Damper on Light Rail to Clark County?

Yesterday’s Oregonian reports that the Federal Transit Administration is pressuring Clark County to evaluate a variety of modes, not just Light Rail, in its study of high capacity transit options.

Federal meddling, or just prudent review of all the possibilities?

7 responses to “Damper on Light Rail to Clark County?”

  1. This is a very prudent move. If C-Tran/Clark County is going to study their transit alternatives, they needed to study all the potential alternatives. I hope they also take a hard look at the existing commuter rail infrastructure, and how they might be able to run DMUs or similar technology from downtown Vancouver directly to downtown Portland.

    But, it certainly will make their case stronger if, after this study, they conclude that light rail is the best option for crossing the river, while a combination of modes is best for serving their intra-county transportation needs. They then can point to the process of the study in justifying these results…

    In the meantime, how’s our congressional delegation doing on changing the law to allow Oregon to institute a $5 one-way a.m. toll on southbound I-5 at the Columbia River?

  2. It may be a good idea to give the other alternatives their due dilliegence. Although, I can see why some in Clark County would be willing to skip the study of other modes. Two of TriMet’s MAX Lines are so close to the Columbia River. Why not have a hybrid-option. Bus Rapid Transit circulating thru Vancouver, and have the Yellow and Red Lines cross the river, but just barely. I saw up in Victoria the Eaquinalt and Nanaimo station. The track stops about 200ft after crossing a bridge over a small channel of the harbor. It is not much, but just enough to accomodate a 2 car train of BUDD RDC DMUs. I wonder how much it would cost to have the two lines cross the Columbia River and have only one station each? Although it would be better to have both lines, if both the Red and Yellow cross the Columbia, continue into Downtown Vancouver.

  3. [pointless sarcasm mode on]

    I’m shocked. Shocked! To see that commenters such as Garlynn and EvergreenTransitFan express openness to exploring a variety of transit modes and options for Clark County. Why, just recently, I was told by a good authority that we participants here at PortlandTransport.com had a “light rail at all costs” mentality. Surely that must still be true, and the above comments are obviously skillful attempts at misdirection.

    [pointless sarcasm mode off]

    – Bob R.

  4. They should try inflatable flotation devices to hang on the outside of your car so all the ‘Couvers can make an amphibious assault on Portland! There is the marina at waterfront park that they could drive out of, as well as the Johns Landing boat launch!

    Let’s get creative with the transit possibilities, people! Hot air balloon commuting! Any takers? =)

  5. In all seriousness…

    rereading the article, it almost sounds like a warning by the feds to Clark County that without a good land-use plan, they “ain’t gettin’ nothing” – one of the quotes towards the end:

    “One of the key steps, he said, is to meld transit and land-use policies.”

  6. Sorry, up here we had a major low-fare airline thinking of using a little-used International Airport, and there were calls by it’s neighbors to reject the proposal immediately. The problem is, the airport, like most commercial airports in this country, gets federal money, so due dilligence had to be done, or they risked losing that money. The move by Southwest and Alaska was rejected, but only after a few hearings were done. I am still for Light Rail in all of Washington’s Top-Five cities.(SPokane has proposals being floated), Tacoma has it, and their are calls for it to be expanded, and some are suggesting that LRT take the place of the now defunct Green-Line MOnorail. Also, I remember the Seattle Times ran a story awhile back about several proposed annexations that could make Vancouver #2 in the state. Gas Prices up here are now in the $2.40-$2.60 per gallon range for regular, and on the SOUNDER Commuter Rail, Train 1700, the first train to Everett in the afternoon(The 4 Tacoma-Seattle and 2 Everett-Seattle Round Trips have numbers, probably due to the RailPlus Program with Amtrak Cascades) has more ridership than when it started in June. I observed it track-side in June, and it was two cars, not that full, now it is three cars, and seats can be found at King Street Station, but not that many. There were those that attacked it as a waste in 2004 when it started, when it was only one train, with the afternoon return-trip leaving King Street Station at 5:15PM. Now the two trains leave at 4:33PM and 5:12PM. The same criticism that the Everettt Trains still get, was leveled against the Tacoma Trains, but now with 4 round-trips, leaving at more convinient times, the trains are at Standing Room Only at Kent, with 1 more stop before they get to King Street Sation in the morning. It sometimes takes time to build up ridership, (oops, sorry for my off-topic rant)

    Rail Transit needs to take several forms, commuter rail and Light Rail work hand in hand. That is proven in Tacoma. Tacoma Dome Station has 2400 Park and Ride Stalls, but that is not enough for it, and the multitude of local and regional bus routes, in addition to SOUNDER. THere are a few garages in Downtown Tacoma, LINK connects those, including the 10th and Commerce Transit Hub with Tacoma Dome Station. It could be even higher ridership if it connected Point Defiance and Tacoma Community College with SOUNDER. An extended Tacoma LINK would also remove the biggest criticism, that it is fare-free. It would be much longer than the current 1.6 mile long system.

  7. I would hope they’d implement some DMU or even commuter rail service of some type before they implemented light rail across the river. Right now I don’t go to Vancouver for any reason. With either of those options on a semi-frequent schedule I’d go there more often.

    The reason I mention setting up some commuter rail as preference is the fact that the Cascades train takes about 16-20 minutes (depending on if it’s in a hurry or getting stuck) to get from PDX to VAN, and the same to travel from VAN to PDX.

    If speed limits are followed, that leaves the rail line (even though it goes WAY out of the way and is not direct to PDX) as THE fastest way to get from one city to the other.

    I really dig light rail, but both the red line and the yellow line, with their 45 minutes from downtown to end points just takes way too long to travel to and from Vancouver.

    Thus if they where to drop some extra tracks and figure out some crossing points, whoever implemented it (C-Span/Tri-Met/Union Pacific) would be setup for some real traffic within 6 months – 2 years.

    btw – Just kidding about Union Pacific. It’d be a great dream that private money would be worth spending on something like this. But since there is no profit in it thanks to subsidies and Government Monopolization I’m pretty sure we’ll never see that happen. :( How cool it’d be to see a yellow/gray train zip along teh line, not costing me a cent unless I rode it. :o