be a useful line into “downtown.”

    As for my assumptions, you may be surprised to learn that the 96 is frequently my way home. (Mostly I use the 36, which you’ll notice is possibly slated to go down 10th/11th during construction). The difference is, I’m willing to put up with some level of inconvenience for the greater good of an improved system. (I don’t think it’s “broken,” Kari–but the Green Line needs to end up downtown somehow, and business wants cars on 5th and 6th).

  7. To answer torridjoe’s arguments: Until the Portland Business Alliance cajoled TriMet into using Federal Money to pay for the through auto lane on the Mall, the plans for the Green Line were to use the existing MAX tracks, using the existing MAX turnaround at 11th Ave. You can see the earlier plans on TriMet’s and Metro’s web sites. The turnaround works fine for the current Yellow Line. It just needs aditional capacity, which would be provided by activating the third track. (Go up there and look, if you don’t understand what I am talking about.)

    If the design were a “greater good” I would go along with you.

    Sending the Yellow Line to Hayden Island would have a much more useful terminus than the Expo Center, which is inaccessible to C-Tran. The extension to Washington will need to be part of the “Columbia Crossing” project somehow. Remember, Oregonians have voted for and voted against light rail. Just because they voted down one particular design doesn’t mean Washingtonians are totally benighted. Milwaukie, Oregon had a beef with one rail design, yet they favor more recent designs.

  8. now we’re getting constructive! Thanks for the reply, goworker.

    The existing MAX tracks only create redundant supply if you put a new line on them; with three lines already they tend to back up downtown during peak times. There’s far more benefit in establishing new trackline to cover other parts of the city, and to do so in the opposite directions (N/S).

    I agree with you that a good transit link across the river would be great–and I would also agree that Washingtonians may not dismiss our attempts to work with them ad infinitum. But that’s whenever; this is now. Planning and securing of federal dollars takes YEARS, as you know, so saying that expanding Yellow instead of building Green is a better idea, runs afoul of the reality that expanding Yellow simply isn’t possible at this time. If we want to start tackling the Crossing now (which we are), in hopes of securing dollars a few years down the road, I’m all for that. (Although I think linking SE/Milwaukie and Macadam/LO are better priorities for the area).

    Thanks for taking the time to reply.

  9. Two other arguments for the proposed design:

    1) The through auto lane is not so much about capacity, but about making the downtown grid more predictable and understandable – AND it provides a through connection for bikes willing to take the lane (and at speeds on the transit mall you can – I do it all the time on 4th).

    2) The plan IS to connect to the south end of this alignment when the Milwaukie line gets funded.

  10. Right, the extension makes no sense unless light rail is extended South, which it will be. All this whining is coming from those who think the weaving will be “too complicated” but is only complicated out of the demands of the business community, the same people doing the whining. No, it’s not perfect, the perfect plan would kick cars off the mall, but that’s not reality.

  11. Miles-

    There are two to three valuable aspects of the north/sotuh alignment of MAX through downtown. Though, the one time that I met Bill Naito, he made a very convincing case for putting north/south MAX on 10th and 11th rather than through the Bus Mall. Or, 3rd and 4th. Or, 1st and 2nd. Tearing up the Bus Mall made no good sense to him.

    But, since we’ve put the Streetcar on 10th and 11th, that corridor is not open to MAX. So, MAX gets to go on the Bus Mall. Which could turn out to be a wildly successful Good Thing… or not. The jury is still out.

    OK, the value of north/south MAX is this: Right now, the Steel Bridge is at capacity with regards to MAX. Tri-Met cannot run more MAX trains across the Steel Bridge at rush hour, due to the bottleneck at the Old Town/Chinatown station. You notice that at the other end, Interstate MAX splits off and THEN has a station. The whole point of North/South MAX, operationally, then is to allow MAX to split off to a second westside station from the Steel Bridge. It will do this by having some trains make a right turn and go up by Union Station to the bus mall, while other trains will make a left turn and go into the existing Old Town/Chinatown station. This will, in effect, double the capacity for throughput of MAX trains across the Steel Bridge. Which should hold the system over for the foreseeable future. Currently, I think there are 3.5 minute headways. This new alignment will allow BOTH lines to have 3.5 minute headways, which will in effect give a maximum throguhput of a train every 105 seconds or so crossing the Steel Bridge, splitting off to either the right or the left on each side. Which brings up the issue of holy shite, what happens when they need to raise the bridge? ;-)

    OK, the second benefit of North/South light rail is to bring a light rail station to PSU, which is currently the biggest single transit stop in terms of ridership in Tri-Met’s entire system.

    And finally, the third benefit is to allow trains to eventually re-cross the Willamette and head south into Milwaukie, or Oregon City, or out Barbur Blvd. Lake Oswego will be served not by Light Rail, but by the streetcars heading out from Moddy Ave/South Waterfront along the existing single-track streetcar alignment there (which will be improved to add passing/siding tracks in some acceptable locations).

    There may be other benefits to n/s lrt, but those are the main three as I understand it.

    There you have it!


  12. I’m glad there is this concern, originally when they chose the option B for the track configuration I was against it but went along with it but recently the more I think about the more I feel (as do many people) that this weaving track will be a huge mess that will slow down all transit on the mall.

    Ruining the downtown transit system is something that a lot of us transit advocates are deeply concerned about. Buses can weave easily among each other, trains on the other hand do not weave easily at all since they run on tracks and must change lanes in the one place where the tracks change lanes. Mix light rail trains, many buses, automobiles, wide downtown sidewalks and by PSU a few blocks of streetcar and this will be gridlock. The street’s right-of-way is just too narrow for all these modes. Just on one direction of the mall the trains must change lanes at least 14 times, thats a gigantic disaster waiting to happen. Please drop the LRT on Transit Mall plan as is, kill the whole thing or redesign it. Go on with I-205 LRT. Go on with Wash Co. Commuter Rail. And this is coming from a very pro-rail transit person.

  13. While I personally think the bus weaving thing is pretty ridiculous – I would much favor buses loading on the right side and max trains loading on the left – it will have one nice benefit.

    One of the reasons there is not a lot of nicer development along the mall is that it has a rather unfriendly feel to it… mainly due to all the noisy, diesel-smoke belching buses grinding their way along it. While efficient, it is the primary reason the street is rather dilapidated.

    Throwing cars into the mix will likely keep traffic pretty slow, as all the drivers are going to be scared of running into a max train. I think they should have ordered some psych studies to see how people will react in such an environment – I hear the military is good at that sort of thing.

    But in all reality, creating a nice and slow-paced street that is cleaner & quieter is going to make it that much more attractive for retail & additional development to locate along the area. Of course, we’re talking long term here, not just 4 or 5 years past it opening… but its something to look forward to.

    And if you want a Rapid Transit System, vote for the subway alignment.

  14. Can someone explain why buses weave back and forth across lanes on every single block of the mall, and the world hasn’t ended yet? What does the train–which has an accelerator, a brake and presumably its own set of signals like at other MAX intersections–do that suddenly makes this a hopelessly complex situation? We’ve already got the buses and the cars and the streetcar and the sidewalks.

    It’s an honest question: What are the scenarios in which the intermodal design fails?

  15. Justin–the twain shall never meet, cars and trains. To see how people react with a train beside them, drive up and down Morrison and Yamhill. And having done that many times like most of us of course, you realize that they move predictably and relatively slowly, and you always know where they’re going to go next.

    I think you’re right about the sort of deserted look the Mall has; I hadn’t ever considered the pollutive aspect but I agree it’s a big factor. Even listening to music I can still clearly hear the engines over top while I wait for a bus. Business thinks you’re right too. I think most of the planners think the cars should be removed, but businessowners wanted the traffic so they stayed.

    I hardly ever see tourists using the buses for Fareless Square. MAX is festooned with them. It feels much more natural to use the train to sightsee, shop and just look around, as opposed to the bus. So what I think the business community is missing is that MAX is a big foot traffic generator. It’s not the cars that will help them; it’s the train.

    Portland–the City that Discusses. Endlessly. :)

  16. the trains do not have the flexibility in changing lanes that buses do… there is a specific point where the train must change lanes regardless of traffic conditions and that is where the tracks change lanes. I have no problem having automobiles use part of 5th & 6th but not if it hinders the operations of the transit system which should have the priority on those streets.

    another concern i have is the loss of the quality design elements on the mall, the replacement of the iconic bus shelters, having wire hung traffic signals instead of steel post supported signals, the loss of the art, trees and plantings along the mall.

    there is only one place that I am aware of where streetcars or LRV’s must change lanes amongst other vehicles and that is in SF in fishermans wharf. other than that it is almost unheard of and none of these other systems or lines changes lanes as many times as the trains would on the mall.

    i think the ideal situation is to keep the transit mall configured as it is now, have the light rail trains run in the middle lane entirely and have the stations on those blocks where the auto lane ends (with the wider sidewalk, every 4 blocks or so, where the trains would have left side boarding).

    I really hope I am wrong about the transit mall but as I envision it I unfortuntely see it as a real mess. The last thing I want is a light rail line that hurts the system overall in operations, expansion and public opinion.

  17. The common assumption that adding a new rail alignment through downtown will allow more trains to go through downtown and thus increase rail passenger capacity is false.

    The number of trains that can move through the system is limited by the capacity of the junctions not the number of tracks leading to and from them.

    By adding a wye junction at the west end of the Steel Bridge to accommodate the mall alignment, capacity will be reduced not increased.

    Eastbound Yellow and Green Line trains must cross the westbound track of the Blue and Red Lines. This will most likely create delays during peak periods, which in turn will interrupt the regular progression of westbound trains through downtown. This junction, plus the Rose Quarter junction and the crossover tracks at Union Station will cause serious backups that will further limit capacity.

  18. Jim, Very good point about the track crossing at the end of the Steel Bridge. I can’t help but remember my time in Amsterdam last year and seeing their streetcar using a single track to go both directions in one instance.

    Jon, I don’t remember if it changed lanes in the midst of cars in Amsterdam, but I wouldn’t be surprised if it did as there was a whole lot happening on those streets!

    torridjoe, I believe govworker’s point was that it made sense to terminate the yellow line at Hayden Island–running it across the river could come later. Getting it to Hayden Island would make it acessible to C-Tran. I agree with govworker. I live in North Portland and have never had the need to ride the MAX north of the Lombard Transit Center stop. However, we frequently drive to Hayden Island to visit Target and other retail outlets. If the MAX went there, we would now have a different option. I’m not familiar with the background here, but I do remember that the Yellow Line was touting being under budget and ahead of schedule at its opening. Why didn’t they extend it to Hayden Island when they were building it? (aside from the obvious bridge that would need to be built)

  19. Jim Howell

    I respectfully disagree with your statement that “The common assumption that adding a new rail alignment through downtown will allow more trains to go through downtown and thus increase rail passenger capacity is false.”

    The reason that I disagree is that I was told by Tri-Met engineers (back in the 1990s, when I briefly worked at Tri-Met for the Westside Project) that they cannot add capacity through Downtown until they build a second Y off the Steel Bridge on the westside. Apparently, they’ve figured out that they *can* run trains more frequently through those switches… which must mean that the switches themselves are not yet at capacity. Perhaps a switch can accommodate a train every 30-45 seeconds, allowing two trains to cross within the 105-second window projected as the maximum one-way cross-bridge peak-period headway?

    A quick Google search cannot confirm or deny this possibility; however, I did find something which may explain the root of your objection to this concept. According to this TCRP report referencing the Toronto Transit Commission, the TTC experienced capacity problems on the Bloor-Danforth subway because of a wye switch designed so that each alternate train would run downtown:

    “This operation was abandoned after a six month trial in 1966 as uneven train arrivals made the merge difficult. The uneven arrivals were primarily due to the lack of any intermediate timing points on the long cross-town BloorDanforth subway.”


    “Twenty years after the subway opened, intermediate timing points (dispatch signals) were added. By this time the University subway had been extended along Spadina and the wye operation was no longer feasible.”

    So… I think, Jim, that the verdict may still be out on whether Tri-Met’s switches physically can withstand allowing more frequent Steel Bridge headways if they create a second westside light rail exit alignment. It seems to me to be theoretically possible, though I agree that it might be a tight squeeze… their signals would need to be *really* good, and their control room guys *really* on top of things.

    Anybody have access to any more-detailed or more-official numbers on this?


    I agree with both points:

    1) Yellow line terminus would make sense if it were currently at Hayden Island, not just the Expo Center. Not only would this provide access, but it would allow for one awesome, kick-arse TOD centered around a new Hayden Island LRT terminal/terminus. Can you say high-density housing, offices, shopping and entertainment in the middle of the river? Wowza, that’d be more special than Treasure Island!! (or, you know, at least kinda special…)

    2) The weaving crap is just silly. Put the trains underground, put them in the third lane and make them only cross to the second lane for stations, ut don’t make them go from the second lane to the first to the second to the first all the time. Bad Tri-Met. No happy-hour beers for you.

    I agree with the others here — the retail mall businesses and the PBA should just accept that MAX itself would improve the retail situation, and allow sales to improve through increased foot traffic. If the fact of having to allow auto access is what ends up being the determing factor that hoses up the entie bus/MAX operations permanently on the mall, then maintaining/expanding auto access is an untenable proposition and it should be dropped from further discussion. End of story.


  20. Garlynn

    You are right. My concern is uneven train arrivals, not switch capacity. You mentioned that in Toronto they fixed the problem with more timing points with dispatch signals. I suspect that this type of “fine tuning” of arrivals is much more feasible in the controlled operating environment of a subway than it is on traffic and pedestrian filled streets.

  21. Yes, a subway would be better for speed and operations, but the city council has repeatedly voiced their positions on street level activity for better or for worse. Also, imagine the cost of a subway through downtown Portland’s geology, uphill portals facing the West Hills, and under the Willamette. I don’t believe the weave of buses and trains will be that problematic considering the only ones allowed to drive down those lanes are professional Trimet drivers who I can’t imagine not getting a good amount of new training on the new system. The auto lane is sort of a bad idea. I understand the retailers’ points of view, but I am a strong anti-auto dependancy advocate and the lane, in my opinion, will only add a sense of better direction downtown (people complain about the one-ways not going through). The main push for this lane will not truly come to fruitition unless they add parking spots for people to look for, and there is no room nor desire by the mall’s pedestrian design for auto parking. Basically, I think that adding an auto lane is trying to do too much to a street in a nation that is all too single minded about ‘street use,’ but then again the auto lane will bring some directional sense to those out-of-town drivers and more accessability for bikes.

  22. there’s a difference between saying there were better options–the time for which suggesting them would have been useful being long past–and saying the current alignment simply won’t work because there may have been better options.

    I’ve agreed throughout this conversation that eliminating the cars would have created the best plan. But that’s a non-starter; the business community simply wouldn’t have it. And I’ll leave the discussion on Steel Bridge capacity to others. But other than “it sounds complicated,” I still haven’t gotten any satisfying answer to why the mall alignment is doomed to fail as designed.

  23. This is all good discussion. But it comes down to this IMO: the north/south max is’nt going to do jack for the overall metro system in pdx. The fact is that you can’t use max to get around central city; its only for commuting in from the burbs. So why waste money on this new alignment? Good question.

    Subway or nuthin. Giving suburban commuters a new set of drop-off points (every 50 feet it seems) doesn’t do a damn thing for traffic, for accessibility, for anything. Stupidest waste of money EVER.

  24. Last time I checked, the 82nd avenue corridor largely falls within the Portland city boundaries… ‘suburbs,’ composed of areas such as Gresham, Tigard, Beavertron, Hillsboro, Clark County Wash, and Salem, the Max will not serve.

    Additionally, the 205 line will stop approximately every mile, with pretty high running speeds.

    As far as downtown, have you ever walked from Portland State University to the train station? It takes forever to get there – tourists & old people, or families with kids, are not going to be able to hoof it in 25 minutes, and the max will go quite a bit faster. The stops will be every 4 blocks, which is ~800 feet between stops.

  25. Points taken.

    Okay a N/S transit option is necessary.

    But anyone that has used one of the great metros in the world knows there is a huge difference between the max system and the great metros

    Okay so pdx is not nyc or paris. But were supposed to be leading the way for american cities in the 21st c. In the context of transport.

    I just want to use the damn thing but it takes way too long to get anywhere on max. In the biz district there is a stop every 2-3 minute walk! Come on. It spends more time in traffic and stopped than it does moving. Why? Because it runs on street grade and has way too many stops dopwntown.

    So unless there are going to be streetcars all over central city, how are u supposed to get around except by foot?

    Its foolish to spend the money to convert the mall. Who knows if it will even work. But we do know its gonna cost a ton of cash. Why not spend that money on streetcars with their own right of way(like every other city)?

  26. Seattle’s Link light rail will be operational the same year as the Mall/Green Line is finished. I have this image of people zipping around downtown Seattle in their tunnel reading a Seattle Times article about how the Portland Mall was closed because of a bus-MAX collision on opening day.

  27. My problem with the current design is this, it’s a public transportation run, buses move south on 5th and north on 6th. To throw cars into the mix makes no sense, it’s like salad in cake. As for the weaving, it’s simply an unnecessary risk. If buses stay to the right, and MAX stays on the left, there’s no weaving, less issues and more room for people. I say think about what we have now, and look at what we’re trying to fit in the same space. Where do the people really fit in?

  28. I hate to sound like I’m beating a dead horse, but here goes: Of course buses and trains can weave. However, this limits capacity (vehicles per unit of time past a point). Result: on opening day of the new Mall, some number of buses must find new streets to operate on downtown. There is no published plan, but the obvious streets to use are 3rd, 4th, 10th and 11th, or else cross the Mall and force a transfer. All future growth in bus service to Downtown must likewise use non-Mall streets. This is all documented in the DEIS and FEIS documents, available on TriMet and Metro web sites.

    Regarding train capacity, the limiting factor is the Rose Quarter “interlocking.” This set of signals and switches acts as a meter. The additional Mall alignment adds little or nothing to capacity into or out of Downtown. The additional west-end “interlocking” and crossing points will certainly introduce delays of their own, increasing travel time on Max. Any pre-Yellow Line engineering discussion is out-of-date.

    Regarding the question of whether it is now too late to criticize the design, I sure am glad that folks took a different attitude when the Mt. Hood Freeway was a “done deal.” There is almost a year of “final design” ahead of us. Suggesting that we take another look at whether there is something better than the “weave” should not brand a person “anti-transit.” What ever happend to “better late than never?”

  29. The more I think about this whole Bus Mall plan the more I think its a horrific idea.

    *uneccesary for the green line

    *huge cost to taxpayers

    *disrupts current transit options

    *limits future transit

    *does nothing to improve transit (nothing significant)

    *creates more traffic on 5th and 6th downtown

    *potentially disastrous combination of buses, LRTs and cars.

    Okay, where IS the upside with this project?

    Sounds like a big mistake to me and the project uses money that could actually help transit, such as streetcars, a subway, bike paths, pretry much anything.

  30. Why is everyone complaining about losing a few busses on the mall when we’re gaining light rail, adding many times the capacity of the few busses we’re losing. Light rail on the mall is essential for N/S rail. Of course a subway would be better. A subway would have always been better, since the first east side MAX, but we build what we can with the money we don’t have. If we’d have gone with a subway maybe we’d have one or two transit lines rather than going-on five with the green line.

    Brandon: what happens when a light rail train in Seattle’s spectacular tunnel runs into the back of a bus, sharing the same lanes?

  31. I think anyone planning on favorably comparing Seattle’s process to Portland’s, ought to be reminded of their folly with one word: MONORAIL. Portland’s going to have to fuck up about 10 more times before the Transit Mall project even approaches that cluster…job.

    on “great metros”–
    There’s no doubt that other world cities have transit plans and layouts that exceed Portland’s for efficiency and people throughput. But they also have governments keenly focused on making transit work. Here you have to fight tooth and nail just to keep transit on the table. Furthermore, to say “we’re not NYC”–thank God for that! I appreciate the system there; I’ve ridden it dozens of times at all hours of the day–but they kind of had a 90 year head start on us, you know? And only recently in lower Manhattan have the stations been upgraded from “stinking, urine-soaked crime zone.” I would compare MAX to a city like DC, where on a comparative scale MAX blows METRO’s doors off. And I know the DC METRO very well.

    goworker–there are published plan options for offloading; so far it looks like about 40 or so departures during peak times will be moved to Jefferson/Columbia. As for being too late–do you really think the DBA is suddenly going to sign off on taking cars out of the mix? If not, then it’s too late. I hope you weren’t referring to me calling you “anti-transit;” I haven’t done so.

    Re: MAX as a commuter rail only: guess you’ve never tried to get on a train after a Beavers or Timbers game.

  32. I call your bluff, torridjoe, where is the published plan for which bus lines will be removed from the Mall when it is finished, and onto which streets? The FEIS says the plan is to be developed during final design. Is it available? Who do I ask for a copy?

    I apologize for implying you said I was anti-transit — The Oregonian is the culprit.

    But is there no better option than the “weave” that still keeps cars and MAX on the Mall? After all, the Downtown businesses are the ones who will be killed by the construction impacts over the next three years, aren’t they?

  33. goworker–I said there are published plan OPTIONS, which appear in the map and text regarding Options 1 and 2 for temporary relocation. In both cases, TriMet states, several lines will shunt to Jeff/Columbia. It also says that there is at least some chance those (or other) lines will stay there. Given the general agreement within and without that bus capacity will have to be reduced once the Mall is done, I can only assume that this is truly their plan. Sorry if you thought I meant there were changes for load reduction set in stone; you’re right, there aren’t. But I’d bet a nickel that it will happen as TriMet envisions.

    I too am mystified by downtown complaints of lost business during the remodel. What did they expect?

    Before we ask what better options are there, what’s the specific objection to weaving, other than that it’s new to people?

  34. “Before we ask what better options are there, what’s the specific objection to weaving, other than that it’s new to people?”

    my objection is that while yes a train can weave among other vehicles and change lanes it can not do it well especially in heavy traffic and we are already talking about a transit mall at capacity. the trains will do it slowly with the help of traffic signals to stop the buses in the other lane slowing them down, now buses do not need the assistance of traffic signals to change lanes, they change lanes when they see an opening in the bus traffic flow. if a train had the ability to steer around other vehicles it would not be a problem (buses can do this), the problem is that the train has a specific place due to the tracks where it must change lanes regardless of traffic conditions. the reason weaving hasnt been done before is because it results in poor operations for rail vehicles.

  35. Re: max as a commuter rail system. You I might as well walk if you’re taking max a few stops in center city. Sure its nice to sit rather than walk. But faster.

    Anyways, of course pdx is new to the transit game, but we might as well build for a furture system that actually transports people within center city.

    Max is very comparable to the RER in paris, but it has zero comparison to the paris metro. Short trains, limited traffic capacity, bottlenecks, plus way too many stops combined with limited center city accessibility make sure of that.

    And if were hoping for the streecar to “circulate” people within the city center we better get working on dedicated lanes like every other streetcar in the western world.

    And after all that we still have the weaving issue. Get ready for a seattle style cluster “job”

  36. I’m sorry, but many (most?) streetcars in the world operate in mixed traffic, just like ours. Vienna has one of the best transit systems in the world with a MASSIVE streetcar network (I’m pretty sure they don’t even have busses), all in mixed traffic.

  37. Well I’ve never been to Vienna, and I have not seen most streetcar systems in person.

    My salient point is that the streetcar is very inefficient compared with others that I have a lot of familiarity with.
    Just as with max, the pdx streetcar doesn’t really do much in the time department. Okay, if its raining, great. Otherwise what’s the point?

    Maybe we just need car free areas in central city like they’re gonna do in paris.
    I mean if we really want to create a center (which probably includes the biz diztrict, so. waterfront, northwest, rose quarter, eastside industrial and possibly lower mississippi- oops and the pearl) where quick, easy transit is available then we need to do something about that. If we keep spending this much cashflow on max and it only helps move people from nopo neighborhoods, hollywood, the suburbs, etc, then we are really missing out since the additional funds necessary to create in “intra center” transit system are nominal.

    Whatever it seems most people are more concerned about the weave, and that’s great because the whole concept is questionable at best.

    But I think its all the same issue: we should be making the absolutely best choices for portland transit instead of half assed compromises. I dunno, politics is reality but we all know about what happened in pdx back in the day with transit. We should be focused on that same idealism that created waterfront park, stopped the mt hood fwy, and added the first max line.
    Jus’ my 2centimes

  38. Well I’ve never been to Vienna, and I have not seen most streetcar systems in person.

    My salient point is that the streetcar is very inefficient compared with others that I have a lot of familiarity with.
    Just as with max, the pdx streetcar doesn’t really do much in the time department. Okay, if its raining, great. Otherwise what’s the point?

    Maybe we just need car free areas in central city like they’re gonna do in paris.
    I mean if we really want to create a center (which probably includes the biz diztrict, so. waterfront, northwest, rose quarter, eastside industrial and possibly lower mississippi- oops and the pearl) where quick, easy transit is available then we need to do something about that. If we keep spending this much cashflow on max and it only helps move people from nopo neighborhoods, hollywood, the suburbs, etc, then we are really missing out since the additional funds necessary to create in “intra center” transit system are nominal.

    Whatever it seems most people are more concerned about the weave, and that’s great because the whole concept is questionable at best.

    But I think its all the same issue: we should be making the absolutely best choices for portland transit instead of half assed compromises. I dunno, politics is reality but we all know about what happened in pdx back in the day with transit. We should be focused on that same idealism that created waterfront park, stopped the mt hood fwy, and added the first max line.
    Jus’ my 2centimes

  39. Garlynn Said
    “I think the I-205 LRT alignment is a great idea.”

    How people will get from a station to an actual destination since there are no destinations where stations are proposed. 205 opened in 1982. Why has Tri Met turned down every opportunity to put a bus in along this route?

    Gar,,,,”Ridership in the Westside Corridor has increased, what, 160% since MAX got extended through the hill and out to Hillsboro? This is from just a 46% increase in overall transit service.”

    Those are baloney numbers. We have congestion during peak hours and very accurate numbers from the census concerning those trips. There has been almost no increase and congestion along the Sunset has risen at the same rate as before light rail in that corridor.
    Trolleys were built before the diesel bus was invented and before autos were available to anyone but very few rich people. They didn’t build “transit oriented developments.” They built developments which allowed people to “sprawl” out of the downtown area. Autos and buses after WWII allowed for far more development in the same manner.

    Trolleys weren’t legislated out of existance, like jitneys. They died on their own because beter mobility was becoming available and the people opted for a better choice. And if the writer of the piece has any deluisions that there was a “conspiracy” to get rid of the trolleys, he should look at and go to the old newspaper section of the Multnomah County library.

    Gar,,,,”I could go on, but let me just be clear that rail transit has very definite advantages over buses, and Tri-Met is definitely on the right path with its LRT expansion plans”.

    Buses are more flexible and can service developments all over the region. Rail can only service folks within walking distance of a station (in this climate, less that 1/8th of a mile). Bus routes can change with development patterns. Rail cannot.
    Buses are more reliable and actually are used whenever there is a problem on rail. When a problem arises on rail, passengers have to be buses around the blockage which shuts down the line. Buses run when ice and snow stop MAX.

    If light rail is the right track, why has Portland had the largest increase in congestion compared to every major metro area in the US since 1986 when the rail era started in Portland????

    Gar,,,,”Sure, streetcar needs to be expanded, too, but they’re not the same thing. LRT has a greater capacity (4 seats wide vs. 3) and a higher top speed(59mph vs. 35 mph), as well as longer vehicles. This makes LRT the preferred choice for routes with greater distances between stops.”

    Rail has never had a capacity problem. In all but a few cities in the world, rail has a usage problem. If it were successful, the percentage of operating resources (not capital outlays) would be more than 19%.

    Gar,,,,”Finally, true commuter rail, such as the Washington County project, also needs to be a greater part of the mix to serve the even-longer-distance trips.”

    The Wilsonville to Beaverton project isn’t true commuter rail. True commuter rail is built between a place where lots of commuters are going to a place where lots of commuters want to go. The US Cenus Bureau (check the data that can be obtained at the Census Bureau site showing the origins and destinations of commute trips) shows virtually no trips from Wilsonville to the Beaverton light rail station. This line is a feeder line which only the wildest dreamers believe people from Wilsonville will travel to the west side line to use the rail to go to the Hillsboro electronics industry or to go downtown.

    Gar,,,”And buses *are* useful, they just aren’t the answer for everything. They *can* serve new development, if they have high enough service levels… looks at the Belmont Dairy project. But they’re just one essential part of the whole system.”

    That area was served by buses for 40 years prior to the construction of the Belmont Dairy. The MT Tabor line was Tri Met’s most used route.

    Light rail has never provided service where the folks there weren’t already served by buses. In place of a rail line providing no new service to people not already served by east side light rail, 400 buses could have been purchased to provide areas all over with both local and express service.

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