Milwaukie’s MAX: TriMet releases cost, rider numbers

The Clackamas Review today reports that TriMet released the Supplemental Draft Environmental Impact Statement for the Milwaukie MAX project last week. It estimates that costs will range from $1.25 billion to $1.42 billion and that the line could draw more than 25,000 daily passengers, up to almost one-half of which aren’t currently using transit.

The agency and the Portland to Milwaukie Citizen Advisory Committee will have to make some big decisions in the coming months, according to Metro Councilor Robert Liberty. He said TriMet needs to have a final decision on a new bridge and route alignment by July to maintain the current construction schedule, which calls for the line’s completion in 2015.

Not including bridge options, there are still three potential alignments on the table through downtown Milwaukie, including one (the original LPA) which has the terminus at Lake Road south of downtown Milwaukie, while the other two alignments both have their terminus at Park Avenue and McLoughlin Blvd. Of the latter two alignments, one runs through the downtown area of Milwaukie on Main St and the other follows the Tillamook Branch railroad tracks that run behind the Waldorf School campus. While no final decision has yet been made, it seems the momentum exists to select one of the alignments that run to Park Ave.

Liberty said extending the line to Park Avenue not only creates a higher number of trips, but more trips proportional to the extra project cost. He said the new line would have impacts beyond just moving people in and out of Milwaukie.

“There are not just a lot of new riders on this line, but there will be a lot of riders on the other lines as well,” Liberty said. “Everyone who uses the system has more destinations. Having the south leg is important in building a system and looking ahead to the next generation; building the framework for the next 20 years.”

Continue reading TriMet releases cost, rider numbers

129 Comments

129 Responses to Milwaukie’s MAX: TriMet releases cost, rider numbers

  1. Jim Howell
    January 18, 2008 at 8:08 am Link

    The projected 2030 ridership numbers for the Milwaukie Light rail project are not impressive. The bus lines that will be eliminated currently provide 7,000-8,000 trips a day. If the project were not built, and ridership on these lines only grew by 3% a year over the next 25 years, they would be providing about 15,000 trips a day, only about 10,000 less than would be carried after a $1.4 billion capital expenditure. What is worse, it is estimated that the project will result in a system increase of only about 12,000 trips a day.

    A project of this cost should leverage a much greater system growth. It would do this if through-routed with the Yellow Line directly on the eastside becoming a fast N-S rapid transit corridor. The potential for stimulating regional ridership would be far greater than any CBD bound trips that would possibly be lost because of a transfer. As currently planned, the project merely replacing four radial bus lines to the CBD with light rail.

  2. C. Lee
    January 18, 2008 at 11:40 am Link

    The one issue about Milwaukie MAX is the short route — If it went to Oregon City, or out towards Clackamas, Highway 212 area, it would attract more commuters.

    At least this is a building block towards a more efficient Milwaukie corridor should the extension take place.

  3. Ron Swaren
    January 18, 2008 at 12:33 pm Link

    I agree with Conan O’Brien on this: “Stop the Insanity!” Just four years ago this was represented as a $515 million dollar project. Even then it was record breaking and the high costs were attributed to the need to purchase right of way from Union Pacific. I’m for some type of rail transit and since I own a home in the area expect that it would help my home’s value.

    Some form of rail transit should link the Oregon City area with Portland. But if scarcely five miles of line has now gone to over a billion several years from now an extension to OC will cost equally as much, if not more. And that is just providing rail on one side of the Willamette. What about linking Milwaukie to South Waterfront and Pill Hill. As I have suggested countless times on this board this would be done much more cost-effectively with a two-line streetcar system, linking to existing routes.

    As far as a bridge over the Willamette, there are already improvement plans underway for the Sellwood. Of course these, too, have risen astronomically–way, way beyond the typical cost of rehabilitating Portland Bridges. I think a bridge from the intersection of Hwy 99E and Holgate over to SW Bancroft would really put it in the midst of the greatest demand. It could link to I-5. No need for light rail on it, either. Just put a streetcar line over the Sellwood Bridge up to South Waterfront.

  4. Anthony
    January 18, 2008 at 12:59 pm Link

    I am wondering what the cost of converting 99E and 224 into full, grade separated, freeway would cost? I know it wouldn’t be that bad considering much of both corridors are already in that type of configuration, save for a few overpasses and interchanges.

    Widen to six lanes with auxiliary lanes where needed, convert the inside lane into a HOV/HOT/Busway lane with dedicated exits, connect 99E with I5, and buy some articulated buses. The “stations” don’t need to be lavish art-filled oasises. Just a few shelters, maybe some lighting and some readerboards.

    A system like this would not only cost much less, but also offer a positive shared expansion of the roadways and additional revenue [with a HOT lane]. It would also maintain a free flowing route for emergency vehicles, and provide better options for transit routes [including non-stop, non-transfer routes to many neighborhoods].

  5. elee
    January 18, 2008 at 1:15 pm Link

    Why do they insist on buiding a new bridge? What portion of the total cost is attributable to the bridge? Didn’t they used to run the Oregon City trolley over the Hawthorne Bridge?

    The added cost of these new bridges seems to do nothing but give suburban SOV fans ammunition in their resistance to transport in general.

  6. Lenny Anderson
    January 18, 2008 at 1:55 pm Link

    A big piece of the price is the first new bridge across the Willamette since the Fremont in the 70’s. Never a cheap endeavor.

  7. MRB
    January 18, 2008 at 3:11 pm Link

    Wait… how much is each rider worth? I mean, we could agree, if 100,000 people a day would ride this train, then it might be worth the investment… isn’t there a formula that determines how much ridership the public should get for its transportation investment?

  8. AL M
    January 18, 2008 at 3:17 pm Link

    spend spend spend;

    then give service away for free;

    thats the Portland way;

    oh yea, then hit us with a tax increase cause “we aint got no money”

    Portland, America’s Beirut!

  9. Joe B.
    January 18, 2008 at 3:42 pm Link

    What portion of the total cost is attributable to the bridge?

    According to today’s Trib, about $340 million for “the section that includes the bridge.”

  10. Ethan
    January 18, 2008 at 3:49 pm Link

    The Trib reports that the federal government is expected to pay 40% of the project cost ($900 million) and that the State of Oregon is contributing $250 million in lottery funds. So while it is certainly large, the $1.4 billion number screaming from the headlines is a bit misleading in that it implies a local expenditure of that amount. The implication is that the federal and state funding could be reallocated, which, as far as I can tell, is false.

  11. Unit
    January 18, 2008 at 4:35 pm Link

    CLARIFICATION: the federal amount is 60%, which is $900M. The original article had a typo.

    I will be interested to see the cost breakout. Even taking the bridge portion of the project out of it, the resultant cost is around $170M/mile. This is more than double any project yet completed.

  12. Garlynn -- undergroundscience.blogspot.com
    January 18, 2008 at 5:01 pm Link

    Unit, if your calculations are correct, $170 million a mile does seem rather high for a project where a good portion of the ROW is already publicly owned, where no tunneling is involved, and for light-rail technology, which is supposed to be cheaper than heavy-rail.

    Especially if ridership is project to be 25,000 — this does beg the question, why not streetcar? Streetcars running at 3 minute headways could surely accommodate 25,000 riders a day, for significantly less per mile.

    I’m not anti-light rail. In fact, I’m pro-light rail, and I would really like to see this project, and the new bridge, built.

    But, I’d also like to see a full EIS that tells us clearly what we’re getting for this price, and why. Does inflation alone account for the high cost?

    When adjusted for inflation, how does the cost per new rider on this project compare with the cost per new rider on the Westside project (which involved a massive tunneling effort)? What about just cost per rider, regardless of new or not?

  13. djk
    January 18, 2008 at 5:07 pm Link

    Some form of rail transit should link the Oregon City area with Portland. But if scarcely five miles of line has now gone to over a billion several years from now an extension to OC will cost equally as much, if not more.

    Probably not. The extension to Oregon City would (mostly) run down the middle of McLoughlin Boulevard, much like the Interstate line. As light rail extensions go, that one should be comparatively inexpensive. It might get most costly to build at the south end, once it gets into Oregon City.

    The sticker shock on this one is pretty big. It might make sense to spend that much on a trunk line to Oregon City that (someday) will support two or three MAX lines feeding into it. But if all it ever does is go to Milwaukie, it’s probably not worth it.

  14. Bob R.
    January 18, 2008 at 5:23 pm Link

    It does seem like an unusually high price, especially if the bridge component costs as little (relative to the whole project) as the Tribune says.

    The current I-205 portion includes several overpasses and viaducts, and the Interstate MAX extension has a very extensive viaduct, so the few overpasses and structures which might be required for a Milwaukie extension don’t seem to explain the entire cost.

    Until we see an online copy of the SDEIS, it’s all just speculation, but I’ll join in: Is anything on the west side complicating the cost? A landing in the South Waterfront? Crossing I-405? Something is missing here.

    Someone awhile back suggested allowing autos on the new bridge with tolls to keep traffic from impeding transit. I was pretty skeptical at the time, but perhaps it should be something to consider to make this project pencil out. (Or, alternately, adding a couple of dedicated toll auto lanes. The cost would be incremental compared to a whole new bridge.)

  15. Ron Swaren
    January 18, 2008 at 5:25 pm Link

    I could see a billion to go from Milwaukie to Oregon City, the way Tri Met does things. The length would be comparable to the Interstate line, which cost 350 million. So why not a billion in 2015? Do you think a MAX train could go across on that exisitng bridge at Clackamette park?

  16. GTinSalem
    January 18, 2008 at 5:27 pm Link

    Some form of rail transit should link the Oregon City area with Portland.

    They already DO have rail transit between Oregon City and downtown Portland! There’s already a station at Oregon City right across from the interpretive center. All they really need to do is increase the frequency – why do they need to blow 2 billion dollars to build something new?
    (AND if the past of how they do projects is any indicator it will likely be way overbudget)

  17. GTinSalem
    January 18, 2008 at 5:33 pm Link

    Sorry for the multiple comments but I just thought of something. Why don’t they just make the yellow MAX go down MLK and McLoughlin and have the alignment entirely on the east side? Why does it have to snake through downtown then go back across the river? They could have stations on the east side and people can do the 5 minute walk across one of the many bridges to get “downtown”.

  18. Bob R.
    January 18, 2008 at 5:48 pm Link

    Greg, you’re not far off from what Jim Howell has been suggesting — a Yellow Line running a few blocks west of MLK, under the bridges, with stations designed for convenient transfers to bus lines which cross the bridges.

  19. Nick theoldurbanist
    January 18, 2008 at 5:54 pm Link

    “Why don’t they just make the yellow MAX go down MLK and McLoughlin and have the alignment entirely on the east side? Why does it have to snake through downtown then go back across the river? They could have stations on the east side and people can do the 5 minute walk across one of the many bridges to get “downtown.”

    >>>> Come on, let’s be real. If this new MAX line is already going to cause additional transfers as it is, you want to cause even an additional transfer to get downtown? How many people are going to walk across a bridge? Most would take a bus, or just go back to their cars.

  20. Dave
    January 18, 2008 at 6:05 pm Link

    GT: That would also likely increase property values on the East side, and likely negate the need of adding a streetcar there.

    Actually, I like the idea more because of that. I wouldn’t mind jumping on the Blue line to get access to MLK as well.

  21. Erik Halstead
    January 18, 2008 at 6:48 pm Link

    $1.4 billion dollars could buy:

    4,000 conventional 40′ busses @ $350,000 each,
    2,800 conventional articulated busses @ $500,000 each,
    2,150 hybrid articulated busses @ $650,000 each,
    or 1,400 hybrid articulated BRT busses @ $1M each.

    In comparison, TriMet’s bus roster is 650 busses, the vast majority of them 40′ busses, with about 50 30′ busses and two hybrid busses – and zero articulated busses. $1.4B could potentially expand TriMet’s regional service SEVENFOLD from current levels.

    Unlike buying these busses, we are proposing a $1.4B project to build ONE light rail line for a total distance of less than seven miles, including a transit-only bus with extremely limited functionality. (If anyone’s counting, that’s $200M a mile.)

    Whatever happened to using the Hawthorne Bridge as a transit bridge – I seem to recall that when it was rebuilt in the 1990s that it was rebuilt with the goal to put rails on it.

    Better yet, a BRT corridor – one that leaves the Transit Mall, crosses east over the Hawthorne Bridge, enters a dedicated BRT route that has a stop near OMSI (which would connect with bus routes that exclusively serve the inner eastside), the continues along a dedicated lane within the McLoughlin Boulevard ROW with a stop at 17th Avenue, then continues to Milwaukie (again, dedicated ROW) would provide the same level of service, would not force a transfer at Milwaukie TC (because at that point the BRT routes would start to run local to various points) while retaining local service on Milwaukie Avenue and 17th Avenue.

    By using EXISTING facilities with necessary upgrades, a BRT corridor would provide the same level of service at a cost far, far less than the proposed MAX project.

    Further there is absolutely no reason why to contemplate a South Waterfront routing – they have the Streetcar. If it is of concern for SoWa residents to have “total accessibility” to anywhere in Portland, TriMet MUST have the same resonsibility to provide same access to the rest of the region. Since TriMet can’t get people across the city of Tualatin without a long detour through Tigard, SoWa residents can happily take their beloved Streetcar to the Transit Mall and transfer to their destination. It certainly does not help that OHSU is drastically scaling back their SoWa projects…

    It should also be noted that the federal share to replace a bus is 80%.

  22. Bob R.
    January 18, 2008 at 7:27 pm Link

    4,000 conventional 40′ busses @ $350,000 each

    Point taken, Erik, but conversely it would require about $500,000,000 per _year_ to operate and maintain those buses, which would be kind-of a budget-buster for TriMet even if they ever built another rail project ever again. The situation is more complex than you make it out to be.

  23. The Smooth Operator
    January 18, 2008 at 8:20 pm Link

    1,400,000,000
    -900,000,000 Federal transit funds
    -250,000,000 State Match
    =250,000,000 Local funds

    So 250,000,000=
    454 40′ busses @ 550,000 ea. (This is what TriMet actually paid in 2005.) And the 250M number includes ALL local monies so if they did scratch the Milwaukie Max, TriMet would not get the whole amount-if anything at all.

    Of course, TriMet is already purchasing 200 new busses over the next 5 years. I have noted this before, Eric, and for some reason you refuse to listen. (The 5 year contract was recently confirmed in Fred Hanson’s cover letter on the FY’08 budget.)

    Also, keep in mind that the Americans with Disabilities Act REQUIRES that LIFT have it’s services increased every time that any new line is started. ADA also requires that LIFT is fully funded first and then whatever is left over in the operations budget can be used for fixed route busses, etc. With the above facts consider this: TriMet predicts 151% increase in persons over the age of 60 living i the Portland area in the next 10 years! That’s a lot of LIFT trips that they are going to have to pay for…

    Which brings me to my point, MAX is a bargain for TriMet. The majority of it is paid for by the Feds and it is perceived by people that use LIFT as being just as good for where it goes. Also, it reduces the total number of employees that TriMet needs for it’s various lines(Note: TriMet employees are very expensive compared to he industry and market standards A FT Operator costs approx. 100K+ per year and PT 60-75K).

    The Milwaukie line is too spendy in my opinion, but needs to be built. It is a good “set up” for future extensions of LRT and Streetcar. Also, I do not think that it is a mistake that the eastside streetcar loop is aligned so well with the Milwaukie line–just because CoP and Metro want to run streetcars on MLK and Grand doesn’t mean that it has to stay that way.

  24. Adron
    January 19, 2008 at 12:09 am Link

    With the way the economy is going, the Milwaukee line, mark my words, will probably far exceed that amount by 2015. Inflation is set to kick off like some wildfire in the next few years. It’s been up and solid more so that the politicos and fed reserve people let on. Between that, the devaluation of the dollar overseas, and the price increases of steal. It would be easy to imagine a nice 2-3 billion dollar line.

    But then of course the same argument for the I-5 bridge, and any other light rail line or interstate construction that might occur will also start skyrocketing and would simply make this project look like a drop in the bucket by comparison…

    But for now, it seems damn expensive. :) Maybe Gates can drop a few hundred million at us eh? Portland seems to be full of beggers, send some after Billie boy.

  25. Erik Halstead
    January 19, 2008 at 9:08 am Link

    Of course, TriMet is already purchasing 200 new busses over the next 5 years. I have noted this before, Eric, and for some reason you refuse to listen.

    Therein lies the problem:

    TriMet already has 100 busses RIGHT NOW that are past “retirement” age. Those busses should have been purchased TWO YEARS AGO.

    In just two years, TriMet will have an additional 200 busses that need to be replaced; your “point that I keep refusing to listen to” is not ignored – TriMet will take five years to do what needs to be done in two.

    I suggest TriMet take the same approach with MAX. We need a new MAX line in five years? I say we put it on a 15 year funding path. Welcome to your new Milwaukie MAX line, opening in 2023.

    In ten years TriMet will need to essentially replace its entire bus fleet, except for 50 busses (those that were purchased in the last 3-4 years; remember that TriMet didn’t purchase any busses for several years.) 200 busses in five years is NOT keeping up with the investment requirement that is per Federal Transit Administration guidelines, when 300 busses are or very close to retirement age.

    454 40′ busses @ 550,000 ea.

    Man, TriMet got ripped off. Industry statistics show that $550K can buy an articulated bus. $350K is the standard price for a 40′ bus.

    MAX is a bargain for TriMet.

    Yeah, because they are skimming service from the 12 and other bus lines that don’t have comparable light rail service. If MAX is such the “bargain” that it is, why doesn’t TriMet just abandon the bus system? Nothing is stopping them from doing it…

    but conversely it would require about $500,000,000 per _year_ to operate and maintain those buses

    Point taken, Bob, but that $500M would be spent equitably across the region, as opposed to a $1.4B project located in one seven mile corridor that ALREADY has plenty of transit access, AND costs an additional who-knows-what to operate each year on top of what we are paying today.

    The so-called “transit advocates” simply want to have their cake and eat it too, while not even leaving table scraps for anyone who’s not at the dinner table. May I once again remind you that the Tri in TriMet stands for “Tri-County Metropolitan”. That means Forest Grove, Oregon City, Tualatin and Troutdale are just as much part of the district as Portland, Beaverton, Gresham and Milwaukie.

  26. Nick theoldurbanist
    January 19, 2008 at 10:12 am Link

    “The so-called “transit advocates” simply want to have their cake and eat it too, while not even leaving table scraps for anyone who’s not at the dinner table.”

    >>>> “Transit advocate” = Railfan (who is trying to put his hobby in the street).

    At least this equation seems to apply to the majority of them in Portland.

  27. Al M
    January 19, 2008 at 11:04 am Link

    There is only one blogging bus driver with this much information about buses at TRIMET and his initials are JM!

    Will you please get in touch with me “smooth operator” if you also go by the name

    ‘J#### M#####’!

  28. Bob R.
    January 19, 2008 at 11:20 am Link

    “Transit advocate” = Railfan (who is trying to put his hobby in the street).

    This is the kind of thing that people refer to when lamenting that some posters here would rather pick fights than win allies.

    In reality, even some railfan sites (at least by your past definitions) are questioning the high price tag of this Milwaukie proposal.

    Please note that Jim Howell, Ron Swaren, Garlynn, djk, and myself, all of whom have been accused of having a rail-bias and/or being “railfans” at one time or another on this blog, ALL questioned the high price tag of this project — before Erik or Nick even posted here.

    Rather than use that as a doorway to enter into a discussion, instead we got yet another repetition of the usual attacks.

  29. The Smooth Operator
    January 19, 2008 at 11:26 am Link

    Al,
    I am not JM. I get my information by asking people. TriMet has many employees that do not mind talking about the projects that they are working on–all you have to do is ask. I always ask what is OK to publish on a blog so that no one gets in trouble. It is just that simple.

  30. AL M
    January 19, 2008 at 1:48 pm Link

    well where is JM?

    so your DC?

    Look, blogging bus drivers are a very tiny subgroup of us bus drivers, your either dc of jm…probably jm…

    I WANT JM….!!

  31. AL M
    January 19, 2008 at 2:03 pm Link

    In regards to this specific post, I think the planners should refer to another post that happens to be on this site:

    http://portlandtransport.com/archives/2008/01/streetcars_max.html

    (and yea, now that I think of it,smoothoperator,
    your definately D/C, I know cause of the way you lecture me)

  32. SusanaSanJuan
    January 20, 2008 at 5:02 am Link

    I’m sure there is a good answer to this question, but if we are going to have MAX going down the MLK/Grand corridor in the future, why is there plans for a streetcar through precisely the same area? I know they supposedly serve different purposes, but wouldn’t the people in between Grand and I205 be better served if one of two were moved further east? I know cost is likely an issue as well, but it seems feasible to be able to move the streetcar line somewhat.

  33. Chris Smith
    January 20, 2008 at 7:46 am Link

    if we are going to have MAX going down the MLK/Grand corridor in the future, why is there plans for a streetcar through precisely the same area?

    While a number of people here have suggested putting MAX through some kind of Central Eastside alignment, there is no actual plan to do so.

  34. JW
    January 20, 2008 at 8:12 am Link

    I know in the preliminary plan there is a fairly complicated route between south auditorium district and riverplace.

    I think it would be worth *studying* whether building it all the way to Oregon City now would make more sense financially, sure it has a higher cost but I suspect its ridership would be much higher and therefore a lower cost per rider and actually go somewhere. Also costs for projects like this only get more expensive as time passes. Kind of like what was done with Westside MAX instead of ending at NW 185 it was decided that it made more sense to go all the way to Hillsboro.

    Also I realize everyone is asking the same question, how does it cost this much (given we havent seen the full report) but without sounding too simplistic shouldn’t laying rail be a very simple and inexpensive process? Is there a way that lines can be built cheaper and perhaps more like the old interurbans and streetcar lines that ran on this route years ago?

  35. The Smooth Operator
    January 20, 2008 at 10:10 am Link

    While a number of people here have suggested putting MAX through some kind of Central Eastside alignment, there is no actual plan to do so.

    ****I know that there is not a current plan to align MAX on the Central Eastside, but my point was that it could be done fairly easily in the future. For example, if the CE were to “build out” into a second downtown with high rise office space and/or retail, then the need for MAX’s services on this route would become necessary. IMO this could free up streetcars for service on another alignment such as Hawthorne…****

  36. SusanaSanJuan
    January 20, 2008 at 12:53 pm Link

    I’ve heard proposals for a MAX through the Powell-Foster corridor. But aside from the speculation, having both the streetcar and MAX run within 10 blocks of the river just seems redundant to me.

  37. Scott Hoornaert
    January 20, 2008 at 3:43 pm Link

    Count me among the unimpressed. As much as I love MAX, for the projected ridership, the price tag is exorbitant.

    While comparisons are always hazardous, it’s hard to not compare this with the Canada Line currently under construction in Vancouver. For $1.9 billion (Canadian), Translink is building a 20km (12 mile) grade-separated, automated, rapid line, which is projected to serve 100,000 passengers/day from the day it opens. For nearly twice as much per mile, MAX would get one-quarter the ridership, an alignment between a highway and a railway, and would be connected to the dreadful new transit mall. Tri-met needs to try again.

  38. Erik Halstead
    January 20, 2008 at 5:59 pm Link

    Is there a way that lines can be built cheaper and perhaps more like the old interurbans and streetcar lines that ran on this route years ago?

    The “old interurbans” were built to lesser standards and often operated no faster than 20-30 miles an hour. Remember at the time the competition was horse-drawn buggies and the occassional automobile, so a trolley was faster even at that speed.

    Today there is very little different between a MAX line and a modern freight mainline track; the largest difference is tie spacing (a light rail line requires fewer ties) but the ties, rails, attachments, ballast, etc., are all identical between MAX and a BNSF or UP mainline track. (The Streetcar uses special rails and doesn’t use ties within the street, it is attached directly to a concrete base.)

    The Red Electrics (SP’s interurban system connecting Portland and Corvallis) did have a top operating speed of 55 but few stretches of track were actually capable of trains running at that speed; the realistic top speed was closer to 35.

    And it helped that most of the land was undeveloped, and cheap.

    Building a current-day MAX (or Streetcar line, for that matter) requires using streets, tearing streets up, relocating utilities (which often can require utility work several blocks away and the associated streetwork), installing the rails, rebuilding the street (and sidewalks), reinstalling street lights and traffic signals. If a bridge or culvert is involved almost always it has to be completely rebuilt.

    If a private right-of-way is required it has to be bought. Portland’s land prices have skyrocketed; TriMet doesn’t get a break.

    Westside MAX was possible because for the most part a contiguous right-of-way existed from Beaverton to Hillsboro and the railroad (Burlington Northern) sold at a fairly reasonable price. The ROW within Beaverton was underutilized, along wetlands and through an old sewage treatment plant. North of Beaverton was on existing ODOT right-of-way.

    None of that exists to Milwaukie. The railroad is an active, busy freight mainline so Union Pacific isn’t going to sell it anytime soon; it will be next to impossible to relocate it (and where to, East Portland? I-205?) The streets in the area are not very suitable to building light rail within (unlike Interstate Avenue which was largely excess capacity).

    So, yes, a MAX line could theoretically be built to older standards – heck, we could forget about this line, and use the original Portland Traction Company’s Springwater District mainline – now known as the Oregon Pacific Railroad – through Oaks Bottom. Especially since Metro already paid to rebuild the railroad a few years ago (so that the trail could be built, the railroad was shifted several feet to the east.) And since there would be no stops between OMSI and Oaks Park, and then again until somewhere in Sellwood, and then a short spur that could be built down 17th Avenue to downtown Milwaukie – it really would be faster than a bus line (the bus lines that serve McLoughlin Boulevard already run “express” due to the low number of stops).

    The argument against such a proposal is low population density along the route (however the same could be argued of the Westside MAX line between Beaverton TC and Goose Hollow), and that the OPRR is still an active freight railroad (although if a MAX line were built on the alignment, a very short rail spur could be built from the UP mainline, west along Ochoco Street to the end of the OPRR track to serve the few shippers there; the only drawback is building a freight railroad track across McLoughlin but given the few number of cars shipped, this might not really be a problem).

  39. Lenny Anderson
    January 21, 2008 at 10:22 am Link

    When the new Morrison Bridge was built in ’58, the Oregon City inter-urban died. Had we spent a million or so then, and some more modest amounts over the years for upgrades, we would have light rail already in place to Oregon City.
    How much was this line going to cost in ’98 when South/North was voted down? A lot less, but construction inflation and design demands (safety) add up pretty fast. We could wait ten more years and pay double.

  40. Ron Swaren
    January 21, 2008 at 11:45 am Link

    Lenny,

    I won’t disagree that in 1998 a MAX line to Oregon City would have been relatively a bargain. But why bring it up? In 1998 we weren’t aware of a lot of other options besides bus and MAX. Now we have other possibilities–and if MAX keeps soaring to ridiculously high estimates we should be seriously looking at them.

    The one that intrigues me most is the vehicle that Erik H. introduced to this board last spring. He posted a photo of a double-decked, diesel engined “railbus” in use in some cities in Germany. I’m not suggesting we could just plunk these down and immediately start collecting fares–although that probably is nearly what the Germans are doing. I’m sure they have a rail infrastructure in place that somehow is able to adopt these.

    But what Erik says about the Oregon Pacific RR is something I have thought about, too. The fact that it doesn’t have density along the route is a minor issue–neither does the MAX route. Since proponents of the Milwaukie MAX have been claiming that the Milwaukie TC–alleged to be very busy–is a chief justification for MAX, this also could be served by the Oregon RR route. Then you could also go out to Clackamas–conceivably at least.

    I think the Streetcar could be an alternative, too, as I have stated a number of times. Certainly the cost would be going up on this one, too, but I would like to know why. I read about some freight rail upgrading projects that were far less than a million per mile. If we could serve both sides of the River, rather than just one, that would seem to be far better investment. I’ve posted that proposal dozens of times on this discussion board. I haven’t posted much in the last six months—too busy working and it seems that most parties on here have hardened into intractable opinions on the Milwaukie MAX question.

  41. Lenny Anderson
    January 21, 2008 at 12:01 pm Link

    Metro did a lot of study of everything BUT Max in this alignment after the election in ’98. Residents along the alignment wanted Max put back in the mix, and in the end the numbers have it the edge over BRT, which had the same capital costs but higher operational costs.
    Light rail as a hybrid makes sense here where it can operate at lower speeds along 17th and in Milwaukie and higher speeds in between. Streetcar along Milwaukie Avenue would be fun, but would be just for shorter trips. Commuter rail on the UPRR line…if there is capacity…would maybe be faster than Max, but could not be as accessible and could not offer the frequent service that a dedicated rail transit ROW can.

  42. Erik Halstead
    January 21, 2008 at 12:12 pm Link

    the numbers have it the edge over BRT, which had the same capital costs but higher operational costs.

    I disagree.

    A new bridge, yes, is going to cost the same regardless of what’s going over the bridge; a bridge is a bridge.

    However, a BRT project using EXISTING INFRASTRUCTURE (namely the Hawthorne Bridge) with modifications (namely dedicated lanes) will cost far less than a MAX line that has to use a brand new right-of-way, brand new station platforms, brand new parking lots, etc. (Granted, even using the Hawthorne Bridge for MAX would save a lot of money over building a SoWa bridge that is redundant and unnecessary.)

    It’s just that Metro refuses to consider saving money, it looks at gold plating everything. A BRT project would cost the same to operate as current bus service, but offer greater flexibility and reliability, more capacity – at a far less capital cost (I would say $100M tops, including new busses; the only hang-up would be what it would take to get busses from the east end of the Hawthorne Bridge to a dedicated BRT lane on McLoughlin near the Ross Island Bridge.)

    About the only thing I would agree is that there is a lot of local traffic in Sellwood; but why spend $15M/mile on a Streetcar line when simple improvements to existing bus service would work just as well? (Not to mention that the argument so far used for Streetcar, “development”, is not exactly something that is welcomed in Sellwood…I seem to recall that Sellwood had a fit when a McDonald’s wanted to build a location there; and Sellwood fought tooth-and-nail against a Wal-Mart that would have been located over a mile away.)

  43. GLV
    January 21, 2008 at 4:31 pm Link

    My theory on why it costs so much: ROW acquisition. If you take a close up look at the route, it barrels over dozens of existing buildings, most of which are likely occupied in some fashion.

  44. John E.
    January 21, 2008 at 8:51 pm Link

    $1.4 Billion and still the usual fellas work up justifications.

    Please answer me this.

    At what point higher than $1.4 Billion would all of you say it’s too much?

    $1.8 Billion and I’d bet your rhetoric would be the same.
    Even $2.4 Billion, maybe $3 Billion too.

    But $4 Billion? $6 Billion?

    How much do you want to spend on rail transit (streetcars/Light rail/commuter rail)over the next 10 years? $10 Billion?

    Does it matter?

    Why can’t one of you or TriMet just gather together what they have planned and tell us now?

  45. Bob R.
    January 22, 2008 at 12:08 am Link

    $1.4 Billion and still the usual fellas work up justifications.

    Who are the “usual fellas” working up justifications? Most people in this thread have stated that the cost figures seem high.

    Does it matter?

    Yes. It’s troubling and tiresome that you can’t seem to see any diversity of opinion beyond your own particular viewpoint.

  46. RedPDX
    January 22, 2008 at 12:51 am Link

    Yes, the costs seem high. Though, this was always the more expensive of the north/south corridor segments, which is why it has been put off so long.

    Since federal funding is key to making this happen and the current FTA doesn’t get excited about LRT, I expect TriMet will have to come up with ways to make this project more cost-effective before it proceeds. I think part of the reason for the high number is that TriMet is just trying to be cautious and avoiding an even worse public relations nightmare if an $800 million project ballooned to $1.4 billion during construction. I think the real number is closer to $1.2 billion and that takes into account the unreal inflation occurring in the construction industry and the FTA’s new requirement to include finance charges.

    I see our MAX system as a 100+ year investment. The dedicated infrastructure is a signal for private investment around it and will continue to support far higher density development in the long-term future than would occur without it. Think about it, we’re almost done with connecting the regional and town centers with high-capacity transit.

    I hope that in 15 years when MAX is finally built out that they fine-tune the system and remove a few superfluous stops downtown and in the Lloyd district and find ways to speed it up for improved regional travel.

  47. John E.
    January 22, 2008 at 5:32 pm Link

    Bob,
    You forgot to answer my most important questions.

    Please answer me this.

    At what point higher than $1.4 Billion would all or any, of you say it’s too much, forget it?

    $1.8 Billion and I’d bet your support with rhetoric would be the same.
    Even $2.4 Billion, maybe $3 Billion too?

    But $4 Billion? $6 Billion?

    How much do you want to spend on rail transit (streetcars/Light rail/commuter rail)over the next 10 years? $10 Billion?

    And please don’t answer by asking me a question like how much do I want to spend on sprawl or freeways?

  48. Bob R.
    January 22, 2008 at 5:49 pm Link

    You forgot to answer my most important questions.

    Didn’t forget. Your entire premise was false (that the “usual fellas” were working up justifications), so I didn’t bother with the rest.

    At what point higher than $1.4 Billion would all or any, of you say it’s too much, forget it?

    Heck, “John E.”, I might even go so far as to say the current price tag is too high, but unlike you, I’m waiting for more information before reaching a conclusion.

    $1.8 Billion and I’d bet your support with rhetoric would be the same.

    I’ll take that bet. How about $1,000?

    Even $2.4 Billion, maybe $3 Billion too?
    But $4 Billion? $6 Billion?

    Boy, you sure can count high. I’m impressed.

    And please don’t answer by asking me a question like how much do I want to spend on sprawl or freeways?

    How much do you want to spend on sprawl or freeways?

  49. Erik Halstead
    January 22, 2008 at 7:34 pm Link

    I see our MAX system as a 100+ year investment. The dedicated infrastructure is a signal for private investment around it and will continue to support far higher density development in the long-term future than would occur without it.

    Keep in mind that since we are building our rail systems with a nod towards history, none of Portland’s original streetcar systems had a life of anywhere near 100 years.

    In fact most of them didn’t survive 50 years. The Oregon Pacific Railroad is probably 100 years old, but it is a shell of its former self and is a freight railroad only. The same is true of what is now the Portland & Western Railroad’s Tillamook Branch between Beaverton and Hillsboro – no passenger service there either.

    Meanwhile Portland has seen two freeways come and go (Harbor Drive, Interstate Avenue), at least one Willamette Bridge go away (Madison Bridge), an airport that was literally demolished and rebuilt several times, and other “permanent” landmarks that did not survive the test of time. Maybe MAX will survive for 100 years, maybe not. Maybe crime problems and a need to widen I-84 might prompt the region to consider relocating MAX onto a Streetcar-like alignment on Halsey or Burnside.

  50. John E.
    January 23, 2008 at 9:04 am Link

    “How much do you want to spend on sprawl or freeways?”

    I’d let the private sector pay their own way.
    Unlike the worse-than-sprawl growth you prefer with TODs, Oreonco Station, the Beaverton Round, Villebois and the other heavily subsidized government schemes.

    Growth is happening. With it comes higher demands for additional capacity. More schools, expanded services, extended sewer and water systems and roads for traffic are all needed.

    The so called alternatives advocated here are no substitute for roads and ignores vehicular traffic of all kinds.

    It’s very likely the Milwaukie light rail will cost more than the $1.4 Billion and it will not have any effect on rising traffic.
    Even Jim Howell makes that pretty clear.

    But then that isn’t really the objective now is it?

    The plan is:
    Traffic congestion is a good thing? Making it worse will help?
    People must adapt to other modes of travel?
    We need a vast network fo rail transit regionwide?
    NO additional road capacity should be included in any project?
    We’ll add another million people to the region over the next 20 years and this plan will accomodate them?
    Plus we need much higher taxes for this plan?

    Is that about it?

  51. Joseph Edge
    January 23, 2008 at 10:09 am Link

    I’d let the private sector pay their own way.

    So, John, what’s your model for this policy? How do you propose we go about “letting” the private sector pay their own way?

  52. Bob R.
    January 23, 2008 at 10:11 am Link

    So you’re not taking the bet, John? :-)

  53. Ron Swaren
    January 23, 2008 at 10:19 am Link

    Okay, I have said a number of times that we could be close to building a streetcar system, in lieu of MAX routes on the drawing board, that would give us more routes, but for a fraction of cost of the MAX. And that is without a new dedicated bridge, such as Caruthers Crossing. I would originate two lines from Milwaukie, complete the proposed SC to Lake OSwego and also send one route downriver parralel to the BNSF and over to Vancouver. I would still complete MAX to Vancouver, going on a BNSF bridge and connecting to the Vancouver AMTRAK station.

    If the routes get too crowded simply add more cars for more frequent service! I would run one of the Milwaukie SC lines over the Sellwood bridge, so you could get to SOWA and OHSU, or go south to Lake Oswego. I would just rehab the exisitng Sellwood bridge but build a major station/complex on the west end of the bridge, combined with a new approach and reconfigured intersection to stabilize the hillside that now is reportedly unstable.

    I would also make use of the Marquam bridge as a crossing point between East side originating SC lines and West side originating SC lines. This could have a fairly simple lift span to let through the high masted sailor or river cruise ship. A rider should be able to get to any of the major quarters of the Portland area without transferring. I generally agree with Erik H. and other posters who are favorable to buses (Nick, Greg…) that buses are the most cost-effective mode. The caveat to rail would be “But will we actually get the greatest overall number of riders if we don’t have a fancier attraction, like a rail vehicle?” Also the Streetcar seems to have a good track record for stimulating high density development. I acknowledge that on the face even the Streetcar is still a subsidized approach. But it is a subsidy, if used cautiously and wisely, that yields some excellent dividends in an overall urban strategy of containing sprawl.

    Since we wouldn’t need a new bridge if we didn’t build the Milwaukie MAX a better location for a bridge would be from Holgate and McLoughlin over to SW Mcadam. This could very easily tie into the I-5 corridor, to I-405 and to US 26. Just as the Broadway Bridge has become much more congested with growth in NW Portland, so the existing bridges from SW Portland will become crowded as SOWA grows. (I’m not saying they are at a critical point, though)

    But, no, where we’re headed looks like another round of big projects with escalating costs (Milwaukie MAX, CRC, I-5 removal, transit mall) that will burden the taxpayer and not really provide lasting solutions.

  54. Lance Lindahl
    January 23, 2008 at 10:50 am Link

    Ron,

    ODOT and the Federal Highway Administration would never allow the Marquam Bridge to be used for a street car or for light rail. I doubt that the bridge could even be retro-fitted to have trains on a separate deck level.

    A bridge at Holgate street would be nearly as expensive as constructing a similar bridge over the Columbia River. The Willamette River is more than twice as wide here as it is between the Marquam and Ross Island Bridges. I also doubt that the local enviromnental community would be supportive of such a bridge since it would run straight through the middle of Ross Island and through the northern end of Oaks Bottom.

  55. Lenny Anderson
    January 23, 2008 at 11:33 am Link

    I guess we all have time to burn, but this is a project and an alignment that has been studied and agreed upon by all the elected jurisdictions, and that, for all its costs, is almost completely funded. And it is a project with real grassroots support….Metro would not even look at lightrail in this corridor after the ’98 vote. The community put it back in the mix; its what most of those folks want. This horse is out of the barn.
    Next up is Barbur and/or Foster-Powell. What are the costs/benefits of lightrail, bus rapid transit or just more buses.

  56. Ron Swaren
    January 23, 2008 at 12:12 pm Link

    I guess two more decades of expensive boondoggles, then. Just about everything on the drawing boards now has significant opposition–I was just trying to come up with a reasonable compromise that would meet the “demand” for rail transit and not be nearly so expensive as where we’re headed. I am not in favor of the I-5 removal idea and the Marquam Bridge removal, and that will be by far the most expensive component of this unofficial “master plan” (See: Freeway Loop Advisory Committee). But the MAX proposals have signififcant–and apparently, climbing–costs so I would figure future lines–to OC, Foster/Powell, Barbur, whatever–will just keep going up, too.

    So what will this overall strategy (with Columbia bridge replacement, I-5 burying, requisite reconstruction of Banfield) cost? Up to $30 Billion? $40 Billion?

    So, the Marquam bridge would not be allowed to have a relatively light weight track down low? Don’t any other Federal bridges have any municipal rail lines on them? Is this a new policy? Admittedly, I haven’t researched the policy aspect of this–it seems practical. The Marquam is a massive, stout structure, and a lower level for a light rail car needn’t be very heavy. What do you think a typical railroad trestle–historic or otherwise–weighs and they carry extremely heavy freight trains? There are new, lightweight construction materials coming up, too.

    Environmental problems with a bridge over Ross Island? I’m dying of hysterical laughter…..The problem would be unstable ground conditions on Ross Island. Analogy to the CRC? How does ten lanes compare to four?

  57. djk
    January 23, 2008 at 12:15 pm Link

    As far as Barbur and Foster/Powell are concerned, I’d look at streetcar for both corridors as well as light rail, BRT, and enhanced bus service.

    The case for streetcar out Hawthorne is being made already, and Foster is rife with development opportunities; I can see a Hawthorne/Foster streetcar line replacing bus #14, and a frequent limited-service bus running from Lents to downtown on Foster/Powell.

    As for Barbur, there is massive development opportunity between Burlingame and Barbur Transit Centers. Why not run a streetcar from PCC Sylvania to downtown along Barbur instead of a new MAX line in that corridor? Add frequent limited-service buses from Sherwood to downtown on Barbur/99W.

  58. Jorge
    January 23, 2008 at 1:18 pm Link

    Joseph Edge asked:

    [I’d let the private sector pay their own way]

    “So, John, what’s your model for this policy? How do you propose we go about “letting” the private sector pay their own way?”

    Exactly the same way private development happens now all over the region. It’s not complicated. Stop wasting countless millions planning and subsidizing Beaverton Rounds, Cascade Stations, Villebois, and all the TODs and use the money for basic infrastructure, roads and better bus service.

    All this excessive planning and the so called smart growth isn’t smart at all. It just spends far more than the sprawl money it claims to be saving. While at the same time not delivering the benefits promised and while ignoring the primary needs of growth.

  59. John E.
    January 23, 2008 at 1:24 pm Link

    Joseph Edge asked:

    [I’d let the private sector pay their own way]

    “So, John, what’s your model for this policy? How do you propose we go about “letting” the private sector pay their own way?”

    Exactly the same way private development happens now all over the region. Private commercial and residential development represents the bulk of all development. It’s not complicated. Stop wasting countless millions planning and subsidizing Beaverton Rounds, Cascade Stations, Villebois, and all the TODs and use the money for basic infrastructure, roads and better bus service.
    Adding up all of the money devoured and spent by our planning cabal and it’s enormous.
    All this excessive planning and the so called smart growth isn’t smart at all. It just spends far more than the sprawl money it claims to be saving. While at the same time not delivering the benefits promised and while ignoring the primary needs of growth.
    Agencies are buying land and giving it away with other subsidies so the planner’s model gets built. Well I happen to think their plans suck and the evidence shows that they don’t do what is intended and claimed.

  60. GTinSalem
    January 23, 2008 at 11:27 pm Link

    I think their priorites are all out of whack when they can’t even afford to run a jail that sits empty but they can pull billions of dollars for yet another ineffectual toy train line.

  61. Greg Tompkins
    January 23, 2008 at 11:31 pm Link

    Or… maybe they need to focus on security….

    http://www.portlandtribune.com/news/story.php?story_id=120113478512284000

    Or…. the fact Diesel is going up and they may have to dip into their “reserves”. I’m surprised TriMet even HAS reserves with how they waste money so lavishly on train projects.

    http://www.portlandtribune.com/news/story.php?story_id=120112802546110300

  62. Erik Halstead
    January 24, 2008 at 8:15 am Link

    I’m surprised TriMet even HAS reserves with how they waste money so lavishly on train projects.

    Actually, Greg, TriMet HAD a substantial reserve account (that was supposed to be used for BUS replacement and other routine matters; you know, like maintenance and upgrading existing facilities, and things like security matters that pop up from time to time).

    That account all but was depleted when the Red and (especially the) Yellow Lines were built.

  63. GTinSalem
    January 24, 2008 at 12:21 pm Link

    That account all but was depleted when the Red and (especially the) Yellow Lines were built

    Well TriMet will probably go bankrupt then just like all the companies that have unfunded pension accounts and massive debt load, the overextended federal, state and local governments as well as all the individuals who are up to their eyebrows in debt, too. We’ll be a third world country in no time at all and will have to WALK. No more toy trains in light of a total economic collapse!

  64. Mike Feldman
    January 24, 2008 at 6:45 pm Link

    GTinSalem Says:

    I think their priorites are all out of whack when they can’t even afford to run a jail that sits empty but they can pull billions of dollars for yet another ineffectual toy train line.

    Sigh. “Toy train” again. It would be far easier to respond to you if you weren’t so prone to vitriol.

    That said, I’ll take the bait anyway.

    The prison issue is scandalous, but it’s not clear to me how it relates to transport infrastructure. I found a good link to the prison story at http://www.thetribonline.com/news/story.php?story_id=28215

    Greg, if you’ve analyzed the Multnomah County finances and can show how the county could forgo transport infrastructure and use the money instead to pay personnel to open that prison, please show us your calculations.

    Greg, if you’re registered to vote in Multnomah County and think the elected commissioners (and the elected sheriff!) could spend our money better, you might want to get your fellow citizens to throw them out in the next election.

    Or, if you think their behavior is really scandalous, start a campaign to recall them.

    It would likely be more effective than just fulminating on a blog.

    Mike

  65. Erik Halstead
    January 24, 2008 at 8:00 pm Link

    Let’s put aside the “vitriol” and enter the minds of most citizens.

    Taxpayer money = Taxpayer money.

    They don’t care what special fund or trust fund account it is. They don’t care that transit dollars are dedicated and come from a completely different source than public safety funding.

    As far as they are concerned, if a bunch of Congresscritters can go to Capitol Hill and ask for an “earmark” for something, they can just as easily ask for that same earmarked dollars to go somewhere else.

    In other words, an “earmark” for $100M to fund a light rail line can just as easily become a $100M earmark for local jail capacity, under the guise of “homeland security”.

    I agree that it looks very bad for a local jurisdiction to argue that “we don’t have any money” and then splurge on something. It’s like the Welfare family claiming that they can’t pay rent, utilities and food – but they have no problem buying a new car, gold jewerly and a home theater system. (I actually had one of my customers last week – whose husband died unexpectedly, and was forced to seek energy assistance, complain that she only received a partial benefit but the family with numerous kids in front of her and no job got the maximum benefit.) Yes, maybe those other items were “gifts” or maybe they won the lottery or came into some other unexpected windfall, but it looks bad – why didn’t they use that money to take care of regular expenses?

    The argument I stick to is that TriMet has problems with its current transit system – why are they talking about building new infrastructure? The transit advocates often complain that “we can’t build our way out of congestion” while arguing to do just that – build a new project. Then the argument becomes that the new infrastructure is to support “development”.

    When I’m broke, I don’t build a new room onto my house. If someone wants to move into my house, they can pay for it themselves. And if they need a bigger garage/driveway to park their car, they’re going to pay for that, too. They’ll quickly realize that there is a price to pay for development. Gone are the days where we can just buy a house with a few extra rooms and a three car garage “just because”. I buy for what I need – and if I can’t live with extras, I expect that my taxes that I pay be spent equally as frugally – especially when TriMet sees fit to only provide me with subpar bus service while building gold plated MAX lines.

    Let’s fix what we have, first. And if that means also fixing the jails (which are funded through property taxes) before building a Streetcar line (also funded through property taxes), let’s do it.

  66. Ron Swaren
    January 24, 2008 at 8:12 pm Link

    “Greg, if you’ve analyzed the Multnomah County finances and can show how the county could forgo transport infrastructure and use the money instead to pay personnel to open that prison, please show us your calculations.”

    Mike, did GTinSalem, say that he was against investment in transportation infrastructure? To my understanding he is against lavish waste such as the “toy trains.” I think you need to differentiate the two ideas.

  67. Greg Tompkins in Salem Oregon
    January 24, 2008 at 11:29 pm Link

    Greg, if you’re registered to vote in Multnomah County and think the elected commissioners (and the elected sheriff!) could spend our money better, you might want to get your fellow citizens to throw them out in the next election.

    I live in Marion County but I used to live in Multnomah County. I moved out because I got fed up with all the problems up there and the oppressive tax regime there. Now I just come up every weekend and come back to Salem.

  68. Mike Feldman
    January 24, 2008 at 11:53 pm Link

    Erik said

    I buy for what I need – and if I can’t live with extras, I expect that my taxes that I pay be spent equally as frugally – especially when TriMet sees fit to only provide me with subpar bus service while building gold plated MAX lines.

    I hadn’t noticed any gold plating, Erik. I know, you didn’t mean it literally, it’s just a figure of speech you’re using to denigrate the MAX. If you want to vent, vent – it’s a free country. But then I’m also free to object and ask you to cut out the vitriol.

    The moderators have asked, over and over and over, that we quit arguing bus vs. rail over and over and over.

    Let’s fix what we have, first. And if that means also fixing the jails (which are funded through property taxes) before building a Streetcar line (also funded through property taxes), let’s do it.

    Well, the jail issue is that Multnomah County built a new one at Wapato, for which they claim not to have money to staff it, so it remains unused. That’s strange (maybe even scandalous), but it doesn’t mean they can move money from infrastructure to personnel. I asked Greg whether he knew of a way to do that, and to show us his calculations. We all know that in business and government, money comes in different colors, and repainting it usually difficult.

    Ron asked

    Mike, did GTinSalem, say that he was against investment in transportation infrastructure?

    No, he’s only against the ones he doesn’t like.

    To my understanding he is against lavish waste such as the “toy trains.” I think you need to differentiate the two ideas.

    We’re all entitled to our opinions as to which government outlays are worthwhile and which are “lavish waste”. Neither I nor Greg has a monopoly on truth, and it’s perfectly OK to discuss opinions pro and con in a place like this.

    Greg’s also free to rant and call a transit line he doesn’t like a “toy train”. That’s just a slur though — he knows very well a streetcar isn’t a train, and — whatever he thinks of it — it isn’t a toy. The current streetcar is carrying 10,000 riders a day; that’s not a toy. Greg is just venting, and I find it tiresome and juvenile.

    It’s a free country; Greg has his right of free speech on this blog. But then it’s just as free for me, and I’m entitled to object to the vitriol, and say I prefer civil discussion of the benefits of various outlays. That’s far more productive.

    Mike

  69. Michael Feldman
    January 25, 2008 at 12:03 am Link

    Greg said,

    I live in Marion County but I used to live in Multnomah County. I moved out because I got fed up with all the problems up there and the oppressive tax regime there. Now I just come up every weekend and come back to Salem.

    Hmmm – I thought you said you were in Salem to do your graduate program.

    In any case, you moved out of Multnomah. So why do you use so much energy bashing the place? Obviously if the rest of us agreed with you, we would depopulate Multnomah. But it seems an awful lot of us are staying.

    Before Bob objects, I want to say I mean nothing personal here. I just think that those who have real problems with the government ought to be working hard to change the government. The city and county commissioners are elected officials, and if a majority doesn’t like them, they’re out on their ears.

    Me, I do live in Multnomah, and will use my vote very carefully.

    Mike

  70. GTinSalem
    January 25, 2008 at 10:01 am Link

    In any case, you moved out of Multnomah. So why do you use so much energy bashing the place?

    Mike, likewise, please don’t take this personal either and I apologize if it did come across that way.

    I enjoy visiting and utilizing everything up there, especially the Art Museum, Symphony and Oregon Historical Society (I am a member of all three). I just don’t like being raked over the coals to fund unnecessary services. There was an interesting writeup in the Oregonian yesterday about OHSU’s financial troubles. They are a typical Portland area governmental agency that likes to waste lots of money and now they are starting to hemhorrage. They overspent on the tram, the South Waterfront district, losing $1M for a club, etc. Now when they got hit with a legal issue that put them over the top. If they had managed their funding better they wouldn’t be in this situation.

    Here’s another small “for instance”. I run a small I.T. Consulting company on the side. I went through all the hoops, got a license with City of Portland, State of Oregon, FEIN, etc. etc. I have to date in 08, received THREE separate notices, two on letter paper in a windowed envelope and a third on a postcard reminding me to “rewnew my city license” and “pay my Multnomah County income tax”. Also when I was living in Portland 2 months after I registered my business the PDC sent me a fancy catalog guide to city services. It was an eye opener to me just how wasteful and vaste the City and Multnomah County bureaucracies are. No other city/county locality in Oregon operates like a state within a state. They are operating a department of redundancy department up there! Then to top it all off they made the asinine decision to yank streetside Residential Parking and I had to suddenly pay $100 more per month and my landlord raised my rent all because Portland is so “desirable” to live in. Well just how “desirable” is it going to be when the economy is in the toilet and they can’t even take care of the basic necessities. But hey that streetcar and tram are sure necessary, aren’t they? Many longtime Portlanders are getting displaced through their gentrification drive and being displaced to go elsewhere. People from all over the U.S. and foreigners are flocking to Portland because they think it’s so “desirable”. Well maybe Portland compared to Baltimore is desirable but Portland compared to Portland of the past is far from “desirable”, IMHO.

  71. Nick the oldurbanist
    January 25, 2008 at 1:04 pm Link

    “The moderators have asked, over and over and over, that we quit arguing bus vs. rail over and over and over.”

    >>>> That is why this topic should have its own permanent thread.

  72. Unit
    January 25, 2008 at 1:43 pm Link

    I’ve been thinking about this for a couple of days.

    $1.4B is a lot of money, and is a larger number than we’ve seen before. But, it is now coming out that Westside MAX, if built today, would be $2.1B plus. This is because of the rapid escalation in the construction industry. So, it won’t just be the MAX project that we see these big numbers for. It also is part of why the CRC is so incomprehensibly expensive, and will be true for any big transportation project in the forseeable future.

    So, this raises 2 questions:
    1) Given the higher (and rising) costs, do we want to continue investing in expanding our transportation infrastructure?
    2) If yes, what kinds of projects do we want to invest in? Just roads? Just transit? Both? Other modes?

    For me, the answers are yes to #1 and all modes to #2.

    Many on this blog seem opposed to increasing costs of any kind. I have a different perspective – I am willing to pay a little more to live in a region with a better quality of life, which includes transportation. I would not suggest those who oppose new costs should leave by any stretch, but the fact is that the majority of Portlanders seem to agree with my perspective on this. If you are going to live here, you might want to get used to it.

    All that said, Milwaukie MAX is a pretty darn important project to the regional transit network. It, along with the Vancouver extension, is a critical piece of the system backbone. And it sets the stage for the ultimate extension to OC or possibly Clackamas.

    The reality is if we do not apply for the federal $$$ for this project, another area will use it for a less viable project. The number we should be focused on is our regional share, and can we afford it? My opinion is that IF we can, then we should.

  73. GTinSalem
    January 25, 2008 at 6:42 pm Link

    And it sets the stage for the ultimate extension to OC or possibly Clackamas.

    How much demand is there to OC which would necessitate a MAX? Why don’t they just experiment with more frequent commuter trains — OC already has a train station and Amtrak stops there. Why spend billions to build new track when its already there? I know this will elicit the “the freight trains” response but freight trains aren’t going that frequently. I live next to the UP mainline in Salem and sometimes there are no trains for several hours and I think the most frequency I’ve seen in the last 3 weeks is one every 45 minutes for a few hours. They could easily sandwich commuter train service into the schedule, IMHO.

  74. Erik Halstead
    January 25, 2008 at 9:58 pm Link

    How much demand is there to OC which would necessitate a MAX?

    To be honest with you – as much as I think we need to focus on non-MAX projects for awhile – if you look at the Westside and Eastside MAX lines, you are taking a route that goes from Portland, travels roughly 7-8 miles to a major transfer point (Eastside – Gateway TC. Westside – Beaverton TC), then travels another 8-10 miles to the terminus (Eastside – Gresham. Westside-Hillsboro).

    Now let’s look at the proposed Southside MAX:

    7 miles from Portland to Milwaukie (about the same as Portland-Gateway or Portland-Beaverton).
    6 miles from Milwaukie to Oregon City (a little less than Gateway to Gresham).

    In other words, building out to Oregon City is actually comparable with the existing two MAX lines west and east.

    On the other hand there are some major differences:

    Population of Gresham: 99,225

    Population of Hillsboro: 88,300
    Population of Beaverton: 85,560
    (Westside Population: 173,860 – does not include unincorporated Aloha or Cedar Hills/Cedar Mill)

    Population of Milwaukie: 20,920
    Population of Gladstone: 12,200
    Population of Oregon City: 30,060
    Population of West Linn: 24,180
    (Southside Population: 87,360 – does not include unincorporated Oak Grove)

    In other words, building the MAX line out to Oregon City – a total of 12 1/2 miles – will serve an equal population that is reached simply in the 7 1/4 miles between Portland and Beaverton – and that’s if you include West Linn’s population even though West Linn isn’t served by the Southside MAX line. Milwaukie has only 1/4th the population of either Hillsboro, Beaverton or Gresham.

    Further there is virtually no development potential in Oregon City (between a lack of room and that it’s in a 100 year flood zone), and there is a reason why Oak Grove is unincorporated (and it has to do with residents not liking Metro and their growth policies). Also keep in mind that a major development project in Milwaukie that would have been served by MAX has been killed if not placed on the back burner for awhile; and development in the Brooklyn area will continue to be constrained by the fact that there is a big railroad yard there that isn’t going anywhere anytime soon.

    So looking at only a map, building out to Oregon City makes plenty of sense; it would make MAX a T-shaped line of near equal proportions (plus the two northward lines that are more like branches).

    Looking at population, this line doesn’t make much sense at all – either to Milwaukie or to Oregon City. Greg is right – if we had a comprehensive commuter rail system, it would make more sense to include stops in Milwaukie and Oregon City as part of a route that would serve Salem also with stops in Canby, Woodburn – and potentially stops in Hubbard and Gervais as well as a North Salem stop.

    It should be noted, however, that commuter rail on the UP would likely require an expansion of double-track, which would not come cheap in Oregon City as the UP mainline is built at the base of a cliff, and partially on a long viaduct.

  75. Ron Swaren
    January 26, 2008 at 3:10 pm Link

    There is some development potential between Tacoms St. and Milwaukie–City of Milwaukie has already come up with some plans for the area E. of Hwy 99. That leaves the area W. of 99 ( which has some interesting potential with Johnson Creek running through it) but that raises another curious point. The Oregon RR goes right to this area! Most of the proposed route north of Tacoma St. is already sewn up in property that has virtually no development potential.

    I would rather see some increased options between Brooklyn and DT Portland–such as connections to the Springwater and bringing Eastside SC down. I can’t see a lot of other riders getting on until you get down to the Tacoma St. to Milwaukie Section. I’m all for utilizing the rail connections radiating out from Milwaukie (if agreements with the ROW owners can be achieved) but I think we need to start thinking outside the box here. Neither the big Commuter Train nor MAX is anywhere near the cost efficiency that we need. These are antiquated concepts for the Twenty-First Century.

    How about a light weight, double-decked vehicle fueled with biodiesel and running on the existing tracks?

  76. Erik Halstead
    January 26, 2008 at 5:46 pm Link

    How about a light weight, double-decked vehicle fueled with biodiesel and running on the existing tracks?

    Hmmmm, that already exists in Germany!!!

    I’ve done a little more research and looking outside of population, looked at population density by ZIP Code – for both the Westside and Eastside MAX lines (there is one ZIP Code that encompasses virtually all of the Red Line, with the exception of the PDX terminal building which is in a different ZIP Code (and obiviously doesn’t serve residents within the ZIP Code), as well as the 12-Barbur Line, the Milwaukie MAX line, and the Yellow Line (also within only one ZIP Code).

    Let’s start with the Green Line to Milwaukie:

    97202 (Brooklyn, Sellwood, West and Eastmoreland) – 5639.29 persons per square mile
    97222 (Milwaukie) – 4326.25

    If we were to continue south…

    97267 (Oak Grove) – 3927.74
    97027 (Gladstone) – 4841.23
    97045 (Oregon City) – 537.4 (this includes a large, sparsely populated area that extends over 10 miles east of downtown Oregon City).

    Let’s compare to the Yellow Line:
    97227 (Rose Quarter) – 3061.34
    97217 (North Portland) – 2079.54

    Now the Red Line:
    97220 – 2485.62

    Now the eastside MAX line:

    97030 (Gresham) – 4323.87
    97233 (everything from E 122nd Ave to E 201st Ave, within both Gresham and Portland) – 7054.81
    97216 (Mall 205) – 5311.65
    97220 (Gateway) – 2485.62
    97213 (E 42nd to E 82nd Ave) – 7338.67
    97232 (Hollywood, Lloyd Center) – 5630.58

    And the Westside:

    97213 (Hillsboro/South) – 716.78 (includes the rural areas south of Hillsboro)
    97124 (Hillsboro/North) – 870.69 (includes the rural areas north of Hillsboro)
    97006 (Aloha) – 4343.05
    97005 (Beaverton) – 4461.89
    97225 (Cedar Mill) – 3257.14

    And finally, let’s compare to the ZIP Codes that the 12-B line passes through:

    97140 (Sherwood) – 402.81
    97062 (Tualatin) – 1588.09
    97224 (Tigard, King City) – 2872.84
    97223 (Tigard) – 3673.31
    97219 (SW Portland) – 3347.2
    97201 (South of Downtown) – 3779.36

    What does this show???

    1. Milwaukie, and the unincorporated areas north of the Clackamas River have a comparable population density as the existing MAX lines.
    2. The Yellow Line has a very low population density compared to other areas for which MAX exists or is planned through, and is lower than areas on the 12-Barbur Line in/north of King City.
    3. The 12-Barbur line has a similiar population density than many ZIP Codes that have a MAX line (within Portland and Tigard), but has a far, far lower level of service afforded to it. It is a bit lower, however, than other ZIP Codes that have MAX (i.e. Rockwood, and the areas served by the 42nd, 60th and 82nd Avenue stops).
    4. The Gateway area, within an urban development area, also has a low population density despite being a transportation hub (both transit, vehicular, and encompasses a large portion of Portland International Airport) The low population density could be due to a large amount of its surface area being uninhabitable, as the ZIP Code includes Government Island and a large portion of the airport, a wetland area, two freeways and a large land mass located between I-205 and I-84; and Rocky Butte.)

    It should be noted that there are other ZIP Codes in Portland that have relatively high population densities, and lack MAX service or even the plans for MAX service (i.e. 97206, Powell-Foster).

    If we look at population density (as opposed to simply population), Milwaukie (or even further south) is just as viable as the other lines; however it gives a huge question mark as to why the Yellow or Red Lines were built.

    If we want to look at the Portland Streetcar to Lake Oswego, however, 97034 (Lake Oswego) has a population density of 2170.12. In other words, this underscores the question – why are we considering a Streetcar, when the 12-B has a greater population AND a greater population density; plus has a far greater transit need (as determined by current transit service as well as transit performance)?

    Maybe Ron’s idea of the light-weight, double-decked vehicle fueled with biodiesel – on the existing Willamette Shores Trolley line – makes more sense. Just build a few bus stop like stops next to the tracks and we’re set.

  77. Mike Feldman
    January 27, 2008 at 12:08 am Link

    Erik said
    Maybe Ron’s idea of the light-weight, double-decked vehicle fueled with biodiesel – on the existing Willamette Shores Trolley line – makes more sense. Just build a few bus stop like stops next to the tracks and we’re set.

    Ron referred to the German vehicles. Good thought, but these things have been a failure in Germany. For a bunch of pictures, check out

    http://www.railfaneurope.net/pix/de/diesel/dmu/670/pix.html

    and for the wikipedia article on Baureihe (Series) 670, see

    de.wikipedia.org/wiki/DBAG_Baureihe_670

    My German isn’t great, but it’s better than the weak wikipedia translation to English. They built 6 of these as an experiment; as far as I can tell, they ran in service on some back-country lines but were so troublesome they were never built in quantity and (I think) are all out of service now.

    Unfortunately there’s no off-the-shelf vehicle that would be as easy for Portland to acquire as the Skoda streetcars, which have been (AFAIK) pretty trouble-free.

    Mike

  78. Mike Feldman
    January 27, 2008 at 12:20 am Link

    If you’re looking for off-the-shelf German light-weight diesel railcar technology, check out the Stadler DMUs used on the New Jersey River Line:

    world.nycsubway.org/us/phila/riverline.html

    http://www.riverline.com

    or the Siemens Desiro models that are just going into service near San Diego

    http://www.gonctd.com/sprinter_intro.htm

    Neither of these will be used here on WES, because they aren’t permitted on lines that intersperse passenger and freight trains (crash resistances regulations). In both the NJ and CA cases, there’s some freight service but it runs only at night after the passenger trains stop. Here in Portland the Beaverton-Wilsonville line is too active with freight to push it all off to the night hours, so WES will be using full-scale railroad-quality DMUs instead of diesel LRVs.

  79. Stephan
    January 27, 2008 at 3:36 am Link

    looking for off-the-shelf German light-weight diesel railcar technology

    Stadler also builds the RegioShuttle, a DMU that is designed to operate in mixed traffic with express and freight trains – it’s even capable to pull freight cars.

    http://www.stadlerrail.com/default.asp?h=1&n=137&id=82&s=2

    Of course it may be that US rail safety requirements are higher than in Germany. On the other hand, if rather small autos share the road with 40-ton-trucks…?

  80. Mike Feldman
    January 27, 2008 at 12:02 pm Link

    Stadler also builds the RegioShuttle, a DMU that is designed to operate in mixed traffic with express and freight trains – it’s even capable to pull freight cars.

    I think that’s a 1-car DMU that’s comparable to the 2-car Siemens Desiro, which may also meet the UIC (European) standard and is the model used in the new San Diego-area service. I read that Austin is also acquiring some for their new commuter service. It would be interesting to know how close those models come to meeting the FRA standards.

    European freight trains are much shorter and lighter than US ones (much smaller locomotives, no double-stack cars, etc., mostly due to much tighter width & height clearances), so perhaps the passenger crash standards can be lighter as well. Dunno.

    Maybe TriMet and other cities are being encouraged to purchase US-designed DMU’s, like the Colorado Railcar DMUs for WES and for Florida.

    * * * * *

    In Europe there are many, many, autos that are far smaller than we allow here. They also have a lot of big trucks — I think our biggest are bigger than their biggest, but the averages are probably pretty close. Interestingly, according to tinyurl.com/c5q9a, US highway fatality rates are higher than Western Europe. I’ll leave it to others to speculate about why this is so; personally, I attribute it to the much tougher driving tests in Europe, but I can’t substantiate that.

    (I’ve lived in Europe, so don’t get me started on the joke that passes for US driver-ed and driving tests. We claim “driving is a privilege” but we don’t act on that claim.)

    Mike

  81. Erik Halstead
    January 27, 2008 at 4:51 pm Link

    They built 6 of these as an experiment; as far as I can tell, they ran in service on some back-country lines but were so troublesome they were never built in quantity and (I think) are all out of service now.

    Exactly how have these vehicles (DB Class 670) been a failure? Just because only six vehicles were acquired doesn’t make it a failure, it could be because it’s a niche product for a certain line/route…

    According to the Wikipedia website (in German) it appears that the vehicles were just the wrong capacity for the routes that it was selected to operate on. With a seating capacity of 78, this vehicle would provide double the seating capacity of a New Flyer D40LF that currently runs on Highway 43 – and since it’s known that the 35 bus runs on a 20 minute headway and is currently TriMet’s best performing route that runs in/out of downtown on a regular (non-rush hour) schedule, this type of vehicle appears to be well-suited for the line (if TriMet/Metro insists on building anything for the line.)

    The Colorado Railcar DMU, the vehicle that TriMet chose (by fixing its “competitive bid” process so that only one company could bid and the same company could win) has not exactly been seen as a “success” either. The only other operator of the type has had to use locomotives to tow the cars in demotored service and is trying to get rid of the single-level cars they own. Other than TriMet, no other transit agency has ordered the cars; the Vermont Department of Transportation just in the last month cancelled plans to purchase the cars. Alaska RR, which was virtually seen as a “sure deal” to order the cars, hasn’t. The transit agency that was supposed to join TriMet in a joint procurement went with a European consortium builder instead. NJ Transit and San Diego County NCTD went with European builders.

    Meanwhile how many hybrid-electric busses have been placed into service in the U.S.??? It seems that TriMet is backwards – ordering rail equipment (Colorado Railcar DMUs) with virtually no reputation, while rejecting a vehicle that has garnered a very good reputation (on the basis that it is “unproven” – never mind that one need only travel 150 miles north to see the “proof”.) It just underscores the pro-rail, anti-bus bias there at Metro and TriMet headquarters…

  82. Matthew
    January 27, 2008 at 5:31 pm Link

    “If we look at population density (as opposed to simply population), Milwaukie (or even further south) is just as viable as the other lines; however it gives a huge question mark as to why the Yellow or Red Lines were built.”

    According to you, there is no reason for there to be a stop at the airport, cause nobody lives there. Yet the airport is the most popular stop on the line… Maybe your logic is wrong: light rail doesn’t just serve population density, it also serves destinations, like employers and shopping centers and hospitals…

  83. Mike Feldman
    January 27, 2008 at 5:46 pm Link

    Erik wrote

    Exactly how have these vehicles (DB Class 670) been a failure? Just because only six vehicles were acquired doesn’t make it a failure, it could be because it’s a niche product for a certain line/route…

    The Dutch version of the wikipedia article says there were a lot of problems with the doors (my Dutch is better than my German:-)); the German site says problems with cooling and climate control (unclear whether “cooling” means A/C or motor cooling).

    Whether Portlanders would accept a double-deck bus or railcar is an interesting question; I don’t think there’s any history here of double-deckers. Aside from having to climb a steep stairway to get to the top deck, I wonder if people would feel unsafe, isolated, up there.

    I say this only because in recent years, this has definitely been an issue in Britain — many riders prefer single-deckers, and in London now there’s a real mix of the two types of buses (3 actually, lots of atics too).

    Having ridden the Stadler articulated DMUs in New Jersey, I think they’d be a good fit. It’s an interesting layout – 2 passenger sections on both ends, with the engine in the center (there’s a reasonably wide corridor to get around the engine section). Think of it as a MAX LRV, with an engine compartment between the articulations instead of a passenger area.

    The Colorado Railcar DMU, the vehicle that TriMet chose (by fixing its “competitive bid” process so that only one company could bid and the same company could win) has not exactly been seen as a “success” either.

    I’d be interested in knowing more about the politics in that bid. Since TriMet has gone with proven technology for MAX (in the sense that the original Bombardier type 1, and the newer Siemens type 2-3 trains were proven in Europe), why wouldn’t they do the same for WES?

    After all, those Stadler’s in NJ were pretty much off-the-shelf German technology. I think TriMet claims they weren’t FRA-compliant.

    But then they could have started WES with the same sort of refurbished old Budd RDC’s they use in Dallas on the Trinity Rail Express service. See http://www.trinityrailwayexpress.org/traininfo.html; there are undoubtedly still some rebuildable RDCs out there (in Canada, maybe).

    So why did TriMet wire the process for Colorado? Did the Feds pressure them, to give Colorado a shot in the arm? If not, why then?

    The only other operator of the type has had to use locomotives to tow the cars in demotored service and is trying to get rid of the single-level cars they own.

    Are you referring to the South Florida service? A discussion at trains.com/TRC/CS/forums/1326687/ShowPost.aspx indicates poor acceleration but the trains are apparently still in service.

    As for hybrid buses — TriMet purchased those two in 2002, then subsequently bought 80 more D40LF in 2002-2003. That’s where my fleet list ends; they’ve bought more since then – the 2800s – but how many?

    Any of the operators reading this blog? What’s been the TriMet experience with those two hybrids?

    Mike

  84. Ron Swaren
    January 27, 2008 at 6:52 pm Link

    “Whether Portlanders would accept a double-deck bus or railcar is an interesting question; I don’t think there’s any history here of double-deckers. Aside from having to climb a steep stairway to get to the top deck, I wonder if people would feel unsafe, isolated, up there.”

    So, Portlanders are “going European” and restricting building height to keep the “old world flavor” (which is also restricting downtown employment)—-and on the other hand we want to go with the most expensive transit system we can find.

    What I was saying is that if we are going to have a rail system—and the only reason I can see is that we fear not enough people will choose to ride buses–then at least we could have an advanced, low CO2 vehicle, running on biodiesel and adapted to existng trackage. Sure, electrical power is fairly clean here, but not in the rest of the country.

    But if Portland doesn’t adopt that strategy–I’m sure other cities will. We’ve already seen far cheaper streetcar systems in other areas. But, no, we go with the $100m/mi system; or is it $200m?

  85. The Smooth Operator
    January 27, 2008 at 7:21 pm Link

    As for hybrid buses — TriMet purchased those two in 2002, then subsequently bought 80 more D40LF in 2002-2003. That’s where my fleet list ends; they’ve bought more since then – the 2800s – but how many?

    Any of the operators reading this blog? What’s been the TriMet experience with those two hybrids?

    Mike
    TriMet did not purchase those two busses–they were “given” to TriMet as compensation for warranty work. I am not sure of the whole story but what I have been told is that New Flyer owed TriMet about 1.4 Million in warranty money. So New Flyer offered the 2 hybrids as compensation instead of cash.

    In terms of driving them, they are very smooth, but S-L-O-W to accelerate. The re-genitive braking system is cool-the bus virtually stops itself and charges the batteries.

    I think that the main reason(or excuse) for not purchasing more of them has to do with cost. It is my understanding that they were/are 100K more that a D40LF.

  86. Mike Feldman
    January 27, 2008 at 7:23 pm Link

    So, Portlanders are “going European” and restricting building height to keep the “old world flavor” (which is also restricting downtown employment)—-and on the other hand we want to go with the most expensive transit system we can find.

    Well, I certainly didn’t suggest that, only that there are better, more widely-accepted German DMUs than those double-deck ones. And Europe is building light-rail systems and extending street-running streetcars.

    What I was saying is that if we are going to have a rail system—and the only reason I can see is that we fear not enough people will choose to ride buses–then at least we could have an advanced, low CO2 vehicle, running on biodiesel and adapted to existng trackage. Sure, electrical power is fairly clean here, but not in the rest of the country.

    I have no problem with using off-the-shelf clean DMUs — or, indeed, bi-mode LRVs like they’re using in Europe, which can run off either wires or diesel/hybrid/natural gas engines. In my view, bi-mode LRVs would be ideal for Lake Oswego — run on diesel (or hybrid, whatever) up to SoWa, then put up the pantograph for the rest of the trip into town. Stadler is making bi-modes now; perhaps United Streetcar (aka Oregon Iron Works) could acquire some licenses?

    OTOH, there’s a life-cycle tradeoff between electrification and self-propelled vehicles. Electric LRVs last longer with lower maintenance (and I think are cheaper up-front), but require wires. The calculations are not as simple as you’re suggesting.

    But if Portland doesn’t adopt that strategy–I’m sure other cities will. We’ve already seen far cheaper streetcar systems in other areas.

    Which other areas are you referring to?

    But, no, we go with the $100m/mi system; or is it $200m?

    Most of that investment is for bridges, viaducts, etc. A huge part of that is for a new Willamette bridge. Obviously we need to decide (as a region) whether or not we need that new river crossing. Personally, I’d rather see (1) Streetcars crossing the Hawthorne, not the Broadway, and (2) a combined road-rail bridge to replace the Sellwood, which urgently needs to be replaced anyway.

    IIRC, the existing streetcar cost less than $100 million total; the Eastside one will cost more because of the Broadway Bridge crossing.

    Mike

  87. GTinSalem
    January 27, 2008 at 8:07 pm Link

    Why is our government buying this old school technology from 3rd world countries in Eastern Europe? Doesn’t this run against their “buy local, think local, BE local” mantra?

  88. Erik Halstead
    January 27, 2008 at 9:50 pm Link

    According to you, there is no reason for there to be a stop at the airport, cause nobody lives there. Yet the airport is the most popular stop on the line… Maybe your logic is wrong: light rail doesn’t just serve population density, it also serves destinations, like employers and shopping centers and hospitals…

    OK, then explain why TriMet’s service to Tualatin (a MAJOR employment center) is poor…?

    What should TriMet’s criteria for determining a transit corridor be? What is the minimum level of performance? Or should we just blindfold ourselves, point a finger to a map, remove the blindfold and say “Hey, let’s build a MAX line THERE!” without any logic or criteria behind it?

  89. Erik Halstead
    January 27, 2008 at 9:55 pm Link

    As for hybrid buses — TriMet purchased those two in 2002, then subsequently bought 80 more D40LF in 2002-2003. That’s where my fleet list ends; they’ve bought more since then – the 2800s – but how many?

    A D40LF is not a hybrid bus, although the D40LF and the DE40LF use the same body. TriMet has TWO hybrid busses – every other bus in the fleet is straight diesel.

    In fact there is also a C40LF (CNG fueled), E40LF (trolleybus) and a F40LF (hydrogen fuel cell) version, all using the same bus.

    A D40LF, mechanically speaking, is very little different than a Flxible Metro or a Gillig Phantom, or a GMC RTS-II or a Crown Ikarus 286. Same engine, same transmission. Just a different body.

  90. Erik Halstead
    January 27, 2008 at 9:55 pm Link

    In fact there is also a C40LF (CNG fueled), E40LF (trolleybus) and a F40LF (hydrogen fuel cell) version, all using the same bus.

    I meant to say “all using the same body“.

  91. Erik Halstead
    January 27, 2008 at 10:00 pm Link

    I think that the main reason(or excuse) for not purchasing more of them has to do with cost. It is my understanding that they were/are 100K more that a D40LF.

    Seattle purchased hybrid busses; it was able to get the Federal Transit Administration to pay 100% of the difference between the diesel and the hybrid. SEATTLE PAID NO MORE LOCAL DOLLARS FOR A HYBRID BUS THAN A DIESEL BUS, why can’t Portland do the same?

    I am still at a loss as to why when it comes to busses TriMet has to play cheapskate; but when it comes to MAX then the wallet opens up…

  92. Mike Feldman
    January 27, 2008 at 10:37 pm Link

    GTinSalem Says:

    Why is our government buying this old school technology from 3rd world countries in Eastern Europe? Doesn’t this run against their “buy local, think local, BE local” mantra?

    They’re not “old school” technology; the Skoda streetcars are quite up to date. The Czechs have always been big-time streetcar builders; especially since the cold war ended (15 years ago) their streetcars are as up to date as anything else available. Dayton and San Francisco are now running Skoda electric trolleybuses, by the way.

    Portland bought the Skodas because they were available off-the-shelf. And Oregon Iron Works has acquired licenses to build them in Clackamas. The prototype is supposed to be running this year sometime. See unitedstreetcar.com for details.

    I have an uneasy feeling that if Portland bought a new, untested design (as they did with the DMUs for WES), you’d criticize them. And if Portland bought a tried-and-true off-the-shelf design (as they did with the streetcar), you’d criticize them.

    Mike

  93. Mike Feldman
    January 27, 2008 at 10:54 pm Link

    Erik said

    Seattle purchased hybrid busses; it was able to get the Federal Transit Administration to pay 100% of the difference between the diesel and the hybrid. SEATTLE PAID NO MORE LOCAL DOLLARS FOR A HYBRID BUS THAN A DIESEL BUS, why can’t Portland do the same?

    Good question. Right now, AFAIK, Portland is not buying buses at all. They bought those two hybrids in 2002, then a bunch of regular D40LFs. At least 80; I can’t tell how many more than that. I can only conjecture that they’re being (too) conservative.

    I am still at a loss as to why when it comes to busses TriMet has to play cheapskate; but when it comes to MAX then the wallet opens up…

    Good question. I agree. The TriMet Transportation Investment Program (TIP) doesn’t seem to offer hope for much change. Indeed, it clearly states TriMet’s intention to retire buses after a 20-year life.

    As far as I can tell, the oldest buses still operating are the Gillig 1400s and 1600s from 1990, so they have 2 years to go. The next oldest are the Flxible 1700’s (108 of them) from 1992, so they’re gonna be on the streets 4 more years. The first low-floor D40LFs, the 2000s, are from 1997. See “Bus Rosters on the Web”, http://www.geocities.com/buslist/Portland_TriMet.html for details.

    Unfortunately, nobody from Portland has sent that guy any updates since 1999. Maybe a TriMet operator who reads this blog and knows the bus fleets can arrange for that list to be updated?

    Mike

  94. Erik Halstead
    January 28, 2008 at 8:51 pm Link

    Mike, I posted a response to you on the other site but for the sake of discussion, here’s TriMet’s roster:

  95. 1401-1463 – 40′ Gillig Phantom, blt 1990 (18 yrs old), some vehicles retired
  96. 1601-1630 – 30′ Gillig Phantom, blt 1990 (18 yrs old)
  97. 1631-1643 – 30′ Gillig Phantom, blt 1991 (17 yrs old)
  98. 1701-1808 – 40′ Flxible Metro, blt 1992 (16 yrs old)
  99. (1809-1816 – 40′ Flxible Metro, CNG powered, retired)
  100. 1817-1843 – 40′ Flxible Metro, blt 1994 (14 yrs old)
  101. 1944-1853 – 40′ Flxible Metro, blt 1994 (14 yrs old)
  102. 1901-1910 – 30′ Flxible Metro, blt 1992 (16 yrs old)
  103. 2001-2022 – 40′ New Flyer D40LF, blt 1997 (11 yrs old)
  104. 2101-2160 – 40′ Gillig Phantom, blt 1997 (11 yrs old)
  105. 2161-2165 – 40′ Gillig Phantom, blt 1997 (11 yrs old)
  106. 2201-2258 – 40′ New Flyer D40LF, blt 1998 (10 yrs old)
  107. 2259-2318 – 40′ New Flyer D40LF, blt 1998 (10 yrs old)
  108. (2401-2418 – 28′ World Trans 300RE, retired due to multiple engine fires and the type was not replaced)
  109. 2501-2560 – 40′ New Flyer D40LF, blt 2000 (8 yrs old)
  110. 2561, 2562 – 40′ New Flyer DE40LF (the hybrids), blt 2002 (6 yrs old)
  111. 2601-2655 – 40′ New Flyer D40LF, blt 2002 (6 yrs old)
  112. 2701-2725 – 40′ New Flyer D40LF, blt 2003 (5 yrs old)
  113. 2801-2839 – 40′ New Flyer D40LF, blt 2007 (1 year old)

    As you can see, TriMet has 259 busses that are past the Federal Transit Administration’s 12 year age for a bus, 213 of them are over 15 years old which is the standard retirement age for a bus (although it should be noted that I don’t know exactly how many of the 1400s are still in service as some have been retired. But many are still in service because I rode one today.) That means that the busses between 12-15 years should be the ones running on “light duty” – rush hour only and express services.

    You’ll also note that all of TriMet’s 30′ busses are beyond retirement age.

    Further, the 2001-2259 busses – which include 140 New Flyers and 65 of the 1997 era Gilligs – should have a replacement plan in the works NOW. The 1400s, 1600s, 1701-1808 and 1900s shouldn’t even be on the roster today.

    If we go by TriMet’s plan to purchase 40 busses in the next two years, and TriMet today has 92 busses at 18 years of age, that still leaves a deficit of 52 busses that aren’t getting replaced; plus by the time those new busses are delivered TriMet will have an additonal 131 busses that have reached TriMet’s self-imposed 17 year retirement age – leaving TriMet 183 busses off of replacement schedule.

  • Ron Swaren
    January 28, 2008 at 9:23 pm Link

    Mike Feldman says,
    “I’d rather see (2) a combined road-rail bridge to replace the Sellwood, which urgently needs to be replaced anyway. ”

    Would you mind elaborating on that concept, please? I live in Sellwood and am astounded by the rising projected costs on replacing the Sellwood Bridge, as, I believe, are most neighborhood residents. I am favorable to a rail vehicle if it is cost-effective.

  • nuovorecord
    January 28, 2008 at 9:31 pm Link

    Question: Does TriMet ever refurbish their buses? I know FTA funds can be used for that purpose in lieu of purchasing new buses.

  • lurker b
    January 28, 2008 at 10:55 pm Link

    TriMet has 259 busses that are past the Federal Transit Administration’s 12 year age for a bus

    Isn’t this really more of a recommendation/guideline? If the buses are still in serviceable condition, why should an agency pull them off and spend mid-six digits each on new ones? It may be wise to let the fleet get a bit older.

    On those other hand, I’m not claiming that this is the case here, we very well may need some replacements. A program of planned bus purchases each year is a prudent course of action. Transit agencies ought to have a bit of flxibility, though.

  • Matthew
    January 29, 2008 at 3:01 am Link

    “Question: Does TriMet ever refurbish their buses? I know FTA funds can be used for that purpose in lieu of purchasing new buses.”

    They do. That is how they keep them running for 18 years:
    http://portlandtransport.com/archives/2007/11/bus_vs_light_ra.html#c301708
    As for Trimet’s busses they DO get limited rebuilds-mainly there is a contract with Cummings to swap old engines for new “cores”-I do not know the details though. I do know that the maintainence folks at Trimet are the reason that our busses last so much longer that the national average. They are some of the best in the nation.

  • The Smooth Operator
    January 29, 2008 at 10:31 am Link

    [Moderator: Italics added for clarity.]

    As you can see, TriMet has 259 busses that are past the Federal Transit Administration’s 12 year age for a bus, 213 of them are over 15 years old which is the standard retirement age for a bus (although it should be noted that I don’t know exactly how many of the 1400s are still in service as some have been retired. But many are still in service because I rode one today.) That means that the busses between 12-15 years should be the ones running on “light duty” – rush hour only and express services.
    You’ll also note that all of TriMet’s 30′ busses are beyond retirement age.

    Further, the 2001-2259 busses – which include 140 New Flyers and 65 of the 1997 era Gilligs – should have a replacement plan in the works NOW. The 1400s, 1600s, 1701-1808 and 1900s shouldn’t even be on the roster today.

    If we go by TriMet’s plan to purchase 40 busses in the next two years, and TriMet today has 92 busses at 18 years of age, that still leaves a deficit of 52 busses that aren’t getting replaced; plus by the time those new busses are delivered TriMet will have an additional 131 busses that have reached TriMet’s self-imposed 17 year retirement age – leaving TriMet 183 busses off of replacement schedule.

    Eric,
    Let me state ONCE AGAIN that TriMet is purchasing busses at the rate of 40 PER YEAR for at least the next 5 years. The first delivery will be in June or July of this year. This has be CONFIRMED by Fred Hanson himself.

    TriMet is also trying to “smooth out” the bus purchasing procedure. In the past, TriMet would buy busses fairly randomly–105 one year, 3 the next, etc. This would cause rushes and slow downs in the maintenance department. So they skipped a few years of purchasing to equalize the maintenance end.

    Also, it is TriMet’s goal to get at least 15 years of service from a bus through a service life extension plan. This includes a major overhaul and engine/transmission replacement. I think that you will find that the FTA’s 12 year number is either an average or a minimum age for bus replacement.

  • Erik Halstead
    January 29, 2008 at 12:43 pm Link

    Let me state ONCE AGAIN that TriMet is purchasing busses at the rate of 40 PER YEAR for at least the next 5 years. The first delivery will be in June or July of this year. This has be CONFIRMED by Fred Hanson himself.

    Fine. That still leaves how many busses that are PAST retirement age?

    I heard the whole “buy 50 busses a year” argument when Fred Hansen was first named GM of TriMet, and frankly I thought it was a great idea.

    The problem was – he didn’t follow it. Note that from 2004-2006 there were no new busses. Now we HAVE to order 213 busses just to keep up, yet the order is only for 50.

    If we order 50 this year, that gets us down to 163. The problem is that in three more years when we finally get these old busses replaced, we will now have an additional 140 busses that will be up for replacement. By the time those busses are ordered, 60 more busses will need to be ordered, but then fortunately we’ll have three years without having to replace a bus. (So much for “smoothing out” the orders.)

    If the buses are still in serviceable condition, why should an agency pull them off and spend mid-six digits each on new ones?

    1. Are subject to more frequent mechanical issues (thus subjecting bus riders to needless delays in their trips and/or missed trips altogether),
    2. Do not have low floor boarding (and requires a lift for ADA access which is not popular),
    3. Lack air conditioning (unfortunately this is a requirement in the summer now),
    4. Lack readable headsigns, or have headsigns that no longer function properly, making it difficult for people to determine which bus is theirs (especially at night),
    5. Are less fuel efficient,
    6. Do not convey a proper image towards riders and potential riders – thus discouraging ridership (this is stated in the 2008 TIP).

    Likewise, if an 18 year old bus is still in servicable condition, why are we spending billions on MAX lines if the bus works perfectly well?

  • Mike Feldman
    January 29, 2008 at 3:35 pm Link

    Erik said
    heard the whole “buy 50 busses a year” argument when Fred Hansen was first named GM of TriMet, and frankly I thought it was a great idea.

    etc.

    Anyone interested in this would be advised to read TriMet’s FY 2008 Transit Investment Plan, or at least the summary document. Both are PDFs linked from trimet.org/tip/index.htm. This is an official TriMet document, so it’s about as authoritative as we’ll get in writing, I think.

    According to the summary, TriMet in July 2006-June 2007 did:

    • Transit Tracker by Phone provides real time bus & MAX arrivals to more than 25,000 calls per day
    • Added Stop IDs at 2,000 bus stops for use with
    Transit Tracker
    • Automated external stop announcements on lowfloor buses
    • Installed 15 shelters and replaced/ refurbished 30
    • Installed solar-powered lighting at over 80 bus
    stops
    • Temporarily relocated buses from Portland Mall
    (established 36 new stops, 30 shelters and five curb extensions)

    and in FY 2008 plans to:

    • Add Transit Tracker stop ID numbers to 1,200 more stops
    • Open 333-space Park & Ride lot in Milwaukie
    • Install 35 new shelters
    • Automate internal stop announcements on lowfloor
    buses
    • Install stop name decals at over 500 shelters
    • Install solar-powered lighting at over 100
    additional bus stops

    and FY 2008-FY 2012 plans to:

    • Provide automated stop announcements, air conditioning and low-floor boarding on over 3/4 of buses
    • Add buses and light rail vehicles to address projected passenger crowding
    • Improve Rose Quarter bicycle
    access
    • Complete installation of new signs, stop name decals and optimize bus stop spacing
    • Deploy 40 new low-floor buses annually
    • Deploy 24 higher-capacity MAX trains

    Page 86 of the full TIP says:

    • Replacing the aging fleet of buses at 18-19 years of age (maximum age at retirement will be 20 years, at which a bus can have over 700,000 miles), using debt financing to begin regularly scheduled replacement of 40 buses a year starting in FY2009

    Read the report(s) for more detail. At least now we have the official TriMet statements on the bus stop and bus replacement issues. I’m not defending TriMet’s plans here, just making sure we all know what those plans are!

    Mike

  • GTinSalem
    January 29, 2008 at 6:00 pm Link

    And if Portland bought a tried-and-true off-the-shelf design (as they did with the streetcar), you’d criticize them

    My point was why is Portland importing from third world countries? Doesn’t this go against the “buy local” they are trying to cram down our throats? One policy for the proletariat, another one for the politicans! Look where they bought the tram – Switzerland, look where the “smart” cars the city is purchasing – all from overseas, some third world countries. We can do better and we should demand it too!

  • Erik Halstead
    January 29, 2008 at 6:17 pm Link

    Add buses and light rail vehicles to address projected passenger crowding

    How can TriMet add service if its fleet replacement program isn’t keeping up with existing demands?

    using debt financing to begin regularly scheduled replacement of 40 buses a year starting in FY2009

    In other words we won’t see new busses until June 2009 at the earliest. So much for 2008…

    (If anyone wants to disprove me, I want to know the following:

    1. Vehicle numbers,
    2. Fleet number,
    3. Assigned garage,
    4. Manufacturer of the vehicle,
    5. Model number of the vehicle,
    6. Quantity of vehicles,
    7. A copy of the bid naming the winner and the guaranteed delivery date of the vehicles.)

    Further, TriMet is going to BORROW money, because it failed to maintain adequate reserves (thank you Red and Yellow Line MAX) to fund bus replacements. Meanwhile TriMet has no problem using operating revenues to pay for MAX expansion of service but is borrowing to maintain existing services.

  • Bob R.
    January 29, 2008 at 6:21 pm Link

    My point was why is Portland importing from third world countries?

    The Czech Republic is a third world country? What’s Bangladesh or Darfur, by your standards?

    There were no “buy America” vendors of modern urban streetcars interested in bidding at the time, so it was appropriate to look to non-USA off-the-shelf solutions.

    Doesn’t this go against the “buy local” they are trying to cram down our throats?

    Who is “ramming” “buy local” down your throat? Try a lozenge. In case you didn’t notice, a considerable amount of effort, public and private, has been put into jump-starting local production of modern streetcars. No inconsistency, no hypocrisy.

    Look where they bought the tram – Switzerland,

    So did Palm Springs, and most (nearly all?) ski resorts with aerial trams. Or would you prefer the project, which was already rife with problems and cost overruns, switch to an unknown and untested vendor? If there is a well-established domestic vendor, they should have bid on it.

    look where the “smart” cars the city is purchasing – all from overseas, some third world countries.

    The motor pool buys three whole cars as an experiment, and you cry foul. The Smart is manufactured in France. Is that a third world country to you, too?

    We can do better and we should demand it too!

    You certainly have a lot of demands. Whether or not they’re based in reality is a different question.

  • GTinSalem
    January 29, 2008 at 8:16 pm Link

    The Czech Republic is a third world country

    YES

    So did Palm Springs, and most (nearly all?) ski resorts with aerial trams.

    .. And is Portland a ski resort? ..

    Or would you prefer the project, which was already rife with problems and cost overruns, switch to an unknown and untested vendor?

    They shouldn’t have built SoWhat in the first place. Why didn’t they just build more buildings on Pill Hill or on their huge property in Tanasborne?

    If there is a well-established domestic vendor, they should have bid on it.

    That whole project was a complete joke. Now look at what dire straights OHSU is in, mostly because they are so overextended on their experiment at trying to be developers. They could have made a tunnel and a high speed elevator like they have at the MAX zoo for much cheaper. But it wouldn’t have the Disneyland like effect that trams and streetcars bring. Why is it Portland area politicans (and especially so the ones who aren’t originally from Oregon) are so “UN” sustainable with the money but they preach “sustainability” to the masses?

    They should be buying buses from American companies.

  • Bob R.
    January 29, 2008 at 8:57 pm Link

    And is Portland a ski resort?

    The Palm Springs aerial tram is not a ski resort tram (but it is primarily a tourist attraction), and the Roosevelt Island Aerial Tram is primarily a commuter service, which predates Portland by 30 years. The original point I was making, since you apparently failed to catch it, is that if Portland is going to build a tram, it makes sense to deal with the vendor that builds aerial ropeways — over 13,000 installations of the darned things. If you’ve got another vendor in the USA that could potentially do better, please let us know.

    They shouldn’t have built SoWhat in the first place.

    That’s fine, just own up to that position. Don’t complain about the choice of vendors from the tram if your real issue is that the whole project should never have happened. You’ve been teasing us with opposition to the sourcing of the tram vendor, but in reality you don’t think _anyone_ should have built it. Try leveling with us in the first place next time.

    They should be buying buses from American companies.

    They DO buy buses from American companies. This puts you at odds with Erik, who wants a broader array of buses than those produced by American vendors to be considered. (I agree that they should be considered.)

  • Bob R.
    January 29, 2008 at 9:00 pm Link

    They could have made a tunnel and a high speed elevator like they have at the MAX zoo for much cheaper.

    They could have done it for about the same price, but not “much cheaper”, and I’ve been on the record numerous times stating that I agree with Jim Howell’s idea for a tunnel/elevator.

    Nonetheless, the Tram is not responsible for OHSU’s current shortfall. OHSU’s stated $30m annual shortfall would pay their share of about 64 aerial trams over the life of the capital investment.

  • hawthorne
    January 29, 2008 at 9:01 pm Link

    Greg,

    This is nativist bs. And the Czech Republic “third world” claim is either inflamatory, ignorant or both.

    For a guy who has been banned from other blogs and promised to quit coming around here…your stuff is pretty hard to take. Take a look in the mirror, buddy. You want accountability. How do you practice it?

  • Matthew
    January 29, 2008 at 9:46 pm Link

    “The Czech Republic is a third world country?”
    “YES”

    The Czech republic was under the Soviet Union’s influence, what was better know as the Second world:
    http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Second_World

    Oddly enough, if you read down to the bottom of the first paragraph, it says:
    “Many “Second World” countries are now considered part of the “First World”. These countries include Russia, Poland, Hungary and the Czech Republic.

  • Mike Feldman
    January 29, 2008 at 11:12 pm Link

    Bob said, respondng to Greg:
    Greg: They should be buying buses from American companies.

    They DO buy buses from American companies. This puts you at odds with Erik, who wants a broader array of buses than those produced by American vendors to be considered. (I agree that they should be considered.)

    Currently TriMet buses are from Flxible (out of business, used to be a US company), Gillig (US company headquarted in Calif.), and New Flyer (Canadian company, buses are assembled in US). The TriMet low-floors are all New Flyer, which seems to be winning most of the bids around the country.

    The two other main mfgrs of buses here are Orion (Canadian, subsidiary of Daimler-Benz, assembles buses here) and NABI (subsidiary of Hungarian company Ikarus, assembles here). NYC and DC have lots of Orions. All these companies have informative websites, for anyone who wants to go beyond ranting and get the facts.

    Bus buyers typically specify the engine they want – I think there’s generally a choice of Detroit (spun off from GM), Caterpillar, and Cummins, all US companies.

    Bottom line: when an agency goes out for bid, there are plenty of (quasi-) US companies to choose from. I have no idea whether the big European builders like Mercedes, MAN, Volvo, etc., even bother to bid. They’d have to provide a high percentage of US content, or assemble here, to meet Federal regs if there’s any Federal money involved.

    Mike

  • Erik Halstead
    January 29, 2008 at 11:23 pm Link

    They DO buy buses from American companies. This puts you at odds with Erik, who wants a broader array of buses than those produced by American vendors to be considered. (I agree that they should be considered.)

    Here’s a list of the U.S. owned heavy duty transit bus manufacturers:

  • Eldorado National – primarily known for minibusses (including TriMet’s LIFT busses), but they make a few heavier duty busses. Cherriots’ first low floor busses are ENC models. Because most of EMC’s experience is with light duty busses like cutaways, there are very little ENC models sold to major transit agencies but they are popular with smaller agencies like Klamath Falls.
  • Gillig – based in California – manufacturer of the popular Phantom model (TriMet 1400, 1600 and 2100 series) as well as a low floor model used in Eugene and Corvallis. I have no idea why TriMet hasn’t ordered Gillig’s new low floor model. However Gillig does not produce an articulated bus, but since TriMet has an adversion to providing high capacity bus service…
  • International Corporation – recently entered the transit bus industry with a line of new busses. New entrant, at least one of their busses is a derivative of a school bus.
  • Millenium Bus – manufacturers of the now 20 year old RTS design (originally made by General Motors in the late 1970s). New York City MTA is a major customer. They produce only one bus, which is based upon a very old design – TriMet purchased a number of RTSes back in 1982 in the 900 series, built by General Motors. The bus has seen some updates in the years, but does TriMet want to go with an dated model available only in a high floor configuration?
  • NABI – formerly owned by Hungarian interests, now owned by a private equity fund that also owns Blue Bird. Lineage goes back to Ikarus Bus. TriMet appears to still have doubts about buying a bus from this corporate lineage.
  • Erik Halstead
    January 29, 2008 at 11:27 pm Link

    Bus buyers typically specify the engine they want – I think there’s generally a choice of Detroit (spun off from GM)

    Detroit Diesel was once part of General Motors. Today it is a subsidiary of Daimler Trucks North America (which, of course, is headquartered right here in Portland, Oregon, and is also the parent company of Freightliner Trucks.)

    TriMet, on the other hand, has a preference towards Cummins diesel engines. John Deere also makes engines for transit bus applications, but I’m not sure exactly how popular they are…

  • GTinSalem
    January 30, 2008 at 12:26 am Link

    For a guy who has been banned from other blogs

    I’ve only been banned from ONE other blog.

  • Nathanael Nerode
    November 30, 2008 at 5:01 pm Link

    “I am wondering what the cost of converting 99E and 224 into full, grade separated, freeway would cost?”

    Minimum of $10 billion, easy. Maybe $100 billion.

    Don’t fool yourself. Each interchange is a billion or two; each overpass is 50 million or more; widening on bridges and overpasses costs the same as building new bridges, so that’s billions and billions more; new retaining walls would be needed, at a few million each; et cetera.

  • Anthony
    November 30, 2008 at 10:21 pm Link

    Nathanael— Interchanges do not cost billions of dollars.

    WSDOT completed several urban interchanges on SR500 and SR14 which are similar to the kind of conversion required on 99E and 224:

    Thurson (SPUI): 26.8M
    112th/Gher (SPUI)(including fly over ramps): 23.3M
    192nd (Semi-rural): 18.3M

    There was also a recent project to widen over two miles of I-5 to double its original size with 3 overpasses, a railroad overpass, a SPUI interchange, sound walls, retaining walls, and a pedestrian overpass all for 34M.

    99E from I5 to 224 @ 205 is approximately 8 and 1/2 miles, with minor road widening, a project like this could be done for less then 200M.

  • Bob R.
    December 1, 2008 at 12:07 am Link

    99E moves just fine, even at peak hour (its congested, but rarely stop & go). I grew up in that corridor and frequently visit my folks in Oak Grove. It often takes me longer to get _to_ 99E from NE Portland than it does to get from Division to Roethe Road.

    99E was significantly widened and upgraded about 20 years ago, and at the time the community opposed grander plans for the highway… what we have now is a compromise. Most Milwaukie-area residents, as far as I have been able to sense, do not want to see a full-scale freeway.

    (In fairness, a large percentage of Milwaukie-area residents were opposed to light rail at one time as well.)

  • Lenny Anderson
    December 1, 2008 at 11:23 am Link

    ODOT has made several attempts to fatten up 99E is SE Portland to no avail…who wants more traffic thru their community? Note that light rail was expicitly excluded from further study in this corridor after the 1998 vote, but SE Portland and Milwaukie residents got it back into the mix. It easily beat out BRT on cost and effectiveness in Metro’s study. People want alternatives to motor vehicles in this region.

  • Erik Halstead
    December 1, 2008 at 12:17 pm Link

    Nathanael Nerode wrote: “I am wondering what the cost of converting 99E and 224 into full, grade separated, freeway would cost?”

    Minimum of $10 billion, easy. Maybe $100 billion.

    Hardly. The CRC is described as the most expensive highway project in the region and it’s what, $3B without light rail?

    99E/224 is already built to, close-to, or prepared for freeway conversion from the south end of the SPRR viaduct to I-205. Many of the existing at-grade, signallized intersections would undoubtedly be closed with a freeway conversion. 17th Avenue would likely be closed in favor of Milwaukie Avenue (which has an overpass spanning six lanes).

    I’d say closer to $300 million, since the roadway itself would not need to be widened or significantly improved; save for the strech through Westmoreland Park (which I believe is the only reason for significant opposition to any improvements, due to the large loss of trees and not because of the roadway widening itself.)

  • Jason McHuff
    December 1, 2008 at 4:44 pm Link

    FYI, if anyone wants to look at past report(s) done on McLoughlin, I’ve seen them in the Government Documents room at the Central Library. I’ve photographed some of the pages; see them starting here

  • Bob R.
    December 1, 2008 at 11:39 pm Link

    As luck would have it, I needed to drive to Oak Grove today. Keeping this discussion in mind, I timed the trip portions on 99E.

    From Holgate at 3:28PM, it took 5.5 minutes to reach the Hwy 224 ramp. From Hwy 224 to Roethe Road took an additional 8.5 minutes. (The total travel time was 14 minutes, calculated from 20 minutes minus 6 minutes spent in a fast food drive-through lane.)

    When considering the question of what might have been as far as additional lanes on 99E is concerned, there is a Right-of-Way issue between Brooklyn Yard and Tacoma Street. This is the 2-lane (each way) portion with lots of trees

    You can put more lanes on the other side of the trees, near the railroad tracks. This was the solution used to save the trees a couple of decades ago between Ochoco St. and Hwy 224. The ROW acquisition costs currently faced by the MAX project would have to be assumed by a 99E widening project.

    Otherwise, you can remove the trees on the west side of 99E, knock down a multi-story retirement home, and take out a large chunk of Westmoreland Park. Not likely to go over well with the neighborhoods nearby.

    If federal money is involved, the lanes will probably need to be wider and shoulders (non-existent now) will have to be added. Effectively, the total ROW consumed by roadway would be doubled in this scenario.

    An interchange would have to be created just for the Ross Island intersection to keep those cement trucks moving, an interchange at Holgate, and some kind of combined major interchange for Milwaukie and 17th, which would also require the removal of a number of businesses, including some new construction. New ramps would be needed at Bybee, and even at Tacoma, and brand new interchanges at Ochoco and Millport Rd.

    It wouldn’t cost as much as the CRC, but it could cost as much or more than Milwaukie MAX (at least the non-bridge portion) and would be seriously disruptive.

    (In the short term in might serve more person-trips, but in the long term I think the need for higher-capacity transit in the corridor would outpace the need for roadway capacity, and there’d be fewer options for locating the new transit.)

  • Dave
    December 2, 2008 at 10:19 pm Link

    Why are road projects in Portland always looked at as Interstate-grade freeway or nothing? Much of the country uses flyover lanes and interchanges on roads that are otherwise just highways with traffic lights.

    The Ross Island Bridge could use a better connection to 99E, but maybe we don’t need to make the whole road a freeway. Remove the major conflict areas, and the other stoplights aren’t such a problem.

    An Interstate-substandard interchange could be added at Holgate, with basically the northbound lanes acting as an over/underpass, and only right in/right out, and southbound having left in/left out only, with through traffic taking the right lanes.

    17th/Milwaukie could be re-done into an overpassed traffic circle, broken diamond, or even a SPUI (maybe, would need better pictures) taking zero-one buildings.

    The split area near Westmoreland Park actually sounds quite reasonable, and it could be done with about 6′ of shoulders (right side only) on each road bed and still get federal funding. (1/2 a lane, lanes are 12′ almost always.) Google Maps isn’t perfect, but it might be worth a professional looking at it as long as we’re funding a MAX line. Why eliminate future possibilities?

    SPUI’s could be used south to 224. All of 224 could be upgraded like SR-500 in Vancouver has been/will be with minimal disruptions to the community if it’s properly done.

    If we’re really going to build Damascus and build the Sunrise Highway, we should start to plan for where that traffic should go.

    Most parts of 99/224 might be needed now, but if we’re doing engineering studies on the route, it might be smart to plan for highway as well as transit for the long term. Phased improvements spanning 30-35 years might be smart to start planning for before it’s too late.

  • Lenny Anderson
    December 3, 2008 at 9:20 am Link

    Why would we waste more money on a project like this that will just dump more cars onto the Ross Island Bridge and Grand/MLK couplet. It makes no sense, and fortunately will not happen. Instead we are investing in high capacity transit that will offer fast, reliable options for many.

  • Dave
    December 3, 2008 at 8:47 pm Link

    Lenny: I think we should plan for 30-100 years in the future. I don’t think it’s a waste of money to identify areas that we may want to improve over that time span, considering the long term savings of doing so now rather than later.

    I don’t think the personal occupancy vehicle in some form will not survive that. If Portland is to grow in the manor expected we should plan for that.

    Eventually if the personal vehicle survives, we’ll be looking at replacing the East-side I-5 corridor from the Marquam Bridge to at least North Portland. An improved 99/224 corridor could connect Damascus to that. My entire last post was meant to be individual projects that could be paced over decades, to at least maintain some level of sanity on the corridor as the region grows.

    I don’t mean immediately, but phased in over 20-100 years. Why not plan for the best way to move more vehicles, while planning for other transit forms?

    Planning for long term growth is the responsible way for any city to think for the long term. Maybe the planned ROW is needed for another purpose, or maybe it just stays undeveloped as open space while the areas around it grow.

    Can it really hurt to incentivize private land-holders to build around future plans? US-30 (in NW, through the industrial district) is another area where a few flyover ramps could save a lot of wasted energy and time in 20-100 years, depending on how technology and local growth goes.

    A point I could compare it to: Portland does not need a bridge between the Fremont and the St Johns bridges now. In 30-100 years, it might be a good idea to think about one. Maybe we should identify a path now, to protect it, and reduce harm when the bridge becomes necessary?

  • Lenny Anderson
    December 4, 2008 at 8:56 am Link

    One person’s “improvement” is another’s curse. The highway network is built. Period. I would not waste one more dime on it. If anything, I would start to remove portions of that network where land could be better used for housing, jobs and recreation…let’s start with the Eastbank Freeway.
    The trail network, bike network, and high capacity transit network are unfinished. The future is with non polluting, efficient means of transport. Or at least it better be.
    I was driving around Portland a bit recently…we have plenty of roads, streets, highways, and really not much congestion if you use your brain. Freeways are really a bit absurd…who’s idea was it to travel alone at 60 mph thru the middle of a city? Tear them out!

  • Dave
    December 4, 2008 at 9:02 pm Link

    One person’s “improvement” is another’s curse. The transit network has been built, and still needs a helluva lot of work to not suck. Period. I would not waste more than 10% of the budget on it. If anything, I would start to make it pay for itself on more routes. Let’s start with the MAX.

    The road network was never completed, and even hass been torn apart and intentionally distrupted over the last 40 years. If can become non-polluting, much like horses, trains, and buses are (falsely) called.

    I took the MAX around Portland a bit recently…We have plenty of transit, trains, buses, streetcars, and trams. They’re all a bit absurd…what’s idea was it I should take 2 hours to go 12 miles to work?

    When people had a horse and carriage it took less effort to go 12 miles! Why was the bicycle invented, also? Why should anyone spend more than 10 minutes away from social contact? What are they, some kind of anti-social debaser?

  • Dave
    December 4, 2008 at 9:19 pm Link

    Shoot, I clicked too Post too soon, but I meant to comment about how absurd an extremist position like that is when trying to suggest public policy solutions.

    Since man existed we have wanted to travel with less energy spent. Why is it so bad if in 30-100 years I can, using solar or geothermal power only, run across town at 120 mph without making any bad emissions?

    I don’t get the opposition to planning for growth, and technology. Why is it that we can’t make engines that get 1000 or so mpg in the next decade? My car is a 2000 Honda and gets up to 42 mpg (closer to 37-41 on average.) 8 years old, about 39 mpg. Wow.

    Over the previous centuries, personal transportation has existed. Sometimes it’s been horse driven, or steam, or fossil fuels. It can also potentially be geothermal, solar, nuclear, hydrogen, or other based energy.

    Why is it so bad for people to be able to move around without mass transit? Trains cut off places as much as freeways, yet I have to hear all the extremists talk about how great both are.

    We need trains, yes. We also need freeways, sidewalks, bike paths, and other stuff. Still, every time I hear someone talk about removing a big chunk of I-5 like that… Well, the disregard for the larger effects just astounds me.

    You can’t tear out a big part of I-5 without overloading other roads. Natio to the Hawthorne/Morrison would just overflow. The Broadway and Steel Bridges would be even more backed up as well.

    That segment of I-5 serves a very important purpose, connecting most of what’s East of Portland (a lot) with what’s South of Portland (also a lot). I have trouble understanding how someone can reasonably suggest destroying such an important portion of road, while SoWa and the CEID are considered such important growth areas.

    Just because you hate cars doesn’t suggest at all everyone does. You can pry my car from my cold dead hands after you’ve taken the Bill of Rights away.

  • Lenny Anderson
    December 5, 2008 at 8:58 am Link

    No one loved his BMW more than I did, but building highways thru the middle of cities to enable folks to drive without stops at 60 mph was the most destructive thing we ever did to cities. It was achieved largely because inner city neighborhoods were too poor to defend themselves; it was stopped (Mt Hood freeway) when these same neighborhood started fighting back. Even the Germans with their cities in ruin after the WWII had the sense to NOT do this.
    Highways are fine, cars are fine, but why destroy neighborhoods, river banks and depress property values to save someone five minutes?
    Transit, especially rail transit, restores communities, increases property values and spurs sustainable develoment. It had better be our future. Clinging to one’s “Auto addiction” is what’s extreme.

  • Lenny Anderson
    December 5, 2008 at 1:35 pm Link

    The one missing piece of the freeway network is a route from north Clackamas county over the Willamette and thru Lake Oswego to Kruse Woods/217. It could be an elevated expressway over the existing RR track, thru the Hunt Club, etc. My guess is the residents of LO would not be very enthusiastic no matter what kind of car they drive. Same goes for every other community…more roads? sure, but not thru my town. Forget more roads; let’s learn to make do with what we’ve got…which is plenty, then start on a road diet. When new roads are built, travel patterns change; when old roads are removed…travel patterns change. The sky does not fall.

  • R A Fontes
    December 5, 2008 at 3:16 pm Link

    I don’t understand.

    Lenny Anderson says at 8:58 AM that “…building highways thru the middle of cities to enable folks to drive without stops at 60 mph was the most destructive thing we ever did to cities…” but then at 1:35 PM proposes building a freeway through the heart of the city of Lake Oswego’s downtown.

    Milwaukie MAX extension with a new bridge including a cycle/pedestrian pathway: Absolutely—especially if it were coordinated with a WES extension into Washington county cities. As stated earlier, this would be a much better deal than the proposed streetcar extension.

    But given the geographical restraints (Willamette River, Oswego Lake, Tryon Creek State Park, etc) any high volume highway “improvement” in downtown Lake Oswego would be highly problematic.

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