By Request: WES to Salem


To head off a full-blown hijack on another thread, I’m opening up this post for discussion of extending Washington County Commuter rail down to Salem.

The commuter rail line is now known as WES (Westside Express Service).


82 responses to “By Request: WES to Salem”

  1. Here’s a copy of what Tim Walsh posted in the other thread a few minutes ago:

    Official Topic Hijack Post:

    Hi Erik, Greg, and Bob. I think I might be able to shed some additional light on the Wilsonville-Salem commuter rail status. I’m a student at Willamette University in Salem, and the next five weeks of my life are going to be spent preparing an amateur feasibility report on this project for a class that I’m in. I just had a meeting with some people at ODOT Rail this morning.

    In short, here’s where the project stands. ODOT is largely viewing the WES as a test case (as should be expected), but if/until they get the go-ahead from the legislature and the new state rail plan comes out, all the talk about extending the system is going to be just that: talk.

    The major issue isn’t so much track conditions, it’s liability. Portland & Western is making TriMet buy a horribly expensive insurance policy for liability purposes, and Erik has mentioned here before, an additional $18.5 million had to be spent to buy 5 miles of ROW from Union Pacific. Of course, there are other issues (TriMet can’t operate in Marion County, ODOT is still primarily a highway agency, etc.), but that’s the biggest one.

    Now, if WES proves to be a success, P&W might be less hard-nosed about the Wilsonville to Salem segment. The problem is that P&W only owns the tracks south to Perkins Rd. (just north of Keizer). From Perkins Rd. south, the tracks are still owned by BNSF, who’ll probably take the same position as UP and make a public agency buy that part of the line.

    I mentioned Erik’s idea about a Wilsonville-Hubbard connection along Hwy. 551, but I got the sense that the long-term plan is to stay as far away from the UP mainline as possible. The long-term “plan” is to keep Amtrak on the UP (increasing to 5-6 trains daily instead of two, with travel time from Portland to Eugene around two hours) while putting commuter rail on the lesser-used P&W, which would be able to accommodate more frequent headways.

    As for the Salem alignment that Erik talks about . . . it is really bad. My idea would be to utilize the original Oregon Electric passenger route down Broadway/High St., which would eliminate the need for the S-curve and allow for the creation of a convenient transit hub at the existing Cherriots bus mall. Again, the effectiveness of WES’s Lombard St. alignment will go a long way toward showing whether this idea is feasible or not.

    I’d appreciate any comments/questions that people have. This professor doesn’t exactly grade easy, and I need all the help I can get. :-)

    Bob/Chris, is there any way we can get a new topic for Wilsonville-Salem commuter rail? Bob, I’m really sorry for the hijack. I think pedestrian-only zones are great!

  2. I’m still bummed that they’re calling it Wes. I wanted Coco, it just seems a little more elegant and fun. Instead, we got another train that sounds like it’s named for a middle-aged trekkie.

  3. As for TriMet not being “allowed” in Marion County why not just merge all the various transit agencies throughout the Willamette Valley into a single entity under ODOT auspices? The way things are going we’re “on track” for a continuous city stretching from Eugene to Portland. I can see McMinnville – Portland along 99W become a reality in 10 years. Salem/Keizer/Albany along I5 is almost a single unit now if Keizer fuses with Brooks/Woodburn into Wilsonville we’d have Salem/Portland as a single Metro area. I think Albany/Corvallis/Eugene may take a little longer, maybe 20 years….

    As far as the track ownership issue, the government practically gave away these right of ways and now they’re sitting doing what, exactly? They are in a sad state of dilapidation. The State should condemn the lesser used routes and at the same time add additional tracks to the Amtrak Route. Maybe they can use some of the money from the federal S.294 for the Amtrak portion. The Senator from Washington even added a provision for improved service in time for the upcoming Olympics in Vancouver. I’m all for it! I think more rail in the Cascadia Region will help us to more quickly become the PacNW megalopolis like SanSan to the South. Tim, I think the plan should be marketed to college students and state workers needing to travel between Portland and Salem and Eugene areas.

  4. “WES”, huh? So if we get Bus Rapid Transit her, we can name it BuRT. MAX, WES, and BuRT. They could be the names of three hokey cartoon mascots promoting Tri-Met.

    I’m sure the jurisdiction issues can be fairly easily resolved. Maybe ODOT pays to maintain the track outside the transit districts, Tri-Met pays for Metro area operations, Cherriots pays for the Salem end, and the agencies split the operating cost in between. If any intermediate locations (like Woodburn) want a station, let them pay the cost of building and maintaining it, possibly through paid park & ride lots.

    Portland & Western is making TriMet buy a horribly expensive insurance policy for liability purposes, and Erik has mentioned here before, an additional $18.5 million had to be spent to buy 5 miles of ROW from Union Pacific.

    If the liability insurance is overpriced — either the premiums are too high for the coverage, or the policy limit itself is excessive — that’s something for Tri-Met to work on down the line. But if it’s just expensive because the potential risk is genuinely high … well, it costs what it costs.

    Same goes for track acquisition; if Tri-Met or Cherriots or ODOT needs to buy it, well, it’s just part of the cost of getting the system up and running. I’m not that concerned about high one-time capital costs. We decide if we can afford it, then we suck it up an pay it. Ongoing operating subsidies are a different story.

  5. WES (Westside Express Service).

    Well, at least Tri-Met figured out how to spell “express” this time, even if they still aren’t clear on what it means.

  6. WES, the name is so cute!

    But I’ll tell ya one thing about the project:

    THEY STRAIGHTENED OUT LOMBARD BETWEEN CANYON AND FARMINGTON!

    That right there is worth the whole project!

  7. Rail is not cost effective in many cases. The population concentrations in Oregon are too far apart. Subsidies are not available, nor should they be available.

  8. They don’t need subsidies they can just use eminent domain seizure, take the ROWs and use them for more productive use instead of having them sit unused and dilapidated.

  9. Why do we want more wasteful rail?

    WES is so expensive per rider, that the Feds rejected it as too wasteful. Only special legislation by our congress critters got it approved.

    The projected cost is at least $1.70 per passenger-mile. For comparison Trimet bus averages $0.835 with the best bus being $0.34. see: DebunkingPortland.com/Transit/Cost-Cars-Transit(2005).htm

    The waste marches on.

    Commuter rail – costs too much, does too little

    Thanks
    JK

  10. “Commuter rail – costs too much, does too little.”

    >>>> Depends where. Commuter rail between SF and San Jose is a very good idea. Commuter rail between Beaverton and Wilsonville is a big waste of money. Ditto for an extension to Salem.

    Long distance rail between Portland and Seattle is nifty. Rail between Portland and Eugene is more efficacious by buses.

  11. I live near the tracks in Tigard. I would have really liked to have seen them just extend the Red Line down to Wilsonville. The ROW is wide enough in most areas to have three tracks with one that could have been dedicated to P&W freight. With the limited schedule of operations this is really of little to use to most of us that live in Tigard.

  12. Dave,

    The idea of “three tracks” might be true in Wilsonville but it is not true north, especially in Tualatin/Tigard.

    The stretch of rail between Hall Boulevard and North Dakota/Tiedeman is built on a fill over wetlands and would cost a lot of money just to double-track – nevermind triple-track. That’s why it’s still single track with double-track to the north and south of it.

    In Tualatin you have to deal with wetlands to the south and Boones Ferry Road in the Commons area. Closing Boones Ferry Road is not an option, unless one proposes a mass-scale demolition of established homes and businesses to build a new connection between the Boones Ferry Road/Martinazzi intersection and Boones Ferry to the south. (Or eliminating the Tualatin Commons lake.)

    As for whether TriMet should be merged into a regional entity including Marion County, I wholeheartedly disagree. Frankly TriMet is already too big – it covers THREE counties and therefore serves Portland reasonably OK but all but forgets the outer portions of its territory. I don’t think rural Yamhill/Marion Counties want to pay a TriMet tax for shoddy service.

    A regional transit provider (like Sound Transit) might make more sense – providing just regional services, with the local providers providing local service. In such a scenario, SMART’s 1X and 201 lines would no longer be operated by SMART but by the regional authority; the same would be true of certain TriMet routes like the 12, 33, 57, 94X, 96 and 99X, and likely the Blue Line MAX as well.

    I do think that Oregon needs to start thinking about Portland-Salem service. I don’t see any value of service south of Salem given the limited traffic flow, except for maybe partnering with a bus company to provide frequent service (i.e. hourly service, every-other-hourly service) – along with service to other communities. Right now ODOT’s Public Transit Division does publish a statewide transit timetable and has a skeleton crew that promotes it, but I’d like to see a lot more proactive involvement. Of course, this takes money that ODOT doesn’t have.

  13. Dave, I have to agree. My big thing is that WES should be non-rush hour (and rush hour,) and every 15 minutes, the actual vehicle choice isn’t very important. Certainly, part of the problem is that it connects to SMART, which is neither of those things. They do say that part of the point of WES is that it will be faster than rush hour traffic on 217, and that at non-rush hour, they don’t need either the capacity of the train, nor the dedicated right of way (to get reliably speeds,) so a good bus route is just as good, but I disagree, partly because I’ve sat in traffic jams on that freeway at pretty much all hours of the day and night, and I have to imagine the side roads where the bus would be traveling aren’t a lot better…

    The Red Line is going to be extended west to 158th/Merlo in 2008. There are overcrowding problems west of the Beaverton TC right now, and extending the Red line west fixes them, but they need the operational budget. The eventually goal, (as of the 2007 TIP,) is to extend to 185th/Willow Creek TC, but that requires some track work so that they have a place to park the thing. [If only they hadn’t blown all of their money on lift buses, we wouldn’t have this problem.]

  14. (I don’t normally include the name of the previous commenter that I’m quoting/replying to, but I did here for post clarity)

    Tim Walsh: I’d appreciate any comments/questions that people have. This professor doesn’t exactly grade easy, and I need all the help I can get. :-)
    Allright… how do we contact you?

    Greg: As for TriMet not being “allowed” in Marion County why not just merge all the various transit agencies throughout the Willamette Valley into a single entity under ODOT auspices?
    TriMet can actually provide service anywhere, but they must be reimbursed by the appropriate jurisdiction if they travel anywhere outside their district. The most well-known example of this was the portion of 6-MLK (and the long-gone 5-Interstate) between Hayden Island and 7th St. TC, which ended Sept. 2nd., when C-TRAN decided to take back service between Jantzen Beach and Downtown Vancouver. Others included a one-year extension of 35-Macadam between Oregon City and Canby after Canby got out of TriMet and started CAT.
    I really don’t think ODOT wants to get into the business of directly running transit services, on top of everything else they do (i.e., DMV).

    djk: Tri-Met pays for Metro area operations, Cherriots pays for the Salem end…
    This would be wonderful if money for transit grew on trees… TriMet would probably need a massive funding increase, and Cherriots is perceived so negatively in Salem they can’t get funding to do what they’re already doing.

    Jim Karlock: Why do we want more wasteful rail?
    Thanks to postage-stamp-sized lots, 2 or 3+ cars per household, and all of this going right up to the right-of-way on formerly old-time 2-lane country roads, Hall Blvd. and Pacific Hwy. are usually a constant traffic jam, since people are trying to cram onto said roads. WES will provide a real alternative to get people to where they need to go, so hopefully they’ll leave one or two of those cars off the road. Even trying to ride 12-Barbur, 76/78, or 94 takes almost too much time, even for die-hard transit riders, since the buses (and usually standing-room-only full, I might add) are stuck in the same mess as the cars.

    Erik Halstead: As for whether TriMet should be merged into a regional entity including Marion County, I wholeheartedly disagree.
    I agree with Erik on this one. Yes, we’d probably get frequent service on 76, 31 between Milwaukie and Clackamas Transit Center, and 181st between Sandy Blvd. and Powell, and maybe even 24-hour service on routes that are almost there already like 14-Hawthorne; however the rest of the region would probably get stuck with service with all the ridership, frequency, and usability of the 153-South End Rd. Loop. Also, one has to remember that Wilsonville, Canby, Sandy, most of what is now the City of Damascus, and I think Molalla all were part of TriMet at one point, wanted out, and got out. Forcing them back in probably wouldn’t be too good of an arrangement.

    Matthew: If only they hadn’t blown all of their money on lift buses, we wouldn’t have this problem.
    They are required to spend money on lift buses. One thing to remember about Lift/C-VAN/CherryLift/Dial-A-Ride/etc. that provide paratransit services in their respective districts is that the federal government said in the Americans with Disabilities act that the people that qualify for said services have a RIGHT to receive such service, even if it costs the agency $25+/ride, and the agency would rather spend the money to increase other services. This is something that even TriMet’s FY 2008 Transit Investment Plan specifically spells out, that if many more people move to the area that qualify for Lift and they are required to provide such service, that could affect their ability to increase other services. TriMet can try (and does) attempt to get people that qualify for Lift to use regular fixed-route service, however, Lift riders not required to.
    Although I’m not sure how it works (and I don’t want to find out!), if TriMet tried to cut back Lift service, they’d face a Civil Rights violation lawsuit, and if TriMet lost my guess is the 500s at Merlo would roll again… indefinitely o_o .

  15. I think Beaverton -> Wilsonville commuter train service makes sense, because there is lots of traffic between the two areas. Is there that much traffic between Beaverton and Salem though? Or between Wilsonville and Salem?

    The problem with the commuter train is that its average speed will be around 37mph – partly because the max speed is low (only around 60mph) and partly because it makes a lot of stops (5) in our sprawled out region between Beaverton and Wilsonville. At that rate it would take almost 2 hours to get from Beaverton to Salem. If we want to expand rail service regionally we might not want to just expand a slow system.

    I think it would be very cool to link up all the places with universities with high speed service. I’d like to see high speed Portland -> Salem -> Corvallis -> Eugene service. If the train could also stop at smaller places along the way (like Woodburn and Wilsonville) and still be faster than driving that would be cool. I think there would be a lot of support for that from college students (like myself).

    Maybe we could convince our student governments to lobby for both more support for higher ed and more support for fast transit service between our cities.

  16. And what about all the rowdy game goers with their flags fluttering in the wind driving aggressively on the drive down to Eugene or Corvallis on the weekends? I’m sure those trips aren’t exactly CHEAP! Wouldn’t it be safer to have them drinking and training than driving on I5? I think the time has come for a Eugene to Vancouver, B.C. high speed Amtrak with runs every half hour AND a slower commuter route not only from Portland to Salem and beyond but also along 99W to Corvallis with more frequent stops. I would much rather ride in a train be able to read, eat, drink beer or whatever while riding than have to waste my time driving, in traffic dealing with morons and risk getting into an accident.

  17. ” think the time has come for a Eugene to Vancouver, B.C. high speed Amtrak with runs every half hour AND a slower commuter route not only from Portland to Salem and beyond but also along 99W to Corvallis with more frequent stops.”

    BRAVO BRAVO!!

    Now that’s the way to go, but add MEDFORD to that list!

    High speed rail, why can’t America get this?

  18. Agreed, the Willamette Valley needs much better transit service. Why in the world, may I ask, does Corvallis – which hosts a 16,000 student major university, not connected or served by Amtrak? It even has a railroad line that goes right through its (rapidly growing) downtown!

  19. zilfondel asks, “Why in the world, may I ask, does Corvallis – which hosts a 16,000 student major university, not connected or served by Amtrak?”

    The reason is because it would be a money loser similarly to most of Amtrak. The trains have to go to population centers.

  20. Amtrak has a station in Albany, which also serves Corvallis residents. Probably as far from Corvallis as Gresham or Hillsboro are from Union Station (10 miles or so). But, not very well connected to Corvallis by transit.

    It would be a challenge to have an Amtrak stop in both Albany and Corvallis, since they lie mostly on an east/west line, rather than north/south. I don’t know if a suitable rail line exists between the cities, or if moving the service to Corvallis is a viable option. But I agree with your primary point that it makes good sense to have pass. rail service in Corvallis rather than Albany.

  21. I think one of the other issues is that, right now, WES isn’t planned to have terribly great headways or service hours. Ultimately, it’d be a lot more convenient if it had 15-minute headways, 18 hours a day, 7 days a week. What’s the prognosis for this kind of service level in the future — and extending service at this level to Salem?

  22. I doubt it’s feasible to attain those kind of headways all day long, at least as long as Portland & Western still runs freight on those tracks at any time during the day.

    If it were possible for P&W to run freight only at night, high-frequency DMU service might be possible. If that were the case, I hope Tri-Met would put in a second WES line from Beaverton to Milwaukie via Lake Oswego, connecting to the (proposed) Lake Oswego Streetcar and the (probable) Orange Line.

  23. I am so tired of the freight train problem. Why can’t they just put pull out “lanes” so if a passenger train is coming up on a fright train’s tail the fright train can “pull over”? It seems like a very simple concept but there must be some sort of bureaucratic reason why this isn’t attainable.

  24. (1) The freight companies own the track.

    (2) Rail companies make more money off freight than passenger service. That’s why rail service died out and now is run by Amtrak, while freight rail is still strong. I doubt leasing track space to Tri-Met brings in anywhere hear as much as freight hauling would.

    (3) Freight trains need a long distance to stop and take a long time to get going. Stop and go travel to dodge around DMUs might be unworkable.

    You’re right, there probably are regulatory concerns too, but I can see scheduling being a real problem. There may be some merit in using bypass sidings, but it probably would have to be the transit vehicles pulling over and letting the freight trains pass.

  25. Certainly way down the road (or track) but…

    I like the idea of some commuter trains continuing onto Corvallis after Salem.
    Its a good way to serve a major community and university thats not along the Amtrak line. Maybe then a few of the other commuter trains could continue south to Eugene by routing onto the main Amtrak line between Salem and Eugene. Afterall Eugene – Portland is a major corridor so it could probably handle demand-wise both increased Amtrak trains plus additional commuter rail trains. Probably have to do track improvements on this stretch to handle the extra trains along with the freight service.

  26. I believe that 15 minute headways would require double tracking the line. If everything worked smoothly, there would only be 3 places on the line where you’d need a passing track, but if someone held the door at a station a little too long, you could easily end up delaying all 4 trains in the system, unless it was all double tracked.

    I don’t know how many trains the P&W runs on that track, but going to an all nighttime operation doesn’t seem impossible. In addition, a lot of it is switching operations, which means short distances and short trains, which would be a lot easier to fit into 15 minute slots between WES. Caltrain has freight service on it’s tracks, (in addition to a mix of express and local trains,) although a lot of the line is 4 tracked, so fitting a freight train in isn’t nearly as big of a problem…

  27. Well for the freight problem they need to just demand that the freight company ONLY run at night and if they absolutely need to transport something during the day put it on a truck to haul the container instead of using the rail. If the freight companies can’t abide by their demands, then the state use their eminent domain powers and take back the rails they used to own…..

  28. they need to just demand that the freight company ONLY run at night… If the freight companies can’t abide by their demands, then the state use their eminent domain powers and take back the rails they used to own…
    That would be a little like me telling you what hours you can and can’t occupy your own home, and if not the state will take it. I doubt you’d go for it.
    I doubt the freight railroad would take it, either. After all, it is their tracks now, regardless of who used to own it.

  29. The key is for Trimet to just outright buy the line and the rent the tracks back to the freight company to have the freights go at night. This is the case with a similar operation about to open in Southern California called the Sprinter. You wont accomplish anything condemning the railroad and instead should work with the railroad so its a win-win for both passenger service and freight service. Certainly freight on this line has benefited greatly with the improvements, you see freights rolling along this track much faster than before.

    It is worth noting that a commuter rail operation opening soon in Salt Lake City built its own track parallel to an existing freight track and within the same right-of-way so that they don’t have to share the same track. This would have been a good idea for this Beaverton-Wilsonville line but of course it costs a decent amount of money.

  30. I think every half-hour service would suffice for intercity service like we’re talking about… when I rode in Europe the trains didn’t run more frequently than that to smaller towns.

    And yes, there is a rail line that connects Albany –> Corvallis –> Monroe (almost to Eugene). Check google maps – there is a small gap from Monroe to Junction City of about 8 miles that would need to be connected, although there is only farmland that would need to be traversed.

    But as far as a long-term goal… Corvallis has 4x the population of Albany, and makes a helluvalot more sense as a stop. For local intercity service, both do actually.

    For really high speed rail, only Portland/Seattle/Vancouver BC make sense as stops.

  31. With Beaverton-Wilsonville, TriMet (actually, Washington County) did buy the line from Tigard to Beaverton.

    ODOT already owned the ROW from Tigard south to Wilsonville (and actually as far south as Quinaby, which is north of Keizer) since 1996. P&W owns the rails.

    This arrangement works because there is only limited freight traffic on the route – about four trains a day. P&W’s trains only move about 25 miles an hour, and a number of sidings have been built as part of the commuter rail project.

    On the UP Valley Main, it wouldn’t work – UP runs 15-20 trains a day. Yes, in theory the government (whichever agency – TriMet, ODOT, Marion County, etc.) could buy it, but what about the freight trains? They are a major part of our economy – reduce them to “siding” status and you might as well kiss the Port of Portland goodbye – along with all the jobs that it supports. Nike? Buh-bye. Freightliner? See ya. Adidas? Auf Wiedersehen! Intel? Outta here! And you can see how it snowballs from there.

    That’s why in most cases the government only steps in to buy a railroad – when the big carriers don’t want to keep it. Like the Clark County Railroad (from Vancouver Junction to Battle Ground, Yacolt and beyond), or the Port of Tillamook Bay Railroad from Banks to Tillamook.

    As for Corvallis not having Amtrak – first of all its downtown trackage is not suitable for passenger service – there are FAR too many street crossings. Unless you plan on coming up with $10M for an overpass – multiplied by two or three. Then you have to completely close down Sixth Avenue whenever a train is at station so passengers can safely get off the train and into the station or vice-versa. And that’s just Corvallis – the mainline track that is suitable for high speed (79 MPH) Amtrak operations isn’t north or south of Corvallis. North of Corvallis the track is good for a top speed of 49 MPH (although P&W doesn’t maintain it to that standard). South of Corvallis is “FRA Excepted Track” – in other words it’s illegal to run a passenger train (or hazardous materials) south of Corvallis. And there’s that pesky issue of the track ending in Monroe.

    Finally, whether Corvallis has “4x the population of Albany” – not so according to the PSU Population Research Council:

    Albany’s population – 47,470
    Corvallis’ population – 54,890

    Even if you consider that some OSU students who live in the dorms aren’t counted as part of Corvallis’ population, it still couldn’t be “4x” the population.

    Also, keep in mind that Albany’s Amtrak station attracts a regional audience; just as Portland’s airport attracts passengers from outside of Portland. There is the Linn-Benton Loop bus that connects Corvallis with Albany, as well as bus services in each town. Could those bus services be improved upon? Absolutely!! But they do exist as a template to start, and improve upon, and improve inter-city transit within the Willamette Valley connecting to regional services such as Amtrak and Greyhound, as well as the Portland, Salem and Eugene airports.

  32. It is amazing how much theft (immenent domain, I prefer a more “truthful”, “accurate”, and “descriptive” word) is demanded just so people can ride these DMUs back and forth. Probably at what will be less efficient than automobiles. Especially all the bloody way from Salem. Plus there isn’t even enough concentration to consider it seriously.

    …and headways every 15 minutes?! They’d destroy what reasonable self sufficiency exists for P & W at this time.

    …blagh, these discussions seem beyond absurd sometimes.

  33. “Nike? Buh-bye. Freightliner? See ya. Adidas? Auf Wiedersehen! Intel? Outta here!”

    This is my problem with your posts: You might have had a point, but you lost everyone along the way. In this case, if you’d picked different companies I might think you were right, but I don’t think any of those companies depend upon the railroads at all. First of all, Adidas doesn’t have any production facilities in the state, so other than getting their employees to their building, they could care less about the transportation system… The rest of the companies may indeed be shipping thing via the railroads, but they could ship them by trucks, and it wouldn’t add that much to their bottom line, (given that most of what they ship is fairly high value relative to the price of shipping it.) If you’d picked companies that were actually freight dependent, like Weyerhaeuser, or even Fred Meyer or Nissan, you might have made a point… But Intel? They care far more about congestion between Hillsboro and the airport than the railroads.

  34. Matthew,

    I find it ironic that you seem to suggest that everyone should be forced to ride mass transit, but when it comes to freight movement you’re perfectly OK with replacing trains with trucks.

    Given that the freight rail industry often touts its environmental image, it seems backwards to suggest that Portland, an environmentally-friendly, “sustainable” community would suggest putting MORE trucks on the road – not less.

    And then you attack my point on a technicality – do you really want a list of companies that require rail access? Let’s see:

    Toyota Motor Company (yes, all those Priuses? Imported and distributed through Portland.)
    Honda Motor Company
    Hyundai Motor Company
    Schnitzer Steel (one of Portland’s largest recycling companies)
    Hampton Lumber
    Fred Meyer
    Safeway
    Albertsons
    The grain elevators along the Willamette and Columbia Rivers
    The potash facility near Kelley Point Park
    Weyerhauser
    Pope & Talbot (although who knows how long they will exist – but their mill in Halsey will likely continue if under a new owner)
    Georgia Pacific
    The proposed ethanol plant on the Columbia River
    The chemical producers in Linnton

    The list goes on and on and on.

    Is that sufficient enough of an argument for you, or are you going to attack the messenger versus the message again?

  35. I find it ironic that you seem to suggest that everyone should be forced to ride mass transit,

    Eric, when has Matthew even come close to suggesting “everyone” should be “forced” to ride mass transit? And do you even see the irony in starting your post with that sentence, and then ending with

    are you going to attack the messenger versus the message again?

  36. The “WES” commuter rail is definitely questionable in regards to its worth vs. expense.

    They did have the tracks there (at least most of them) already, and they did straighten out Lombard St., which in my opinion is worth the whole job.

    Here’s a video of the new Lombard St for those of you who remember the old Lombard, and what a nightmare that was for al vehicle traffic trying to make its way from Canyon over to Farmington or visa versa.

    http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=RvIEKQElmS4

  37. “but when it comes to freight movement you’re perfectly OK with replacing trains with trucks.”

    I’m not, in fact I want more freight to move via railroads, not less.

    “are you going to attack the messenger versus the message again?”

    The message wasn’t clear, it said one thing, and then listed some examples that [at best] barely applied. I was trying to help the messenger deliver it better by finding some better examples, (and he does seem to be able to do that,) but he got defensive and angry over it…

  38. “The “WES” commuter rail is definitely questionable in regards to its worth vs. expense.”

    On average cost per passenger basis, it looks very expensive. However, on a marginal cost per passenger it is cheaper than the alternatives, and that is what matters… The problem is that 217 is full at rush hour, adding more cars to it just delays everyone, and widening 217 is even more expensive than WES.

  39. But Intel? They care far more about congestion between Hillsboro and the airport than the railroads

    Which is why they should start offering commercial flights out of there, too. Salem is already doing it and I hear they are going to be adding many more flights (to the derision of the nearby neihbors). In the L.A. area (which Portland is trying to copycat) there are several airports in addition to LAX. Why should everyone be expected to ride the toy MAX to the airport or sit in the cars idling in traffic to get to PDX? PDX is a dumpy airport anyway!

  40. PDX is a dumpy airport anyway!

    Are you kidding me? Of all the outrageous hyperbolic statements you’ve issued over many months, this one is in the top 10.

    PDX is by far one of the best airports of its size in terms of passenger amenities, cleanliness and trim level of facilities, and proximity of services. It’s clean, quiet, has free WiFi, great restaurants and a variety of local shops.

    I only wish that PDX airport were actually duplicated in other cities, so that when I’m stuck waiting for a connecting flight, I can relax.

    Of course, much of this is subjective, but I’m not alone in my opinion: A poll of business travelers by Conde Naste Traveler magazine ranked PDX as the #1 airport nationwide.

    – Bob R.

  41. Don’t forget the high # of car-breakins and luggage theft at PDX by the ever-growing population of tweakers in Portland! Funny how these New York centric magazine Op-ed pieces never mention the bad points about Portland. I wonder who’s being bribed to talk it up so much?

  42. Funny how these New York centric magazine Op-ed pieces never mention the bad points about Portland.

    Perhaps it’s because many airports have problems with car break-ins and luggage theft to varying degrees.

    I wonder who’s being bribed to talk it up so much?

    If you had bothered to read the links, perhaps you would have noticed:

    The independent firm Inquisite asked more than 19,500 readers of Condé Nast Traveler identified as business travelers to rate hotel chains, airports, and airlines excellent, very good, good, fair, or poor on a variety of criteria. Final scores—out of 100—represent the percentage of readers who rated a hotel chain, airport, or airline excellent or very good and are based on a required minimum number of responses. More than 2,500 surveys were completed, returned, and tabulated.

    Are you saying that PDX officials bribed Inquisite, or bribed 2,500 readers of the magazine who completed the survey, or bribed another 17,000 people to make them NOT submit a survey that might have had negative scores? Or did they bribe postal workers to intercept and destroy the surveys? Which is it, Greg?

    You frequently characterize city officials as incompetent (or worse), but somehow also ascribe to them the ability to successfully pull off the most amazing conspiracies.

    – Bob R.

  43. The “Westsider”…a name I prefer to “WES”…is another transportation experiment brought about by the combination of need, cost and politics.
    I hope it works out; it probably will.
    In the best of all possible worlds, i.e. if I were the “Duke” of this territory, we would have a Red Line MAX extension via this alignment at least as far as Kruse Woods, with an undersground station at Washington Square.
    But back to the real world, I think we should push to get more Cascades type service in the Valley over the UP tracks…trains every two hours to Eugene with two hour travel time for a start…rather than seek a “Westsider” extension to Salem and beyond.
    It is also worthwhile to remember that the Commuter Rail project was the brainchild of Washington County, not TriMet or Metro, same as the I-205 MAX line, which came to be due to a last minute initiative from Clackamas County commissioners. Our electeds at work, hopefully for the better; Metro & TriMet are not leading here, but following.

  44. I think Westsider, or WES, is a little shortsighted. What happens when commuter rail goes to OC/Canby, Scappoose/St Helens, Ridgefield/Woodland, Camas/Washougal, Fairview/Troutdale, Newberg/McMinnville? Yeah, it’s still a couple of decades away, but let’s hope commuter rail isn’t just confined to the westside.

  45. Lenny,

    I agree with the need to expand Amtrak service. I would still also push for a commuter train for trips like Tigard to Salem or Wilsonville to Woodburn, Keizer to Donald, etc. Amtrak should be HIGH SPEED with less frequent stops. IMHO.

  46. “It is also worthwhile to remember that the Commuter Rail project was the brainchild of Washington County, not TriMet or Metro, same as the I-205 MAX line, which came to be due to a last minute initiative from Clackamas County commissioners. Our electeds at work, hopefully for the better; Metro & TriMet are not leading here, but following.”

    Err, what? I thought the I-205 MAX was originally conceived back when they built 205, (so back when TriMet was like 3 years old.) The Clackamas County Commissioners were important for getting it to the top of the list, but it has always been one of TriMet’s priorities eventually. It is just that when the Commissioners start asking for it, (and helping with the lobbying for federal funds, and helping site stations, and all the other things that need to happen,) it is more of a “the squeaky wheel gets the grease” sort of thing.

  47. I thought the I-205 MAX was originally conceived back when they built 205, (so back when TriMet was like 3 years old.)

    The graded future transitway was included in the I-205 project, but only in the portion north of Foster. I don’t know that there was a specific plan for rail or busway, but the project left the right-of-way available — including a couple of underpasses.

    A nice case of planning ahead, even if it did stick the MAX line next to the freeway.

  48. Al M said, “They did have the tracks there (at least most of them) already”

    That just shows how successful the TriMet snow job was.
    That was one of the hypes. That the rail line was existing so it makes really good economic sense.
    ALL of the track, ties and aggragate ballast was replaced. All of it the entire 14 mile run.
    Much more side track had to be added as well.
    It doesn’t stop at Washington square either. That was another usefull false claim that finally dried up recently. Now it’s called the Cascade Plaza stop across 217 from Washington Square.
    More snow job came with the claim it was “designed to reduce congestion on I-5 and 217”. There was no such designing and congestion will not be effected at all.
    The line’s cost was another falsehood. The $127 million was minus $90 million (and climbing) for various station improvements including park and ride lots and shuttle services in Wilsonville.
    The run, having so little demand, never justified bus service by TriMet. But it was declared worthy of rail anyway and will be declared a success before it even begins service.
    Success is merely having spent the money on rail transit.
    And of course Washington County and the cities have talked about an Urban Renewal District the full 14 mile length of the line to subsidize more transit oriented development.

  49. It doesn’t stop at Washington square either.

    It stops less than 900ft from the mall buildings. Are you saying human beings are incapable of walking 900ft (less than 4 Portland blocks)?

    will be declared a success before it even begins service.

    By whom?

    And of course Washington County and the cities have talked about an Urban Renewal District

    Ohhhhh…. somebody talked about something… I’m scared.

    I’ve never been a big supporter for Washington County Commuter rail — I think, on a cost-per-boarding-ride basis that there are better projects out there — but criticism of this project should come from the merits, not fantasies of what taxes or subsidies might or might not be a part of future developments.

    – Bob R.

  50. That just shows how successful the TriMet snow job was.
    That was one of the hypes. That the rail line was existing so it makes really good economic sense.
    ALL of the track, ties and aggragate ballast was replaced. All of it the entire 14 mile run.
    Much more side track had to be added as well.

    The rail line was there. Tri-Met replaced the track. As far as I know they were always up front about that. At least, I remember Tri-Met representatives talking about how they were going to replace the track, and then later when it was in process one of them told me, in some detail, about the machine that was doing it.

    So how is it a snow job?

    Also, right from the time the project was in the planning stages, the maps I saw always put the station across 217 from Washington Square.

    Again, how is that a snow job?

  51. DJK is right –

    From the earliest stages of construction, TriMet was actively touting the track replacement process and the machine. It’s not exactly a state secret.

    – Bob R.

  52. “It stops less than 900ft from the mall buildings.”

    It does? The station’s listed location is Hall Blvd&Nimbus Ave, but the tracks aren’t there. Where the tracks are, (and a big enough space for 50 park and ride spaces,) is at Hall and the southbound offramp of 217. 900 feet gets you a strip mall that may indeed be part of Washington Square, but the actually main section of the mall is more than half a mile away…

    If the station was at Scholls Ferry Rd, and they built a pedestrian bridge over 217, then the main section of the mall would indeed be about 900 feet from the station, but (as far as I know, I should go explore sometime,) the station isn’t there, (and I don’t see room for 50 Park and Ride spaces, without taking someone else’s parking.)

  53. Of course “From the earliest stages of construction” TriMet was admitting the track replacement process and the machine.”

    The work and piles of track and ties were hard to miss. They deliberately obscured that reality during the funding process actually bragging what a good deal it was since it was an existing line.
    And you never said anything about the bogus price shaving that took out station improvements now resurfacing to the tune of many millions.
    Also during the funding hype Washington Square was listed as one of the stops, suggesting the new line would be handy for shoppers.
    Yeah, a lot of shoppers are going to the mall on commuter rail, hike across 217 then pack their bags back across the catch the train home. Not hardly.
    The pedestrian bridge which Beaverton has recentley said they will not build was also another cost removed to get the project approved on a phony cost basis. Fixing a formula and scheme to advance the project.
    This commuter rail is a joke for every reason yet, Bob, it is essentially being declared a success today with calls for more of it every where.
    You may not be worried about “talk” of the multi-jurisdictional Urban Renewal but given the Tigard and Wilsonville spending many millions on Commuter rail related projects and the push for more mixed use TODs there’s a strong likeihood this idea will advance.
    Which will mean diverting milions more into this horrible transportation and land use planning.
    You also never commented on TriMet not justifying or providing bus service for the corridor. Apparently it’s not neccessary to justify rail transit service. Just build it, celebrate and push for more.

    You need to get beyond the rose colored 900 foot stroll and imagine the reality of this commuter rail line serving the few it will and only during commute hours.
    But I can see it now, with TriMet attempting to run additional trains, no riders showing up and a big push to “invest” more to expand the line so it works better.
    In the mean time the millions borrowed at the various locales that property taxes must be diverted to pay off, and the operating cost drain on budgets will make this a lesson in fiscal irresponsibility.
    Massive spending with very little public benefit=
    Boondoggle.

  54. Given its peak hour only service with 1/2 hour headways, it make more sense to be close to the Nimbus employment areas rather than the shopping opportunities of Washington Square.
    It is easy enough to plot where people work and capture how many are 1/4 mile from a station at one location or another. When the Interstate MAX station in Lower Albina was moved from Russell Street to Albina/Mississippi, this kind of data showed clearly that the new location was closer to many more employees…all potential riders.
    Probably the key to the Westsiders success will be how well the bike/ped networks are upgraded around stations as well as how TriMet re-designs feeder bus routes. Park & Rides only get you part way there.
    It will be interesting to see how many riders travel to Wilsonville…the reverse commute…which has twice as many jobs as residents. SMART will be key there.

  55. Matthew –

    Yes, it’s about 900 ft to the edge of the developed property (which is an office building) (somebody correct me if those buildings do not identify as being part of the Washington Square area). It is indeed a longer distance to the main mall.

    According to Gmaps Pedometer, walking from the tracks at Hall to Scholls Ferry to Washington Square Rd, and then to the north-side entrance to the mall is a distance of 0.64 miles.

    Of course, walking from one corner of the mall parking lot itself to the opposite far corner is about .48 miles, to give a relative idea of scale.

    Hall Blvd is served by 3 buses, the 43, 76, and 78. The 56 and 92 run on nearby Scholls Ferry road. Currently, the 43 only runs the full length out to Nimbus 3 times in the morning. I imagine that these times will be synchronized with commuter rail schedules (or more runs added) when WES opens. The 76 currently offers approx. 30 minute headway service. The 78 also offers half-hourly service on a schedule that is staggered 15 minutes from the 76.

    Thus, a person who does not wish to walk from commuter rail to the mall will have the equivalent of a “frequent service” bus line to take them there, although the number on the bus won’t always be the same.

    In the longer term, the area around Washington Square is designated as a regional center, so I would expect a lot of commercial growth to be channelled into that area, making the station more useful in the future than it will be on opening day.

    – Bob R.

  56. Maybe they can have a covered walkway with moving sidewalks like they have in the airport and they could have shops all along the way. It could be an extension of the mall…. They have these on the east coast!

  57. Spin spin spin.

    Lenny trying desperately to make “sense” out of the senseless.
    TriMet never made that pitch about close to the Nimbus employment rather than Washington Square.
    It sounded better to paint a pic of busy shoppers riding the rail. So much bull.

    And so what about Nimbus. I think your imagination is running wild.
    All these folks along the line railing to work in Nimbus?
    Plot this plot that. Did TriMet plot? No. That’s just where the line was period and they pushed ahead because it was rail period.
    TriMet claimed the line was “designed” to reduce traffic on 217 and I-5. There was no designing, no plotting and there will be no reduction in traffic at all.
    Gee here we go already calling for “bike/ped network upgrading” to make it work. And TriMet re-designs feeder bus routes?
    Oh now that’s special. What a wild imagination. How many people are going to bus to the commuter rail?
    Yes it will be interesting to see how many riders travel to Wilsonville…the reverse commute…since one can drive without any delays in that direction.
    SMART will shuttling people to the not so transit oriented Villebois. Wilsonville is about to spend the bulk of it’s next round of STIP money trying to plot commuter rail into working.

    Spin spin spin from Bob too. The “900 ft” is 900 reasons to drive right to the mall.

    TriMet didn’t say the Washington Square “area” when touting the line.
    Walking from one corner of the mall parking lot itself to the opposite far corner is about walking inside the mall.
    Walking to two extremes in the parking lot only gives a relative idea of scale of the spin you engage in.:)

    Thus, many persons could have much more “frequent service” bus lines to take them from their neighborhoods to the Mall (and everywhere else) if it weren’t for the boondoggle commuter rail stuck on tracks that don’t go there.
    Washington Square regional center promises to chew through 100s of milions in subsidies (similar to SoWa) and another decade or two of “planning”.
    The bulk of that future commercial growth is drawn on the other side of 217 and the Mall.

    Only with imagination will any of those stations ever be usefull enough to merit the massive cost.

  58. So let’s bring it all the way to Salem and points South of Salem! I think the commuter train will be a smashing success, unlike it’s less than stellar trolley and LRT cousins.

  59. The “900 ft” is 900 reasons to drive right to the mall.

    So if the stop were 25ft away from the mall, would you say “The ’25 ft’ is 25 reasons to drive right to the mall.” ?

    How about 1ft?

    – Bob R.

  60. “actually bragging what a good deal it was since it was an existing line.”

    Uhmm, I don’t know if you’ve priced a 14.7 mile, level, straight right of ways through suburbia lately, but I’m fairly sure they got an amazing deal on it, even after having to pay for track reconstruction.

    “Yeah, a lot of shoppers are going to the mall on commuter rail, hike across 217 then pack their bags back across the catch the train home. Not hardly.”

    Well, given that it is rush hour service only, and most people go to the mall at nights and on weekends, you are right, not very many people are going to do that. However, given that most of the mall jobs are minimum wage types, I can see a lot of the employees using it, at least if their schedules work for it…

  61. So if the stop were 25ft away from the mall, would you say “The ’25 ft’ is 25 reasons to drive right to the mall.” ?

    Sure, especially since the other end has 100s of more reasons to drive. Like the walk to wherever you live.
    Contrast that with driving from your garage (about 1 ft.) in the comfort and privacy of one’s car and having the ability to easily carry home your new stuff and stopping to run errands on the way.
    Why do you come up with these imaginary scenarios like “How about 1 ft?” instead of specifically addressing the real world applications?

    Matthew,
    Why are you “fairly sure they got an amazing deal”? I doubt they got a good deal at all.
    TriMet was willing to pay anything to make the deal. It is far more likely the specifics of the deal suck. But like so many other boondoggles we never get the whole story.

    Yeah I know “that it is rush hour service only, and most people go to the mall at nights and on weekends”. That’s why it was disingenuous for TriMet to highlight the commuter rail as stopping at Washington Square and propogandizing convenience for shoppers.
    The few employees using it could have and would be using better bus service, especially out in the burbs when their jobs are non rush hour.
    Still, without question they’ll mostly drive as they do now.

  62. It seems to me that some of the posters to this topic have misconstrued the perpose of WES. As I understand it, WES was concieved and designed as a COMMUTER rail line–not a SHOPPER rail line. For this to focus in on just the Wash. Sq. stop is not fair to the line as a whole. It will serve several Town Centers, Transit Centers as well as the Regional Center of Washington Square and provides a reasonable alternative to 217 for people who live on the westside.

  63. Kelly asks: Why do you come up with these imaginary scenarios like “How about 1 ft?”

    Just trying to follow your own statement, Kelly. You stated that 900ft = 900 reasons. Ergo, 25ft = 25 reasons. And, you just owned up to the fact that you wouldn’t ride the train to Washington Square even if it stopped 1ft from the entrance, so you original “900 reasons” were a red herring.

    I’ve already stated I don’t think this project should be a high priority and that I think it’s expensive on a cost-per-boarding-ride basis. But, that’s not enough for you, apparently I have to oppose everything about the project, including the ridership projections, station locations, construction methods, and project publications, otherwise in your eyes I’m some kind of shill.

    – Bob R.

  64. “Why are you “fairly sure they got an amazing deal”? I doubt they got a good deal at all.”

    Uhmm, well, compared to the price of buying approximately 50 houses per mile of track, at $300k+ each, (that is, after fighting a bunch of them in court, and taking years to get all the cities to agree to lower their tax base, (by removing houses,) and the public opposition to having a railroad through the middle of neighborhoods,) then tearing them all down, leveling the ground, and then after all that: still having to lay track and build stations, uhmm, yeah, it looks like the existing railroad there saved them a lot of money…

    If the railroad tracks had already been in nice shape, and the stations had already existed, (which is apparently is what you think would have been the only way it should count as cheap,) then TriMet probably would have already been running trains on it…

    “That’s why it was disingenuous for TriMet to highlight the commuter rail as stopping at Washington Square and propogandizing convenience for shoppers.”

    When exactly did they argue it was convenient for shoppers? Everything I’ve read has said they think it will be faster than rush hour 217 in 2030. The 4000 people/day that will ride the thing (again, in 2030,) would qualify it as a good bus line, but given the fact that it is actually fairly cheap, (on a marginal rush hour trip basis, which is what I’ve argued before,) they’ve decided to do it with rail…

  65. The fact that WES provides lousy access to the Washington Square Mall has been known since the very beginning of the project. In fact, as I recall, it doesn’t even serve employees at the Mall very well because the stores there don’t open until 10:00 am.

    This is a little like the argument that light rail is useless because it isn’t very convenient for picking up lumber at Home Depot.

  66. Well if they extend it to Salem it would sure be a great way for schoolchildren to come down to tour the capital and other government buildings!

  67. This is a little like the argument that light rail is useless because it isn’t very convenient for picking up lumber at Home Depot.

    What argument? I mean, I don’t know about Home Depot in particular, but I’ve bought a bunch of lumber from Parr on the bus… I stopped by on my way to work, told them what I wanted, and where I lived, and when I got home that afternoon it was all sitting in a big pile in my driveway. It would have taken me more time if I’d driven there, waited for them to pull everything, load it into a vehicle and then go home and unload it. (And because I bought so much, they didn’t even charge me for delivery.) Really, where do people get these weird ideas about what you can and can’t do on mass transit?

  68. Really, where do people get these weird ideas about what you can and can’t do on mass transit?

    Lack of imagination and a stubborn insistence that their way of doing things is the only way everyone else should do it.

  69. Really, where do people get these weird ideas about what you can and can’t do on mass transit?

    The fact is you didn’t pick it up, you had it delivered. Why? Because picking up lumber isn’t very convenient on the bus. You could have tried calling in your order and not used transit at all. Thus proving, I suppose, there is no need for transit.

    The point was that people can find all sorts of trips that transit doesn’t do well – like PICKING UP lumber at Home Depot. Or getting to work at 3:00 am in Vancouver. But that isn’t really how we ought to judge its value.

  70. And Mathew – how do you suppose that lumber got delivered? I would bet it wasn’t using transit. While it may have been chained together with several other deliveries, it probably wasn’t. We need to be aware of trips we generate, not just the ones we take.

  71. What’s odd is that Washington Square (the mall) is designated a Metro Regional Center – and yet transit options to this Metro designated Regional Center seem to be hit and miss.

    Right now there is no frequent service to the mall, unless one considers the combination of the 76 and 78. However, TriMet has already pushed back the full implementation of the 76 becoming a standalone Frequent Service Line (was supposed to be last year, then this year…and now it’s “who knows” – along with a cancellation of plans for any additional Frequent Service Lines). 78 is scheduled – at the same time – to become a Washington Square-Lake Oswego line, with the 76 and 78 lines detached from each other between the Mall and Tigard TC. (Likely the 78 will be given a new route number at the same time.)

    The 56 provides reliable service, but on a 30 minute headway. The only alternative service to Portland is on the 43 or 45 – both of which are far inferior to the 56 in terms of frequencies and headways. The 43 runs at some times of the day on an hourly schedule.

    Commuter Rail is on the opposite side of the 217 freeway. The Washington Square station (yes, that’s its name – not “Progress” or “Hall Boulevard”, but “Washington Square”) was positioned near Hall because it has access to the 43, 76 and 78. However Scholls Ferry has access to the 45, 62 and 92 lines. What TriMet SHOULD have done was created a second transit center to improve access to all bus lines.

    To the person that commented that WES isn’t a “shopping transport” – I believe that Washington Square (the mall and surrounding area) is a MAJOR employment center. Again, it’s a METRO designated REGIONAL CENTER. Why are minimum wage mall employees no longer worthy of quality transit? To be a “commuter” must one be employed in a certain location, or with a certain employer? I believe ANYONE who is commuting to/from work, regardless of the time of day, is a “commuter” and in Portland deserves quality transit be it on a Streetcar, Commuter Rail train, MAX or a bus. Ride the 76/78 line anytime, and you’ll see the difference in ridership than the 92 line. Does that mean those riders deserve less, because they are more likely lower income?

    As for my assessment of WES, its limited operating hours, high capital and operating costs, and limited access will make it one of TriMet’s most expensive routes to operate. A single car WES train will haul a fraction of what a MAX train can haul; every WES train will require TWO employees to operate (an Engineer and Conductor, both of whom are Portland & Western Railroad employees under contract to TriMet), and its long term projected ridership is far below many bus routes.

    On the plus side, it uses an existing freight rail corridor that is also used for freight service, so ongoing maintenance costs will be shared by P&W freight trains. It also operates in a congested corridor where bus service is unfeasible. However, I would have preferred to see a MAX line, instead of Commuter Rail, from Portland to Tualatin using this route from Washington Square (actually serving the mall) through Tigard, Durham and ending in Tualatin. If need be, a diesel “shuttle train” could have been used between Beaverton and Washington Square TC, or an express bus using a HOV lane on 217.

    Oh, and the right-of-way from Tigard to Wilsonville was already owned by ODOT. Another plus.

  72. ****To the person that commented that WES isn’t a “shopping transport” – I believe that Washington Square (the mall and surrounding area) is a MAJOR employment center. Again, it’s a METRO designated REGIONAL CENTER. Why are minimum wage mall employees no longer worthy of quality transit? To be a “commuter” must one be employed in a certain location, or with a certain employer? I believe ANYONE who is commuting to/from work, regardless of the time of day, is a “commuter” and in Portland deserves quality transit be it on a Streetcar, Commuter Rail train, MAX or a bus.****

    Eric,
    I made a comment earlier along the same lines as you, but not nearly as well said. HEAR! HEAR!

  73. I’ve been following this for years, I think I have some old docs around here that say the commuter rail could be open in either 2003 or 2004… obviously that didn’t happen.

    Hall Blvd. and Pacific Hwy. are choking with traffic… constantly. You don’t hear about it much because it’s normal. This at least provides an alternative for part of the day for those who want to use the road system out there less or not at all. I would use it if I still lived out that direction.

    As for the stop behind the old View Master plant (yes, that’s what used to be there) – it was originally supposed to be near Scholls Ferry, on the south side of the street. They decided to move it to Hall Blvd. due to security concerns that the platform couldn’t be seen too well from the street itself. The other comment was that 76 and 78 already serve Hall Blvd. (not even counting the rush-hour Nimbus extension of route 43), whereas 56 would need to be extended in order to serve the former stop location. BTW – 76 and 78 aren’t frequent service… both routes run hourly (and an extremely limited schedule compared to other routes) on Sunday.

    Probably (one of) the (keys) to the Westsiders success will be how well… TriMet re-designs feeder bus routes.
    The only redesign I’ve heard of was in last years’ FY 2007 TIP – possibly putting 76 service on the portion of Hall Blvd. between Greenburg and Pacific Hwy. that is currently partially served by 43 and partially not served at all; possibly having 38-Boones Ferry rerouted to serve Bonita Rd. and Tigard TC.; with a different route, possibly 45, routed down 72nd.; and looking at having 36-South Shore, 37-Lake Grove, 45-Garden Home, and 96-Tualatin/I-5 serve the Tualatin WES station. (although I don’t quite remember, I think 36-South Shore and then-37-North Shore used run down Martinazzi down to Mowhawk Park & Ride, but was then canned due to low ridership.)
    It is worth re-mentioning that none of this is in the current FY 2008 TIP.

    I believe that Washington Square (the mall and surrounding area) is a MAJOR employment center… Why are minimum wage mall employees no longer worthy of quality transit?
    No kidding… this is a (short) research paper I’m writing for one of my classes over at PCC!

  74. “Why are minimum wage mall employees no longer worthy of quality transit?”

    I think you mis-interpreted what I meant: My point is that minimum wage mall workers are actually much more likely to ride mass transit than the shoppers, (they work there everyday, and they don’t make a lot of money,) and are also probably going to be willing to walk further, partly because they won’t have bags with them, but partly because compared to where the employee parking lots are in a lot of malls, (although I don’t know about Washington Square in particular,) it might not be that far of a walk, (relatively.) And yes, if money was no object, putting the station in a tunnel under the mall would be the best choice.

    “every WES train will require TWO employees to operate (an Engineer and Conductor, both of whom are Portland & Western Railroad employees under contract to TriMet)”

    And the conductor would be in the [passenger compartment of the] train, in a position to keep an eye on things. There are a lot of people are arguing that that is what MAX needs, and while I disagree, I think that might be a good thing in those people’s view…

  75. Washington Square (the mall and surrounding area) is a MAJOR employment center. Again, it’s a METRO designated REGIONAL CENTER.

    Yes it is. The regional center takes its name from the shopping mall, but it is not the same thing. And if you had bothered to look, you would have found that the commuter rail station is within the “METRO designated REGIONAL CENTER.” Your complaint is about service to the Mall, not the regional center.

    Why are minimum wage mall employees no longer worthy of quality transit?

    They are. So are employees who work graveyard. But the reality is that we don’t provide the same transit service 24 hours per day. You can’t use commuter rail to get to work at 10:00 am – which is when most of the Mall employees need to get there. So why would you spend a lot of money to move the station across the freeway, away from a major office park which has a lot more employment than the shopping center to begin with?

    Again – the fact that commuter rail doesn’t serve every possible trip does not make it a bad idea for the trips it does serve.

  76. BTW – I think the failure to provide high quality pedestrian connections from the commuter rail station is a betrayal of commitments made to the region by the local jurisdictions when the commuter rail project was made a regional priority for federal funding. But I also suspect that is a fight that will have a lot more traction once the line is up and running.

    I also think that improving pedestrian access across the freeway is more broadly critical to the success of the area as a regional center and to serving it well with transit. Surveys have shoen that the inability to run errands, go to lunch etc. is actually one of the major barriers to people making more use of transit in the suburbs. They can get to work and they can get home, but they can’t get anywhere else during the day. They are stuck at work.

  77. But the reality is that we don’t provide the same transit service 24 hours per day.

    And why is it a “reality”?

    It’s a reality only because TriMet refuses to provide the service.

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