Trans Trib

It almost seems that today’s Portland Tribune is only about transportation!

My head is spinning…

22 responses to “Trans Trib”

  1. But curiously enough the Trib’s new Green section has nothing about using less energy to get around!
    Maybe next issue?

  2. Also, there is a very interesting, and
    accurate letter about poor transit planning
    during the past 15 years in today’s Tribune.

    The part about new MAX lines degrading service
    by making trips longer is right-on, in my

  3. FYI, for anyone planning on attending the Urban Design Subcommittee meeting regarding the transit shelter issue, the meeting location listed in the paper is incorrect. The meeting will not be at TriMet HQ. The correct location will be announced on the TriMet web site, probably tomorrow.

    – Bob R.

  4. The person, Glenn Laubaugh, who wrote the letter that Nick mentions knows his stuff. There’s a lot of heated debate on Usenet about Portland transportation and he always seems to be above that with impressive information.

  5. I disagree with this guy being a transport guru.

    First, he gets it wrong taht the MAX and Streetcar can share the same tracks:

    1) the streetcar is typically built in a shallow-foundation that cannot support MAX vehicles
    2) the MAX cannot enter a streetcar stop; the curb sticks out further than a MAX stop.

    Secondly, I highly doubt busses average 45 mph on any service route, even if it ran on the freeway. I rode the Barbur bus route, and it probably averaged 10-15 mph, particularly during rush hour… there would be no point in running a lightrail train at over 70 mph (and there is probably no light rail OR metro service in the world that does), as stops are typically close enough together that you would keep accelerating and decelerating the entire way, not to mention curves would limit the speed anyway.


    Finally, the other disagreement I have is over this idea that “service to South Waterfront is ‘absolutely essential.’”

    Why? The trib first announced this by quoting Sam Adams, but I don’t believe it. There are no studies proving that SOWA nees the MAX… currently, NW Portland AND the Pearl district are served by a couple bus lines and the streetcar, and they have what, 3 times more people than SOWA will have when fully built out? We’re doing fine up here, AND are further away from downtown than the SOWA neighborhood.

    It’s not like all the SOWA residents are going to be riding the MAX out to Gresham, anyways… most will likely work downtown.

  6. Actually, TriMet is now saying that MAX may indeed be able to operate on the shallower base that Streetcar uses. One of the issues to look at in the next step of the design for eastside Streetcar is whether the MLK/Grand alignment could be used as an emergency transfer route between the Rose Quarter and the Caruthers Crossing in the event of problems on the Steel Bridge.

    The difference in vehicle widths (and therefore platform clearance) is still a major issue however.

    I suggested that the emergency route kit should include some jackhammers :-)

  7. Re-reading the letter in question, Glenn doesn’t seem to have a valid point when noting how light rail vehicles can travel 70 mph. I agree that this is worthless in an urban setting outside of maybe Tokyo.

    That being said, I don’t think he is arguing that MAX can go on the present streetcar tracks; instead he is saying that the tracks can and should be designed to accommodate both types of vehicles. (This could be done with movable platforms like in NYC.)

    Also, there are only 5 stops between Downtown Portland and Milwaukie TC, so at least outside of rush hours buses can indeed get going.

  8. Chris says “Actually, TriMet is now saying that MAX may indeed be able to operate on the shallower base that Streetcar uses.”

    One would hope so. Aren’t the present MAX railbeds built to a standard sufficient for a freight train, or nearly so? And if the Streetcar railbeds are not adequate now perhaps some modest upgrading would bring them to that level. And it would not be neccesary that the longest trains run on such tracks. The Airport MAX is always the shortened version. I think we should also look down the line to where lighter materials will eventually substitute for what is now used; that time may not be that far away.

    BTW, on Streetcar capacity, I could see how there could be more seats. Chris’s previous comment about eliminating the dual operator cabs could free up some room, and I wonder why the middle car needs to have four sets of double doors. The other suggestion was to always point the Streetcar in one direction, and I think this could be done with the figure 8 routes I suggest, with the central crossing between Harrison and OMSI. But I doubt it will ever get that organized. Could a fourth compartment be added if running a more frequent schedule doesn’t meet the demand? Hopefully the Pearl/LO corridor will be well used (but probably, alas, not by me!).

  9. Chris,

    Re: platform width problem. Whichever vehicle uses a narrower platform could possibly have a signal or device that raises a metal extension of the platform, in front of the vehicle doors, when it is at the stop. Or a step that extends from the vehicle?
    Any safety liability issues would have to be examined.

  10. Ron –

    A couple of points… most weekday Airport MAX trains are now two-car.

    In San Francisco, the Breda LRVs use gap fillers which extend from the floor as the door opens… similar technology could be used on future streetcars to allow them to work at MAX platforms, although the gap is larger.

    – Bob R.

  11. I see that no one seems to be contradicting
    what I wrote:

    “The part about new MAX lines degrading service
    by making trips longer is right-on, in my

    Also more damned inconvenient, with the
    transferring involved. I guess reality is
    too strong to argue with.

  12. “I see that no one seems to be contradicting
    what I wrote:”

    Actually, I’ve been meaning to get around to that one… no time immediately… but in summary I do not agree with his conclusions regarding MAX to Milwaukie.

    (Since you appear to be equating silence with agreement, I felt it necessary to state my disagreement now.)

    – Bob R.

  13. Regarding the idea of something that slides out of Streetcar (the narrower vehicle) to bridge the gap, we already have a bridge plate on one door for wheelchairs and strollers. I don’t know if that would serve or be safe at a MAX stop. Equiping the narrorer front door would be a bigger challenge.

    My guess is that if we’re talking about only a few stops with this issue, it would be much cheaper to outfit the stops with an adjustable platform.

  14. Chris –

    The more I think about it, there may not even be an issue… it really depends on actual regulations governing the use of such vehicles.

    People do not expect a bus to align precisely with the curb and they do not expect there to be zero gap when stepping off of a bus to the curb.

    If the existing streetcar bridge plate (wheelchair ramp) can be adapted to serve both MAX-style platforms and streetcar platforms, to serve users who require the bridge, is it unreasonable or illegal to require that other riders step across a 6″ (?) gap to reach the first entry step of the streetcar?

    Perhaps the issue is one of a little flexibility on the part of riders (and perhaps regulators) rather than technology.

    – Bob R.

  15. “The MAX already has a bridge plate, too, for wheelchair useage.”

    True… I was focusing my attention on streetcar alone because I figure that, if vehicle modifications are needed to accommodate one platform style over another, modifying the few streetcars we have now is preferable to modifying every low-floor MAX vehicle.

    – Bob R.

  16. With regards to Jason’s comment that “Re-reading the letter in question, Glenn doesn’t seem to have a valid point when noting how light rail vehicles can travel 70 mph. I agree that this is worthless in an urban setting outside of maybe Tokyo.”

    MAX currently tops out at 59.5mph on some parts of its alignment (in Beaverton, in the tunnel and out the Banfield). BART in the San Francisco Bay Area theoretically runs at around 76 mph top speed through the Transbay Tube, in El Cerrito, parallel to I-580 and in some other places… when the computer doesn’t slow it down to a crawl for no apparent reason.

    The reason that I’ve been told that MAX doesn’t run closer to its design top speed of over 70mph is that it tends to run parallel to city streets, and Oregon regulations prohibit the trains from running faster than the cars… might encourage the cars to drive faster to keep up with or pass the train, like that rabbit does to the dogs out at the grayhound track…

    However, for the most part MAX also doesn’t really have long straight-aways between stations where it would really make a difference whether it was running closer to 60 or closer to 70mph.

  17. An update on the Urban Design Subcommittee meeting location has been posted to the TriMet web site:

    Please note that the meeting is not in the usual location.

    The meeting was publicised in the Tribune article… It should be noted that at past subcommittee meetings, which are open to the public, actual public testimony has not been taken. Public testimony is usually provided at the main CAC meetings.

    If you are planning on attending the subcommittee meeting, unless TriMet announces otherwise, plan on submitting written comments later rather than speaking directly at the meeting.

    – Bob R.

  18. Streetcars can operate on MAX track – the electrical systems are the same, the gauge is the same, and the signal systems are the same. Some of the Streetcars were tested on the MAX line prior to being placed in service; and the Vintage Trolley operates on both systems. There is a switch track – can’t remember the exact location but I want to say Morrison & 10th – that allows “interchange” between MAX and Streetcar (again, primarily for the Vintage Trolley but can be used by the Streetcar.)

    Whether MAX trains can operate on Streetcar track is questionable, whether the sub-roadbed can support the weight of a MAX train.

    The biggest question is the station platforms, but since TriMet already spent millions rebuilding every station platform to accomodate the 200 series LRVs (and to eliminate the old wheelchair lifts), it CAN be done. The question is whether it’s worth the effort.

  19. Complaints about MAX service replacing bus lines come from those who lost the luxury of highly subsidized express bus lines. These serve relatively few people…making no intermediate stops…at great cost, and still get stuck in peak hour traffic. A dedicated peak hour ROW is essential to reliability, and why would you not put MAX in the ROW?
    I would urge that the Eastside Streetcar alignment along MLK/Grand be designed and built to accommodate a regular MAX line…the Vancouver/Milwaukie Yellow line “via Eastside” as opposed to “via Downtown,” i.e. a split line.
    Last, MAX to Milwaukie will be grade separated where it runs between the UPRR and McLoughlin and will hit expressway speeds.

  20. I would put the buses in the ROW, also allowing
    many lines to utilize it, thus giving one-seat
    rides to downtown. The current hub and spoke
    system with MAX drives people away from using
    transit by forcing them to make inconvenient
    transfers and lengthening transit time.

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