Streetcar Line Colors Assigned, Amber Line Breaks Ridership Records

As the Streetcar Loop moves into final engineering TriMet has assigned colors for the system map for our soon-to-be-two-line system. The current alignment from South Waterfront to NW 23rd will be the Amber Line, while the new Loop route (which won’t really be a loop until 2015 or so) will be the Aqua Line. I am told the general ‘family’ for streetcar colors is from precious stone colors (then why don’t we have a Diamond line?).

If someone comments that bus riders are discriminated against and under-served because their lines don’t get colors, I’m going go throw myself under a rail car.

Meanwhile, weekday ridership on the existing line (everybody practice now: the Amber line) was 12,600 during the summer ridership counts. That’s up about 25% from the year before. Saturday ridership was 11,700, Sunday 7,300, both also records.

99 Comments

99 Responses to Streetcar Line Colors Assigned, Amber Line Breaks Ridership Records

  1. Adron
    October 6, 2008 at 9:57 pm Link

    Bus riders are discriminated against because they’re under served and their lines don’t get colors Chris.

    No…

    Wait…

    Don’t do it. :p

    But in all seriousness, I kind of dig the color assignments.

  2. Bob R.
    October 6, 2008 at 10:05 pm Link

    I think it’s time for me to put together a post about future route naming/number/coloring conventions that I’ve been mulling over. (Yes, I mull over these things from time-to-time, but maybe someday they’ll have a medication for this.)

  3. Bob R.
    October 6, 2008 at 10:05 pm Link

    PS… Don’t do it, Chris! :-)

  4. Bob R.
    October 6, 2008 at 10:14 pm Link

    PPS… If anyone is old enough to remember reruns of the series “The Prisoner”, apologies for this homage: I am not a number, I am a free bus!

  5. Matthew
    October 7, 2008 at 1:35 am Link

    The bus riders used to have animals. I remember back when I was in high school all I needed to know if I was downtown was get on the beaver buses, and I’d get home eventually. Of course, most of the animals were brown when you think about it. I think the animals used to have colors too, but I don’t remember what they were…

  6. al m
    October 7, 2008 at 1:52 am Link

    WHO U CALLING OLD?

    http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=Xcaxlxgnvf0

  7. joe
    October 7, 2008 at 1:53 am Link

    Any comments on how the mortgage meltdown will affect the railroading and streetcaring of Portland?

  8. Chris Smith
    October 7, 2008 at 6:33 am Link

    Any comments on how the mortgage meltdown will affect the railroading and streetcaring of Portland?

    I don’t see any of the revenue sources for either the MAX Green Line or the Streetcar Loop being at risk, but I think it’s too soon to say what may be impacted beyond that.

  9. Matthew
    October 7, 2008 at 6:45 am Link

    The credit crisis is possibly a different story, (assuming that the current projects haven’t sold all their bonds already.) But that won’t just stop light rail, it would stop everything that relies on debt, including a lot of maintenance of bridges and the like…

  10. Jeff F
    October 7, 2008 at 7:30 am Link

    Matthew, they were different colors and they weren’t all animals. Brown beaver, red fish, orange deer, yellow rose, green leaf, purple raindrop and (discontinued early) blue snowflake. Each defined a sector. Heck, they only went away completely when buses moved off the Mall in 2007.

  11. Psymonetta Isnoful
    October 7, 2008 at 9:06 am Link

    I want to put dibs on tourmaline for the Holgate Streetcar…just so I can be silly an say

    “would you like to tour.ma.line”?

    Burnside Couch should be Peridot, Hawthorne/Foster should be Sapphire, 82nd should be Jade and 122nd should be Ruby.

    There, we’re done now.

  12. Unit
    October 7, 2008 at 10:12 am Link

    Seems like 82nd should be Rosetta.

  13. Douglas K.
    October 7, 2008 at 10:22 am Link

    Personally, I’d give the streetcar lines letter designations. With some letters excluded to avoid soundalikes (B and P, for example.) Leave the colors for light rail and commuter rail lines.

    I’d also clear out all the single-digit designations from bus lines (# 1-9), and reserve those for future BRT lines.

  14. Bob R.
    October 7, 2008 at 10:40 am Link

    I actually did want to create a whole separate thread about naming/coloring/numbering conventions, but since some things have already been brought up here, I’ll present a brief outline of my ideas:

    Ground rules:

    1. Naming/display conventions should take into account accessibility, clarity, and service type.
    2. These conventions should attempt to be compatible with existing conventions. (No mass renumbering/renaming of lines!)

    Regional High Capacity Transit:

    As our regional light rail system (and now a commuter rail line, too, maybe BRT in the future) expands, there will be a number of colors which may begin to look similar on a map. Our current station signage displays colors as a solid circle. This presents a bit of an accessibility problem for the visually impaired and the color-blind.

    I propose assigning individual letters to our regional high-capacity lines, and a matching color. Fortunately, letters and colors line up well with today’s MAX lines:

    B: Blue
    G: Green
    R: Red
    Y: Yellow

    Future colors could include O: Orange, P: Purple. All we have to do to implement it is slap a letter in those solid circles on the signage… as long as we choose colors which correspond to a unique letter, there should be no confusion.

    Local Service:

    There are many local routes, and this may one day include a number of streetcar routes as well. I propose that all local routes be numbered. For buses, they would remain just like they are today, for streetcars the existing line should be given a unique number, as though it were another bus line, but have the designation “S” in front.

    Suppose, hypothetically, that a Hawthorne Streetcar is constructed someday which replaces the entirety of the #14 bus. It would be safe then to call the streetcar route “S14” or pronounce it as “Streetcar 14”. If the route did not replace the #14, the streetcar should get a different, unique number to avoid confusion.

    Other designations such as adding an X for express service may continue unchanged, such as the 99X. Anything which implies special route conditions should go after the number, X for “express”, L for “limited”, etc.

    It is fair to ask whether, in a local service scenario, we should even add the prefix “S” for streetcars. This is largely philosophical… to the extent that the public views streetcars as being special or something to seek out, I think it is appropriate to add the “S”, but there is nothing inherently wrong with a more modest approach and sticking with numbers only.

    Of course, now the Amber and Aqua line designation throws a big wrench into my proposal: They are neither numbers (which I would prefer to separate local service from high-capacity regional service), and as colors their letters clash. I should have brought this all up sooner!

  15. Jon
    October 7, 2008 at 10:41 am Link

    If you can color code the bus routes in your system, it means you have extremely minimal bus service.

  16. Jon
    October 7, 2008 at 10:52 am Link

    As far as MAX Light Rail & WES Commuter Rail is concerned there would probably only be another 2-3 colors needed once the system is at full build out. Most new routes are just extensions of other routes.

    Milwaukie (eventually Oregon City) would be an extension of the Yellow Line as would a line into Vancouver, WA; Oregon City via I-205 would be an extension of the Green Line, a Barbur Blvd. line would be an extension of the other end of the Green Line. Forest Grove and MHCC (in Troutdale) would both be extensions of the Blue line. You’d only really need new colors for routes into eastern Vancouver via I-205 and for Powell-Foster-Damascus BRT.

  17. Bob R.
    October 7, 2008 at 11:38 am Link

    To amplify the reasons why I think streetcar lines should be numbered (with or without a special “S” prefix):

    1. If we really are going to have a “streetcar system plan” implemented, it is conceivable that one day we could have 5, 8, or even a dozen routes. (Not overnight, of course.) So why not start now with a designating scheme which can grow in the future?
    2. If we have a bunch of streetcar lines, we *will* run out of colors, or at least people will have trouble remembering/distinguishing them.

    Looking at TriMet’s current route list, there’s plenty of room in the numbering system for new routes. (Some of these numbers were old routes, of course, and should probably be left in retirement until service in the same corridor area needs a number.)

    Currently-unused numbers: 2, 3, 5, 7, 11, 13, 21, 24, 26, 30, 40, 42, 49, 50, 69, 73, 83, 90, 91, 93, 95, 97, 98, plus most of the 3-digit numbers.

  18. Douglas K.
    October 7, 2008 at 11:40 am Link

    As far as color-coding WES, I can see — realistically — only two lines there. I’d go for metallic colors: Gold Line and Silver Line.

    For MAX, I can see the need for, at most, one more color (Orange), probably for the Barbur Corridor, unless that becomes an extension of the Green Line.

    And I suppose you could color-code BRT lines as well if there were only two or three of them. But Clark County’s suggested BRT buildout could have as many as six BRT routes. Ideally, I think they should share some coherent designation with Tri-Met, as they would all be part of the regional HCT network.

    My problem with color-coding streetcars is that, in time, you could easily run out of colors. That’s not so much an issue with alphabetic designations.

  19. Terry Parker
    October 7, 2008 at 11:44 am Link

    Ridership numbers are up because most passengers ride for free either in Fareless Square or by avopiding the fare. Just like the mortgage bankers and the freeloading pedal pushers,taxpayers are bailing out streetcar operations.

  20. R A Fontes
    October 7, 2008 at 12:03 pm Link

    Given the advantages/disadvantages of streetcars and the explosion [no pun intended] in battery/supercapacitor based electric vehicle advances going on right now, don’t you think that the ‘modern’ streetcar fad might just be peaking right now and that concern for running out of colors for Portland’s system might be just a little premature?

  21. Bob R.
    October 7, 2008 at 1:14 pm Link

    Ridership numbers are up because most passengers ride for free either in Fareless Square or by avopiding the fare.

    But the streetcar has always been available in Fareless Square. These ridership boosts have come as the line has extended beyond Fareless Square, and have increased further even as no new extensions have opened this year. The simple fact is that more and more people are discovering the streetcar line as a viable option.

  22. Jeff F
    October 7, 2008 at 3:10 pm Link

    The Milwaukie MAX line will be the Orange line, and the Tigard route will be Yellow.

    My problem with the Aqua and Amber designations is defining the colors from a design perspective. Blue, Red and Yellow are simple because they’re primary colors. Green is a secondary color. What is “Aqua”? Amber is even worse, because it’s what we call a yellow light and it’s also how we label those alerts for missing children. But from a design perspective, what is amber paint?

    Heck, why not “burnt umber”?

  23. Bob R.
    October 7, 2008 at 4:08 pm Link

    I’m fine with picking out non-conflicting colors to draw on maps and brochures (which is why I think the streetcar received a color designation in the first place), but not as actual route designations. Jeff brings up some important points about these particular new colors … I don’t think the end result here will promote clarity for consumers.

    Also:
    The Milwaukie MAX line will be the Orange line, and the Tigard route will be Yellow.

    Does this mean that Interstate Ave. trains will not be through-routed to Milwaukie? In other words, in general practice, will Milwaukie trains go no further north than the end of the Transit Mall, and then turn back?

    If the trains will be through-routed, why not stick with Yellow for the whole North-South run?

  24. Jason McHuff
    October 7, 2008 at 8:23 pm Link

    throw myself under a rail car

    As long as its not on a line that is actually useful because it serves a real transportation purpose. :) OK, I shouldn’t say that.

    they’ll have a medication for this

    It could be argued that its bad enough to make a post (OK, half a post) about what color will be used on a map :) But I went to the transportation summit yesterday and someone actually complained about how the sector symbols (beaver, fish, etc) were taken away. Though it was part of a larger complaint about how buses to Barbur are now split between 3rd and Columbia.

    [Moving on to stuff that’s just a tad more serious] Do we really need designations? Unless there’s more than one route a vehicle can take to get to its destination, simply calling a line by its destination might be fine. BART does it and Red Line trains (which started this whole issue) could simply be called “Airport” or “Beaverton” trains.

    If we have to have designations, I’m leaning towards using letters, like San Francisco does. Keep in mind that the streetcars are unable to show colors on their destination signs like MAX can. Also, regarding “B: Blue, G: Green…” why have duplicate designations?

  25. Bob R.
    October 7, 2008 at 9:38 pm Link

    Also, regarding “B: Blue, G: Green…” why have duplicate designations?

    My point there was in part to address color-blindness. I used to be involved more heavily in user-interface design and information display, and this is a serious issue for some. The idea of using letters that correspond to colors is that we can be backwards-compatible and whether a person refers to a line as a color or as a letter won’t confuse riders.

    simply calling a line by its destination might be fine. BART does it

    I remember reading complaints as BART lines were extended and the destination signs changed.

    Hypothetically, if a tourist has a printed guide that says “take a Hillsboro train” but the only trains they see say “Forest Grove”, how are they supposed to know? Having color and/or letter designations allows the lines to expand without rendering older directions out-of-date.

    I went to the transportation summit yesterday and someone actually complained about how the sector symbols (beaver, fish, etc) were taken away.

    Well, I kind of miss them, too. Most of my routes as a kid were in the “maple leaf” sector.

    Somebody put a lot of thought into those designations around the time that the transit mall was originally created… I’m not so sure if as much effort is being expended now, even as our system expands to more and more modes.

  26. Erik Halstead
    October 7, 2008 at 10:09 pm Link

    Bob R. wrote: streetcars the existing line should be given a unique number, as though it were another bus line, but have the designation “S” in front.

    Actually, TriMet already had an “S” designation, it was used for MAX shuttles.

    For example,

    50s Cornell Oaks Shuttle
    53s Arctic-Allen

    Some of the 80 series routes in Northeast also had ‘S’ suffixes, and I believe a couple of the 40 series routes in Hillsboro did as well. TriMet abolished all of the suffixes a few years ago which IMO was a mistake. TriMet did a good job of using suffixes to designate the purpose of the bus line.

    The alternative is to follow New York City’s bus line numbering scheme which uses a prefix to designate the borough (i.e. m123 – Manhattan; x123 – Bronx, b123 – Brooklyn, and so on.) Portland would likely use the three counties so would you have c###, m### or w###. But I don’t think this system would be useful here.

    I don’t agree with Douglas K.’s idea of reserving the single-digit routes for future BRT routes; I believe that TriMet should reserve 1-12 for the corridor bus routes from downtown in a clock-face fashion. So line 6-MLK (as it is today) would become 12; the 4-Divison would become the 3, 9-Powell would become 4, the 33-McLoughlin would become the 6, the 12-Barbur would become probably the 7, the 56-Scholls Ferry would become 8, 54-Beaverton Hillsdale would become 9…

    Lines 13-19 would be other high capacity routes (i.e. the 57-TV Highway, 20-Burnside/Stark).

    Lines 20-99 would be local routes, arranged by region. So 20-29 would be, say, North Portland; 30-39 would be East County; 40-49 would be Southeast, 50-59 would be Southwest, 60-69 would be Washington County.

    70-79 would be crosstown routes (as they are today).

    80-89 would be shuttle routes.

    90-99 would be express routes.

    Another alternative, following LACMTA and King County Metro logic, is to have busses that travel in/out of downtown be given the lowest numbers, and use three-digit route numbers for everything else. (Frankly, I like TriMet not really using three digit numbers, and since there are still enough two-digit route numbers available, I wish TriMet would renumber all the three-digit routes into two-digit numbers.)

    And, I miss the old sectors. While they weren’t very useful for the most part (except to identify your stops downtown), they were a pretty neat feature of TriMet’s route maps, schedules, and bus stop signs. Except that in SW Portland (i.e. Tigard) they didn’t make sense – the Yellow Rose and Orange Deer sectors overlapped.

  27. Jeff F
    October 7, 2008 at 10:14 pm Link

    Bob R.

    Does this mean that Interstate Ave. trains will not be through-routed to Milwaukie? In other words, in general practice, will Milwaukie trains go no further north than the end of the Transit Mall, and then turn back?

    If the trains will be through-routed, why not stick with Yellow for the whole North-South run?

    My understanding is that the long-term plan is to connect the Yellow Line to a SW route and not to Milwaukie. I don’t know if there is any attention of extending the Orange Line off somewhere or where that would be.

  28. Bob R.
    October 7, 2008 at 10:16 pm Link

    Thanks, Erik, I had forgotten about the use of the letter “S” to designate shuttle service.

    Still, I’m sure we can come up with something better than Aqua/Amber. :-)

    The clock-face numbering scheme you propose sounds intriguing.

  29. Jason McHuff
    October 7, 2008 at 11:39 pm Link

    Naming/display conventions should take into account accessibility, clarity

    Good call.

    X for express service

    In case you haven’t realized, Xs, Ls and Ss (shuttles) were discontinued years ago for simplification. The only exception is for trips on routes that are otherwise local and don’t get a whole separate route/number. And why is “E” used for “express” in that case instead of “X”?

    If you can color code the bus routes in your system, it means you have extremely minimal bus service.

    Not necessarily. Not at all.

    Currently-unused numbers

    2 and 3 are used for MAX and streetcar selections by TransitTracker by Phone, 7 internally used for “extra service” (replacement) buses, 11 for charters(?), 21 for shuttles(?), 42 for the Cedar Mill Shuttle, 69 for training (a reference to 1969?), 73 for the Washington Park Shuttle, 83 for the OMSI Shuttle, 90 for MAX, 93 for the Vintage Trolley, 97 for a Powell-Gateway operator shuttle. Also, some of the triple digits are used for through routes (e.g. 4-Division is 104) and the line/train (block) displays can only display two digit routes, though that is not an issue if the xx and 1xx routes come from different garages or otherwise have their individual numbers kept separate.

    Also, the 76/78 used to be used for what’s now the 28 and 31 between Milwaukie and Clackamas. I need to get a web site going that has tidbits like this.

    Lastly, just saw this. Seattle BRT is to be lettered.

    Tigard route will be Yellow

    Aren’t we getting a little ahead of ourselves? And my guess is that Milwaukie trains will be separated from the Yellow Line in order to cut down on the number of shuttle trains. The benefit of through routing is to cut down the number of vehicles on the portion that the two routes share; here, there’s a desire to have the extra frequency. In addition, it will spread out passengers and avoid the conflict between inbound riders getting off and outbound riders getting on.

  30. Jason McHuff
    October 7, 2008 at 11:57 pm Link

    address color-blindness

    My argument is to just use the letters and not the colors.

    “take a Hillsboro train”

    I think I’m assuming that people are going to use a system map. When the Red Line is extended, those trains will also work for the stations newly added to it. Really, the best way to keep directions up to date is to only list the station that the rider needs to go to.

    corridor bus routes from downtown in a clock-face fashion

    Originally, the numbers were assigned in a clockwise fashion. Until recently, it went 1, 5, 4, 6, 8, 9, 10, 12.

  31. Jason McHuff
    October 8, 2008 at 12:01 am Link

    One (very) last thing, DART (Dallas) has an interesting numbering scheme based on service type.

  32. The Smooth Operator
    October 8, 2008 at 12:13 am Link

    Regarding the new MAX line to Milwaukie. It is my understanding that it is no longer being referred to as the Orange line. It is now called the Green Line phase II.

  33. Jason Barbour
    October 8, 2008 at 5:56 am Link

    …the new Loop route (which won’t really be a loop until 2015 or so) will be the Aqua Line.
    Well, OK, but every time I see mention of the color “Aqua” I’m still reminded of the “group” that did the “Barbie Girl” “song” in the 90s that I never liked.

    As for sector symbols and “X” and “s” designations, yeah I miss those too. Imagine my amazement as a teen when I first used “Call-a-Bus” in the 90s, used a route in SE Portland for the first time, and heard “board your bus at the BROWN BEAVER station.” I’ve heard there are no plans to bring sector symbols back.
    Then there’s the anecdotal observation that I made when they dumped the “X” off of route 95X, where ridership seemed to decrease after the “X” was removed from the route number.

    I have my own bus route/line re-numbering idea, but I’ll keep it to myself for now.

  34. nathan
    October 8, 2008 at 7:03 am Link

    Its all a bit too confusing… I think Trimet should strive for clarity in the route designations.

    I like the London system, which utilizes both a color and a name. eg, the Red Line becomes the Airport line, and maintains its red color, and the Yellow line becomes the interstate line, and maintains the yellow color.

    This sytem avoids confusion, even when two lines have similar colors…

    so eventually wed have the Airport, Interstate, Clackamas lines, and maybe like the Sunset line for the blue line, etc…

    as for streetcar routes, I like numbers plus colors… the amber line is Route 1 etc

  35. Jason Barbour
    October 8, 2008 at 9:54 am Link

    I must have missed something… there was a ‘Transportation Summit’ on Monday?

  36. Chris Smith
    October 8, 2008 at 10:01 am Link

    3rd annual Portland transportation safety summit.

  37. Grant
    October 8, 2008 at 10:14 am Link

    “It is now called the Green Line phase II.”

    It is called South Corridor Phase II. The color on the map is irrelevant until it is built; I imagine orange was chosen simply because there is no existing orange line.

  38. Jon
    October 8, 2008 at 10:34 am Link

    Chris,
    Will there be a post about the proposed TriMet Willamette River Bridge that was featured in the Oregonian today?

  39. Jason McHuff
    October 8, 2008 at 10:51 am Link

    3rd annual Portland transportation safety summit

    Where Chris Smith seemed to appear just long enough to announce the streetcar ridership numbers in response to a question. This is where I read about it.

    But what I would like to know is how much of the streetcar ridership is poached from existing buses. According to various TriMet documents I have, from 1999 to 2007 Line 15 (NW) lost almost 37% of its ridership, from 4270 to 2700 a weekday.

  40. Erik Halstead
    October 8, 2008 at 12:26 pm Link

    Jason McHuff wrote: 2 and 3 are used for MAX and streetcar selections by TransitTracker by Phone, 7 internally used…

    I once made a list of all TriMet bus routes, including MAX, Streetcar, Vintage Trolley, etc. There are enough unused numbers to assign every single bus route, each half of an interlined route (i.e. 4D/4F, 9B/9P, 12B/12S), every three digit route, plus the internal designations for MAX, Streetcar, and so on, into a 1-99 number – and have a few numbers left open (but not many).

    And why is “E” used for “express” in that case instead of “X”?

    There’s actually a difference between a “E” and “X”. “E”, like “L” for limited, represents an express run of a regular route. For example, 9E is an express 9-Powell.

    Now, what the difference is between an “E” and an “L is beyond me, because comparing 9E and 9L schedules, it seems that they just make different stops – that is confusing. (For example, the old 45E trips would make all stops to Hillsdale but run express on Barbur into downtown.)

    A route suffixed “X” is purely an express and there is no local equivalent of the route; although an X route might overlay a regular route (i.e. 99X to 33, 94X/95X to 12)

    Also, the 76/78 used to be used

    Looking at your WebShots gallery, it looks like TriMet did a major route renumbering back in the early-to-mid 1980s. Apparently the 12-Barbur was once numbered 5, and there was another number used at some point. Then 5 became 5C (Capitol Highway) and 5I (Interstate). Then that route was de-interlined, the 44 separated from the 5, then the 5 was eliminated with Interstate MAX and the 44 was re-interlined with 44M (Mocks Crest) which used to be, IIRC, 33M.

    Originally, the numbers were assigned in a clockwise fashion.

    Which looked like PacMan, because the last of the “clockwise” routes was 12. There were no primary routes to Beaverton, of which anyone who rode the 57 would beg to differ; I’ve spent more time than I wanted to riding a jam-packed late night 57.

  41. Erik Halstead
    October 8, 2008 at 12:35 pm Link

    Jason McHuff wrote: But what I would like to know is how much of the streetcar ridership is poached from existing buses.

    Not only that, but whether the 15 ought to still be a Frequent Service route – and those hours of service should be moved elsewhere on the TriMet bus network.

    Jason Barbour wrote: Then there’s the anecdotal observation that I made when they dumped the “X” off of route 95X, where ridership seemed to decrease after the “X” was removed from the route number.

    Actually, when Westside MAX opened the old 94X (Walker Road Express) was eliminated. TriMet made the decision to add a new 94X route to Southwest, but would run along Barbur Boulevard intead of jumping on I-5. It would also run express all the way out to Sherwood, instead of the 95X which became local south of Walnut Street in Tigard.

    Overtime, TriMet made an executive decision to start adding 94 service at the expense of 95 service, to the point that there was a schedule interval of 5 minute headways for the 94 but only three 95 trips ran at all. Then TriMet decided to abolish the 95 – without public meetings as required by TriMet code.

    I was on a 95 when a TriMet staffer was on the bus to gauge rider response – and the entire bus was 100% against the proposal. Some was because they needed to get to Lloyd Center but most were because the 94 didn’t serve their stop in the outer area. TriMet claimed in an e-mail to me that no decision had been made, but the very next day a Portland Mall map was published on their website and there was no 95 listed on the map.

    A few days later, TriMet admitted that the decision was already made.

    So, a number of dense housing complexes and neighborhoods in Tigard/King City/Tualatin lost express service, and one such stop in Tualatin went to having 30 minute headway service and no express service. Needless to say, TriMet did an excellent job of discouraging transit use instead of working to improve service.

    A TriMet employee said they would use the rider feedback to make select improvements to the 94X.

    The number of improvements made? Zero. No new stops were added to the 94 line. And the scheduling of the 12 and the 94 together; combined with the schedule unreliability of the 12, makes it nearly impossible to rely on catching a 12 to a transfer point – because more often than not, the 94 will arrive ahead of time, or the 94 will pass the 12 before the transfer point. What used to be a 25-30 minute commute into downtown, thanks to TriMet, added another 15-20 minutes – provided you stayed on the 12.

  42. Jeff F
    October 8, 2008 at 2:16 pm Link

    Erik Halstead Says:

    Then that route was de-interlined, the 44 separated from the 5, then the 5 was eliminated with Interstate MAX and the 44 was re-interlined with 44M (Mocks Crest) which used to be, IIRC, 33M.

    Mocks Crest was the 40. It was interlined with the 40 Tacoma.

  43. Chris Smith
    October 8, 2008 at 2:20 pm Link

    But what I would like to know is how much of the streetcar ridership is poached from existing buses. According to various TriMet documents I have, from 1999 to 2007 Line 15 (NW) lost almost 37% of its ridership, from 4270 to 2700 a weekday.

    I think there’s no question that some riders shifted to Streetcar, and would look to the initial drop (I seem to recall about 1200 riders on the #15) as the best indicator. It’s harder to see what would have triggered later changes.

    But what’s abundantly clear is that overall transit ridership in the areas served by streetcar is dramatically higher than it was before streetcar.

  44. Jason McHuff
    October 8, 2008 at 3:42 pm Link

    the difference is between an “E” and an “L

    Express=a portion where no stops are made, e.g. the Barbur portion of the 45E. Limited=a portion where select stops are made. And it could be argued that the 94 and 99 are really limiteds, since the express areas aren’t that long. Also, I think that there were either express or limited trips on Line 12 before the 94 or 95 was created to take them over, and that it may have happened when the Red Line opened.

    overall transit ridership in the areas served by streetcar is dramatically higher

    But the amount of people in the area is dramatically higher, too. Though its possible that some of them wouldn’t be there without the streetcar. If somebody likes, I can post the year-by-year numbers; I don’t have data like that for Line 17 which also serves the area, but more detailed (i.e. stop-by-stop) data would be needed since the many Line 17 buses go way beyond the area.

  45. Erik Halstead
    October 8, 2008 at 7:57 pm Link

    Chris Smith wrote: But what’s abundantly clear is that overall transit ridership in the areas served by streetcar is dramatically higher than it was before streetcar.

    But is it because of the Streetcar, or simply investment in transit?

    In areas where investment is made in bus service, the busses see similar increases in ridership.

    A perfect example is the intersection of Naito Parkway and Harrison – the bus stops at that intersection, IMO, would be graded as a “D” and lack any amenities; busses pulling up to the inbound stop often can’t stop at the pavement and thus passengers are unloaded at dirt – at a stop in downtown Portland. The Streetcar stops would be graded as a “B” or “A-“. And one of those two stops (on Harrison Roadway) serves virtually nothing yet cost several thousand dollars to construct.

    Yet PDOT/TriMet can’t find a couple hundred dollars to improve the bus stop served by a half dozen different bus routes, including a frequent service route (54/56).

  46. Dave
    October 8, 2008 at 11:15 pm Link

    Not only that, but whether the 15 ought to still be a Frequent Service route – and those hours of service should be moved elsewhere on the TriMet bus network.

    The 15, 17, and 77 are fairly busy every time I use them. I live in the overlap of the three, and before any of them gets near the streetcar they usually have a good number of passengers, any day of the week.

    Oh, and the 15 is by far the easiest way to get from Montgomery Park to the west side MAX (and WES). Believe it or not, there are a lot of people who work in NW Industrial and might want to use the MAX.

    Ridership is part of why the Thurman/Vaughn loop is on the streetcar study map near NW Industrial. There are 3 fairly crowded bus routes running up to that area, and the 15 is fairly busy.

    A better idea it to keep what we have, and expand on it. The newer buses are a start, as well as expanded LRT and streetcar service.

    I really can’t explain it, maybe I just know a lot of freaks, but my friends are all more willing to take a train than a bus. It seems to apply to tourists too. The newer buses impress them a bit, but the trains are just more acceptable.

  47. david
    October 9, 2008 at 7:09 am Link

    I want seeing trolleybus with overhead wires in Portland as urge you all write/contact with TRIMET please. It helps set off diesel buses that prevent fare increased that many citizens do not want paying more fares while diesel and TRIMET wastes paying fuel costs for diesel buses. Please install Trolleybus Advisory Board at recommendation.

  48. Erik Halstead
    October 11, 2008 at 9:43 pm Link

    Dave wrote: The 15, 17, and 77 are fairly busy every time I use them. I live in the overlap of the three, and before any of them gets near the streetcar they usually have a good number of passengers, any day of the week.

    According to TriMet’s 2009 TIP, the 15-NW 23rd Avenue route had a productivity of 32 boarding rides per vehicle hour.

    The 12-Barbur had 33.

    Maybe it’s not much of a difference but the 12B is, by TriMet’s metric, outperforming the 15T. (The 72 kills both of them, at 54 boarding rides/vehicle hour, followed by the 8-Jackson Park at 50, despite competition from the Tram, and the 9P at 44 despite competition from MAX.)

    The 15B and 12S both come in at 38, along with 44C, 76, and 57.

    I would imagine that had TriMet put just $25 million into the 12B, its ridership potential would jump through the roof without the need to consider MAX. One can refer to pages 69/70 of the TIP where TriMet states that when the 12-S was rerouted from serving the Airport to serving Sandy East (of I-205) that despite only a 200% increase in service, ridership increased 400%.

    (The $25M figure is derived from the cost of purchasing sufficient New Flyer DE60LF articulated hybrid-electric busses to provide frequent service for span-of-route/span-of-service-day service Portland-Sherwood, plus making significant bus stop and access improvements, streamlining, traffic signal pre-emption, and in select areas dedicated bus lanes along the 16.5 mile route, or a cost of less than $2M/mile.)

    the trains are just more acceptable.

    Well, when you gold plate MAX and make only marginal improvements to busses, I’d come to the same conclusion to.

    If you actually provide the SAME benefits, amenities, and so on, to bus and MAX riders, save for the vehicle (obiviously MAX is going to carry more people), then what would the difference be? In Portland, we will never know. The closest we could come to such a comparison would be Eugene’s EmX system (to MAX, not to Eugene’s regular bus service), except that EmX is currently fare-free and even I would discount some of the ridership simply due to having a fare-free alternative towards a fare option.

  49. Dave
    October 12, 2008 at 10:34 am Link

    Speaking of trying to compare trains to buses:

    http://www.sandag.org/index.asp?projectid=293&fuseaction=projects.detail

    It might be something to keep an eye on. San Diego has several other streetcar-like bus loops in the works, plus a few BRT lines. They’ve pretty much abandoned commitment to any new rail lines in the near future at this point, other than upgrading what they have, the California HSR concept, and one LRT extension that’s already funded and has ROW.

    I’m interested to see how their bus projects work out, compared to various rail projects. The Super Loop, linked to above, will connect to a San Diego Trolley extension in about 6-7 years which should help it even more.

  50. Nick theoldurbanist
    October 12, 2008 at 12:41 pm Link

    “If you actually provide the SAME benefits, amenities, and so on, to bus and MAX riders, save for the vehicle (obiviously MAX is going to carry more people), then what would the difference be? In Portland, we will never know.”

    >>>> I just finished 9 full days of poking around Puget Sound (all on transit), and have seen what BRT can do: Tunnel, SODO busway, HOT/HOV lanes etc. I am amazed that they can do almost all of it with buses (except for the marginal Sounder train). Which just makes me more convinced than ever that MAX was a complete waste of money for Portland metro’s much lower density.

  51. al m
    October 12, 2008 at 1:23 pm Link

    As the economy continues its free fall the most likely scenario is the end of “expensive” light rail lines.

    (aka; developers dreams come true)

    Thank you George Bush for eight glorious years of recklessness and ruin

  52. Erik Halstead
    October 12, 2008 at 6:10 pm Link

    The projects in San Diego and Seattle are great, plus Eugene’s EmX – but the key is that I don’t think we need to restrict our thinking to BRT.

    We CAN build enhanced bus stops and amenities without BRT. We could build improved platforms with TVMs and electronic arrival boards, artistic/oversized shelters with improved lighting, while maintaining an on-street bus route without a dedicated lane. Yes, dedicated lanes should be considered – Barbur Boulevard between Burlingame and the Transit Mall, along with McLoughlin Boulevard between Milwaukie and the Hawthorne Bridge, are two places where a dedicated busway could be built, where numerous bus routes converge on a single trunk (because they do right now) – but further out they are independent bus routes. There is no reason why bus improvements have to stop at the end of the busway, or only with BRT.

    I will say that I have to give TriMet a little credit, my old bus stop (inbound) in Tualatin was enhanced with a fully accessible bus stop, with a shelter. The 94 still does not stop there (despite its proximity to three large apartment complexes and a number of west Tualatin employers) and it is not a Frequent Service Stop; and there are now sidewalks that connect everything (the old stop was located in a traffic island with no ADA accessibility). However the outbound stop is still located in a very dangerous location around a blind curve, and requires crossing four lanes of divided Highway 99W.

    Now, if those kinds of improvements got the same level of attention as MAX or Streetcar improvements, I could see bus ridership increasing significantly as “waiting at the bus stop” no longer has a social stigma attached to it.

  53. Jon
    October 13, 2008 at 11:33 am Link

    erik, dont a good number of stops on the frequent lines have just what youre talking about? improved and accessible platforms, bus bulbs, shelters with arrival boards and route information

  54. Bob R.
    October 13, 2008 at 12:03 pm Link

    Jon –

    Regarding arrival boards… At this time there aren’t more than a handful bus-specific of automated arrival boards in the TriMet system. I can only think of one active one downtown right now.

    There used to be video monitors on the mall which displayed schedule times, but it’s not clear what passenger information systems (if any) will be coming along with the new shelters when the mall reopens.

  55. Jeff F
    October 13, 2008 at 12:28 pm Link

    Bob R. Says:

    Regarding arrival boards… At this time there aren’t more than a handful bus-specific of automated arrival boards in the TriMet system. I can only think of one active one downtown right now.

    Any of the signs that could not be reached via WiFi was pulled out of service. The signs are very expensive to install in the first place, and the software driving those LED signs is not robust enough to add any more signs. At some point, it needs to be replaced.

    There used to be video monitors on the mall which displayed schedule times, but it’s not clear what passenger information systems (if any) will be coming along with the new shelters when the mall reopens.

    Every stop and station on the Transit Mall will have a large LCD display for arrival information, service disruption information and useful visual content. At locations serving hundreds of boardings per day, with all the ambient noise of downtown, offering displays has a much better ROI than at individual stops on single routes.

  56. Bob R.
    October 13, 2008 at 12:33 pm Link

    Every stop and station on the Transit Mall will have a large LCD display for arrival information, service disruption information and useful visual content. At locations serving hundreds of boardings per day, with all the ambient noise of downtown, offering displays has a much better ROI than at individual stops on single routes.

    This is good to hear… back when I was attending Transit Mall CAC meetings, information displays were being treated as potential add-back items should money be left over in the budget, and statements were made at the time that it might not be the same system behind-the-scenes. I’m glad there is now a commitment to displays at every shelter.

  57. Jeff F
    October 13, 2008 at 12:50 pm Link

    Bob R.

    This is good to hear… back when I was attending Transit Mall CAC meetings, information displays were being treated as potential add-back items should money be left over in the budget, and statements were made at the time that it might not be the same system behind-the-scenes. I’m glad there is now a commitment to displays at every shelter.

    The CAC was adamant about it. And the new system will be a huge improvement, not only over the old displays (DOS software and color TVs, did you know that?) but over the existing on-street signs.

    And make no mistake, it is a huge commitment: 45 shelters from PSU to Union Station and back.

  58. Jason McHuff
    October 13, 2008 at 2:12 pm Link

    reached via WiFi

    Is that what the signs are currently using? It seems insecure. My understanding is that they were using cellular service which got expensive and that they were unable to switch to TriMet’s internal radio communications network. And that the MAX ones stayed because they are able to use the fiber network installed along the MAX tracks. Also, what’s “useful visual content”?

    The CAC was adamant about it

    That’s good to hear, given their views on some other things.

    DOS software and color TVs

    Color TVs with bad reception. Also, I have a 1987 Oregonian article saying that there was an even older system, from when the mall first opened, that kept breaking down. It said that with the new system, dispatchers could broadcast specific messages–was this ever done? And that wouldn’t be the only TriMet DOS program–there was also the old Kiosk trip planner.

  59. some guy
    October 13, 2008 at 3:54 pm Link

    Some interesting comments posted here… make me feel the need to wax nostalgic.

    Anyone remember the old “crosstown” 77? Seems to me it was Providence (Portland) Hospital, glisan down to burnside, along the 20 route to Beaverton TC then out to lake oswego via the current 78 route.

    Anyone remember the old #5 Hawthorne? There *used* to still be a #5 stop sign out at about 92nd & woodstalk… If I remember the lore correctly, it was interlined with something else, too. (Interstate?)

    And then, of course, there was the old #96 MKC Flyer. I think there were a couple of other “Flyer” routes, too.

    to bring this around to the topic at hand, something needs to be done about designations for ALL of portland’s transit, and all of the concerns posted here are legitimate (not that there is any debate of that). The problem is, that whatever scheme is ultimately decided is that someone is going to be disappointed. TriMet has come a long way since ’69 (I wasn’t alive yet then) but it seems in many ways it has taken more steps backwards than it has forwards. There needs to be some serious consideration given to a total revamping of all of the designations… and bring back the sector stops. (!)

  60. Jeff F
    October 13, 2008 at 4:12 pm Link

    Jason McHuff Says:

    Is that what the signs are currently using? It seems insecure. My understanding is that they were using cellular service which got expensive and that they were unable to switch to TriMet’s internal radio communications network. And that the MAX ones stayed because they are able to use the fiber network installed along the MAX tracks.

    Some of the MAX signs are on the fiber but many, including all the Yellow Line signs, use WiFi at the station.


    Color TVs with bad reception. Also, I have a 1987 Oregonian article saying that there was an even older system, from when the mall first opened, that kept breaking down. It said that with the new system, dispatchers could broadcast specific messages–was this ever done? And that wouldn’t be the only TriMet DOS program–there was also the old Kiosk trip planner.

    The 1987 article would have been referencing an upgrade rather than a replacement. The earliest tv sets were actually b&w, so color was a huge improvement. The underlying program, however, didn’t significantly change. The old kiosk program was definitely DOS but the Mall software was still running in 2007, which is kind of remarkable.

    The current signs can display specific service information, and they’re used that way although rarely on-the-fly. The new system will have an improved interface, which will make it a better resource for messaging.

  61. Bob R.
    October 13, 2008 at 5:01 pm Link

    Jeff –

    This is just to satisfy my curiosity, but I’m hoping you can answer this mystery for me: I’ve noticed a number of the signage towers at the original Blue Line MAX stations have an unused LED sign embedded.

    A few years ago at the NE 60th station, these accidentally got switched on and the LEDs were scrolling “test test test” in yellow letters for a few days, then they were switched off. I took a photo just to prove these were actually operational.

    See:
    http://www.flickr.com/photos/8432373@N08/2940100974/

    Were these ever used for anything? Some kind of pre-Transit Tracker or customer information system? I don’t recall these ever being implemented, but I used MAX infrequently in the 80’s and early 90’s so maybe I missed something.

  62. Jeff F
    October 13, 2008 at 5:28 pm Link

    Bob R.

    Were these ever used for anything? Some kind of pre-Transit Tracker or customer information system? I don’t recall these ever being implemented, but I used MAX infrequently in the 80’s and early 90’s so maybe I missed something.

    An early and abortive attempt at information, yes. The original “test” pylon was actually installed next to NW 5th & Irving, painted blue and finally removed during the Mall construction last year. The signs were never networked and the only way to load a message was to visit with a laptop and disassemble half the pylon for access. I’m amazed, frankly, that someone turned one on as late as 2003.

    There was some discussion about using these with TransitTracker but it was a dud from the start.

  63. Jason McHuff
    October 13, 2008 at 7:53 pm Link

    There was some discussion about using these with TransitTracker but it was a dud from the start.

    That was one of the ideas I had. Glad to hear that the use of existing signs was considered.

    Also, I’ve read about how the 5th & Irving was a test pylon (originally, MAX had different pylons); the display on it might have said “Welcome to Portland” for a while. And yes, I’ve heard of the old 96 and the crazy 77 route. And the Hawthorne line was connected to Interstate.

    Lastly, I don’t think anyone’s mentioned how back when the original streetcars existed, lines were just known by their names–e.g. Mississippi, Mt. Tabor. No individual colors, no numbers.

  64. Erik Halstead
    October 13, 2008 at 8:36 pm Link

    Jon wrote: erik, dont a good number of stops on the frequent lines have just what youre talking about? improved and accessible platforms, bus bulbs, shelters with arrival boards and route information

    In short, no.

    Ride the 12B sometime out to King City. “Improved” stops are a far minority of the stops served by the 12. There are still quite a few stops that are not ADA accessible either with a ramp or a lift.

    The 54/56 (on Beaverton-Hillsdale Highway east of Raleigh Hills) is a little better with I’d say over 50% of stops having shelters, but many shelters still lack decent sidewalk access. The 57 has seen a lot of improvements but many stops are still hard to access. However the first 54/56 stop in downtown (shared with a number of other routes) (or last out of downtown, depending on your direction) is pathetic given its downtown location and its transfer point to the Streetcar. I’ve seen better bus stops in rural areas of Montana, to be quite honest.

  65. Bob R.
    October 13, 2008 at 8:54 pm Link

    Lastly, I don’t think anyone’s mentioned how back when the original streetcars existed, lines were just known by their names–e.g. Mississippi, Mt. Tabor. No individual colors, no numbers.

    This is true, but it creates an interesting problem on systems that expand over a great distance… BART lines, for example, are named by their terminus but as the system has expanded the names have changed, causing some confusion during the transition period.

  66. Jason Barbour
    October 13, 2008 at 9:23 pm Link

    I have a renumbering idea myself. Let’s face it that there are many ideas out there, all of them would be broken from the original meaning at some point for some reason. And, would you also rename some routes, like “14-Hawthorne/Foster?” Or “12-Sandy/223rd?”

    …69 for training (a reference to 1969?)…
    I’m going to make a baseless guess that this is to keep any younger individuals, who also happen to be rowdy (which happen to be a small portion), from laughing profusely for hours over what bus they’re waiting for, if that number were ever placed into service.

    I knew the old mall route screen service used TVs (occasionally, one would show the channel number it was tuned to in the corner), DOS doesn’t surprise me one bit.

    One other thing I remember was when the system map was printed in the phone book, along with the route frequency table, and Call-A-Bus numbers for individual routes. This is how I first heard about bus service in Portland, and at the time (late 80s), I couldn’t understand why family would occasionally take the under-10 version of myself on MAX occasionally, but the bus was for “other people.” I even remember one of my first rides on MAX in 1986, where the “How to Ride” brochure we picked up had a listing of bus route changes with the opening of MAX. I obviously don’t remember all the changes (those photos of the 1985 route map are a nice catch, Jason McHuff! Thanks!), but it had stuff like the MKC Flyer and Owl routes being discontinued. It also mentioned 15-Sandy being renumbered to 12-Sandy. It wasn’t the map, just a listing of old route numbers with new route numbers. Perhaps someone familiar with historic TriMet documents knows what I’m talking about. (And if they had a picture that would be cool, because that was one of the first things that got me to start thinking about buses at such a young age.)

    As for using Crayola colors to avoid running out of names, yeah, someone’s really going to call a transit route the “Indian Red” line (so it’s been renamed, but still).

  67. Joe
    October 14, 2008 at 10:19 am Link

    This is just to satisfy my curiosity, but I’m hoping you can answer this mystery for me: I’ve noticed a number of the signage towers at the original Blue Line MAX stations have an unused LED sign embedded.

    The three platforms on the Banfield and the Washington Park station used to have single line LED displays that could have variable message text sent to them from the Central Control Center. A software “upgrade” removed the functionality about three years ago, in favor of the “new and improved” transit tracker interface.

  68. Erik Halstead
    October 14, 2008 at 5:06 pm Link

    Jason Barbour wrote: I’m going to make a baseless guess that this is to keep any younger individuals, who also happen to be rowdy (which happen to be a small portion), from laughing profusely for hours over what bus they’re waiting for, if that number were ever placed into service.

    I can tell you as a matter of fact that there was a highway in Utah that had this particular highway number. There was a little problem with certain individuals who wanted the keepsake highway route marker signs. So UDOT changed the highway number and the issue of sign theft went away.

    It would not surprise me one bit if TriMet intentionally did not use that route number because of bus stop sign thefts…

  69. Doug Allen
    October 15, 2008 at 4:22 pm Link

    For what it’s worth, here is a list of TriMet’s bus routes in 1976.

    As you can see, they are numbered more-or-less clockwise from Mock’s Crest, with the
    exception of through-routed lines, where generally the earliest appearance
    on the “clock” gives the number, except for the Holgate, Eastmoreland, Capitol Hill, and Sherwood.

    Also, the cross-town routes were in the
    70’s range, and the Flyer’s were 90 and 91.

    1 Mocks Crest/Vermont
    2 St. Johns
    3 Fessenden
    6 Sellwood/Union
    8 Irvington/Jackson Park
    9 Broadway/Powell
    12 Beaumont/Foster
    14 52nd/Sandy Blvd.
    17 Fremont Express
    18 Troutdale
    19 East Glisan/Hawthorne
    20 East Burnsid/21st Avenue
    21 Mt. Tabor
    26 Holgate/33rd Ave.
    28 Eastmoreland/Mississippi-Williams
    30 Ardenwald
    31 Estacada
    33 Oregon City-Oatfield-Super Hwy.
    34 River Road
    36 Oswego-Oregon City
    37 Oswego-Tualatin
    38 Wilsonville-Mt. Park
    39 Dunthorpe
    40 Capitol Hill/Halsey
    41 Portland Community College
    42 Southwood Park
    43 Tualatin Acres
    44 Sherwood-Tigard/Gresham-Lloyd Center
    45 Greenburg
    46 Maplewood
    51 Council Crest
    53 23rd Avenue
    55 Linnton/Raleigh Hills
    56 Aloha-Beaverton-Progress
    57 Forest Grove-Hillsboro-Beaverton
    58 Beaverton Local
    59 Beaverton-Cedar Hills
    60 Cedar Mill
    61 Somerset West
    62 Zoo-OMSI
    70 Bridge Transfer
    71 Killingsworth
    72 82nd Avenue
    73 102nd Avenue
    74 Boring-Sandy-Troutdale
    75 39th Avenue
    76 Westover-Arlington Heights-Skyline
    77 NE-NW
    78 Lake Oswego-Sunset
    79 Oregon City Local-Canby
    90 Banfield Flyer-Mall 205
    91 Banfield Flyer-Multnomah Kennel Club

    I have tried to use / to separate through routes, and – to
    separate parts of a long name or variations of a route.

  70. Matthew
    October 15, 2008 at 4:35 pm Link

    In 1976 there wasn’t a bus on Lombard or Interstate? Those are (or were, until it got replaced with a MAX line,) frequent service lines today… And no Greeley either, even though I believe Greeley has better ridership than Mocks Crest today…

    (And just for the people that don’t know: Union was the street that became, Martin Luther King, so that 6 is still the same 6.)

  71. Doug Allen
    October 15, 2008 at 6:07 pm Link

    By 1976, TriMet had absorbed most of the private bus companies (note the Dunthorpe bus in the list, which had recently been taken over by TriMet!), but the Portland Vancouver bus company had not been taken over yet at the time the map I got this information off of was published. This became the line 5 Interstate soon thereafter.

    I think the St. John’s bus ran on Greeley and Lombard at that time. Greeley incidentally was developed as a streetcar bypass to speed service sometime back in perhaps the 1930’s (well before my time).

  72. al m
    October 15, 2008 at 11:43 pm Link

    LIGHT RAIL MORE COSTLY TO RUN THAN BUSES AFTER ALL!

    http://washingtonpolicyblog.typepad.com/washington_policy_center_/2008/10/the-cost-of-lig.html

  73. Bob R.
    October 15, 2008 at 11:59 pm Link

    The report Al links to combines the operating costs of the worst-performing lines with the best-performing.

    As far as Portland itself is concerned, TriMet lists the operating costs per boarding ride of light rail at $1.55 and buses at $2.76. Furthermore, the operating revenue per boarding ride for light rail is reported as $0.91 and for buses $0.74, so the conclusions of the article really don’t apply to Portland much at all.

  74. al m
    October 16, 2008 at 12:06 am Link

    Yea bob?

    well I don’t believe you!

    :O

  75. al m
    October 16, 2008 at 12:08 am Link

    :-*

    :-*

    :-*

    }:>

  76. Bob R.
    October 16, 2008 at 12:11 am Link

    Al, you emoticontrarian, you…

  77. al m
    October 16, 2008 at 12:16 am Link

    Futhermore;

    The

    “Center for advanced transit statistical analysis”

    has studied this problem and has found that the following:

    When accounting for passenger demand, light rail on the West Coast is 12 percent more costly to operate than buses in the same six cities.

  78. al m
    October 16, 2008 at 12:20 am Link

    Portland is on the west coast, so that means light rail is more costly to operate than buses!

    HEHE…..

    How do you like them apples!

  79. Matthew
    October 16, 2008 at 12:28 am Link

    “Center for advanced transit statistical analysis”

    Google has never heard of them, so I’m gonna go out on a limb and say that that isn’t a peer reviewed study…

  80. al m
    October 16, 2008 at 12:30 am Link

    GOTCHA MATHEW!

    hehehe…………

  81. al m
    October 16, 2008 at 12:33 am Link

    See how smart Bob R is, he didn’t fall for it!

    You can fool some of the people all of the time,

    and all of the people some of the time,

    but you can not fool BOB R!

  82. R A Fontes
    October 16, 2008 at 7:33 am Link

    Don’t things change a bit when capital costs get figured in? Metro figures $3.44 per boarding ride for one streetcar extension.

    Trolley buses probably would be the cheapest overall for moderately to heavily used lines because of lower capital costs than rail systems coupled with lower operating costs and longer equipment lifetimes than petroleum/natural gas buses. The 8 Jackson Park & 17 Holgate lines would seem ideal for a minimal starter system – the 8 because of street grades and ridership density and the 17 to get overhead wires from an existing garage to downtown. The 14 & 15’s might be next with others to follow.

    The caveat is that battery/supercapacitor research may soon present us with the possibility of a reasonably economical non-trolleyed electric bus system in the surprisingly near future.

  83. al m
    October 16, 2008 at 10:40 am Link

    BTW-
    I made up the

    ‘center for advanced transit statistical analysis’

    only to demonstrate the silliness of all these places with a study to prove everything they set out to prove.

    However the quote:

    “When accounting for passenger demand, light rail on the West Coast is 12 percent more costly to operate than buses in the same six cities.”

    stands as accurate from the study cited in the original post.

  84. Me
    October 16, 2008 at 10:53 am Link

    To follow-up on the color/numbering of service…

    MAX – colors without letters
    Buses – Numbers as they are
    BRT – three digit numbers or unique name
    Streetcar – letters if you must or three digit numbers (since it operates like a bus)
    Commuter Rail – can be worried about after there is some commitment to fund it beyond WES.

  85. Erik Halstead
    October 16, 2008 at 2:37 pm Link

    I’m not sure the Streetcar needs a naming system; there’s only one line and the “Portland Streetcar” suits it.

    IF there is to be a real Streetcar system, I’d like to see a return of the letters/abbreviations.

    We’d have “PD” and “SW” with “LO” and “ES” coming soon.

    Commuter Rail – names only. Even in Chicago, the Commuter Rail capital of America, the various routes simply have names (most of them are related to the railroad that they operate on…so the current line would simply be named the “Portland & Western Line” if we used Metra’s logic. A line to Troutdale would be “Union Pacific East” and a line to Oregon City/Canby would be “Union Pacific South”.)

  86. Nick the oldurbanist
    October 17, 2008 at 8:48 am Link

    “TriMet lists the operating costs per boarding ride of light rail at $1.55…”

    >>>> With inadequate security and lack of fare inspectors. Let’s see what MAX would cost with these factored in.

    “and buses at $2.76.”

    >>>> With the operation of many marginal services (e.g.buses #18, 27, 46) pushing up the costs for buses. What about the heavier bus lines, such as the #14?

    And the unproductive feeder bus lines for MAX, whose costs should really be charged to MAX?

    Anyway, I always take Trimet’s figures with a grain of salt, since it is so biased towards rail to begin with.

  87. Jason Barbour
    October 17, 2008 at 10:32 am Link

    I don’t think they’re trying to bias the numbers in either direction. For example, the national ridership reports I’ve seen from the American Public Transportation Association separates ridership out by mode (bus, light rail, demand response, commuter rail, heavy rail, etc.) as well.

  88. Erik Halstead
    October 17, 2008 at 12:42 pm Link

    The problem with the numbers is that light rail’s operating costs don’t include all of the avoidable costs – many of the light rail costs can be passed off as “capital costs”, although in reality the system would stop working (or grind to a halt over time) if those capital costs weren’t spent. So this decreases light rail’s “operating” cost but in reality it’s nothing more than accounting magic.

    Meanwhile, similar “maintenance” costs on the bus system are treated as Operating, not Capital, so the same type of ongoing maintenance work gets charged against bus riders as an operating cost – and thus inflates the bus operating costs (personally directed remark at a certain TriMet manager removed by author).

    Further, TriMet can’t readily separate out operating costs per light rail route, because much of the Red and Blue Lines are co-mingled. Whereas multiple bus routes might share a common route there are very little costs that you can attribute to both lines save for maybe bus shelter cleaning (which TriMet spends pennies on compared to MAX platform cleaning), and even those costs tend to be considered “system” costs.

    I do know that there are a number of TriMet bus routes that are literally profitable – the 72, TriMet’s busiest route – is one example. Yes, TriMet has a LOT of inefficiencies in its bus system – almost every express route has a built-in inefficiency because over 50% of the time that bus is on the road is non-revenue (either driving from the garage to the start of the route, from the end of the route back to the start without passengers, or from the end of the route back to the garage.) With regards to the #94 route, TriMet has begun to return some 94 trips as 12 trips, but only from Barbur TC back to downtown where it becomes an outbound 94 again. How do you charge the costs of that inbound 94/12 trip – as a 12, or as a 94? And since that trip operates five minutes ahead of a regular 12 trip (that actually continues as a 12S east of downtown), how do you charge the loss of revenue from that trip?

    I’ve posted in another forum that TriMet ought to decentralize its bus garages to put more of its busses in remote locations closer to where bus operations are, with only minimal servicing facilities. Busses would still obtain their heavy maintenance at the “big three” garages, but Operators would start/end their runs in the outlying areas, thus minimizing the expense to deadhead busses to Timbuktu for no reason. It’s ridiculous that a 57 bus starts its day at Merlo, drives all the way out to Forest Grove – nonrevenue; or a 12 which operates out of Center Street and starts its run in Sherwood. Or any of the busses that operate out of Gresham start their runs from Powell Garage, off of I-205.

  89. JW
    October 17, 2008 at 1:14 pm Link

    ^
    do you mean something like the off-street bus loops that some cities have at the end of lines?

  90. Mike Ryan
    October 17, 2008 at 2:13 pm Link

    I grew up in Boston, which has a similar array of transit modes to Portland – commuter rail, light rail, subway, bus, BRT and commuter boat. What the MBTA has done is to number the buses, color code the subway, letter code the light rail, and named the boat and commuter rail lines for their end-of-line destinations.

    For example, the commuter train that goes to my hometown is simply the Haverhill Line, and similarly the WES could be renamed the Wilsonville Line if other commuter routes were added to, say, St. Helens or La Center or Salem.

    The light rail in Boston is considered part of the subway system and given a color designation as the Green Line. However, once the Green Line leaves the downtown area it branches off into several routes. When the routes branch off they are lettered – B to Boston College, C to Cleveland Circle, D to Riverside and E to Heath Street (there is no A line, that was discontinued). We could use a similar system for the streetcar, lumping them all into one color but lettering the different routes within the streetcar system. Boston currently has only one BRT line, the Silver Line. I believe that if more lines are added, it will follow a similar convention to the light rail with Silver Line A, B, C, etc.

    So, in PDX we could have color coded MAX lines, lettered streetcars, numbered buses, and destination commuter rail lines. This would solve the question of how to differentiate everything without a massive overhaul of route names.

  91. Erik Halstead
    October 17, 2008 at 6:58 pm Link

    Mike Ryan wrote: and destination commuter rail lines

    Which destination do you use – Beaverton, or Wilsonville?

    It’d make sense if everything ran out of Union Station (i.e. the “St. Helens Line”, the “Kelso Line”, the “Washougal Line”, the “Troutdale Line”, the “Salem Line”, the “Sherwood Line”…)

    However “Washington County Line” is too much to say (not to mention the southern terminus is in Clackamas County), “Beaverton-Wilsonville” is also a bit much to roll off the tongue. WES will do…

  92. Dave
    October 18, 2008 at 10:16 am Link

    The problem with the numbers is that light rail’s operating costs don’t include all of the avoidable costs – many of the light rail costs can be passed off as “capital costs”, although in reality the system would stop working (or grind to a halt over time) if those capital costs weren’t spent.

    Should we then add to each bus route part of the maintenance costs spent on the streets and bridges they use? Or do buses get a free ride, so to speak?

  93. Bob R.
    October 18, 2008 at 10:35 am Link

    While I appreciate the fact that costs do get shifted around just from the inherent differences in the modes, and perhaps deliberately in some cases, the math doesn’t quite add up on the assertion that feeder buses and/or capital vs. maintenance costs explain the majority of the difference.

    For example, for the $1.55 light rail operating cost per boarding ride to be even a dime higher, would require $3,500,000 annually in shifted capital funding. 20 cents would require $7,000,000, etc. Pretty soon it becomes real difficult to hide.

    Conversely, suppose you could save 25% on total bus operating costs by eliminating the bottom 12.5% of worst-performing routes, “feeder buses” you don’t like, etc., while somehow miraculously maintaining the same number of boardings. That assumes a 2:1 “bang for the buck” cost savings with no revenue penalty. That still wouldn’t get you below $2 for buses.

    Furthermore, in addition to light rail having a lower operating cost per boarding ride, it has higher passenger-revenue per boarding ride.

    Now I really hope that my comments aren’t misconstrued as another bus vs. rail thread… as I’ve always said, buses are a vital part of our transit system and there are many places where rail just isn’t suitable, both modes have a role to play. What I’m pointing out here is that the argument that the cost disparity can be explained by low-performing routes and/or capital funds allocated to operations doesn’t actually add up.

  94. Jason McHuff
    October 18, 2008 at 2:16 pm Link

    I don’t like “cost per ride” figures since they don’t take into account the fact that, due to subsidies given to road users and low-density development, many buses/trains never get near full and passenger trips are probably longer than they otherwise would be but:

    The Spring 2008 Quarter data I have shows the MAX Blue Line at $1.23 per ride, the Red Line at $1.55, the Yellow Line at $1.90, Line 72 at $1.55 (lowest for bus), Line 14 at $1.91, Line 18 at $9.82, Line 27 at $11.48, Line 46 at $5.02 and Line 86 at $13.46 (highest). I am not sure if deadheading time and other costs (like MAX maintenance) are included in those numbers.

  95. Jeff F
    October 18, 2008 at 4:56 pm Link

    Erik Halstead Says:

    The problem with the numbers is that light rail’s operating costs don’t include all of the avoidable costs – many of the light rail costs can be passed off as “capital costs”, although in reality the system would stop working (or grind to a halt over time) if those capital costs weren’t spent. So this decreases light rail’s “operating” cost but in reality it’s nothing more than accounting magic.

    Meanwhile, similar “maintenance” costs on the bus system are treated as Operating, not Capital, so the same type of ongoing maintenance work gets charged against bus riders as an operating cost – and thus inflates the bus operating costs.

    Government auditors are pretty strict about what can be defined as Capital and what can’t. Could you be more specific about which maintenance costs are treated differently?

  96. al m
    October 18, 2008 at 7:15 pm Link

    We can argue this and that figure on and on etc.

    What is the argument here? This is one large intertwined system that has to be considered a whole, not parts.

    A transit system needs to access ALL AREAS within its service region, not just the busy corridors.

    TRIMET is a pretty decent system taken all together.

    Portland itself gets way too much service and monopolizes scarce resources with their silly projects, like street cars. Street cars are trendy, buses are ugly, typical American ego stuff.

    Max doesn’t run late enough, its a joke, yet they build more max service rather than perfect what they have. Max makes sense as in the blue line, red line, and the eventual Vancouver yellow line.

    MAX THROUGH DOWNTOWN, gimme a break,

    http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Pork_barrel

    So what are we arguing about here on this blog?

    ALLOCATION OF RESOURCES, and transit is loosing, developers are winning.

    It doesn’t matter if max costs more or less to operate than a bus, what matters is who is going to get the service!

  97. Erik Halstead
    October 18, 2008 at 7:41 pm Link

    Dave wrote: Or do buses get a free ride, so to speak?

    Only if we force MAX/Streetcar to pay for their respective street maintenance costs, as well.

    Even if we required TriMet to pay its share of the state/federal weight/mile tax to cover its use and “wear and tear” on the road system, it would equal to a nickel per bus boarding rider. That’s right, a nickel. (Actually it’s less, but we don’t need to require TriMet riders to carry pennies for correct fare.)

    Jeff F. wrote: Could you be more specific about which maintenance costs are treated differently?

    Yes.

    An engine swap on a bus is a capital expense but is treated as operating. (I have heard people say that replacing the engine on a bus is akin to an “overhaul”. If you “overhaul” something, it’s a capital expense.)

    Rail-grinding on MAX is an operating expense but is treated as operating. Rail-grinding is an essential part of maintaining the rail short of replacing the rail itself. If the rail replacement is done every 15 years or so, that’s capital. If it’s done because of a break in the rail, that’s maintenance and that’s operating.

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