CRC Alternatives in the Trib

Friday’s Trib notes that the task force committee working on a “mid-range” alternative for the Columbia River Crossing will wrap up its work today on a supplemental bridge proposal.

A more exciting idea in the same issue is Jim Howell’s opinion piece that High Capacity Transit (read Light Rail) could shoulder much of the capacity demands. Jim points to the other Vancouver for an example of how this was done successfully.

11 responses to “CRC Alternatives in the Trib”

  1. Jim Howell’s piece describing Vancouver, BC as a role model for Portland should point out some differences:

    1. North Vancouver and Vancouver are two cities within the same province. Portland and Vancouver are in two different states. While it is amazing that they were able to connect the two with the limited modes of transport available, that they have other alternatives available is also commendable. (How many other transit districts extend across state lines?)

    2. TransLink, the Greater Vancouver Transportation Authority, is a truly regional transportation agency. Portland has no such entity; in fact transportation decisions and operations are handled by a long list of governments – cities of Portland, Vancouver and others, the four counties, ODOT and WSDOT, the Port of Portland, the Port of Vancouver, TriMet, C-Tran, Metro… There is no centralized planning, and each agency has their own agenda to push. (Namely, in our area it’s light rail.)

    A quick glance at TransLink’s website shows that their approach to transportation management is hardly single-focused. Just their bus improvement page alone – 400+ new busses, new hybrid busses, a variety of commuter, local and neighborhood busses… TriMet’s “committment” to bus service, as identified in their Transportation Improvement Plan, is new bus stop signs. (I’m not making this up.) In fact their TIP even shows that they are behind on their progress for a variety of their goals.

    Vancouver has a mix of the SkyTrain (elevated transit; it’s also driverless) and West Coast Express (commuter rail, which Portland seems to be anti-commuter rail). And TransLink is also responsible for the regional roads (imagine TriMet maintaining the freeway system).

    I commend Mr. Howell for looking at what other agencies do, and I think TransLink is a good role model. But to suggest that we can solve one piece of the problem (the Interstate Bridge) with light rail by looking north seems to be a far-fetched and narrow conclusion. We should integrate transportation modes together; but I think that anyone will come to the conclusion that MAX is not the answer to all problems.

    Can MAX work up north? Maybe. But we also know from our experience with MAX along the Banfield and Sunset Highways that traffic counts do NOT decrease after MAX is built, and one reason MAX is sold to the Portland area is to reduce congestion. How does one reduce congestion and increase traffic at the same time?

  2. Erik wrote: TriMet’s “committment” to bus service, as identified in their Transportation Improvement Plan, is new bus stop signs. (I’m not making this up.)

    Now let’s be fair, Erik, that’s not representative of the commitment to bus service.

    Here are non-sign-related items from TriMet’s TIP Executive Summary, pages ii and iii:

    FY 2006 – June 2005 – July 2006

    • Installed 10 shelters and replaced 20
    • Install solar-powered lighting at 45 stops
    • Deployed 39 new buses [emphasis added]
    • Frequent Service buses served 56.7% of bus riders in FY05.

    FY 2007 – June 2006 – July 2007

    • Open Milwaukie Park & Ride
    • Install 35 new shelters
    • Automate announcements on low floor buses
    • Add hours of service to line 9-Powell
    • Construct access improvements along line 57-TV Hwy/Forest Grove

    FY2008 to FY 2011 – June 2007 – July 2011

    • Add buses and light rail vehicles to address projected passenger crowding
    • Improve Rose Quarter bicycle access
    • Add Frequent Service to complement Commuter Rail, I-205 investments
    • Extend hours of Frequent Service on 4 existing lines

    – Bob R.

  3. OK, so 39 busses.

    The point is that TriMet has 200 busses (the 1400 through 1900 series) that are very close to approaching, or beyond, the Federal Transit Adminstration’s retirement age for a bus (about 15 years).

    TriMet has no plan to retire or replace these busses.

    39 busses in two years, to replace the last of the 500 and 600 series. What about the 1400, 1500 and 1600 series? And after those busses, the 1700, 1800 and 1900s need to be replaced.

    BTW, doesn’t it seem a bit ironic that TriMet used to post their fleet information online, and now that information is missing?

    Could it be that TriMet doesn’t want the public to know that they are running busses that are 21 years old? Just a year or two ago, one could get very detailed information about each of TriMet’s fleets, down to what type of engine and transmission was installed in the bus and what year it was delivered.

  4. Erik, You seem to be implying that they only intend to buy 20 buses a year, even though history shows that they tend to buy them in large groups: For instance, between 1992 and 1997, Tri-Met bought 36 buses. It was then followed by 1997 and 1998 where they bought a couple hundred… Therefore, the fact that they haven’t replaced a bunch of buses that are older, but still very serviceable isn’t that surprising at all… Yes, it looks like they are due for a big purchase soon, but it hasn’t happened yet.

    And, no, I don’t think they didn’t posted that info on their site to hide it from people, my guess is that not many people actually visited those pages, and it was a pain to maintain, (for instance, fleet 50’s page was always broken…)

  5. Ever notice how Portland strives to be like cities in socialist countries?

    The United States is HIGHLY individualistic.. most of us strive to do for ourselves:

    * Our own home
    * Our own job
    * Our own car
    * Our own education
    * Our own finances, insurance, and etc.

    Then you look at the cities in countries that planners think we should become. They strive to be on welfare:

    * Shared housing (apartments/condos) or subsidized housing for the poor
    * Government jobs/placement
    * Shared transportation
    * Subsidized education
    * High taxes, socialized insurance, etc

    You can’t really compare Portland to Vancouver BC, nor can you expect policies that work up there to work down here.

  6. First of all, for MAX to be a serious option for trips to/from The North it needs to be a great system, which it is not. Elsewhere trains speed along at 55 MPH, but along Interstate Ave never go faster than 35. This does not include the street jogs. This is besides the crawling through downtown.

    Second, even with a great rail line, there will still be those who will congest the highway. Rail gives an option to avoid it.

    Third, TriMet has used buses that are 27 years old.

  7. Third, TriMet has used buses that are 27 years old.

    When TriMet owned the 300s/400s, they were restricted for the most part to rush hour expresses only and a few select short-distance routes.

    They were not pressed into service making 20 mile one-way trips on TriMet’s busiest routes (in reference to the 1400/1500s being used on line 12-Barbur/Sandy making runs from Sherwood to Parkrose or King City to Gresham, then becoming lines 4 (Division/Fessenden) or 9 (Powell/Broadway).

  8. Maybe some of you missed a point in Erik’s first post. After crossing the Lions Gate Bridge, (as elaborated in Howell’s article), H1 serves mostly N. Vancouver and becomes a deadend road. This is much different than I-5, THE major north/south interstate for the western states of the US and beyond.

  9. Making comparisons without the full picture can easily mislead to wrong conclusions, as Howell and many times planners have done. For example we heard endless comparisons of SoWhat to Vancouver BC in the planning stages. The “pinpoint towers” of Vancouver were to be relicated in SoWhat. The Vancouver towers are 90′ x 90′ with height limits much less than SoWhat’s 325 ft. What we ended up with are buildings three times the floor plate size of Vancouver at much closer spacing (133′ x 165′ John Ross). Be careful in considering traffic comparisons without reviewing the facts.

  10. the 1400/1500s being used on line 12-Barbur/Sandy…lines 4…9…

    And TriMet’s web site claims that “Frequent Service” buses are low-floor. (The reality is that FS is only one criteria for assigning buses, which do often switch lines)

    Overall, we have come a long ways, but have a long way to go until enough trips are on transit that a transit-only CRC would work. But $6B would go a long ways toward making the area transit-friendly…and so would charging motorists for parking, pollution, oil defense, etc.

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *