Oregonian Traces Milwaulkie LRT Turn-around


Jim Mayer’s piece traces the trajectory from recalling the Mayor and City Council members to accelerating community support for the Light Rail proposal.

A more acceptable alignment coupled with changes in demographics and attitude seem to be the drivers.


87 responses to “Oregonian Traces Milwaulkie LRT Turn-around”

  1. This is not about getting people out of their cars or benefitting Clackamas County, this is about the combination of fixing and upgrading streets and overpasses that will be a bi-product of this project. You through in a little Transit Center oriented economic development and you get a project moving again.

    The real problem is that most everyone knows that a Streetcar extension through Sellwood on Milwaukie Street would attract a lot more ridership and could be acheived at one third the cost. A Streetcar line next to where people live, work and shop sure makes sence if you are trying to get people out of their cars.

    Compare this new proposed route for Light Rail away from where people live, work and shop, get the idea.

    But this is about pulling in Federal Dollars to significantly fund other needs and opportunities.

  2. I doubt any Streetcar type project would do better in ridership or cost than MAX. Tons of analysis was done on all the options and lightrail came out on top.
    The Streetcar model does not have dedicated ROW, is too slow with too many stops for this stretch and carries fewer riders per vehicle.
    If you give it ROW, longer distance between stops, higher speed and larger vehicles…then I think you are talking about lightrail, are you not?

  3. Lenny, the people who run the Streetcar for the City have told me differently but I guess you know the facts or think you know the facts.

    One, third the cost is very accurate number for the Streetcar line to get extended to Milwaukie.

    This is a political decision and that has been piece and part of the problems of what has been happening around our region’s transportation considerations, they are not based on fact or realities or even common sense.

  4. The Streetcar model does not have dedicated ROW, is too slow with too many stops for this stretch and carries fewer riders per vehicle.

    I am getting nervous that the streetcar discussions are becoming unrealistic. The proposal to extend streetcar to Lake Oswego, where it will have a dedicated right-of-way, has some people seeing it as an alternative to light rail. It really isn’t for the reasons Lenny mentions.

    The place where streetcar may eventually be a reasonable replacement for light rail is from Goose Hollow to Lloyd Center and on the transit mall. But you have to create an alternate alignment for the MAX lines, whether underground or somewhere else.

  5. Paul – I am a big streetcar fan, but I also recognize that it doesn’t work in all corridors. Streetcar works best as a circulator in dense urban environments where people walk directly to the stations. The streetcar operates much slower than MAX and has less than half of the capacity.

    It is important to distinguish this from trunkline service that need to operate at higher speeds and attracts riders from walk-ups, park and rides, and feeder buses. McLoughlin (99E) is a classic trunkline corridor that currently generates 15% of TriMets total system ridership. A trip from downtown Milwaukie to downtown Porland will take 12 minutes on MAX due to the dedicated ROW. A streetcar that runs on Milwaukie Ave would propobably take twice that long because it will get stuck in peak hour auto traffic. More importantly, the streetcar does not even have close to the amount of capacity one would need to adequately serve the corridor.

    All transit modes have their role to play. We need to recognize which environment best suits each mode. The trunkline corridors should be served by MAX or, in some cases, commuter rail.

  6. Brian, first thanks for your clarification on this subject.

    I know that Express Buss service in this same McLoughlin corridor can acheive simular times from any of the Transit Centers. McLoughlin Blvd can be widened by taking advantage of available corridor space to the east of McLoughling Blvd and west of the rail road tracks. This could be the north bound lanes and include new HOV lanes that would be used by buses.

    I too like Streetcars, I am not arguing about its speed or any comparison with LRT but what I like most about Streetcars is how it gets people out of their cars.

    It is a good mouse trap to acheive the elimination of un-needed SOV trips. Streetcars in combination with improvements to McLoughlin Blvd as I suggest, with new and improved express bus service, we can acheive a better “Return on Investment” and get more people out of their cars. We can better reduce Clackamas County residents total dependence on the use of cars.

    Brian what we need is more jobs in Clackamas County and that would eliminate the need for 50% of the commuters. We must end conditions where Clackamas County is a net exporter of its workers.

    Put money into economic development creating shovel ready industrial lands with good Center alternatives in Clackamas County to commuting to other counties makes more sense over the long run.

    Continuing to make Transit Center Housing projects with a little associated retail that feed Portland is not thinking in the right direction. Lets start buying jobs in Clackamas County if that is what it takes. It is still less money and less carbon use and that is important to me.

    Lets start building sustainable communities in Clackamas County with real family wage jobs that do not require a commute into the controlling big brother communities to the north and west of us.

  7. Widening McLaughlin with HOV lanes was studied by ODOT and rejected…lots of community opposition; the same community that wants MAX instead.
    Metro took an exhaustive look at everything but MAX in this corridor, and community pressure put it back into the mix where it rose to the top.
    That debate is, thankfully, over. It only remains to work out a South Waterfront station and the Caruthers (?) brige alignment. At the Milwaukie end, too bad it can’t use the old Oregon City ROW to that regional center.

  8. Lenny, its the politicans that have spoken not the people as of yet. They are counting on a changing demographics but the last vote said NO!

    We need is a real debate but I do not think they want that because they do not know what would happen.

    Things change, new dynamitics now is the time for all alternatives to get placed on the table. There maybe a combination of alternatives like I spell out that work better, cost less and bring a greater ROI.

    We did not have Streetcars in the picture the last time there was a critical look at all of the options.

    If LRT is the end option of choice, I would like to see it looped out to Clackamas Center. There is an excellent avaiable corridor along side the Rail Road Tracks that would provide for this high speed loop getting people into Milwaukie and Clackamas County first, before heading into Portland.

  9. Lenny, its the politicans that have spoken not the people as of yet.

    Actually is was the people, not the politicians, who revived light rail to Milwaukie. Including many of the people who lead the opposition to the last proposal. And they considered bus rapid transit (which was the option the Coalition for a Livable Future initially supported) and HOV lanes on McLoughlin. Both fell far short when compared with light rail.

  10. Ross, how many “people” voted to revive light rail in Milwaukie? I have served on neighborhood association boards for decades and I would not pretend that our boards speak for any majority of our neighbors. In fact, usually our board isn’t even in concurrance on most issues even with a board of ten people and maybe 15 people in attendance. If you think the “people” have spoken by the attendance of a few neighborhood meetings, then put the Milwaukie mass transit solution(s) to a vote with those that have to pay for it.

  11. Brian Newman Says: Streetcar works best as a circulator in dense urban environments where people walk directly to the stations. The streetcar operates much slower than MAX and has less than half of the capacity.
    JK: How can you say it works, when its actual cost, $1.67 per passenger-mile, is close to taxi fare!

    Brian Newman Says: It is important to distinguish this from trunkline service that need to operate at higher speeds and attracts riders from walk-ups, park and rides, and feeder buses. McLoughlin (99E) is a classic trunkline corridor that currently generates 15% of TriMets total system ridership. A trip from downtown Milwaukie to downtown Porland will take 12 minutes on MAX due to the dedicated ROW. A streetcar that runs on Milwaukie Ave would propobably take twice that long because it will get stuck in peak hour auto traffic. More importantly, the streetcar does not even have close to the amount of capacity one would need to adequately serve the corridor.
    JK: You are forgetting that most potential MAX riders are already on the bus (15% of TriMets total system ridership per you) and spending almost a BILLION dollars on this boondoggle will just move them from the bus to MAX with NO improvement in anyone’s mobility.

    If you spent that BILLION on roads you could fix Highway 217 ($500 mil) and have enough left over to do another fix of almost the same size, Instead of simply moving bus passengers to the toy train as you propose.

    When you build expensive transit, you are wasting people’s money on your pet project, for no public benefit what so ever see DebunkingPortland.com/Transit/Cost-Cars-Transit(2005).htm

    I hope you realize that the commuter rail being built will cost more than $1.70 per passenger-mile. For comparison, a private car costs around $0.25. That difference of $1.45 per passenger-mile is wasted money that would be better spent on other things. Parks, education, police, fire, family vacations.

    Thanks
    JK

  12. McLoughlin Blvd can be widened by taking advantage of available corridor space to the east of McLoughling Blvd and west of the rail road tracks. This could be the north bound lanes and include new HOV lanes that would be used by buses.

    That area (between Johnson Creek Blvd. and Brooklyn Yard) is a protected wetland and therefore not available for development. Anything would have to fit between the wetland and the railroad, or the wetland and McLoughlin. Or has TriMet found a way to eliminate a wetland? (So much for the “environmental benefit” of MAX…)

    Southern Pacific, UP’s predecessor, was fined multiple times for ignoring this, and used the area for less-than-environmental reasons. UP pledged to turn it around after repeated promises to local neighborhoods went broken (by SP). Today, if you ride Amtrak, you’ll see signs posted about every 50-100 feet facing the railroad tracks reminding railroad crews of that.

    That said, I’m sure Milwaukie has no objection to MAX. Ask the residents SOUTH of Milwaukie, who will now be forced to transfer to MAX, and see their bus service reduced as TriMet scuttles more capital funding away from the purchase of replacement busses towards building MAX (“without new funding”). Watch how the 99X is cancelled, and the commute from Oregon City to Portland is lengthened. Never mind that from Johnson Creek Blvd. to downtown, that all of the busses that currently run with a single stop at 17th Avenue, on a road with few traffic lights, are replaced by a MAX train that makes a half-dozen stops, and has to be routed down 17th Avenue because it can’t run through Brooklyn Yard (the originally planned alignment) – making MAX no better than Streetcar in running times (although MAX still has the advantage in capacity). And MAX would have a lot of streets to cross at grade north of Brooklyn Yard, causing a decreased top speed for safety concerns – whereas McLoughlin is all but separated from cross traffic.

    And I still don’t see how MAX is going to run south of downtown Milwaukie without a negative impact on the Portland & Western Railroad, which still runs two freight trains a day on its line connecting Beaverton, Lake Oswego, and Milwaukie. Or that this short, one mile extension from downtown Milwaukie will require TriMet to build an expensive bridge over Kellogg Lake and a crossing of McLoughlin Blvd., to a park-and-ride lot in a residential neighborhood (I guess TriMet doesn’t mind destroying housing) -what is wrong with the Southgate Theater site for a park-and-ride? Or is TriMet admitting that it needs TWO park-and-rides to accomodate MAX ridership that won’t walk to the station?

  13. The residents of Portland and Multnomah county have never voted against a lightrail bond…; when they lots it was the other counties that took them down.. My guess is between state lottery bonds and probably some urban renewal dollars, the local match will be covered.
    So don’t expect a vote, except you can vote out your mayors, councillors, etc., who make these decisions.
    Ironically what Paul is suggesting was voted down in 1998, and that link between Milwaukie and CTC was one of the reasons for all the opposition down that way. Metro listened, and its not pushing that alignment any more.
    Between Milwaukie and OC and CTC and between CTC and OC, look for more and better bus service a al Eric, Nick, et.al.

  14. If you think the “people” have spoken by the attendance of a few neighborhood meetings, then put the Milwaukie mass transit solution(s) to a vote with those that have to pay for it.

    I thought that was the plan. Did they identify funding for Milwaukie light rail that would not require a vote?

  15. Lenny, you don’t segregate segments out of a total vote on an issue to support ones bias, especially when all segments are paying for it, then decide that “yes, the people want it!”. Well, maybe we do here in METRO.

  16. Ross,
    I sounds like there is an effort to line up state lottery bonds to cover the lion’s share. The Westside MAX share of those bonds are paid off in 2009, so more bonds could be issued for Milwaukie.
    I alway’s assumed there would be a property tax measure for Milwaukie MAX, but now I’m not so sure. Despite what we read here, there is practically no elected opposition to MAX expansion, so the pressure for a vote is fading.
    The fight now is who get’s their line next!

  17. This whole Streetcar / MAX comparison is apples and oranges. MAX top speed, FRA limited at 55 mph. Streetcar limited speed is 30mph by mechanical limiter. A completely incapable replacement of light rail.

    JK – come on dude, with the 25 cents. I mean, that’s slightly more realistic than that 16 cents per mile you had before, but by no realistic amount.

    An average car (22k) with average maintenance is 55 cents… a used car (8-10k) with average maintenance is about 30-40 cents per mile… and that is without the LARGE subsidized expenses of roadways, interstates, highways, parking, and other infrastructure costs. Add it all together and it’s either neck and neck or well over transit costs per mile.

    Seriously… redo your math or something. I’ve been through your numbers a dozen times and so have several others that I know, none have been able to come up with similar numbers. Even with full free-market capitalism, and importation of $5500 dollar cars from India can we get such paltry numbers. (Mind you, the 5500 dollar car doesn’t come with seats, they’re sold separately, and I’m not sure if they meet a single safety requirement in the US)

    But I digress… Summary:

    Stop comparing Streetcar and MAX. Two different vehicle types that serve completely different functions.

    Stop with the silly numbers, enough of us have wasted our time researching these ridiculous estimations.

  18. Adron, “silly numbers” are no different that your “ridiculous” notion that vehicles are “LARGE”ly subsidized and mass transit isn’t.

  19. Lee –

    I’ve seen a great many of Adron’s posts here and elsewhere, and I’ve NEVER seen him assert that mass transit as it exists today isn’t subsidized. You are incorrect to attribute that “ridiculous notion” to him.

    – Bob R.

  20. Between Milwaukie and OC and CTC and between CTC and OC, look for more and better bus service a al Eric, Nick, et.al.

    So, the 99X is NOT going to be cancelled, and the hours of service eliminated by eliminating/scaling back busses 19, 31, 32, 33, 41, 70 and 75 are going to go towards improved service east and south of Milwaukie? And the service frequency that is offered with the variety of busses is going to be maintained by MAX?

    I’ll believe it when I see it. Besides, TriMet is having a lousy track record with their westside MAX connector busses. 46, 47 and 48 are perenial poor performers; 50 was discontinued; and 60 since it was scaled back to become a connector has been a poor performer. Meanwhile Forest Grove and Cornelius lost their express bus (line 58-Sunset Highway) and never got anything in return except a lousy ride on the 57 to Hillsboro. But at least the 57 became a frequent service route several years after MAX.

    And I’m still waiting for TriMet to announce their “improvements to bus service” in the Tigard and Tualatin area after Commuter Rail. The TriMet’s webpage link to “rail and bus projects” is still eerily mum about buses. Bottom line is that TriMet is using the bus capital budget to build MAX, and not everyone lives near a current or planned MAX route.

  21. Thanks Bob R.

    I appreciate it when people actually read my posts. :) I know my writing can be somewhat disjointed sometimes.

    For the record, I am aware, very well aware, of the massive subsidies that the “passenger” transportation industry, from auto based to light rail based to heavy rail based to airline based, are all heavily subsidized today to varying degrees.

    But I digress…

    My point was that Streetcar & LRT have distinctly different characteristics. Also that auto based transportation is far in excess of 16, 25, or even the 54 cents per mile allotted for expenses. Transportation costs are at base, regardless of mode, at least a buck or more per mile.

  22. Adron,
    I’m curious where your information on the FRA-mandated 55mph top speed on MAX comes from. As far as I was aware, the FRA has no jurisdiction over MAX, as it is not part of the national railway system. Regulatory jurisdiction is rather present in the form of the ODOT Office of Rail Safety, which administers the FTA-required rail transit safety review program. The FTA-mandated program requires the state to provide oversight of MAX following FTA guidelines, but because the FTA is a funding–rather than regulatory–agency, conclusions can be enforced by withholding funds.

    In my experience working with FTA rail transit safety review programs, I’ve never noted a mandated top speed, and I’m certainly not familiar with one coming from the FRA. Would you mind filling me in?

    Thanks!

  23. Bus service in the Milwaukie corridor with a MAX line…I’m sure the 99x will go away, but if the precedent set in North Portland is any guide, there could be no reduction in bus transit service hours in the area.
    When Interstate MAX opened all the 5 Interstate bus service hours were distributed to other lines in N/NE, the 6, 75, 4, 85, etc. For frequent service lines to work you need lots of riders…i.e. more density and/or more non-choice riders.
    But don’t expect the 33 to continue into Portland parallel to MAX; that doesn’t make much sense.
    The failure of feeder lines on the Westside is probably due to all the “free” parking at employers out there.

  24. Could someone help me disentangle the claims about a Sellwood/Milwaukie Max line?

    I understand the speed comparisons made above, but have a couple of reactions, as someone who lives in the area.

    1) The Milwaukie transit center and Sellwood area are *very* close to downtown, I think physically much closer than Hillsboro, Beaverton, or Gresham. Also, other than 99E, there are no “fast” (>45 MPH) corridors. My point is that a 30 MPH average speed in that corridor compares quite favorably to current car speeds.

    2) There is only one light on 17th between Milwaukie and Tacoma. Only one light on 13th at Tacoma, then no more lights until Bybee meets Milwaukie. Then *again* no more lights until Holgate.
    Thus the comparisons in speed to the downtown streetcar are not accurate in that corridor. Stopping and starting will be determined by the number of transit stops and not by preexisting stop lights or stop signs.

    3) Thus and finally, I think that the Milwaukie, Sellwood, and Brooklyn areas may experience a lot of ridership from people who do drive in to a close in park&ride (if contemplated) and then hop on the streetcar in order to avoid downtown parking hassles. Because the streetcar at that point would only take 10 min, max, to get into downtown, this strikes me as convenient.
    This is not comparable to a Max stop along 99E where I’d likely have to go out of my way (and probably opposite of my intended direction) to find a park&ride.

    I don’t know, I am not happy about the per-mile costs of the streetcar and how it may be implemented on the Eastside. But for Milwaukie/Sellwood/Brooklyn, it really seems like a no-brainer to me. Same as on Hawthorne–it’s almost as if the streets are already set up for the service.

  25. TO: Paul

    Thank you for waying in on the issue of Streetcars vs. Light Rail and the applicability of your neighborhood insight, from a Sellwood area resident.

    These “Park and Rides and Transit Centers” associated with LRT are not the community that will use and is represented by the Brooklyn, East and West Moreland/Sellwood residents.

    Yes it will attract a few from these areas, but compared to a Streetcar line running down Milwaukie Street, through Sellwood into a Milwaukie Town Center to LRT on a far off McLoughlin Blvd, it is NO comparison. Streecar capabilities would bind together these communities and would be heads and shoulders more attractive as an alternative to the use of a car be it SOV or HOV in how it reduces our total carbon foot print.

  26. Stopping and starting will be determined by the number of transit stops and not by preexisting stop lights or stop signs.

    Now wait a minute. The cars and streetcar will of course be stopping for pedestrians at all the invisible crosswalks, right?

  27. There is no bigger fan of Streetcar than yours truely. But its success to date is due to high density (i.e residential towers), major destinations (PSU, Good Sam, etc.) and a 2 block wide LID. Does Sellwood, Moreland, Brooklyn have or wantt these? Not likely. Even Hawthorne is a reach.
    Interstate MAX is close to what is proposed down south…10 stations about 1/2 mile apart on a dedicated ROW with guaranteed travel times…not as fast as a car in non-peak, but 20 minutes morning, noon and night between Expo and Rose Quarter. It provides lots a intra community connections as well as serving (potentially) thru trips from farther out. Ridership is twice that of the old 5 bus, and in my view the ride is 10 times better.
    The biggest drawback with the proposed Milwaukie MAX alignment is the stretch between Holgate and Milwaukie where it runs between the highway and the railway. Tough place to do much station area development…look at the pace in Hollywood. But there is simply no room to put high capacity transit of any kind anywhere else, especially down Milwaukie Avenue. Period.
    A Streetcar down that route feels right because there used to be one there, but the one street where the current Streetcar struggles to keep on schedule is NW Lovejoy…two lanes and pretty busy, just like Milwaukie Avenue.
    Rather than nitpicking a done deal, I would urge involvement in design, station area development, etc. The CAC on Interstate pushed TriMet very hard to do that project right, and for the most part we succeeded.

  28. I think Lenny raises a very important point. The neighborhoods along the Milwaukie route need to get engaged in making sure the station areas are designed to serve their communities. There are always financial pressures to cut corners and if the neighborhoods are asleep its their communities that will find their corners cut. At one point there were plans to reduce costs by running open ballast all the way up Interstate.

  29. Personally I’m not opposed to open ballast – it cuts down on runoff, can be landscaped, and costs less. Most of the East Burnside alignment is open ballast. Done right, it can resemble a grassy or mossy median, not just gravel, and at a lower cost than concrete.

    – Bob R.

  30. Lenny…your thoughts on the route are pretty close to mine. The neighborhoods HAVE to get involved in order to make sure that the finished product is top notch. There are at least four of us in Brooklyn that are campaigning for a spot on the Citizen’s Advisory Committee. My fear right now is that route options in Milwaukie are going to get all of the attention, and that other issues aren’t getting the attention that they need.

    Contrary to appearances, the area in Brooklyn between Holgate and McLoughlin is not hopeless. For one thing, the widening of the public right-of-way will require the demolition of several buildings. Although some busniesses will have to relocate or reconfigure their operations, this will create some empty lots that can more easily be redeveloped. There are other properties in this area that are already vacant. In fact, United Rentals is currently in the process of vacating their large facility at SE 17th and Pardee Streets.

    Although this area is a bit noisy and a little rough around the edges, the existing zoning allows for a wide variety of uses. The south side of 17th and McLoughlin is within the Sellwood-Moreland neighborhood and is already zoned for mixed-use development. Members of my family own a full city block on the north side of this intersection, and they are very much in favor of redeveloping once light rail is in service.

  31. Lenny,

    I think you’ve done the Streetcar advocates job for them–you have pointed out why this route really is ill suited for MAX. Since Lake OSwego deems a Streetcar suitable for their connection why are people bringing up the speed issue–if it works for them, it would work in similar conditions for eastside, as well.

    Lenny says:”There is no bigger fan of Streetcar than yours truely. But its success to date is due to high density (i.e residential towers), major destinations (PSU, Good Sam, etc.) and a 2 block wide LID. Does Sellwood, Moreland, Brooklyn have or wantt these”
    So, you want a high capacity vehicle in a low density area, wheras Streetcar is sufficient for high density? Go figure.

    “The biggest drawback with the proposed Milwaukie MAX alignment is the stretch between Holgate and Milwaukie where it runs between the highway and the railway. Tough place to do much station area development”
    I’ve benn reiterating this over and over. The major rationale for any of our commuter rail projects is for their infill potential. There simply is not very much developable land in the Milwaukie MAX route. It goes past: Brooklyn Yards, Crystal Springs Park, Westmoreland PArk and Eastmoreland Golf course. You certainly opur not going to have infill in those places. The area south of Tacoma is already spoken for in City of Milwaukies redeveopment proposals. And much of the length is over the Willamette River. There simply are few areas for the size of redevelopment that warrants a high capacity vehicle like MAX.

    All the “station development” emphasis in the world won’t help if the population isn’t there. It maybe there on the Gresham and Hillsboro MAX routes but those are three times as long as this one.

    The other unanswered questions are: What would be the cost to make this MAX go to Oregon City, or alternatively, Clackamas TC. That is what you really need to make this route viable. Since the cost has already escalated tenfold since MAX started in 1979 what will be the costs when these other extensions are planned, ten or fifteen years from now?
    Furthermore LAnce says “Contrary to appearances, the area in Brooklyn between Holgate and McLoughlin is not hopeless”
    Oh, you admit that, at least, it looks hopeless. I think you should do a better job of adequately proving that in fact it isn’t.

    If you look at the Interstate line, as it is now, it has no more riders than a bus would have, 80% of the time. Should Portland and numerous other cities build such lines at enormous federal expense? How do we know Milkwaukie MAX won’t end up in the same category, and at 550 mill. instead of 350 mill.?

    Better to connect Streetcar from Milwaukie over the Sellwood Bridge and then, possibly, up eastside to OMSI. Better development potential, better costs. better service…
    These questions need to be answered.

  32. Lenny,

    I think you’ve done the Streetcar advocates job for them–you have pointed out why this route really is ill suited for MAX. Since Lake OSwego deems a Streetcar suitable for their connection why are people bringing up the speed issue–if it works for them, it would work in similar conditions for eastside, as well.

    Lenny says:”There is no bigger fan of Streetcar than yours truely. But its success to date is due to high density (i.e residential towers), major destinations (PSU, Good Sam, etc.) and a 2 block wide LID. Does Sellwood, Moreland, Brooklyn have or wantt these”
    So, you want a high capacity vehicle in a low density area, wheras Streetcar is sufficient for high density? Go figure.

    “The biggest drawback with the proposed Milwaukie MAX alignment is the stretch between Holgate and Milwaukie where it runs between the highway and the railway. Tough place to do much station area development”
    I’ve benn reiterating this over and over. The major rationale for any of our commuter rail projects is for their infill potential. There simply is not very much developable land in the Milwaukie MAX route. It goes past: Brooklyn Yards, Crystal Springs Park, Westmoreland PArk and Eastmoreland Golf course. You certainly opur not going to have infill in those places. The area south of Tacoma is already spoken for in City of Milwaukies redeveopment proposals. And much of the length is over the Willamette River. There simply are few areas for the size of redevelopment that warrants a high capacity vehicle like MAX.

    All the “station development” emphasis in the world won’t help if the population isn’t there. It maybe there on the Gresham and Hillsboro MAX routes but those are three times as long as this one.

    The other unanswered questions are: What would be the cost to make this MAX go to Oregon City, or alternatively, Clackamas TC. That is what you really need to make this route viable. Since the cost has already escalated tenfold since MAX started in 1979 what will be the costs when these other extensions are planned, ten or fifteen years from now?
    Furthermore LAnce says “Contrary to appearances, the area in Brooklyn between Holgate and McLoughlin is not hopeless”
    Oh, you admit that, at least, it looks hopeless. I think you should do a better job of adequately proving that in fact it isn’t.

    If you look at the Interstate line, as it is now, it has no more riders than a bus would have, 80% of the time. Should Portland and numerous other cities build such lines at enormous federal expense? How do we know Milkwaukie MAX won’t end up in the same category, and at 550 mill. instead of 350 mill.?

    Better to connect Streetcar from Milwaukie over the Sellwood Bridge and then, possibly, up eastside to OMSI. Better development potential, better costs. better service…
    These questions need to be answered.

  33. if it works for them, it would work in similar conditions for eastside, as well.

    Maybe, but the conditions are not remotely similar.

    The major rationale for any of our commuter rail projects is for their infill potential.

    I don’t think that is true. The major rationale is that it be in a corridor with high transit use. The development potential is a secondary consideration.

    All the “station development” emphasis in the world won’t help if the population isn’t there.

    The communities around the station areas are both densely populated and job rich. They provide riders and they are desirable destinations for people coming from elsewhere.

    If you look at the Interstate line, as it is now, it has no more riders than a bus would have, 80% of the time.

    That is not really true unless by “would have” you mean “would have the capacity to carry”. The reality is that Interstate Max carries a lot more passengers than the bus line it replaced. And that is now. Clearly Interstate Max was added as part of a larger long range plan.

  34. Adron Says: JK – come on dude, with the 25 cents. I mean, that’s slightly more realistic than that 16 cents per mile you had before, but by no realistic amount.
    JK: Wrong. The previous number was 18.5 cents pe mile, not 16, and it was the real cost of driving in 2001. I became aware of later data and updated DebunkingPortland.com/Transit/Cost-Cars-Transit(2005).htm

    Adron Says: An average car (22k) with average maintenance is 55 cents… a used car (8-10k) with average maintenance is about 30-40 cents per mile…
    JK: Got any proof of that? I have posted the proof of the 25 cents per mile number at DebunkingPortland.com/Transit/Cost-Cars-Transit(2005).htm with all calculations and links to the original data sources used. Can you do the same for your claim?

    Adron Says: and that is without the LARGE subsidized expenses of roadways, interstates, highways, parking, and other infrastructure costs. Add it all together and it’s either neck and neck or well over transit costs per mile.
    JK: Do you have a credible source for that claim? Here is pretty good source that says the externalities of driving are far less than those of transit: DebunkingPortland.com/Roads/Docs/Delucchi_Chart.htm

    Adron Says: Seriously… redo your math or something. I’ve been through your numbers a dozen times and so have several others that I know, none have been able to come up with similar numbers.
    JK: Did it really take you having “been through your numbers a dozen times” to still not be able to come up with even one specific problem with my numbers? Got anything specific, or do you only have name calling and generalized, unsupported accusations?

    Thanks
    JK

  35. JK,

    “Got anything specific, or do you only have name calling and generalized, unsupported accusations?”

    I can’t speak for Adron, but as someone who has been watching from the sides.

    1. It’s a bit ironic for you to complain about name calling.

    2. Still waiting for you to answer Bob R’s question.

    Do you have any specific answers?

  36. OMSI, West Clinton, the two Brooklyn Stations clearly have a ton of potential. Bybee is where the line is between highway and railway. I assume there will be a P&R at Ochoco (Springwater Trail)…a form of landbanking.
    Sorry but I can’t follow Ron’s logic? Interstate MAX was built to go to Vancouver/Clark county AND to serve N. Portland. Some day it will do both when residents in Clark put some money on the table. The Milwaukie line will serve SE Portland and N. Clackamas county.
    High capacity transit (rail or otherwise) must have dedicated ROW, stations no closer than 1/4 mile, preferably 1/2 mile apart.
    Agreed? Good, now we are discussing vehicle type…MAX vs Streetcar vs fancy bus. Why would you not put a larger vehicle in service and get better cost per ride numbers?
    The Interstate MAX CAC had a strong hand in relocating and re-designing three stations as well as many other details large and small. Be pro-active, form your MAX subcommitte in each neighborhoood assoc. and begin to draw up your own vision, plans, designs. Push the envelope relentlessly.
    There were in the end five failures with Interstate MAX…1. No C-Tran bus connections (finally this gets fixed three years later); 2. No enforcement of station area design (New Seasons was allowed to put a parking lot at the Portland Station); 3. lack of employer subsidy programs…most employers in N. Portland still offer free parking, but unfree transit to employees; 4. inadequate transit links to employment areas (Rivergate and to a lesser extent Swan Island) and 5. continued efforts to widen I-5.

  37. That is not really true unless by “would have” you mean “would have the capacity to carry”. The reality is that Interstate Max carries a lot more passengers than the bus line it replaced. And that is now. Clearly Interstate Max was added as part of a larger long range plan.

    Since TriMet stubbornly refuses to publicize ridership data, what is the source of this argument, and what are the numbers?

    Secondly, of the comparison between the 5-Interstate and MAX Yellow Line – how much of the ridership on MAX is at the Expo Center and Vanport/Delta Park Park & Ride lots? (Neither of which were served by the bus line?) And how much of the line 5 ridership from Hayden Island and Vancouver is now riding line 6-MLK?

    Along the Interstate Avenue stretch alone, what is the ridership between the bus and MAX? On my trips on this line, I don’t find many riders getting on and off; I do see a lot of people going to the Expo Center. If that’s the case, than the train does no better than the bus, but comes with increased operating/maintenance costs; plus it’s essentially a hidden subsidy to Metro (which operates the Expo Center) and to Clark County residents who use the Vanport and Expo Center park-and-ride lots.

    Clearly, if that is the case than my tax dollars that are intended to reduce congestion and promote transit ridership are going to subsidize a money losing Expo Center and to Clark County residents who don’t pay the property taxes I do that help pay for TriMet and the Washington/Multnomah/Clackamas county services that are steadily being cut back in order to fund MAX projects.

  38. Clearly Interstate MAX makes sense as a line to Vancouver/Clark, but in the meantime, its ridership is about 12K per day, twice what the old 5 was. That is no secret.
    As to who’s riding, Ons and offs, not sure that matters for this argument. But no one in North Portland is longing for the good old 5!
    The lesson for Eric, et.al., is how to I high capacity transit to Tigard/Kruse Woods? ’cause the likelihoold of I-5 being widened into Portland from the south is slim to nill.

  39. There were in the end five failures with Interstate MAX…1. No C-Tran bus connections (finally this gets fixed three years later); 2. No enforcement of station area design (New Seasons was allowed to put a parking lot at the Portland Station); 3. lack of employer subsidy programs…most employers in N. Portland still offer free parking, but unfree transit to employees; 4. inadequate transit links to employment areas (Rivergate and to a lesser extent Swan Island) and 5. continued efforts to widen I-5.

    That is a great list Lenny. Its the half empty part of the glass. Interstate Max would be a better investment without that list and folks along the Milwaukie route should take note of them and see if they can avoid similar failures.

  40. I love how people call the fact that New Seasons has a parking lot a failure of the IMax. At about 6pm on Monday I got off the yellow line at Portland Blvd and walked over to New Seasons. 4 other people from the same train, (none of whom were talking to each other, so I assume weren’t together,) did the same.

    Now I know that 50 people at peak hour isn’t going to pay the bills for a supermarket, but it is still a huge number of people. If you add in the fact that there bike racks were full, and overflowing onto the ones on Interstate Ave, you are talking a fairly major mode split, compared to say the New Seasons in Beaverton, which just recently added 2 more bike racks, (for a total of 5.)

    However, even if MAX lines crossed the area in a grid every mile, some people are still going to need to drive to the grocery store when they need to buy something heavy, like cat litter. (Or they used to. Now they deliver, and as one of my friends said, $10 to shop for me, and then deliver it? It is cheaper than FlexCar.)

  41. I love how people call the fact that New Seasons has a parking lot a failure of the IMax.

    The issue is not that they have a parking lot. Its that they put the parking lot on the corner next to the Max station instead of the store being on the corner. That means that instead of being an attractor for businesses on the other corners, it draws people away from the station area. That is the reason for creating design standards around the station areas. You want to create a space that works for every business, not just one.

  42. The New Seasons building itself is a retrofit. The building has stood there for decades, the earliest I can remember as a Safeway. The parking lot was once absolutely barren, a visual blight, vaporous asphalt seeping toxic drippings like a shrine to apathy. The New Seasons storefront and its landscaped lot is not such a bad development when you look at it that way.

  43. Clearly Interstate MAX makes sense as a line to Vancouver/Clark, but in the meantime, its ridership is about 12K per day, twice what the old 5 was. That is no secret.
    As to who’s riding, Ons and offs, not sure that matters for this argument. But no one in North Portland is longing for the good old 5!

    It absolutely is an argument; because MAX doesn’t make as many stops as a bus can (every 2-4 blocks). So without that data, one can only surmise that TriMet, which is a public agency charged with serving the public, is actually selectively choosing its passenger base by eliminating service to some points, and redirecting that service to other points.

    Further, that by doing so it is selectively serving a passenger base that doesn’t even pay taxes into the district.

    So, maybe the Yellow Line is carrying 12,000 passengers over the 5-I’s 6,000 – but are those 6,000 passengers who are riding MAX now passengers who didn’t ride before because it was a dingy bus, or are they passengers who are going to/from the Expo Center and Vanport, and passengers who are using the park-and-ride lots, and passengers who are simply using the Yellow Line service downtown between the Rose Garden and the 11th Avenue turnaround (who would otherwise be served by Red/Blue line service and the busses that serve the Broadway and Steel Bridges)? Of the comparable area along Interstate Avenue, what is the ridership?

    If there is a drop in ridership along Interstate Avenue, then what is the value of any “improvements”, or of developing “transit oriented development”, or even of TriMet’s goal of encouraging more transit and less auto use – when MAX is itself discouraging transit use (by having fewer access points) and encouraging auto use (by encouraging riders to use park-and-ride lots)?

    With regards to Kruse Way…why? Just why??? What is the ridership potential for a group of half empty office complexes that serve small employers, and the Mormon church? Safeco Insurance is no longer out there (now a City of Lake Oswego owned community center) and the only other large employer is a AAA call center (somehow I get the idea they could care less about transit). I support MAX to Tigard and Tualatin but not down 99W/Barbur Blvd (because the highway is already severely over capacity and MAX won’t solve that; the highway also encounters significant grades along the entire route.) I do support MAX on the old Oregon Electric alignment from downtown to Tualatin via Multnomah Village, Garden Home, Washington Square and Tigard, because it would link multiple community centers (read: transit friendly) and bus lines. Such a route would have a strong amount of success in attracting people who are already transit-friendly, can walk to stations, and would not be dependent on park-and-ride lots. The route would also not eliminate any bus routes (maybe the 96 would no longer need to run from Tualatin to Portland; and the 94 is a toss-up but because it serves Sherwood and Barbur Blvd. TC I’d keep it.)

    But ultimately, why don’t people like the bus? Busses can be successful if the transit agencies help – TriMet’s attitude is “nobody likes buses, so why should we?” – it’s no wonder that bus ridership is in a decline. Unfortunately, people in the “powerhouse” Murrayhills area, or Lake Oswego, or many other neighborhoods, aren’t going to sit around and wait – they’re going to DRIVE.

  44. I am not familair with the “Old Electric” alignment. where does it run and is it in public ownership?

  45. Brian: Follow Barbur Blvd. from Portland to Multnomah Blvd., then west to Garden Home. The original alignment is now back-yards, but roughly follow Oleson Road to Washington Square, then to the current railroad tracks at “Greton” (near where North Dakota and Tiedeman Roads cross the tracks, west of Greenburg road.)

    Then south to Tigard and Tualatin on the existing railroad that is being rebuilt for commuter rail.

    BTW, originally the Oregon Electric followed what is now I-5 from downtown to Multnomah Blvd. The Southern Pacific’s Red Electric line followed Barbur to Bertha, then west to Beaverton. Here’s a link you might find helpful (not for the desired alignment, but for the Red Electric line): http://www.portlandonline.com/shared/cfm/image.cfm?id=143928

    Originally the OE and Red Electric were competing interurban routes between Portland and Eugene, with routes into Washington County. the Red Electric had two routes between Portland and McMinnville; whereas the OE had a branch to Hillsboro and Forest Grove. Most of these railroads survive today as freight railroads operated by the Portland & Western Railroad.

  46. Erik –

    Regarding the Yellow line, back when I was commenting before various committees regarding the transit mall expansion, I asked TriMet for more detailed boarding information. I was provided with a preliminary version of the FY2005 data. Here’s a subset from the data for the weekday FY2005 counts of the Yellow Line:

    (I believe I’ve posted these numbers before in some form, but can’t find a link.)

    DIR1STOPLOC_IDBUS STOPONS

    Inbound To Portland5011498Expo Center MAX Station315
    Inbound To Portland10011499Delta Park/Vanport MAX Station388
    Inbound To Portland15011500Kenton/N Denver Ave MAX Station482
    Inbound To Portland20011501N Lombard TC MAX Station1588
    Inbound To Portland25011502N Portland Blvd MAX Station454
    Inbound To Portland30011503N Killingsworth St MAX Station647
    Inbound To Portland35011504N Prescott St MAX Station463
    Inbound To Portland40011505Overlook Park MAX Station352
    Inbound To Portland45011506Albina/Mississippi MAX Station226
    Inbound To Portland50011507Interstate/Rose Quarter MAX Station106
    Inbound To Portland6008378Old Town/Chinatown MAX Station183
    Inbound To Portland6508379Skidmore Fountain MAX Station189
    Inbound To Portland7508380Oak/ SW 1st Ave MAX Station133
    Inbound To Portland9008381Morrison/SW 3rd Ave MAX Station172
    Inbound To Portland10008382Mall/SW 5th Ave MAX Station202
    Inbound To Portland11008383Pioneer Square North MAX Station208
    Inbound To Portland12008384Galleria/SW 10th Ave MAX Station0
    Outbound To Expo Center2008333Library/SW 9th Ave MAX Station607
    Outbound To Expo Center3008334Pioneer Square South MAX Station979
    Outbound To Expo Center4008335Mall/SW 4th Ave MAX Station495
    Outbound To Expo Center5008336Yamhill District MAX Station359
    Outbound To Expo Center6008337Oak/SW 1st Ave MAX Station220
    Outbound To Expo Center6508338Skidmore Fountain MAX Station204
    Outbound To Expo Center8008339Old Town/Chinatown MAX Station373
    Outbound To Expo Center85011508Interstate/Rose Quarter MAX Station1056
    Outbound To Expo Center90011509Albina/Mississippi MAX Station116
    Outbound To Expo Center95011510Overlook Park MAX Station110
    Outbound To Expo Center100011511N Prescott St MAX Station204
    Outbound To Expo Center105011512N Killingsworth St MAX Station259
    Outbound To Expo Center110011513N Portland Blvd MAX Station121
    Outbound To Expo Center115011514N Lombard TC MAX Station100
    Outbound To Expo Center120011515Kenton/N Denver Ave MAX Station27
    Outbound To Expo Center125011516Delta Park/Vanport MAX Station13
    Outbound To Expo Center130011498Expo Center MAX Station0

    Clearly the most activity inbound or outbound is clustered around the Lombard TC. Even if you remove all downtown fareless square boardings and assume the old #5 never ever had fareless users, the total boardings for the yellow line are significantly higher than the old #5.

    – Bob R.

  47. (As a follow-up when I said the most activity inbound or outbound was around Lombard, I should have included the “offs” count which is comparable to the “ons” count.)

    – Bob R.

  48. Lenny Anderson Says: Clearly Interstate MAX makes sense as a line to Vancouver/Clark, but in the meantime, its ridership is about 12K per day, twice what the old 5 was. That is no secret.
    JK: It is also no secret that Trimet shut down other bus lines beside #5 and forced the riders ont MAX. Where is that in your count?

    Lenny Anderson Says: But no one in North Portland is longing for the good old 5!
    JK: Amazing – you know every person in North Portland!

    Lenny Anderson Says: …high capacity transit to Tigard/Kruse Woods?..
    JK: What the hell is “high capacity transit”? It certainly isn’t light rail, as that has a capacity of about 1/3 of one lane of freeway when you compare apples to apples. See DebunkingPortland.com/Transit/RailAttractsDrivers.htm

    Thanks
    JK

  49. The 85 Swan Island went from 9 service hours per day to 27 the day MAX opened, thanks to the transfer of 5 service hours. The 500 riders on the 85 are very thankful for that. Other 5 hours were transfered to the 6, 75, 8 and other lines.
    N/NE Portland not only has great MAX service, it has five Frequent Service lines (4,6,8,72,75) with new low floor buses and more shelters. Can’t fault TriMet there.

  50. Lenny Anderson Says: But no one in North Portland is longing for the good old 5!

    >>>> But I am longing for the good old #5; it was the first bus line I used when I first moved to Portland, and I consider it far superior to MAX, especially coming from Jantzen Beach and Vancouver. To me, the MAX is not any faster, and you could get on the bus every 2-3 blocks!

    The #6 reroute was a poor substitute; it degraded the service north of Kenton (except for more 15 minute intervals during extended hours).

    I now avoid going to Jantzen Beach from NW Portland, because of either the additional transfer with the MAX, or the additional trip time with the #6, because of the zig-zagging route.

    But I know that all this means nothing to the “railfans.”

    Nick (non-driver and Trimet rider)

  51. Bob,

    Are those daily averages? And do you have information for the 5-I line in its final year?

    Thank you for providing some hard data that is solely lacking here.

    – Erik

  52. N/NE Portland not only has great MAX service, it has five Frequent Service lines (4,6,8,72,75) with new low floor buses and more shelters. Can’t fault TriMet there.

    None of those busses were reduced/eliminated with MAX (a good thing), and would have been frequent service without MAX (particularly the 4, 8, and 72).

    That kind of leadership with bus service needs to be replicated throughout TriMet’s region. Unfortunately in the west and south of the Metro, bus service is hardly as accessible and frequent.

    BTW – line 12 is supposed to be frequent service; but the low floor busses were yanked about a month ago. We now get the 1400/1500s. At least once my bus was delayed due to a mechanical failure of the wheelchair lift. This problem, along with the consistent overcrowding, would never be a problem if Fred Hansen didn’t cancel the order for the D60LF busses.

  53. Erik –

    Those are weekday averages. I do not have a hard number on the #5 bus from the previous year, but it has been posted somewhere here in the past by others, but not in the form of stop-by-stop boardings.

    The next time I ask TriMet for numbers relating to something I’m working on (such as my Hawthorne Streetcar advocacy), I’ll see if they can send me more detailed info on the #5… I try not to bug them with requests unless it is for something specifically relevant that I need.

    – Bob R.

  54. Starting this year the C-Tran 4 and 4 Limited will begin serving Delta/Vanport, where three bus bays sit empty today. That will provide direct connections to Jantzen Beach and Vancouver and out 4th Plain (4) and direct service to Vancouver and out 4th Plain to Orchards (4L). This should be a big improvement over the 6 and the old 5; eventually you will be able to just kick back on MAX to Vancouver…hard to see how that will be worse than being stuck on a bus on I-5.
    The 6 will just go, I believe, to JB, as C-Tran will put their $ in the 4/4L and no longer give it to TriMet for the 6.

  55. So, a resident of Interstate Avenue still can’t get to Hayden Island, without having to take MAX to a cross-town route (like the 72), then transfer to the 6, to Jantzen Beach. And a Jantzen Beach resident can’t get to Vancouver without taking the 6 to the 72, to MAX, to the C-Tran 4.

    With transit planning like this, it’s no wonder that the majority of trips, no matter how short or insignificant, are taken by auto. Now, a local route would be easy for TriMet to implement, but we know that because TriMet wants light rail, that it’s not going to happen.

    Cost of local bus route: $250,000 (cost of the bus)

    Cost of Hayden Island LRT: I don’t want to know, but it’s in the double-digit millions. There’s a reason MAX Yellow Line ends at the Expo Center.

  56. Erik, you should really look at a route map or schedule…

    You board the 6 to Jantzen Beach at either the Lombard TC or Kenton MAX stations… From downtown Portland it is generally faster to take the MAX to Lombard TC and then transfer, than to take the 6 all the way, and the 6 is actually a fairly fast bus as buses go, (it avoids the bus mall, for instance.) Later this year, you’ll make that transfer at Delta Park instead, to the C-Trans #4

    (Yes, you are right, some people that were going from along Interstate Ave to Jantzen Beach aren’t served as well by that transfer as they were by the 5, but that is a very small number of people, and the ridership stats show it.)

    A Jantzen Beach resident going to Downtown Vancouver takes the 6 all the way there, no transfers are necessary. Again, later this year those people will take the C-Trans #4.

  57. I though this discussion was about the Milwaukie MAX?!?! I still have my questions out for comment. I guess I’ll have to answer them myself.

    What will be the projected cost of running the MAX, from Milwaukie to Oregon City? Answer: Probably a billion dollars or more when they decide that we need it.

    Why have they not included this topic in current projections? Answer: Tri-Met is shortsightedly focused on getting the next wad of cash from Washington, DC and doesn’t have the energy to mail out a simple questionnaire to affected residents.

    How many people would actually get on MAX to ride from Brooklyn or OMSI area to downtown? Answer: Hey, I though we were promoting bicycling and walking for those short distances!?!? But if they expanded fareless square the figure would rise dramatically, just as it helps the Yellow line’s figures.

    So “OMSI” and the “two Brooklyn Stations” have a ton of potential? Maybe so, and they’re also very close to the city center, so walking could be an alternative. In Brooklyn, why would small property and single family homeowners sell out to developers? It would take a unified decision to get any substantial development going, unless you think those new, modern condos, such as on Belmont or Hawthorne somehow evidence a “ton of potential.” I suppose the city could use eminent domain to get rid of the small fry, and that would provide proof that the MAX really was necessary. I love Big Brother!

    Lenny says there were five failures for the Yellow Line. I think the biggest failure for the Milwaukie Line is that half the route will never have any people on it. Maybe the golfers at Eastmoreland can use it….

  58. Ron –

    I think you are overlooking a lot of empty and under-utilized property along 17th and on the other side of the Brooklyn yards, including the Fred Meyer HQ and Trimet’s own HQ.

    , I though we were promoting bicycling and walking for those short distances!?!?

    Are you making a serious argument here that people can walk or bike from Brooklyn and OMSI downtown so there is no need for transit?

    What will be the projected cost of running the MAX, from Milwaukie to Oregon City? Answer: Probably a billion dollars or more when they decide that we need it.

    But then isn’t that a cost that gets evaluated when “we need it”. The Milwaukie route was evaluated based on its own utility, not a future extension to Oregon City. I think a lot of people see that in the future. But Milwaukis is already a transit hub and adding a MAX line connecting it to the central eastside and downtown will immediately improve transit service for a wide area, including Oregon City.

  59. “I think you are overlooking a lot of empty and under-utilized property along 17th and on the other side of the Brooklyn yards, including the Fred Meyer HQ and Trimet’s own HQ.”

    True, there is land there, but how businesses would want to use it is subject to debate. Eastside Portland has always been radically different from westside. The Pearl District and River District may be able to have spectacular development close to a major railyard; I’m not sure Brooklyn area would follow suit, at least to the degree it makes a $100m/mi investment appropriate. However, I have been suggesting that the SE Tacoma and McLoughlin area have high density (as in “affordable” high rises) along a Johnson Creek greenway connecting to city parks.

    “Are you making a serious argument here that people can walk or bike from Brooklyn and OMSI downtown so there is no need for transit?”

    Yes. And mass transit is needed, but not on the scale presently being discussed. And downtown is growing southward, especially if one concurs that thousands of new jobs will be created in the SOWA area. Do they need a MAX to get 1-2 miles to Pill Hill? Whoever had the idea of putting a stop on the Ross Island Br. to the tram might have had the best idea.

    “But Milwaukis is already a transit hub and adding a MAX line connecting it to the central eastside and downtown will immediately improve transit service for a wide area, including Oregon City.”

    And Brian Newman insists that Milwaukie TC is one of the busiest TC’s in the region. It certainly has a lot of buses, but the important figure, if you are going to make a huge investment, is rider numbers. In fact,I drive by it freqeuntly since I bank in Milwaukie. There are a lot of teenagers, so I guess a lot of them come by bus to go to the high school, which also happens to be right there.( Sorry, I have not analyzed whether the teens are waiting for buses or just hanging out.) This would certainly make the figures very high, but they are not headed downtown. I also drive by the Yellow line, since my union hall is on North Lombard. The Interstate MAX has not dramatically increased ridership. People who live along Interstate and Lombard are the types that would rely on public transit, whatever the mode. The MAX has driven up rent costs in that area, so perhaps those people can’t afford cars any more.

    So there you have two clear examples, of MAX being touted as a cure all, when a more stringent analysis would show that any public transit to those locales would be well used.

    I had supported the Gresham MAX (projected at $9M/mi)and feel that the lines in place and the I-205 route is needed. But I am getting seriously concerned about the costs. Even the SC is too high. How could East European cities have SC lines, if they cost close to what we are paying? Something is fishy here. Forunately I know enough about concrete construction that I dare to believe there are cheaper ways to put these systems in.
    Now, my friend, I will digress a bit. I am looking for examples of highly cost-effective streetcar solutions. I found ound one: Kenosha WI with cost per mile of 3.5 mill. Still looking and will report back. Why is South Lake Union SC going to $50 M.?

    Well, here’s one article:http://www.heritagetrolley.org/artcileBringBackStreetcars7.htm

  60. how businesses would want to use it is subject to debate. Eastside Portland has always been radically different from westside

    Which 1)doesn’t mean it will always be radically different and 2) doesn’t mean it shouldn’t get high quality transit.

    “Are you making a serious argument here that people can walk or bike from Brooklyn and OMSI downtown so there is no need for transit?”

    Yes

    Well, I don’t agree. But I can see why if you think transit connections are completely unnecessary for Brooklyn and OMSI that you would not support light rail.

    there are a lot of teenagers, so I guess a lot of them come by bus to go to the high school, which also happens to be right there.( Sorry, I have not analyzed whether the teens are waiting for buses or just hanging out.)

    So, given you have done no analysis of your own, what makes you think the analysis that was done is wrong? The fact is that there is already ridership in the corridor. That is projected to increase with improved service that provides a more attractive alternative for people who want to avoid creating congestion on McLoughlin

    The Interstate MAX has not dramatically increased ridership. People who live along Interstate and Lombard are the types that would rely on public transit, whatever the mode.

    Again the ridership surveys contradict your drive-by conclusions.

    The MAX has driven up rent costs in that area

    Has it? Why hasn’t it driven up rent costs in Rockwood then? The fact is property values along the Interstate Max line had already escalated before it was built. The failure to provide money to protect the remaining affordable housing is another one of those “failures” that folks in Brooklyn and Milwaukie ought to try to avoid.

    It sounds to me like you are looking for reasons to support your conclusions, rather than letting reasons determine your conclusions.

  61. Ross,
    I’m going to refer you to these reader comments, the second one being from a light rail supporter, who is also concerned about the Milwauklie MAX proposal.http://www.oregoncitynewsonline.com/news/story.php?story_id=117434077452802000

    You say”The failure to provide money to protect the remaining affordable housing is another one of those “failures” that folks in Brooklyn and Milwaukie ought to try to avoid.”
    So besides ponying up huge sums for the light rail the public will also have to pony up more to make sure the housing remains affordable?Where does it end?

    Did I say I was against transit connections for Brooklyn and OMSI? I did not.

    Why do I think the analysis on Milwaukie TC could be wrong? It’s very easy for laypersons, and even high priced consultants to get either the data, the cause of the data, or the projections of data when underlying events change, wrong. I think it was correctly said “Economics is the dismal science” There are only a few brave souls who actually venture into a realistic understanding of that sphere. Many others try….

  62. Erik Halstead Says: Thank you for providing some hard data that is solely lacking here.
    JK: That is because Trimet is now refusing to supply that type of data. It appears that they are scared that someone will look closely at their claims and find them lacking.

    Thanks
    JK

  63. Did I say I was against transit connections for Brooklyn and OMSI? I did not.

    So what did you mean when you answered “Yes” to this question:

    “Are you making a serious argument here that people can walk or bike from Brooklyn and OMSI downtown so there is no need for transit?”

    the public will also have to pony up more to make sure the housing remains affordable?

    Yes. If we are going to have people live and work in the same communities, we need to provide a variety of housing options and prices. In some communities, where housing is expensive, that is going to require “ponying up” money to preserve affordable housing.

    hy do I think the analysis on Milwaukie TC could be wrong?

    I understand – it might be wrong. There is that possibility. It is not certain that as many people will use it as projected. In fact, given past experience with MAX estimates, its likely that the estimate is wrong and more people will use it than projected.

  64. I’ve asked readers to look at a couple of articles. One is of the experience of Kenosha WI in constructing a streetcar line for roughly 2.5 million per mile. That is about a tenth of what Portland Streetcar has been done for and about 3% of what the MAX appears to be costing (I will note that a long MAX train can carry many more people, but how often is it anywhere near full?) This article, with three examples–including Portland is on the webpages of Heritage Trolley:http://www.heritagetrolley.org/artcileBringBackStreetcars7.htm

    And here, in readers comments, is a Milwaukie resident’s view on the MAX:
    http://www.oregoncitynewsonline.com/news/story.php?story_id=117434077452802000

    I’d like to see some discussion of these first, as I have asked, before diverging into finer points on eastside transit and causing misunderstandings..

  65. I am not fully informed in this discussion, so can someone clarify for me the proposed alignments?

    Everyone keeps talking about Eastmoreland golf course and Westmoreland park. This confuses me.

    Can someone explain what they mean when they write:
    – Milwaukie MAX. I assume this would run down or next to 99e?
    – Milwaukie streetcar. This is the one that confuses. I assume this would run down milwaukie past Powell past Holgate past Bybee past 17th merger to Milwaukie TC.

    There is already a fair amount of density and commercial on that route with new development.

  66. I think you are overlooking a lot of empty and under-utilized property along 17th and on the other side of the Brooklyn yards, including the Fred Meyer HQ and Trimet’s own HQ.

    So, TriMet’s land is “under-utilized”? Where else in the central Portland area is TriMet going to park 200+ busses – unless the idea is to eliminate those 200+ busses.

    Never mind that my bus that serves Sherwood, Tualatin, and Tigard, operates out of Center Garage. I guess it is true, busses do take a back seat to MAX. I guess TriMet could waste some money and buy out the Port of Portland building in Old Town (after all it is next to MAX, and has plenty of parking for the TriMet Ivory Tower employees that refuse to ride a dreaded bus, and it’s close to Fred Hansen’s home in the Pearl), then “redevelop” the Center Street garage for “mixed-use transit oriented development”.

    Meanwhile, TriMet cuts 1/3rd of its bus system, because where else is TriMet going to find sufficient and suitable space for a new bus garage – given that the Center Street garage was originally a trolley barn, and thanks to Metro’s artificial increasing of land values, such a facility would come at a huge price.

    And of course TriMet would not dare steal from the light rail capital or operating budgets to finance this, so it’d come from the bus budget.

    At least the Center Street garage is in a light-industrial zoned area, adjacent to a railroad yard. What’s wrong with industrial zoning? It provides jobs and brings dollars into the local economy, that funds things like, oh, I don’t know, transit.

  67. You board the 6 to Jantzen Beach at either the Lombard TC or Kenton MAX stations… From downtown Portland it is generally faster to take the MAX to Lombard TC and then transfer, than to take the 6 all the way, and the 6 is actually a fairly fast bus as buses go, (it avoids the bus mall, for instance.) Later this year, you’ll make that transfer at Delta Park instead, to the C-Trans #4

    Matthew, I had thought that the #6 went straight up MLK to Marine Drive, and then onto I-5.

    Thanks for pointing out that it actually turns west on Lombard, crosses Interstate (and MAX), then turns north on Denver, becoming Interstate, and gets on I-5 there.

    That said – is the C-Tran #4 going to stop on Hayden Island? If so (which it did not sound like it was going to in the previous posts), then everything is OK.

  68. “Metro’s artificial increasing of land values, such a facility would come at a huge price.”

    Erik,

    Do you have a source for that? Land values have risen across the United States and on the WC in particular. I don’t see a correlation between an urban growth boundary and those price increases. If you have a source, I’d love to see it.

  69. One is of the experience of Kenosha WI

    What does Kenosha WI have to do with Portland? You are comparing costs of construction of light rail in a dense urban corridor to a street car in a small town in Wisconsin?

    how often is it anywhere near full?

    How often is any transit vehicle full or any street or highway for that matter? The question is what it costs to provide service given ridership estimates over the life of the facility. And, remember, actual ridership has been pretty consistently higher so far than the estimates before construction.

  70. Bob R,
    Don’t you have to take the Rose Quarter connections out of the yellow line numbers to doanhonest comparison to the previous bus line ridership?

  71. Regarding Kenosha, where did that $2.5 million figure come from?

    It is my understanding from a variety of reports that the Kenosha system cost $5 million at the time, about $3 million per track mile at the time, or $3.5 million+ in today’s dollars.

    Half of those track miles are in a grassy median, not city streets, requiring little or no utility relocation or street reconstruction.

    The line only carries around 200 passengers per day, by the way. (67,000 annual boardings in 2003.)

    Kenosha’s system is fine for keeping start-up capital costs low and for keeping history alive, but its actual cost per passenger mile or per boarding ride is much higher than Portland’s streetcar or MAX.

    The Portland Streetcar, in recent urban extensions, has averaged over $12 million per track mile. That is about 3X-4X the cost of Kenosha’s grassy-median system, but carrying 40X-50X the daily ridership.

    If the Kenosha system were built to the scale necessary to carry that many riders in that kind of corridor, its capital costs would be similarly higher.

    – Bob R.

  72. Jack wrote: Don’t you have to take the Rose Quarter connections out of the yellow line numbers to doanhonest comparison to the previous bus line ridership?

    I do not believe so… Although fareless square extends (for MAX only) to Rose Quarter and Lloyd Center, there is no normal reason to take the Yellow Line from downtown to the Rose Quarter UNLESS you are transferring at Rose Quarter TC to/from a bus line, and the buses are not fareless.

    For special events at the rose garden arena, a limited number of people may be riding the Yellow Line from downtown to the arena, but A) the Yellow Line does not extend past the Galleria, so if these are people who are parked downtown, they are paying for that parking — it would make more sense for them to park on the east side or at Lloyd Center and exploit the Red/Blue lines, B) many of the special events would be on weekends, which aren’t included in the average weekday counts.

    – Bob R.

  73. Ok but there’s a big number of RQ trips inflating the Interstae MAX numbers.

    Take them out and the bus was fine.

  74. If MAX is never extended to Vancouver it will have been and even greater waste and failure.
    Then the story starts all over again.

  75. Jack replied: Ok but there’s a big number of RQ trips inflating the Interstae MAX numbers. Take them out and the bus was fine.

    You could just as easily say that if you took out the Lombard TC numbers that Yellow Line ridership wouldn’t be as “inflated”. But in either case you are removing primarily paid transfer-based trips, not fareless trips. The fact of the matter is that people are using the Yellow Line as part of their complete transit trip. Rose Quarter TC predates the Yellow Line by a number of years… those people were getting to Rose Quarter TC and transferring to other lines by some means before the Yellow Line.

    Therefore, I stand by my claim that it is appropriate to include the Rose Quarter TC average weekday boardings in the total ridership for the Yellow Line.

    – Bob R.

  76. “Rose Quarter TC predates the Yellow Line by a number of years…”

    That’s MY point.
    So why uses those RQ numbers to pad Interstate MAX ridership and make it look like a big improvement over the former bus service?
    Yellow did not add those riders if they predate Yellow.
    It seems like a deliberate inflating of Interstate MAX ridership by TriMet.
    And a broader question is how many riders were taken out of cars as a result of Interstate MAX?

    But don’t let that distract from my central point.
    RQ numbers have no business being added to assess the outcome of Interstate MAX, period.

  77. Sorry, Jack, we’re just going to have to disagree.

    The Yellow Line is providing a transit function. It is replacing much of the old #5 service as well as providing other service.

    Transfers at the Rose Quarter are a transit function. The Yellow Line provides this service faster than the old #5 for all stops along its line. (The downside being for Janzen Beach and Vancouver riders who did not have an efficient transfer from the Yellow Line until this year.)

    Nonetheless, if you get your wish and remove the Rose Quarter numbers from the totals, as well as all downtown fareless square boardings, ridership still exceeds the old #5.

    – Bob R.

  78. RQ numbers have no business being added to assess the outcome of Interstate MAX, period.

    Why not? That isn’t a rhetorical question. I understand you think that is self-evident. But I don’t see why where someone connects to the Yellow line matters. Perhaps describing the kind of trip you think is not a legitimate service would help.

  79. How is commenting that the “Yellow line provides a transit function” part of any answer?

    A bit elementary isn’t that?

    The sky is cloudy when it rains.

    The Yellow trips between downtown and RQ were happening before with the Eastide MAX. They would be doing so if Yellow did not exist.
    How many daily riders came from the one MAX to be counted on another?
    How many casr were taken off the road because of Yellow? If TriMet doesn’t count the downtown/RQ for yellow I’m sure the yellow generated car reduction is esentially nonexistent.

    I’m obviusly trying to criticize Yellow MAX as not prodcing anywhere near enough benefit to justify it’s cost.
    Coming back with “it provides a transit service” deflects none of the critisism.

    Ross, it matters when one is trying to accurately and specificately assess the impact/benefits of the Yellow line.
    I guess it doesn’t matter if all you are interested in is the next MAX extension. -)

  80. A bit elementary isn’t that? The sky is cloudy when it rains.

    And you would have us ignore a certain percentage of the clouds and rain when discussing accumulated rainfall, without giving us a good reason why.

    How many daily riders came from the one MAX to be counted on another?

    If you believe that a significant number of Red/Blue riders suddenly became Yellow riders in FY2005 (with the Yellow line therefore being duplicative), then ridership should have gone down significantly on the Red/Blue lines in FY2005. It didn’t.

    – Bob R.

  81. Jack –

    If your argument is you didn’t need to build a Max line to Expo in order to get someone to downtown from the Rose Quarter then that is correct. But can’t you make that same evaluation of boardings at every segment?

    As far as I can tell, you don’t have any data that indicates there was not an increase in ridership as a result of Max, you are just questioning whether Trimet’s data is being properly interpreted. Is that correct?

  82. Fairless square was extended to the RQ at the same time. I asked YOU how many Yellow DT/RQ riders came from the previous MAX?
    Apparently TriMet doesn’t know, doesn’t want to know or hasn’t said.
    I also asked how many cars have been taken off the road due to Yellow MAX.
    TriMet’s data is of course questionable. They have an agenda, do they not?
    The POINT is what makes Yellow a worthy investment if it simply replaces some buses on North Interstate?

  83. Ross says.”The question is what it costs to provide service given ridership estimates over the life of the facility. And, remember, actual ridership has been pretty consistently higher so far than the estimates before construction.”

    Oh, really? So you think cost-benefit analysis is that easy? But, to simplify…. The Gresham MAX was originally projected at $9 million per mile and went to something like 15-18 million upon completion. That ain’t too bad, considering it was a new technology. But many new technologies eventually fall in cost, and if they don’t the marketplace comes up with something that actually is affordable. My complaint is that much of the claims of cost by light rail advocates seem to mysteriously slip over to “operating costs” without notice, when what we’re really concerned about is the sum total cost from inception to reconstruction.
    And unlike certain libertarians, I’ve never questioned the more generalized savings of LRT such as: no diesel exhaust, less traffic noise, lower accident rates, lower driver expense, less urban sprawl. To understand the total expense of a system is complex: you have to have a timetable of depreciation, routine and emergency maintenance, risk premiums. planning costs, to name a few.

    The rule of thumb with autos, I’m told, is” The cheapest car to drive is the one you already have.”

    Now we’re projecting costs of $110 million/mi, and this is for a route that doesn’t even have that much development potential–unless Eastmoreland Golf Course, Crystal Springs Park, Westmoreland Park and the Willamette River somehow fall in that category.

    Maybe you never buy any two-for-one specials? Some people on the Sellwood Bridge Advisory Committee (and I concur) are asking “Why not have a streetcar over the Bridge?”; I have also been asking why the Eastside SC could not just extend to Tacoma and Hwy 99 and then to Milwaukie–where the Tacoma SC would join. This provides two routes from Milwaukie, not just one as with the MAX proposal. And probably for far less cost.

    Sorry, Bob R., about the 2.5 million figure in Kenosha. I have disparate sources, so the 3.5 million figure may be right. Does it matter that much? Another cost saving feature was to restore older cars, but they’re probably not ADA compliant. I’m just trying to say that there are alternatives. Some people “question reality”: I just question government spending.

    Again, I would suggest the “comment” by the Milwaukie resident, who describes herself as a light rail supporter and raises the same issues. It is in my previous post in blue.

  84. They have an agenda, do they not?

    Yes. I expect its to provide the best transit service possible.

    So you think cost-benefit analysis is that easy?

    Easy? No. But, until you provide some alternative, the analysis that has been done stands. And the experience has been that ridership numbers – which was what you were questioning – have exceeded projections.

    ome people on the Sellwood Bridge Advisory Committee (and I concur) are asking “Why not have a streetcar over the Bridge?”

    Ah – that explains it. I knew you had an agenda, I wss just trying to figure out what it was.

  85. “Ah – that explains it. I knew you had an agenda, I wss just trying to figure out what it was. ”

    Perhaps you should read my other posts…. I’ve never concealed what I think.
    We know that MAX provides ” transit function” and that “it improves transit service”, etc. And frankly either system will most likely benefit the value of my home in Sellwood.

    I can’t really sum up my view in a sound bite, nor am I advancing an axiom for what will work best in each neighborhood. I just think that if Lake Oswego is opting for the SC, a network on both sides of the Willamette would provide more diversified service at less cost. Bob R. says $12 million per track mile. I thought it was about $25 million, factoring in the vehicle cost.
    Also, it seems like there should be ways to bring the costs down; that is why I am looking for some other cities’ experiences.

    Now, I must get ready to go to another week of work at Cannon Beach. No more posting for now. Which, reminds me that we could be spending some money to develop inter city bus travel, especially for those into alternative transportation like bicycling.

  86. I’ve never concealed what I think.

    I didn’t mean to imply you had. But the nature of your arguments spoke of an agenda, but it wasn’t clear what it was.

    I don’t know enough about the idea of a streetcar on the Sellwood bridge to know whether that is a good idea. It seems would be talking about a minimum of a four lane bridge and I think that would be a disaster for the Sellwood community. But there must be more to it than that if it is getting traction in Sellwood.

    I don’t think it is a replacement for the Milwaukie light rail line. But maybe as its own thing it has merit.

  87. Maybe you never buy any two-for-one specials? Some people on the Sellwood Bridge Advisory Committee (and I concur) are asking “Why not have a streetcar over the Bridge?”

    So, if we build the replacement Sellwood Bridge, the cost with Streetcar will be the same as without (thus, the “two for one special)?

    The closest we will have for a “two for one special” is to route Streetcar over the existing Steel Bridge (with its existing MAX tracks) to an eastside loop along MLK and Grand.

    The next closest thing would be to, instead of building a new bridge to the south, to use the Marquam Bridge. There are sufficient lower supports to attach a LRT/pedestrian bridge to, without the need for an expensive (and tall) approach span at either end, and simply build the bridge to be retractable for the occassional gravel barge that must pass through. Or to use the Hawthorne Bridge.

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