Streetcar Notes


Several notes of interest:

  • The FTA has approved the Project Development Application for the Streetcar Loop in record time. That means the race is now on to assemble the local match by August.
  • The 3 new Czech cars have finished their burn-in mileage and are just waiting for final safety paperwork to clear (back in Prague) before they go into service.
  • The Lowell extension is on schedule and opening ceremonies are planned for August 17th/18th.
  • A regional Streetcar conference will be held in Portland this summer.

That’s what I call momentum…


74 responses to “Streetcar Notes”

  1. Any idea when JK will answer the question put to him and offer sources for his “data” that dont just refer to his own site?

  2. Congrats Chris on this exciting “MO”!
    Now I’m thinking (dreaming) the best candidate for an eastside “spoke” is Broadway/Weidler to at least 24th, if not all the way to Hollywood. Streetcar can just keep going straight at 7th Avenue on that overwide couplet.

  3. Three plucked chickens and five quarts of sourkraut per household per week for the first four years. Very expensive!

  4. [Personally directed comment removed – we don’t question the motivations of folks who participate in the conversation here.]

  5. The FTA has approved the Project Development Application for the Streetcar Loop in record time. That means the race is now on to assemble the local match by August.

    Bob T:

    WIll this be a real local match, or
    laundered Federal dollars like what is done
    now with light rail projects? You see, you
    can’t take Federal gas tax dollars sent to
    various Oregon agencies like Tri-Met, ODOT,
    etc and then re-label it “local match”.
    But it was done for the Yellow Line, and
    no one cared.

    Bob Tiernan

  6. Dan –

    The Lowell Extension is the final part of the streetcar loop which serves South Waterfront. Right now, the streetcar terminates at Gibbs St. (where the Tram landing is located).

    After the extension opens, the streetcar will continue south to Lowell, head east for one block, and then come back north to Gibbs again. The stretch between Gibbs and Riverplace will remain single-tracked for the time being.

    – Bob R.

  7. Bob T., I don’t accept your characterization of the Yellow Line funding, but the primary sources of local match for the Streetcar Loop will be a Local Improvement District, Urban Renewal Funds and hopefully some bonding of Lottery dollars by the legislature. There are other smaller sources including some HUD grants and MTIP funds.

    None of those involve state gas taxes.

  8. Chris Smith:

    Bob T., I don’t accept your characterization of the Yellow Line funding

    Bob T:

    But that’s exactly what took place, and why the
    Oregonian reported that to get the Yellow Line
    the local establishment needed to engage in what
    they termed imaginative bookkeeping or something
    like that (a nice way to label dishonest and
    perhaps illegal bookkeeping per Federal rules
    regarding these projects).

    Chris Smith:

    but the primary sources of local match for the Streetcar Loop will be a Local Improvement District, Urban Renewal Funds and hopefully some bonding of Lottery dollars by the legislature.

    Bob T:

    Too bad the Urban Renewal idea in this country has
    been warped into obtaining money to do things that
    the original legislation never intended it to be
    used for.

    Chris Smith:

    None of those involve state gas taxes.

    Bob T:

    Yeah, unlike the Yellow Line and Red Line.

    Bob Tiernan

  9. Jason McHuff:

    Hey, if the Federal Transit Administration has a problem with the way a project is trying to get its money, I think they could decide to not give the money to the project.

    Bob T:

    It’s not that the heads of the Senate and House
    Appropriations Committees and Transportation
    Committees weren’t informed (and this when
    big bad Repubs were in charge) — they were more
    interested in spending the money just like the
    Dems. If you read the rules that local governments need to follow in order to get the
    money, they were broken.

    Bob Tiernan

  10. Regardless of what it cost to build, how much is it going to cost annually to operate?

    And how much of those funds are going to come from TriMet, even though the Streetcar is a City of Portland owned and operated system? Given that the north end of the Streetcar is known for having fare evasion problems, I would imagine the south end will have the same problem, and the City will do nothing to alleviate the problem (knowing well that TriMet will cover any operating loss, which means less operating dollars for TriMet’s owned-and-operated system of 600+ busses and light rail).

  11. TriMet is not providing any capital funds for the project (nor have they on the existing Streetcar alignments – other than some funding swaps for which they were reimbursed 1:1).

    TriMet pays 2/3s of the operating cost of the current alignment (and this is capped, any overruns are the City’s responsibility).

    I expect that on the Loop, TriMet’s contribution will be closer to 1/3, and again would be capped.

  12. What actually happened with Interstate MAX was that it was combined with Airport MAX (all local) and Streetcar (all local) into a “North Rail” project description of some kind for the feds. Hence the lion’s share of the local match for Interstate came from other projects, but it was still local.
    For all the rail naysayers maybe its time to bring up my favorite freeway project…the double decker through Lake Oswego and over the Wilamette River, linking those Kruse Woods/Washington county jobs to Clackamas county housing. We can do a double decker through Dunthorpe while we are at it and forget Streetcar to LO. I can see a LA type 4 level interchange at State & A in downtown Lake Oswego. Beautiful.

  13. Lenny –

    That’s an excellent idea. Some of the existing housing and businesses at those interchanges can be torn down so that fueling stations are more convenient for commuters to access.

    – Bob R.

  14. Correct me if I’m wrong, but didn’t Bechtel fund a portion of the Red Line (some many millions) in exchange for development rights and a long-term lease at Cascade Station? Both the Red and Yellow MAX lines are pretty outstanding accomplishments. I-MAX is many times a better project than the north portion of the South/North MAX; less expensive, less impact, better development potential, more popular with the neighborhood, better end of line at Expo, and omigosh, the traffic didn’t go nutty after removing two ENTIRE lanes! Well, I’ll be a monkey’s uncle. And the current MAX proposal into Vancouver is much improved over the one rejected in 1995. Somebody better not tell the Warshingtonians. They might get all uppity.

  15. Wells,

    You can find that information at http://www.trimet.org/about/history/redline.htm. Bechtel paid 23% of the cost of the Red Line, or $28.75 million. TriMet paid 36%, or $45 million, out of its general fund (part of the reason it is in financial difficulties).

    The reason it was more “neighborhood friendly” was because there were virtually no neighborhoods it went through – down the center of I-205 or in the area between I-205 and I-84, and on Port of Portland owned property (the Port also paid 23%/$28.75 million to the project).

    As far as “development potential”…well…what ever happened to that massive “transit-oriented employment center” that was supposed to take place at CascadeStation? Where IKEA and a strip mall are now being built?

  16. Erik –

    When wells referred to “neighborhood friendly” he was referring to I-MAX (Interstate MAX), NOT the red line.

    – Bob R.

  17. TriMet pays 2/3s of the operating cost of the current alignment (and this is capped, any overruns are the City’s responsibility).

    I expect that on the Loop, TriMet’s contribution will be closer to 1/3, and again would be capped.

    So…while we’re rolling along with all this momentum on the streetcar, we don’t know what the financial impact will be? 2/3 of the “operating costs” (and likely more) will come from “the City”…and from where –and whose budget in “the City”– would that be?

    Doesn’t it strike anyone as odd that we haven’t got operating costs even vaguely nailed down, or whose responsibility it will be to pay for them?

  18. Frank, the current thinking is that the split will be (roughly, i.e., +/- 10%) 1/3 TriMet, 1/3 from parking revenue along the alignment, 1/3 from the farebox (yes, we’ll have real fare revenue since we won’t be in fareless square).

    Now that the project development application is approved the detailed analysis to make these real numbers will begin.

    BTW – Bob Richardson gave a very nice presentation to the Streetcar CAC on the potential for a Hawthorne Streetcar – you should buy him a beer!

  19. 1/3 from parking revenue along the alignment

    Really. You’d think someone would talk to our neighborhood about putting in parking meters before they’re dedicating the revenues.

    BTW – Bob Richardson gave a very nice presentation to the Streetcar CAC on the potential for a Hawthorne Streetcar – you should buy him a beer!

    I’ll buy him two. And you, Chris, a pitcher when you, uh, get on board!

  20. Parking has been discussed (at a high level) in the Project Advisory Committee, where your neighborhood is represented. I am sure the next level of analysis will include outreach to your neighborhood. I would expect the nexus of the conversation to be in the CEIC.

  21. Parking has been discussed (at a high level)…

    Oh, fine…get everybody drunk and then lay this on them.

    the Project Advisory Committee, where your neighborhood is represented.

    Let me guess…Sue Pearce? Well, whatever, we’re going to start actually talking about this in the neighborhood. We don’t need no stinkin’ “outreach” to get that conversation going. :-)

  22. Frank, Chris –

    Thanks. :-) If I’d known there was this much potential for free alcohol involved in public policy advocacy, I’d have become active far earlier in life!

    – Bob R.

  23. Jason McHuff:

    Hey, if the Federal Transit Administration has a problem with the way a project is trying to get its money, I think they could decide to not give the money to the project.

    Bob T:

    Again, it’s not the FTA but the politicians who
    ultimately decide (earmarks, using pork to buy
    votes, incumbent protection machine etc) but who
    are supposed to use criteria. And politicians
    are about spending money regardless of party
    (so don’t tell me anything about how the
    Democrats are better, or worse, than the Repubs).

    Until the end of the Cold War, military spending
    was the single largest source of pork, but since
    then it’s the transportation-industrial complex
    that has grown and become perhaps the single largest source of pork and incumbent protection.
    That’s why the two transportation committees are
    so large.

    Bob Tiernan

  24. Wells:

    Correct me if I’m wrong, but didn’t Bechtel fund a portion of the Red Line (some many millions) in exchange for development rights and a long-term lease at Cascade Station?

    Bob T:

    Yes, but they were supposed to pay more of their own money for it.

    Bechtel, by the way, is a much-hated corporation in progressive (so-called) circles, but the
    progressives said zippo regarding this because
    they wanted another light rail line any way
    they could get it. The only people opposing
    this and speaking out were a handful of people
    who could hardly be said to be on the left,
    and a few smart lefties who prefer buses to
    rail and who grew to hate the politics of
    light rail for good reason.

    Back to the project, Bechtel got a real sweetheart
    deal — an 85-year lease on about 120 acres. Doesn’t matter if not much has been there since
    this started in 2001. After all, it’s long range
    planning for Bechtel. It would be like seeing
    a hated corporation just ending a lease on
    property this year that it’s made money on
    since 1922!

    Yeah, I always hear the progressives talk about
    how much they hate this kind of corporate-state
    partnership, and then they prove to be for it
    as much as anyone else. But heck, that’s what
    the progressive movement was all about in part
    (read James Weinstein’s material). Distrust
    of free enterprise leads to this kind of crap,
    and it has existed for over a century. Stay
    tuned for the next progressive rip-off: The
    convention hotel.

    Bob Tiernan

  25. Hawthorne Says: Any idea when JK will answer the question put to him and offer sources for his “data” that dont just refer to his own site?
    JK: I do that so you can see that the data is credible and an accurate interpretation of the original sources which are also shown. Where calculations are done, I also show those.

    So, when are you going to learn to follow links to original sources and do a little grade school arithmetic?

    Thanks
    JK

  26. Chris Smith Says: Bob T., I don’t accept your characterization of the Yellow Line funding,
    JK: Good point.

    $30 million of the local funds came out of stealing Interestate Ave. area road improvement funds – Katz formed an urban renewal district to get her mitts on the $30 million road improvement component.

    Thanks
    JK

  27. Erik Halstead As far as “development potential”…well…what ever happened to that massive “transit-oriented employment center” that was supposed to take place at CascadeStation? Where IKEA and a strip mall are now being built?
    JK: The will of the people won.

    That people don’t want massive “transit-oriented employment center” was pretty well shown by the fact that no one could figure out how to make it work.

    People do want strip malls and big boxes because they serve the people’s needs, instead of planner’s wet dreams.

    Thanks
    JK

  28. Erik Halstead:

    As far as “development potential”…well…what ever happened to that massive “transit-oriented employment center” that was supposed to take place at CascadeStation? Where IKEA and a strip mall are now being built?

    Bob T:

    Was never going to happen, realistically. Among
    other things, if thousands of people were to become employed at Cascade Station’s various places of employment, about 90% of them would be using their own cars. That’s a typical figure regarding shares of trip modes. Now imagine the traffic in that area and compare it to what it’s like now at leak periods. Many times worse.

    This is another example of how light rail does nothing for congestion but in fact makes it a lot worse — and the proponents (worshippers) will just say, “Gee, imagine how bad it would be if we didn’t have this rail line!”.

    Yeah, right.

    Bob Tiernan

  29. JK says: I do that so you can see that the data is credible and an accurate interpretation of the original sources which are also shown. Where calculations are done, I also show those.

    To clarify Jim: yes, your data sources are credible, however the conclusions derived from the data are decisively not credible or legitimate. Aside from flawed statistical methodology (which has been extensively discussed on this website) there is a fundamental problem with this website and that is an ethical one. As the owner of this site you continually refuse to answer questions relating to potential conflicts of interest nor will you answer any questions that regard financial disclosure. Any reasonable person would question the motivations of an individual who refuses to answer questions such as these.

    Unfortunately, I see absolutely no reason why one would trust the conclusions you publish on this website, nor would any research professional in any industry or field. This is not a personal attack, it just an expected practice around the world if one wishes to have their research accepted as legitimate.

  30. Dan Says: To clarify Jim: yes, your data sources are credible, however the conclusions derived from the data are decisively not credible or legitimate. Aside from flawed statistical methodology (which has been extensively discussed on this website)
    JK: Care to give a specific example instead of your constant arm waving?

    Dan Says: there is a fundamental problem with this website and that is an ethical one. As the owner of this site you continually refuse to answer questions relating to potential conflicts of interest nor will you answer any questions that regard financial disclosure. Any reasonable person would question the motivations of an individual who refuses to answer questions such as these.
    JK: Why don’t you describe your employer and job description without naming said employer?

    Dan Says: Unfortunately, I see absolutely no reason why one would trust the conclusions you publish on this website, nor would any research professional in any industry or field.
    JK: I don’t expect anyone to just accept my conclusions – that is why I fully document EACH step between the data source and my conclusion. It is all there for anyone who can do grade school arithmetic. Why are you having problems with this?

    Dan Says: This is not a personal attack, it just an expected practice around the world if one wishes to have their research accepted as legitimate.
    JK: Standard practice is to rely on the disclosure to fully disclose the data, calculations and the conclusions for all to see and for all to be able to check. That is what I have done.

    Since you seem unable to separate the message from the messenger, I assume that you DO NOT BELIEVE anything that AL Gore says on climate change since he is selling shares in a mutual fund that benefits when people get scared about climate change. See generationim.com/about/team.html

    Thanks
    JK, whose blog activity and web sites are 100% paid by myself on my own time – can you say the same?

  31. When wells referred to “neighborhood friendly” he was referring to I-MAX (Interstate MAX), NOT the red line.

    My bad. Sorry.

  32. JK,

    Your data and credibility have pretty much been shredded and you still refuse to answer the question Bob R put to you here weeks ago,

    Time to pack it in. Unless you do have a real answer and not a cute dodge.

  33. Frank, the current thinking is that the split will be (roughly, i.e., +/- 10%) 1/3 TriMet, 1/3 from parking revenue along the alignment, 1/3 from the farebox (yes, we’ll have real fare revenue since we won’t be in fareless square)…
    I would expect the nexus of the conversation to be in the CEIC.

    Chris, Sue tells me the Central Eastside Industrial District (CEIC) folks are “adamently opposed to parking meters.” As would be, I strongly suspect, our neighborhood association, which includes the CEID. The Hawthorne Boulevard Business Association is already on record as being strongly opposed to parking meters.

    If we’ve no identified source of revenue for “operations” why have we got city council approving contracts for development of the loop?Seems financially irresponsible to me.

    On a different note, I took a ride on the streetcar out to Northrup after work. The car was so crowded, we passed up passengers after the library stop, and then had a lengthy delay as a passenger in a wheelchair was unable to trigger the “handicapped” exit. Eventually folks realized they needed to step off the entire “plate,” which meant some of them getting off the streetcar. The “mechanical delay” signage was triggered as the schedule was thrown off, but this was no “mechanical delay” it was poor signage how to get the door opened, as well as the consequences of an over-packed car.

    As I stood there, an elbow poking me on the right, and a clueless moron in front of me whose backback get hitting me, passengers dripping sweat, an elderly man clinging to a handle with both hands, not even close to getting a seat…what a cattle car it felt like. Overheard, seriously, “this is why I don’t take mass transit.”

  34. So because we don’t have operating funding identified, it’s irresponsible to start the phase of project development where we are required identify operating funding? The contracts the Council approved include the one to do the analysis for operating funding.

    That would be a good way to make sure we never do anything :-)

    The folks in the CEIC are in somewhat of a state of denial. I think they believe they could build parking structures and those structures will provide a revenue stream for Streetcar. Having been through that analysis in depth in NW, I’m pretty sure the analysis will show that doesn’t work, and meters are the only way to generate enough revenue. At that point the CEIC and the neighborhoods are going to have to decide if they want Streetcar more than they hate meters in the MLK/Grand corridor.

    I’m optimistic the desire for Streetcar will be greater than the dislike of meters, but let’s let the process run its course.

    I’d like to better understand the issue with the bridgeplate. What exactly was keeping it from deploying?

    Sounds like the Streetcar was almost as crowded as the #14 :-)

  35. Hawthorne Says: Your data and credibility have pretty much been shredded
    JK: I see you too are unable to find flaws in my data, analysis or conclusions so have degenerated into vague, generalized accusations.

    Hawthorne Says: Time to pack it in. Unless you do have a real answer and not a cute dodge.
    JK: Good advice, I suggest you follow it.

    Thanks
    JK

  36. Hawthorne Says: you still refuse to answer the question Bob R put to you here weeks ago,
    JK: Why don’t you give your real name and describe your employer and job description (without naming said employer)?

    Thanks
    JK, whose blog activity and web sites are 100% paid by myself on my own time – can you say the same?

  37. Hawthorne, the above is a nice example of a cute dodge.

    Jim, you responded to me earlier with this:

    Dan Says: This is not a personal attack, it just an expected practice around the world if one wishes to have their research accepted as legitimate.
    JK: Standard practice is to rely on the disclosure to fully disclose the data, calculations and the conclusions for all to see and for all to be able to check. That is what I have done.
    ______________

    I’m a research analyst in the non-profit healthcare industry. I am completely aware of standard practices in regard to disclosure and conflicts of interest. I know standard research practice, and I also know that you do not follow it.

    There’s no need to “attack the messenger” rather than “the message,” as the message will never be credible in the first place without fully utilizing ethical industry standards.

  38. JK,

    The reason are being asked this question is because have demanded it of others or used it to suggest that their point of view was not valid.

    It’s nice to know that you are not being paid to blog. It is also interesting to note that you have refused to answer whether you receive income from groups, companies or individuals who have an interest in planning, transportation, development, government or policy.

    At this point I will take your silence and avoidance of the topic to mean that you do receive some form of compensation from said interested groups, individuals or corporations. Thanks for the clarification. It helps to put your point of view in context and explains a great deal.

  39. Chris wrote: I’d like to better understand the issue with the bridgeplate. What exactly was keeping it from deploying?

    The problem is similar on MAX… If too many people are standing on the bridge plate cover inside the vehicle, it will sag a bit and not be mechanically aligned properly to deploy.

    On MAX, the floor is painted with “Do not stand here”, but I do not recall seeing similar graphics inside the streetcar.

    At a recent CAC meeting (as you know) we had an excellent discussion about new graphics for the ticket machines. Perhaps we should also discuss with a mechanic some of the issues of what might prevent the bridgeplate from deploying on the streetcar. If indeed it relates to the number of people standing by the door, perhaps we should paint the floor like MAX and also have a sign on the door itself that says:

    “When buzzer sounds, access ramp must deploy before doors open. DO NOT STAND ON RAMP – DOORS CANNOT OPEN.”

    It doesn’t have to be a big sign, but if enough people absorb the meaning over time, they will know to mention it to people if a newbie is standing by the door and doesn’t know to move.

    – Bob R.

  40. Hawthorne Says: It’s nice to know that you are not being paid to blog.
    JK: Of course all this is just a diversion from the original question:

    Any idea what this will cost per passenger mile? Will it be more or less than taxi fare? Will it be more than FIVE times the cost of driving?

    That is a question that the rail sales people desperately want to avoid discussing.

    BTW, do you have a real name?

    Thanks
    JK

  41. No matter how many, or how large the sign, there are still a LOT of people who do not understand that on the 2000 series busses and up, the rear doors do not open.

    “Wait for green light, then push door open.” The original signs were bright red, but those have disappeared over time. I have had to remind quite a few passengers to push the door, after hearing people yell “REAR DOOR PLEASE!” multiple times.

  42. I’m optimistic the desire for Streetcar will be greater than the dislike of meters, but let’s let the process run its course.

    It really does seem that the Central Eastside streetcar planning is streetcar for streetcar’s sake. I still fail to understand the net benefit here.

    For example, my morning commute wouldn’t be enhanced whatsoever by streetcar. Right now, I can take the 6 from inner Northeast Portland, with 15 minute headways, get off on the Hawthorne bridge stop, and be at work pretty quickly.

    Any transfers or other nonsense to the streetcar would only serve to extend my commute. Moreover, the crush loads on the inbound 6 bus in the morning are gone once the bus passes the Convention Center MAX station. There’s no capacity problem beyond that.

    There are more pressing transit needs in the metro area. I fail to understand why we’re focusing on spending money for a streetcar that yields few demonstrable benefits.

  43. Aaron said:

    I fail to understand why we’re focusing on spending money for a streetcar that yields
    few demonstrable benefits.

    Bob T:

    When are you going to get it?

    The streetcar is the type of project that’s
    sexy for the establishment and makes
    for good photo-ops, ribbon-cutting ceremonies
    and travel brochure images. The sooner the
    real serious transit advocates realize this
    the better off we’ll all be. Too bad mega
    billions have already been spent with no
    real change in congestion (which is not
    really something the New Urbanists and transit-industrial complex wants to reduce).

    Bob Tiernan

  44. Check out all the vacant lots along 7th Avenue in the Lloyd District now used for auto storage, not to mention those adjacent to the Convention Center and south. Tons of potential there.
    Streetcar was conceived as a means to tie close- in neighborhoods together, encourage denser development and provide an attractive transit option, especially for visitors and others who are not sure they are up for a bus ride. Its success on the westside is beyond debate; it will likely have the same results on the eastside.
    The real debate is who will get the next extension, Broadway/Weidler, Hawthorne, Burnside/Couch or Williams/Vancovuer?

  45. At that point the CEIC and the neighborhoods are going to have to decide if they want Streetcar more than they hate meters in the MLK/Grand corridor.

    It would be good to see some solid financial analysis –and, you’re right, it’s appropriate to fund a study– but I doubt that meters in the MLK/Grand corridor alone are going to pay 2/3+ of the streetcar’s operating costs. People commute here to work in the CEID, less-so to shop, and, as was obvious when a parking permit program was initiated in the CEID, drivers who park close-in and catch the bus to downtown, simply moved further east, into our residential neighborhoods. Unlike Vegas, what happens in the CEID doesn’t stay in the CEID.

    And, frankly, it would be one thing if this slop-over –of meters or commuter-parking– into the neighborhoods was a tradeoff for improved transit service for our neighborhoods, like a streetcar up Hawthorne. But it’s not. This streetcar alignment is designed to drive –and serve– new development.

    This one’s going to be a tough sell, I suspect. It would be nice if there were a way to sweeten the pot for the neighorhoods, but our priority in SE is a community center, and this streetcar project is in direct competition for tax-increment fionancing dollars with our center, which could ALSO serve –and I would say better– to spur new development.

    Other commenters have already explained better the “plate” issue, and I hate to be a whiner, really –and I’ve ridden packed subways in NY, Paris, Spain, and Germany– but to be packed AND travel so slowly…that’s uniquely Portland. :-)

    The streetcars in Amsterdam, as I recall, have far more seats, with a single narrow aisle. Is the idea we get more people on with the cattle-car design? If elderly or handicapped folks can barely squeeze in, let alone have someone give them a seat, this seems an operational issue of some significance.

  46. It would be good to see some solid financial analysis –and, you’re right, it’s appropriate to fund a study– but I doubt that meters in the MLK/Grand corridor alone are going to pay 2/3+ of the streetcar’s operating costs.

    It doesn’t need to cover 2/3, just about 1/3.

    The streetcars in Amsterdam, as I recall, have far more seats, with a single narrow aisle. Is the idea we get more people on with the cattle-car design? If elderly or handicapped folks can barely squeeze in, let alone have someone give them a seat, this seems an operational issue of some significance.

    You don’t have ADA requirements in Europe, which also one reason it’s easier for them to do platforms in the center of the street, which gets around a bicycle conflict we have here in Portland. (Not that we CAN’T do center platforms here – ala Interstate MAX, but they tend to be bigger and more expensive due to ADA requirements).

  47. And Streetcar does not want to be in competition with the Community Center

    The Chinese have an expression for it: “Friendship First, Competition Second,”
    eh?

    On the ADA requirements…right, that’s a tough one. Last Friday, when the passenger in the wheelchair couldn’t get out, someone tried to help by yelling out: “we have a wheelchair that needs to get out!” The guy in the wheelchair yelled back: “I am NOT a WHEELCHAIR, I am a passenger!”

    Thinking back to trips in Europe, hundreds of years of buildings and structures built pre-ADA…I wonder if, on balance (with their better transit oveall) physically challeneged people have more –or less– ability to get around over there?

  48. Streetcar was conceived as a means to tie close- in neighborhoods together, encourage denser development and provide an attractive transit option, especially for visitors and others who are not sure they are up for a bus ride.

    If streetcar is designed to stimulate development and tourism, then shouldn’t it be paid for with development and/or tourism budgets? I don’t see the wisdom of taking transit money and spending it this way when there are existing transit bottlenecks that need to be addressed.

  49. If streetcar is designed to stimulate development and tourism, then shouldn’t it be paid for with development and/or tourism budgets?

    Excellent question. And you would think the condo ownwers in the Pearl would’ve paid their “fair share” of the streetcar that serves them, wouldn’t you? Nope. Owner-occupied condos were excused from any assessment for the Local Improvement District that helped pay for the streetcar.

  50. If streetcar is designed to stimulate development and tourism, then shouldn’t it be paid for with development and/or tourism budgets?

    No. I don’t think that follows. The transit system serves a number of different functions, all of them related to moving people, which almost all have some economic benefits. It is largely funded by employer taxes, but I don’t think anyone suggests it is only used by people to get to and from work.

  51. (Not that we CAN’T do center platforms here – ala Interstate MAX, but they tend to be bigger and more expensive due to ADA requirements).

    Seattle’s Waterfront Streetcar has at least one or two center-street platforms on the stretch between the Waterfront and King Street Station (on S. Jackson Street).

    The reason for MAX’s large, expensive platforms has nothing to do with ADA access; rather they must be long enough to accomodate a two-car train, and wide enough to accomodate TriMet’s design for platforms (which often have things like TVMs and information plyons in the center of the platform, instead of along the outer edge).

    Likewise, Portland Streetcar has center-street platforms on Harrison and River Parkway.

    They do open :). Seriously, I think the doors on some of these buses can be switched between operator and rider control.

    Yes, they can be opened by the operator (the rear doors on TriMet’s 2000-2800 series busses); but this is not standard operating practice. It is the exception, not the rule, for the operator to open the door; and even when a passenger requests the door to be opened the operator generally doesn’t open the door themselves.

  52. Erik, I was looking at the MAX platforms today and thinking the same thing, if they just moved all that stuff to the edge it wouldn’t need to be that wide. But I looked it up, they have to be wide enough for two wheelchairs to pass, which is means like 8 feet, so the fact that they have all that stuff in the center isn’t making them (that much) wider than they have to be…

  53. Frank Dufay Says:
    If streetcar is designed to stimulate development and tourism, then shouldn’t it be paid for with development and/or tourism budgets?
    Excellent question. And you would think the condo ownwers in the Pearl would’ve paid their “fair share” of the streetcar that serves them, wouldn’t you? Nope. Owner-occupied condos were excused from any assessment for the Local Improvement District that helped pay for the streetcar.
    JK: Just another little hint that the streetcar caused development is a lie. Rather the streetcar is just an excuse to give tax breaks to well connected developers. (The tax breaks being the real cause of development – a cost that the rest of the city pays.)

    Thanks
    JK

  54. Ross Williams

    The transit system serves a number of different functions, all of them related to moving people

    Bob T:

    If these functions are related to “moving people”, then they must be 17th cousins.
    Regarding light rail, for example, how do you
    explain the comment by Metro 2040 Plan guru John Fregonese (in a Cleveland, not Portland, newspaper) that if you’re talking about moving people, MAX is a waste of money?

    How many buses could have been purchased and operated with the money used to build that very, very expensive tunnel just to have a stop at the government-owned zoo?

    Are any real transit advocates concerned with this kind of stuff, or are they afraid that the the transit establishment will label them as dirty rotten right wingers?

    Bob Tiernan

  55. Bob, we know that you are from the right and can be right a lot of the time but the problem is that we have this train and it is working and we had better try to make the most out of it or it can become more of a weight on backs.

    I for one want to see it succeed and that does not make me a transit advocate it makes realist.

  56. How many buses could have been purchased and operated with the money used to build that very, very expensive tunnel just to have a stop at the government-owned zoo?

    And how many people in Portland use the MAX to go to the zoo? I think part of what Portland has done right is recognizing that access is more important than mobility. Portland is a better place to live because of the relatively easy access to a variety of locations provided by MAX, streetcar and a first class bus system. It is a better place to live because there is good access via auto. It is a better place to live because there is good access by walking and biking.

    Fregonese is right. Just spending money to move people around is a waste. You want people to be able to get places and the places they get to thrive.

  57. Ross Williams:

    Fregonese is right. Just spending money to move people around is a waste. You want people to be able to get places and the places they get to thrive.

    Bob Tiernan:

    Access is included in “moving people”. What he
    said MAX is really used for is as a tool to mandate certain zoning requirements, and that
    best case scenario is to build a line through
    less developed areas like Orenco and points
    east of it into west Beaverton. As a people mover, which includes taking people to work, home, shop and play, it’s a waste of money. That’s what he said and meant.

    Bob Tiernan

  58. Bob T. said:

    “Are any real transit advocates concerned with this kind of stuff, or are they afraid that the the transit establishment will label them as dirty rotten right wingers?”

    >>>> Yeah, me! I am a (political) independent who has never driven a car, and I’m getting screwed by all these Portland “railfans” with their trolleys, as I depend on Trimet for almost all of my transit needs. Every time a new rail line goes into operation around here, some riders get shafted, usually by longer trip times and additional transfers.

    BTW, there must have been a lot of railfan influence with the Red Line, so even if they were “progressive,” they still went for the Bechtel arrangement, because rail is a religion to them. In fact, when I was active in the hobby, I even knew a few who went to work for Bechtel (as they do design and engineering for rail projects).

    In Portland, it does seem we have a lot of rail hobbyists masquerading as transit advocates.

  59. That’s what he said and meant.

    I don’t really believe that, but I also don’t really see why anyone cares what John Fregonese said (or meant) to a group in Cleveland. Isn’t he now a consultant responsible for promoting his clients projects?

    Access is included in “moving people”.

    I would put it the other way around. “Moving people” is part of providing access. But distributing people and services is part of that process as well. That’s the reasoning behind promoting neighborhood retail and mixed development. You provide better access without having to move people as much.

  60. Nick wrote: and I’m getting screwed by all these Portland “railfans” with their trolleys (and later) because rail is a religion to them.

    Can we please drop the “religion” rhetoric? Did nothing productive come out of the “State of the Conversation” discussion?

    Personally I’m highly offended at this aspersion… I’ve been monitoring and participating in the discussion here for years and I’ve yet to meet anyone who is 100% pro-rail… everyone here involved in transit advocacy supports a variety of solutions, and there has been a healthy debate in a number of places about the efficacy or need of light rail vs. streetcar vs. BRT vs. standard buses.

    It sickens me that rather than have a discussion of what could be improved, rather than engaging with those of us who happen to support some rail projects to also lobby for better bus service, you dismiss all of us with a constant refrain about religious devotion to a hobby.

    Every time a new rail line goes into operation around here, some riders get shafted, usually by longer trip times and additional transfers.

    Not only have you never posted a shred of objective proof of this statement, but I and others have posted actual stats which show the opposite is true. The average transit trip length is not increasing, and the average number of transfers per originating ride has been decreasing. But then you view me as being a “railfan” with a “religion” so my statistics are “suspect” and “biased” (as you have told me in other discussions), so apparently you refuse to accept them.

    – Bob R.

  61. Nick said:

    Every time a new rail line goes into operation around here, some riders get shafted, usually by longer trip times and additional transfers.

    Then Bob R. Said:

    Not only have you never posted a shred of objective proof of this statement

    To which my reply is:

    When the Blue Line started, for example, the
    well-liked express routes were turned into
    feeder lines to one or more of the west side
    MAX transit centers, thus causing those
    riders to make a transfer and spend more
    time on their commute. If that isn’t a
    “shred of objective proof”….

    Bob Tiernan

  62. Bob R.:

    OK, I’m going to answer your post sentence by sentence.

    1) Unfortunately, rail is a “religion” to many (not all) railfans, based on my experience in the “hobby.” PLEASE NOTE that I am talking about railfans in general, not anyone in particular on this blog. And yes, I read the whole “State of the Conversation” thread.

    2) I do not make personal attacks on individuals who post here. I am very aware of Chris’s feelings about these things. Why are you so highly offended? Did I mention your name in my post? Did I strike a nerve? Also, the transit agenda here on the board seems to be overwhelmingly biased towards rail. Many times (not everytime) rubber-based options are disdained or relegated to peripheral functions, like feeder buses.

    3) Many times I discuss things that could be improved. For example, a new bridge over the Willamette that could accomodate various modalities. (However, it seems that the game plan calls for rail only–isn’t that strange?!) Paving the West Hills tunnel so that TV Highway buses (#57) can go directly to downtown without transferring.

    4) My “dismissal” applies to the Portland “railfan” community in general, not to all of you on this board. My perception is that the railfan influence on the transit agenda here in Portland is very great, evidenced by the refusal to consider any BRT options or run any express buses near a MAX line, even though other transit agencies (Seattle, SF, LA) are planning bus options, along with LRT. The Portland mantra seems to be: RAIL ONLY for major new construction. Doesn’t this tell you something?

    5) I have posted various examples of how new LRT operations degrade service, but it seems that you won’t take notice of them. One example that really annoys me personally is the Interstate MAX. Before, if I wanted to go from NW Portland to Jantzen Beach or downtown Vancouver, it was the #20 to 4th & Burnside, and then the #5 right up to JB and the ‘Couv. NOW, it’s the #20 to E Grand(!), and the zig-zag #6 OR #20 to Burnside Bridge (transfer #1), MAX to Lombard (transfer #2), and #6 to JB (transfer #3). I bet this adds a good 15 minutes each way. Plus, the #5 used to stop every few blocks and was just as fast as the MAX.

    Another example: What will happen to riders who live in Oak Grove or Gladstone who want to go downtown after Milwaukie MAX opens? The same thing that happened in East County and Washington County when the MAX lines opened there?

    And what about that inane streetcar that you’re pushing for Hawthorne? What about the riders who live beyond SE 50th Ave. and along Foster Road? More transfers? Longer trip times? I surmise what the #14 riders would really appreciate is more limited/express buses, instead of an inflexible, all-stop 19th century trolley car. Once, when I rode the express bus (first stop SE 39th Avenue), I heard passengers praising the service and saying that there should be more of this!

    6) Sorry, I have a jaundiced view of Trimet’s “statistics.” The same goes for yours and Karlock’s, also. There is just too much bias on the part of all parties here.

    7) You yourself have stated on your Web site that you are a railfan. So, I have to read your posts (and other pro-rail posts) with a grain of salt, like I read Jim Karlock’s and
    Terry Parker’s posts.

  63. A common argument is:
    “Every time [something changes] around here, some riders get shafted.”

    Yes, some riders do. Even something as minor as changing a schedule by a few minutes creates some winners and some losers. Now, a “good” change creates a lot of winners and just a few losers, but people naturally like to fixate on the losers. I do it too, it is one of the reasons I’m opposed to BRT: The big argument for BRT is that it is flexible and can be moved if development changes, but if you actually did move it, it would obviously create a bunch of losers along the old route. And so we should address this… Short of never changing anything, ever, (which isn’t going to help in the long run,) what do you propose to do about this problem?

  64. OK, Nick… you’ve just claimed not to cast personal aspersions and then went right into claiming that I am biased and that you have a “jaundiced” view of my statistics. Well, I have a “jaundiced” view of your insults.

    You state that I claim on my own website to be a “railfan”. Well, first of all, if you want to get into semantics, the word “railfan” appears NOWHERE on my web site. Second, you define “railfan” to include a bias approaching the level of religious devotion, while I define “railfan” to mean someone who is enthusiastic and interested in rail transportation. I do claim on my web site to be something of a “rail buff”, which infers that I know a thing or two about the topic and take an enthusiastic interest in learning more about the subject. Being enthusiastic does not mean having a personal bias on the level of a religious belief.

    For example, I do profess to be a fan of pipe organs. I play the organ and I attend concerts. But I don’t run around advocating that we build them and install them where they don’t belong. While I might be personally delighted if there were a greater public interest in putting an organ, say, in Pioneer Courthouse Square, or upgrading the instrument in the Schnitzer into a true all-pipe instrument, I am fully capable of stepping back and taking an honest appraisal of the state of the world and where things should and should not be installed/built.

    Similarly, when it comes to rail transit, I limit my advocacy to where I think rail would be of a genuine benefit to the community. There have been numerous rail projects around the country which I have openly opposed or have found ill-advised. I have stated here on this blog that I don’t believe rail on Burnside should be a high priority project nor do I believe that the Burnside-Couch couplet should be predicated on the installation of a streetcar.

    Many times I discuss things that could be improved. For example, a new bridge over the Willamette that could accomodate various modalities.

    And on several occasions I have advocated for the very same thing. So – did you go to any of the meetings regarding the Caruthers crossing? They were announced in several venues and included on the calendar for this site. If you couldn’t attend due to schedule conflicts, did you submit a written comment?

    Your examples of why you don’t like Interstate MAX are substantive and fully worth discussing – any change (whether it be “BRT” or rail or some other shift) will inconvenience some and advantage others. But from there you make the leap that those few who are inconvenienced are being deliberately punished by a religious cabal of railfans bent on forcing their hobby on the transit-dependent of Portland, and you ignore all the riders who have benefited from rail and other transportation improvements.

    You make yet another unsubstantiated claim here: That the old #5 was just as fast as MAX. Absolutely untrue for the corridor that MAX serves.

    I’m sorry Nick but you’re being the inflexible one. I’ve adjusted my claims and my views based on the input from other people here. I’ve even thanked JK for the occasional correction (for example when he pointed out the relative BTU differences between gasoline and Diesel, I adjusted my figures), and I’ve conceded to you directly that we should look to Eugene’s system to see how true BRT would function in Oregon. I’ve thanked Terry (a person with whom I mostly disagreed) for input on the CRC process.

    But you continue to dismiss anything I have to say because I won’t categorically reject rail. You have claimed here before that light rail simply can’t work at all in a region the size and density of Portland. That’s a categorical rejection and a bias. Should I therefore take a “jaundiced” view to anything you have to say?

    And if your “religious” “hobbyist” “railfan” insult isn’t directed at me on this blog, and yet you claim that the conversation on this blog is “biased” toward rail: Name names. Enough with the vague derision. Prove it or move on.

    Good day.

  65. I don’t have a problem with being called a rail fan, but you need to understand, I’m not just a rail fan, I’m in favor of more capital intensive systems. Why? Capital intensive systems tend to get higher ridership than regular buses on the same route, and every statistic we’ve seen in Portland has proved that. They also tend to be more energy efficient which means lower operating cost. Now, certainly, I wouldn’t advocate that for just any route, but once you run more than about 5 buses an hours on a route, the capital cost vs operating cost/increased ridership from a more capital intensive system means that trolley buses start to look very good. If I’m remembering a study I read once correctly, SF said that there is overnight ~10% decrease in ridership when they temporarily used diesel buses on a normally electric route because of a detour, (and the riders come back the minute they switch back.) Riders just like electric buses more than diesel ones, and I think non-riders would like them too, (cause diesel buses are loud.) The wires aren’t the most attractive thing in the world certainly, but that is a minor concern compared to the benefits. Likewise, there is nothing wrong with the tram, (as a route. Ignoring the budget problems,) either, it is well suited to certain situations. I have nothing against subways either, but again, in the right situations: I’m not in favor of a MAX subway downtown because we could get the same result, (faster downtown service,) by just removing a bunch of the stops, (maybe running a streetcar down one side of Yamhill and Morrison, and the no stop MAX down the other side.) It isn’t that I’m not in favor of regular bus service either, for instance, single family homes rarely have the density to support trolley buses, so they are just best served with regular buses and I totally accept that…

  66. Bob R.

    I originally did a post commenting on Bob Tiernan’s post. I did not say anything about this blog or anything about you. However, you reacted as if I were addressing you, and you felt offended. This is not true. I was talking about railfans and Portland transit in general, not about any particular individuals. I know exactly how Chris feels about personal attacks on blog posters here.

    However, I seems that you starting attacking me when you responded.

    The general issue about railfan influence on Portland’s transit agenda is very pertinent, especially since it involves taxpayer dollars and affects my transit trips.

    Now I resent your trying to stifle my freedom of speech when address this issue. Every time you react in this way to one of my “impersonal” posts, it just shows me that I have hit a nerve.

    Speaking of statistics, let me retract the word “jaundiced” (too strong) and replace it with “sceptical.” I have a right to feel this way about any statistic that anyone posts, be it in favor of rail, bus or autos. Now I tend to be sceptical of numbers presented by all sides of an issue.

  67. Now I resent your trying to stifle my freedom of speech when address this issue.

    When have I tried to stifle your freedom of speech? It is true that Chris has allowed me to have some moderator/posting privileges here at PortlandTransport, but to the best of my memory I’ve never moderated one of your comments. I generally confine myself to removing comment spam pushing sex pills or stock schemes.

    Taking umbrage at your statements and telling you so in a public forum does not constitute stifling.

    let me retract the word “jaundiced” (too strong) and replace it with “sceptical.”

    That’s a much better choice of words… I think everyone should be a bit skeptical when taking in information, especially from somewhat heated comment threads. Besides, I had jaundice once in my life — I wouldn’t wish it on anybody.

    When being sceptical of my comments, please do take into account that I’ve endeavored to be honest and open in these forums and make my background and advocacies clear and up-front.

    I originally did a post commenting on Bob Tiernan’s post.

    You may have been responding to Bob T’s post in particular this time, but you have directly leveled the “bias” and “railfan” shtick against me several times before without retraction. It does “hit a nerve”, as you say, because I don’t like being summarily dismissed for invalid reasons, especially when I’ve repeated explained myself to you.

    Can you perhaps narrow the accusation down for us?

    1. Is there anyone in particular who comments on this blog whom you believe is a religious railfan imposing their hobby on the taxpayers of Portland?
    2. Who in city government is the religious railfan taxpayer-imposing hobbyist?

    – Bob R.

  68. I am a railfan, an automotive fan, a light rail fan, an airplane lover, and I dig boats and ferries too.

    But I also like them to cover their costs from their particular users. I also prefer each mode be used for what it is best configured for.

    i.e.

    LRV – Suburban extension vehicle for more density and suburban/urban hybrid town centers. ala the Interurbans of yesteryear.

    Trains – Distances between 50 miles and upwards of about 500 miles (Especially HRS, not so much for 79mph rail).

    LRV/Busses/Feeders/BRT – Daily commuting operations for short distance trips of 1-10 miles.

    Autos – Race track usage. Off road use. Short distance one off trips of 1-5 miles. Vacation. …and of course, emergencies.

    Ferries – For where it is financially unreasonable to build a bridge for other alternatives.

    Boat/Ship – For vacations.

    Airplanes – Trips between 300-? miles.

  69. Bob R. said:

    “1. Is there anyone in particular who comments on this blog whom you believe is a religious railfan imposing their hobby on the taxpayers of Portland?”

    Now you know very well how Chris feels about discussing posters’ motivations, so I’m not going to get personal by questioning individuals’ motivations here. Let me just say in general that I think that a very great number of posts on this blog advocate putting rail lines of one kind or another all over the Metro area. One can draw his/her own conclusions, so I will just leave it at that. Also, because of this I think we should tolerate a few dissenters like Karlock and Parker.

    2. Who in city government is the religious railfan taxpayer-imposing hobbyist?

    I don’t believe that any of the Commissioners or Mayor are railfans; instead I sense that it has been activists of varying rail hobbyist proclivities who have been lobbying the politicos for years. Also, I sense that many have infiltrated agencies like Metro and Trimet. How do I sense this? Look at the determination in Portland to do ONLY rail projects when it comes to new construction and operations? Seattle, SF and LA are doing BOTH BRT and LRT. AND, remember that Trimet was originally sceptical of LRT for Portland in the beginning, or so I have read. Someone sold them a bill of goods, perhaps?

    It’s the vibes I get in this town that make me feel the way I do; I was active in the hobby for a good 15 years, and I personally know of railfans who got very high level jobs in planning and transit agencies, and so I “know” of railfans’ “activism.”

    Finally, why is there so much heated criticism of the transit agenda here in Portland from all sorts of parties, myself included? Perhaps there is some vailidity to what we say? And Bob, I am not the only one by a long shot that you have had arguments with here on this blog. It must be a very wearying job being a rail advocate here in Portland. It certainly isn’t in New York or Chicago.

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