Public Comment Draft of Streetcar System Plan Released

A forty-five day public comment period began yesterday on the Streetcar System Plan, leading to a Planning Commission hearing on August 14th and City Council consideration in September.

The plan, a 20-50 year vision of where Streetcars might run in Portland, has been 20 months in the making, with work by staff, a System Advisory Committee, neighborhood-based district working groups and several rounds of open houses and public surveys.

As a member of the System Advisory Committee I feel very good about the Streetcar network that is being recommended. The network would extend, mostly on the east side of the Willamette, out Sandy to the NE and Hawthorne/Belmont to Foster to the SE. Major N/S connections would exist on 82nd and 122nd, and branches would go North to St. Johns and perhaps South to the Sellwood Bridge (connecting to the Lake Oswego line).

In my mind, the interesting question is: which links to build first?

The plan identifies a core network, mostly in inner NE and SE Portland that based on traditional planning would probably make sense as the first step in building out a system.

But many on the System Advisory Committee and some of the district working groups members are wondering if the the traditional thought process is the best approach?

Developing the ‘inner’ network, while likely creating a great transit experience and development opportunities, would largely reinforce what are already existing relatively good land use patterns.

It would also reinforce the idea that public investment happens downtown and in the inner east side, not in Portland’s more far-flung neighborhoods.

Could Streetcar be applied in North Portland (a proposed corridor would run from St. John’s to the Yellow Line MAX on Lombard) or in outer East Portland (perhaps from Lents to the Powellhurst-Gilbert neighborhood) to create vibrant pedestrian-friendly main streets and foster private investment in more sustainable development patterns?

An early goal established by the System Advisory Committee was equity, it’s hard to see how building a network from the center out delivers on that goal.

There’s no question that building from the edges in is much more challenging. The Portland Plan would need to supply land-use plans that would respond to Streetcar as a catalyst, and new approaches to funding would need to be developed. Tools like urban renewal that work at the center of the City are unlikely to be mainstays at the edges.

I hope the next few months will be an opportunity for a vibrant discussion on where public investment in Streetcar can bring the greatest short- and long-term benefit to Portland.

85 Comments

85 Responses to Public Comment Draft of Streetcar System Plan Released

  1. Ron Swaren
    July 2, 2009 at 8:37 am Link

    So why would we need a streetcar “south to the Sellwood Bridge” when the Milwaukie MAX is going south? Why do we need one on 82nd Ave when the MAX is running about half of a mile away? Why do we need one out Sandy when the MAX already runs close to that route? Why do we need one out Foster Road when all that area is is a dump? ( I should know since I lived there, unless you think a constantly polluted Johnson Creek is an asset)

    I am not objecting to Lake OSwego’s plans since they had the foresignt to purchase their pathway at a giveaway price. And if we could see another Pearl District shaping up—I think in another ten years or so years it might be the N. River District– a streetcar might make some sense there. (But we should not curtail working class jobs in Portland). If you could find another area that had the same capacity for high quality development, it is a fine notion. But most of those areas don’t. I have suggested one could go north on the w. side of the willamette, past U of Portland and then over to the new urban district in Vancouver.

    I knew this redundancy would happen. Yes, we will need all of those things—when the population of Portland equals Seattle and the present street system also becomes a choked mess. There is a difference between smart growth and growth that serves a revolving selection of special interests.

  2. Chris Smith
    July 2, 2009 at 8:49 am Link

    Ron, as part of the Lake Oswego study, Metro and TriMet specifically looked at to what extent the Willamette Shorline route could be served alternatively by extending the Milwaukie line back across the river in LO, and concluded that the two lines would serve a distinct set of trips.

    The Sellwood/Tacoma link was modeled as part of the system plan effort, and while I’m not familiar with the exact trip patterns predicted, it scored high enough on ridership to be included.

    Intuitively it makes sense to me that if you have two relative long corridors, a mid-point connection between them is going to make for a stronger overall network.

  3. R A Fontes
    July 2, 2009 at 10:25 am Link

    Yes, Chris, Metro & TriMet do believe that the two lines would serve “a distinct set of trips”. The question has been what market would the streetcar serve if we had access to MAX? Especially with at least some portion of the alignment using Macadam, streetcar is not going to come anywhere near the promised 24 minutes southbound and 25 minutes northbound between PSU and LO. The only places it would go that MAX wouldn’t are Johns Landing, 10th & 11th, and NW. There just aren’t that many trips between LO and those locales.

    If we ever do get MAX in LO, streetcar rides would be relegated to those trips where time and connections were unimportant such as adventureland rides.

    As far as the Sellwood Bridge is concerned, with two lanes and the proposed weight limits, streetcar is becoming machina non grata, knowingly or not.

  4. EngineerScotty
    July 2, 2009 at 11:16 am Link

    I’ll ask a few questions about the “distinct set of trips” concerning LO streetcar (via the WST line) vs LO MAX (via a Milwaukie/LO crossing, connecting to the planned “Orange Line”).

    Obviously, many of the trips involved on the two routes will be distinct because the two routes mostly don’t share a common alignment–LO Streetcar is useless to those on the Eastside, and vice versa. The trips which are in contention, then, are those trips from LO (including persons from other Southwest points transferring to a train in LO) to Portland, where the lines once again intersect.

    Did the study find that there are significant numbers of LO riders who would use the Orange Line MAX (having destinations along the Orange Line, or elsewhere in the MAX system) that wouldn’t consider the Streetcar, and vice-versa?

    Streetcar serving the rest of the Macadam area, and possibly downtown to a new Sellwood Bridge and/or to Riverdale, does make sense; but the route to LO would be ultimately better served by high-capacity transit–especially if the line were extended beyond Lake Oswego. That might be impolitic, given the NIMBYs in that part of town wield disproportionate political clout–but LO streetcar seems to be, at best, a temporary solution. Especially given that LO residents aren’t apparently interested in local streetcar service in their downtown area.

  5. EngineerScotty
    July 2, 2009 at 11:17 am Link

    Ron–I think the proposed Sellwood crossing assumes a new bridge is built; one which would have no issue with streetcars.

  6. EngineerScotty
    July 2, 2009 at 11:25 am Link

    A few other questions.

    1) Other than the planned LO extension, the proposed Streetcar corridors that “made the cut” all lie within the city limits. I assume that your organization’s charter focuses on the City of Portland, and that service outside the city limits is beyond the scope of your activities, at least somewhat. Obviously, the Streetcar isn’t for regional HCT. That said, there are probably opportunities for Streetcar service outside the City, and/or for streetcars in denser suburban communities. (I can think of several corridors in Beaverton which might benefit from streetcar service, for instance). Comments on how municipal boundaries constrain your work?

    2) More generally, I didn’t see anything in the document explaining why the corridors which failed to make the cut did not.

  7. Bob R.
    July 2, 2009 at 11:55 am Link

    Scotty –

    I think the reference to weight limits may referring to the new transportation bill out of the legislature, not the problems with the old bridge.

  8. EngineerScotty
    July 2, 2009 at 12:54 pm Link

    Would the weight limits apply to a streetcar, or simply to commercial trucking–the (potential) users of the bridge the legislation was designed to exclude? After all, fire engines and busses, I would think, would use the bridge.

    Whether transit vehicles are excluded, or the resulting bridge design would be incapable of supporting streetcars, I don’t know…

  9. R A Fontes
    July 2, 2009 at 1:24 pm Link

    FWIW, Streetcar GVW is about 44 tons, 60′ bus about 33 tons, 40′ bus about 20 tons, and fire apparatus generally are in the 12 to 25 ton range, although there are some that are heavier. So weight limits could be well below a streetcar’s but still more than adequate for buses and emergency vehicles.

  10. CrimsonMike
    July 2, 2009 at 1:34 pm Link

    Well on Gateway it seem like there would major issues with maintenance facility(unless you could house the vehicles at Ruby Junction and send them out every morning) if it was built and further the maintenance facility costs are one reason why the proposed routes are so center-city based proposal. I admittedly would like to see the outer area of Portland get streetcar since it is consider a catalyst for development. Since High-density development(according to the Draft) has less carbon footprint if we can slowly change our suburban form to a denser future, it would mean higher environmental benefits.

  11. Jeff F
    July 2, 2009 at 1:34 pm Link

    As I recall, the weight limits in the House bill excluded “government vehicles.”

  12. Bob R.
    July 2, 2009 at 1:42 pm Link

    CrimsonMike –

    For maintenance purposes, streetcars on a Gateway Loop could travel on the existing MAX blue line tracks and diverge to the streetcar ROW at 10th & Morrison downtown.

    Streetcars are narrower than MAX vehicles, which creates issues with gaps at platforms, but for getting an empty streetcar from point A to point B, there is no need to stop at MAX platforms. However, in the I-84 corridor, maximum speed would be an issue… streetcars could not easily coexist with MAX during peak usage periods, as MAX trains would be traveling about 20MPH faster than streetcars and would eventually bunch up.

  13. EngineerScotty
    July 2, 2009 at 2:03 pm Link

    Given that MAX trains would have to stop periodically, the average speed of MAX through the I-84 stretch can’t be more than the top speed of the streetcar. During rush hour, headways may be too tight, but during off-peak periods, I don’t see why an out-of-service streetcar can’t be run down the MAX line.

  14. Jeff F
    July 2, 2009 at 2:36 pm Link

    EngineerScotty Says: Given that MAX trains would have to stop periodically, the average speed of MAX through the I-84 stretch can’t be more than the top speed of the streetcar. During rush hour, headways may be too tight, but during off-peak periods, I don’t see why an out-of-service streetcar can’t be run down the MAX line.

    Don’t forget, even in off-peak hours you’re going to have three MAX lines running down the Banfield, and those schedules are built on vehicles traveling, what, 55 mph? It’s one of the few places in the existing system where they can really get up to speed.

  15. ambrown
    July 2, 2009 at 3:26 pm Link

    Oy. I can’t believe they have corridors like SE 39th Avenue, 82nd, Foster and Division as possible routes for streetcars. While appreciative of the role a streetcar can play in getting people out of their cars and changing the urban form and helping development, These longer routes that cross through so many different neighborhoods are perfect for BRT. (and I say BRT in a loving, effective, Right-of-way Curitiba style and not a right wing transitophobe half-assed approach.) Effective BRT, with buses and incentivized dense development, could easily shuttle people into the city from Gresham, or from farther flung neighborhoods to MAX lines.

    I understand Chris’ Smith’s role in developing streetcar, and your fervent support for it in portland, and I admit that the Pearl District has been a thriving success in that it provided the city of portland with a strong taxbase, a livable community, and did so without gentrification/kicking out many businesses or residents. I just think about building a streetcar that stops every few blocks along Lombard or Sandy, and I honestly don’t think the slow pace of streetcars will serve the current populations that live in these places.

  16. EngineerScotty
    July 2, 2009 at 3:41 pm Link

    “Curitiba” style BRT to me implies a dedicated ROW, with half-mile-or-more distances between stops. (Actually “Curitiba style” would be closing the street to cars altogether, and turning it into a busway…something unlikely to fly around here).

    Such a service would be highly redundant in the 82nd corridor, with MAX ten blocks east. It would be difficult to pull of on 39th, unless the road was converted to a single auto lane in each direction; something also unlikely to fly. Foster/Powell, and Division east of 82d, probably could have a busway stuck in the median.

    But busways are a different type of service than streetcars, which are meant for local trips. The streetcar is not being proposed for mass transit; its instead being proposed to replace local busses in those corridors where there is sufficient trip density (either existing, or as a result of development) to justify the additional expense–or in which neighbors might be willing to subsidize a premium service.

    Given the price tag involved, I wouldn’t expect to see trains running on most of the identified corridors any time soon–the $$$ isn’t there right now.

  17. ambrown
    July 2, 2009 at 3:49 pm Link

    While I understand it would be “unlikely to fly around here,” I think within five to fifteen years people may be ready to make some of these decisions. I know it’d be unpopular, but once it was built, I think we’d see people clamor for more, the same way people have responded to MAX, Streetcar, and Bike Boulevard corridors.

  18. Ron Swaren
    July 2, 2009 at 3:54 pm Link

    Yes the Sellwood Bridge would be fine for a street car line: I would like it since it would probably make the value of my home go back up. I thought you were talking about another N-S line. I’ve suggested running SC from Milwaukie Ctr. over the Sellwood and then both north and south.

    I seriously disagree that a new bridge is needed to accommodate it. There are several hundred tons of useless concrete on the existing Sellwood Bridge, in the form of concrete railings ( replaceable with metal) an eight inch thick concrete sidewalk (replaceable with lighter weight prefabbed sections, like the HAwthorne Br. has) and two huge concrete headers running on either side of the bridge picking up the metal cross beams (replaceable with metal ) Possibly the deck could be replaced with the prefabbed isotropic system, although I don’t know how that would compare in cost with standard methods and whether it is strong enough for a street car track. Also a pedestrian deck could be located below and would add very little weight–negating the need for a top deck wider than the existing one—if the sidewalk were removed. The rails and 31 ton streetcar are nothing in comparison with the better than 1000 tons of excess concrete in the present structure.

    They built ’em beefy in the old days–before modern alloys.

  19. R A Fontes
    July 2, 2009 at 4:54 pm Link

    The weight issue may not be that much of a concern, but we’re still discussing what is likely to be a two lane bridge. Do we really want the traffic modulation of vehicle that needs six times as much distance to stop in standard braking as an auto?

  20. EngineerScotty
    July 2, 2009 at 5:09 pm Link

    Why is the breaking distance of the streetcar on the Sellwood Bridge (replaced or retrofitted) any more of an issue than the breaking distance of the Streetcar on NW 23rd? I’d think the bridge would be less of a concern, seeing as the Streetcar wouldn’t be dealing with things like people crossing in its path, or parked cars (or car doors) suddenly emerging in its right-of-way. We haven’t had a rash of collisions involving streetcars downtown. Why would the bridge be any different?

  21. Ron Swaren
    July 2, 2009 at 5:26 pm Link

    Ambrown (seizing an opportunity to plug the electric bus concept),

    Did you see the article titled “Bus of the Future–In Stainless Steel?” The electric–or perhaps fuel celled bus–could be our next wave. One of the big advantages is that these can be a low floor design—and it seems like that would allow a two level design. London is already considering them and has solicited designs. And if it could work in some small backwater place like that just think what Progressive Portland could do! I think this would be better than the hybrid diesel electric designs many cities are using—these hybrids of any sort are expensive to produce since you have two systems.

    Beyond that I would like to see two level buses operating statewide servicing both small towns and recreational areas. That might get even more travelers out of their cars—although perhaps it would only be a seasonal concept. I suppose the routes could be adjusted to the seasons. E.g. The summertime route from Portland to hwy 97 destinations would have different stops than the wintertime one. ?? If it was my bus I would figure out a way that people could sleep on it—and thus take an overnight bus ride. Either, compartments (remember it is two level) or seats spaced a bit further apart so they actually recline. Put storage for a reasonable amount of gear–and presto, the campers could take it.

  22. R A Fontes
    July 2, 2009 at 5:28 pm Link

    The bridge is a long straight section where traffic moves at a relatively high speed most of the time. At 30 mph (the current speed limit on the bridge), the streetcar should maintain at least 220 feet from the vehicle in front of it. It may need more on the down slope; I don’t know. In town, the vehicle rarely gets up to that speed on shared ROW. It averages about 7 mph, stops and all, on the current alignment.

  23. EngineerScotty
    July 2, 2009 at 5:49 pm Link

    Streetcars are considered safe to operate at speeds up to 35MPH in mixed traffic, if the technical appendix of the report referenced in the lead is at all correct. At any rate, the “average” speed of the downtown alignment is irrelevant; the top speed is what matters; and traffic downtown generally moves at 25MPH.

    Some bridges (like the Broadway) concern me for streetcar, simply because of the “hump” in the bridge, where the two lift spans join–there have been numerous accidents where traffic cresting over the hump at speed has collided with traffic queued up at the lights on either end of the bridge, but not visible to drivers on the other side. Optics or electronic traffic sensors can alleviate this issue, but it has been a problem.

    The Sellwood, not being a double-leaf bascule drawbridge, doesn’t have a pronounced hump like the Broadway does.

  24. R A Fontes
    July 2, 2009 at 6:08 pm Link

    On page six of “C – Transit Technology Review”, it says the max speed in mixed traffic is 25 mph. Actually, I don’t have a problem with 35 mph, it’s just that streetcar needs to keep a very long safety zone as speeds increase. FWIW, the California PUC (one of the few states that has specific and extensive light rail rules) allows 35 mph in mixed traffic.

    Just like with cars, stopping distance quadruples as speed doubles. So streetcar doesn’t affect traffic too much on busy urban streets.

  25. CrimsonMike
    July 2, 2009 at 6:11 pm Link

    Is it my misunderstand but i believe the top speed of the current skoda/OIW has been quoted as 70mph on this site? I mean i understand the grade on the sellwood and all but also re: the Banfield.

  26. CrimsonMike
    July 2, 2009 at 6:16 pm Link

    and to the first comment by Rod, is it me and my crazy thinking but wouldn’t a westside north portland connector would be better as a commuter rail option vs. rapid streetcar….the LO Streetcar at least has some residental yet the entire st helens hwy area up till st john’s bridge is mainly industrial. though obvouisly the ROW dosen’t truely exist (BNSF will probably never fly with commuter on that section of rail)

  27. R A Fontes
    July 2, 2009 at 6:22 pm Link

    I think it’s 75 kph, or about 46.6 mph.

  28. Is it really an either/or situation — either streetcar gets built in the inner city first, or further out?

    Or would it be possible to do the flagship corridor, Hawthorne out to 50th to Foster all the way out to, say, 122nd? (Although I notice that the plan says the corridor would be Belmont to 50th to Foster — how would that work, exactly? 50th between Belmont & Hawthorne is, like, 20 feet wide…)

    Since the key is spurring new development, this may make the most sense — by connecting existing “hip” areas with neighborhoods that need a LOT of help, it could be a very powerful development tool… and, also, the rapid streetcar concept could be implemented along the entire length of the Foster Road section to speed up travel times.

    Just a thought, that outer vs. inner areas needn’t be pitted against one another, they should be connected to each other. The Hawthorne Bridge is already retrofitted to accommodate streetcar, so why not run it there? This would also be a way to get some key opportunity sites finally re-developed to their maximum potential, all along this corridor…

  29. EngineerScotty
    July 2, 2009 at 7:06 pm Link

    I might have gotten my speed figures confused. At any rate, I don’t think there will be an issue were streetcars to be limited to 25MPH across the Sellwood–given the speed limit on Tacoma Street is probably that, it wouldn’t create a bottleneck. And it might keep people from speeding across the bridge.

    The biggest constraint on building the system–is funding. There are TONS of interesting and useful transit projects that could be build; most never will have a spade of dirt turned due to limited dollars.

  30. Mike Feldman
    July 2, 2009 at 8:00 pm Link

    EngineerScotty said
    there are probably opportunities for Streetcar service outside the City, and/or for streetcars in denser suburban communities. (I can think of several corridors in Beaverton which might benefit from streetcar service, for instance). Comments on how municipal boundaries constrain your work?

    I want to broaden the question. I’ve been here 3 years; it’s increasingly obvious to me that the regional political situation developed well before I got here. So Chris, I hope you can enlighten me (and maybe others) on the following.

    This plan is obviously a City of Portland plan. Yet, we have a so-called “regional government” (Metro), whose portfolio explicitly includes transportation planning. We also have a regional transit agency, TriMet, which has no institutional relationship to Metro.

    Now p. 94 of the Streetcar Plan says:
    The Portland Streetcar System Concept Plan, when adopted by City Council, will incorporated in the City’s TSP. In order to be eligible for federal funding (including FTA Small Starts funds), a proposed streetcar corridor will need to be included Metro’s RTP list of regional transportation projects. The city will work with Metro and TriMet to ensure that the Portland Streetcar System Concept Plan complements the regional public transit network and merits consideration as a tool that supports regional policies for growth to be accommodated in established, transit-supportive communities.

    This language feels a bit pro-forma to me, and seems to be included more because of Federal rules than because of a genuine desire to do regional transportation planning. The above language suggests that the coordination will happen only after the plan is approved by City Council.

    So I have this uneasy feeling that Metro and TriMet and Portland are all going their own ways, coordinating only when they’re obliged to do so. And nobody’s looking out for the big regional picture.

    Chris, how did it get to be this way? Why was the existing streetcar a city project and not a TriMet one? And why is the next stage of coordination happening after the fact and not from the get-go?

    Help, please!

    Mike

  31. EngineerScotty
    July 2, 2009 at 8:10 pm Link

    I think the CoP and Tri-Met have a better working relationship than you suggest. That said, Tri-Met’s preferred vehicle for local service is the diesel bus, and the City of Portland, through various funding sources (including local improvement districts) is paying for the difference in cost between streetcar service and equivalent bus service. Exactly how that difference is calculate I don’t know–streetcars, when full, have a lower cost per ride to operate, and attract more riders than busses do.

    Many complain that Tri-Met focuses too much on the city of Portland, in particular those parts between the West Hills and SE/NE 39th, at the expense of outlying areas. OTOH, transit is most effective in dense urban areas, especially those places where parking is expensive and the automobile a less attractive alternative for commuters. That might explain the Portland concentration areas.

    I won’t comment on the personalities involved, because I don’t know enough about them. There certainly are a few “empire builders” in the various municipal governments and service districts around town–as you would expect for a city of this size.

  32. Chris Smith
    July 2, 2009 at 9:22 pm Link

    Chris, how did it get to be this way? Why was the existing streetcar a city project and not a TriMet one? And why is the next stage of coordination happening after the fact and not from the get-go?

    It’s really not disconnected. Metro and TriMet are doing a regional High Capacity Transit plan at the same time and there is great coordination between the two plans. Members from the staff of all three jurisdictions sit on the technical committees for both plans.

    As you say, as a matter of Federal law, any Federal funding can only flow if projects to build out this vision are eventually adopted into the Regional Transportation Plan.

    But note the distinction, the 50-year vision does not need to be adopted into the RTP, each corridor must be adopted in as it moves closer to actually being built. An in fact the detailed corridor evaluation would be led by Metro, as it has been for the Loop project and is now for the Lake Oswego corridor.

    It’s convoluted, but it actually does mostly work.

    And Portland is definitely the ‘initiator’ of this effort, because the choice to use Streetcar rather than a bus is really about the kind of land use and private investment you’re trying to drive, which is a City decision, not a Metro decision.

  33. jon
    July 2, 2009 at 11:17 pm Link

    i have a hard time seeing all these proposed lines getting built, combined they are about $300-400 million. what i can see is a few being built that have strong support in their respective communities combined with being top corridors for ridership and redevelopment potential. maybe some of the “low hanging fruit” lines that are short and cheap (like extension from 23rd to montgomery park). maybe the other finalist corridors identified in this streetcar plan that dont become streetcar could become electric trolley bus.

    that said i think these finalist corridors all make a lot of sense, well except for the gateway loops. one additional line that i think makes sense in addition to the finalist corridors is a branch off MLK down alberta street to 30th or 33rd, since alberta street doesnt have direct downtown transit service.

  34. Terry Parker
    July 3, 2009 at 8:12 am Link

    Whom ever said “Oregon is for dreamers” had it correct. The view from City Hall continues to be tax and spend – there is nothing the taxpayers can not afford because the there is a bottomless pit of ready cash out there from the working class, even if it hasn’t been figured out how to grow money on trees.

    Producing the steel rails for streetcars and digging up the streets to put them in is less than eco friendly and harmful to the environment, but that continues to be ignored or addressed as part of the discussion by streetcar advocates. It takes decades of streetcar operations to offset the negative effects. Additionally, the up front costs continue to be unrecoverable through the fare box.

    Instead of spending $10M per mile, the concept of building a web of streetcars needs to be scrapped and replaced with an electric trolley bus system plan that in its most basic form only requires overhead wires be installed over the streets. Unlike streetcars operating in mixed traffic that stop and obstruct motor vehicle lanes when boarding passengers (thus creating congestion and causing motorists to consume more fuel); with curb extensions eliminated, electric trolley busses can pull over to the curb when boarding passengers and let other vehicles pass thereby reducing stop and go traffic and help to increase fuel efficiency for motorists. Nationally, motor vehicle engines in idling in traffic wastes 2.3 billion gallons of fuel a year. Keeping the traffic flowing on the street must be viewed as a priority.

    The unsustainable trajectory of local taxpayer funded subsidies going to outdated hobby rail playthings that only generate even more taxpayer subsidies accrued by flush well-heeled developers needs to be reversed. The $3M a year cost to operate existing streetcar routes in addition to transit in general needs to be weaned off from being dependent on welfare style public assistance, and become financially self-sustainable. Methods must include increasing fares, eliminating Fareless Square, charging for freight on transit such as transporting bicycles, charging high density developers along transit routes extra fees to pay for increased service, eliminating parking meter revenue subsidies for streetcar operations, and eventually, reducing the size of ever increasing payroll tax that goes to transit.

    Specific transit planning must start with purpose and need with mode choice coming not first, but last, and only after an in-depth comprehensive comparison study of the overall cost effectiveness of all modes of transit for each route. Yet once again a small stacked deck group is pushing their own manipulative agenda on the rest of us. Given the costs and the subsidies involved, any streetcar plan along with alternatives must go to a vote of the people.

    The bottom line is that snail rail streetcars do not belong on high volume traffic streets such as Sandy Boulevard, 82nd Avenue, 122nd Avenue, Tacoma Street Hawthorne, 39th Avenue, etc.

  35. Wells
    July 3, 2009 at 12:00 pm Link

    The basis for my support for streetcar lines rose from the idea of reducing costs of light rail by integrating these two compatable rail systems. Short streetcar lines can reach areas where light rail would be too disruptive, too costly and operationally problematic at street level.

    Between 1995-98, I persistently advocated for two simple streetcar lines to serve Clackamas Town Center and Milwaukie-Oak Grove.

    A single-track Clackamastown Streetcar Line of a mere 2 miles has the potential to guide huge redevelopment of that area’s vast parking lots and reach destinations west of 82nd Ave. It would also encourage eventual extension of the Green Line past Johnson City to Oregon City. Clackamastown is a master planner’s dream.

    A streetcar line through Milwaukie to Oak Grove has less development potential, but enough to increase use of existing development and encourage infill. It could extend to Lake Oswego more readily than a MAX line. It seems to me the two cities are intimately related and the demand for travel between them ideal.

  36. R A Fontes
    July 3, 2009 at 2:08 pm Link

    Wells, I agree with you on the potential for a Milwaukie/Oak Grove – Lake Oswego connection. And a direct Oak Grove to LO run would be cheaper than a MAX extension from the Lake Road area. Would the demand be enough to support it? With the MAX extension, LO riders would have a direct link to the Portland transit mall and would certainly be lured off the (almost guaranteed) west side streetcar extension. They’d also presumably have a straight and quicker shot to the Milwaukie transit center than with an Oak Grove streetcar.

    The other question is where to direct the service on the west side once it reaches downtown LO. The 78 bus would be the most popular connection, for PCC Sylvania, if nothing else. But in any direction, the rails would have to go several miles before serving a market significant enough to justify the capital expense. The P&W provides a potential route into Tualatin & Sherwood, or Tigard, but it’s still open as how best to use it.

    Anyway, thanks for putting an Oak Grove – Lake Oswego streetcar into the conversation. Metro planners apparently will be putting the Milwaukie – Lake Oswego HCT connection on the back shelf, so we need to keep the discussion going.

  37. Chris Smith
    July 3, 2009 at 2:12 pm Link

    To some questions posed earlier:

    1) The “MADE IN USA” decal is permanent.
    2) Have not been able to find out why the car is number “015” rather than “011” (since it’s the 11th vehicle in the fleet).

  38. Wells
    July 3, 2009 at 3:42 pm Link

    R A Fontes, Let me amend the last sentense of my earlier post to read, “the two cities are intimately related and the demand for travel between them would be ideally served with a streetcar line on the existing railroad bridge, Jim Howell’s “The Forgotten Bridge”.

    Consider extending the Willamette Shore trolley from South Waterfront through Lake Oswego to Milwaukie or Oak Grove. I can’t imagine a better transit arrangement between Milwaukie and Lake Oswego.

  39. EngineerScotty
    July 3, 2009 at 7:02 pm Link

    Wells,

    The rail bridge between LO and Oak Grove has not been “forgotten” by planners–it was considered as a way of getting transit to LO, and pretty much discarded as an option.

    Of course, the route being considered was a connection from the planned “Orange Line” to Lake Oswego, not a continuation of the Portland Streetcar line from LO to the East Side.

    But building a new bridge would probably be just as cost-effective in the long run, as multiplexing transit on the existing bridge would be expensive (lease payments to the RR) and interfere with existing RR operations. In particular, freight couldn’t run at the same hours as transit. Plus with a new bridge, you have the opportunity to add other things like dual-track, and facilities for other users such as pedestrians, bikes, busses, or even (gulp!) automobiles.

  40. Ron Swaren
    July 3, 2009 at 8:02 pm Link

    As long as you are talking about a bridge in Lake Oswego:

    The Sellwood neighborhood almost unanimously wants to see Lake Oswego have a new bridge that will allow travelers from North Clackamas County/Mt. Scott area to LO/WashCO/ and Washington Square area have a more direct route. Y’know, reduce VMT?

    I’ve suggested Oak Grove BV to Foothills Dr as the shortest, least costly crossing. However, if a rail system did need a new bridge, such as close to the “forgotten bridge” I suppose that would be fine for surface traffic, too.

    The suggestion that I think is kind of ridiculous is a crossing in the vicinity of Waverly golf course? This would seriously impact an already strained Hwy 43, whereas a crossing in central LO doesn’t, because it is proximate to a number of other arterials. There would only be the .8 mile stretch in downtown LO that would be impacted—and westward bound traffic could go below LO in a tunnel.

    Now don’t tell me that this is a dumb idea. I’m tired of criticism.

  41. R A Fontes
    July 3, 2009 at 9:03 pm Link

    Downtown Lake Oswego is severely restricted by geography – Tryon Creek State Park, Oswego Lake, and the Willamette River. There are choke points on Highway 43 there which have detours in excess of seven miles (not a misprint).

    It’s not that it’s a dumb idea; it’s just that it would be very expensive and resisted by locals. I’ve dreamed of a tunnel complex with three entrances – north, south, and west – so that through traffic could bypass downtown signals. The tunnel would have as many as three levels to enable left turns without interruption. The problem is that the arterials are already getting enough traffic. This would just be moving and intensifying the congestion elsewhere a la CRC.

    To compound things, the city government seems to be intent on figuring out new excuses to bring in more congestion magnets downtown well beyond any Metro increased density requirements or local needs. LO needs to get serious about downtown congestion, and it doesn’t seem that it will until the situation gets unbearable.

  42. EngineerScotty
    July 3, 2009 at 10:33 pm Link

    I suspect that many LO residents would prefer that folks heading between West Linn/OC and downtown, or from the east side to Washington County, just stay out of their town. Use I-205 or 99E instead. :)

  43. Jarrett at HumanTransit.org
    July 4, 2009 at 12:41 am Link

    See my post on basic questions for streetcar advocates here:

    http://www.humantransit.org/2009/07/streetcars-an-inconvenient-truth.html

  44. al m
    July 4, 2009 at 12:56 am Link

    Public comment??

    hahahahahahahaha!

    Anybody that does not support this stuff might as well stay home, cause the decisions have been made and are final!

  45. Wells
    July 4, 2009 at 8:11 am Link

    “The rail bridge between LO and Oak Grove has not been “forgotten” by planners–it is considered a way for transit to LO, and pretty much discarded as an option.”

    Jim Howell titled his paper on it “The Forgotten Bridge.”

    “Building a new bridge would probably be just as cost-effective as multiplexing transit on the existing bridge. It would interfere with freight rail operations which couldn’t run the same hours as transit. With a new bridge, you have the opportunity to add dual-track and facilities for other users, pedestrians, bikes, buses or even automobiles.”

    It seems to me, most Lake Oswego residents will oppose a public roadway bridge more than a streetcar line that would not go through their hallowed neighborhoods. As for joint freight rail/streetcar operations on the bridge, if the streetcars ran every 1/2 hour, taking perhaps 10 minutes to run both directions, freight trains could cross in the remaining 20 minutes however many times they run daily. Operationally difficult, I agree, but not impossible.

    I had this idea for Ochoco Street awhile back. Could 99E be cut below grade with Ochoco a level crossing that includes freight rail? It could connect to SamTrak.

    99E would have basic ‘H’ exits/entrances at Ochoco. This would eliminate one 99E bottleneck that encourages cross-county motorists to use the Sellwood Bridge instead of the Ross which for many trips is the more direct route. It would make pedestrian crossing of 99E there safer, more convenient, and increase the land value.

  46. al m
    July 4, 2009 at 9:30 am Link

    As for joint freight rail/streetcar operations on the bridge, if the streetcars ran every 1/2 hour, taking perhaps 10 minutes to run both directions, freight trains could cross in the remaining 20 minutes however many times they run daily. Operationally difficult, I agree, but not impossible.

    What the heck are you talking about?

  47. EngineerScotty
    July 4, 2009 at 9:44 am Link

    Wells wrote:

    As for joint freight rail/streetcar operations on the bridge, if the streetcars ran every 1/2 hour, taking perhaps 10 minutes to run both directions, freight trains could cross in the remaining 20 minutes however many times they run daily. Operationally difficult, I agree, but not impossible.

    Uh, no. The sort of time-multiplexing that Federal Rwailway Administration regulations might permit is a plan like transit-runs-in-the-day, freight-runs-at-night. And even that would probably require a lot of paperwork to pull off. The FRA simply wouldn’t allow the mixing of regulated freight and non-compliant transit vehicles in the manner you suggest.

    (It’s not like the line gets that much freight use anyway–it a branch, not the main line).

  48. al m
    July 4, 2009 at 9:50 am Link

    JUST A SECOND HERE!
    I GOT IT!
    How bout we attach one small flat bed car to the back of the people car! Then we get freight and people on one streetcar line! This city will be more than the greenest city in the world, it will be the emerald greenest city of the world with a platinum rating for green!

    When do I get to be a MUCHO GRANDE HONCHO?

  49. al m
    July 4, 2009 at 10:02 am Link

    Have I mentioned that Portland is the jewel of Oregon, which is the 2nd worst in unemployment in the entire country?

    That’s right behind MICHIGAN, ya know, the place were all the car’s went out of business?

    It appears that nobody actually cares about any of that of course.

  50. Ron Swaren
    July 4, 2009 at 10:25 am Link

    “I suspect that many LO residents would prefer that folks heading between West Linn/OC and downtown, or from the east side to Washington County, just stay out of their town. Use I-205 or 99E instead. :)”

    And that is a valid concern. Adding a bridge doesn’t really change that. But they should drop their “I’ll just take my marbles and go home, NIMBY” attitude and engage themselves in a reasonable discussion. Right now it is a long detour for someone, as an example, trying to get from Oak Grove area to Washington Square. Why should they have to add 15 or 20 extra miles to a round trip just because Lake Oswego is going to pout? There are hundreds of comparable examples. And I bet a LOT of LO residents would be shopping on 99E in Oak Grove if it was less than five miles to get there. Furthermore why should communities close to the existing bridges–Sellwood and Oregon City— put up with the additional traffic coming through THEIR neighborhoods.
    I was suggesting something with relatively minimal impact to the LO folks. It would probably give their businesses new customers, too.

  51. Dave H
    July 4, 2009 at 11:51 am Link

    A single-track Clackamastown Streetcar Line of a mere 2 miles has the potential to guide huge redevelopment of that area’s vast parking lots and reach destinations west of 82nd Ave.

    Unfortunately we’ll need to wait to see if Clackamas chooses to do this, since it’s outside the area of the Portland Streetcar’s study, but it’s definitely something they should consider. CTC and the strip mall across the street from it both have plenty of usable land left (if parking garages were built) for building a nice mixed use neighborhood.

    As long as we’re bothering to build MAX out there it would be nice to see them work on making it a destination worth going to.

  52. al m
    July 4, 2009 at 12:54 pm Link

    You’re probably asking yourselves,

    WHY DOES THIS DUMB BUS DRIVER KEEP BOTHERING US WITH ALL HIS NONSENSE, THIS BLOG IS ABOUT STREETCARS!

    The reason I keep bringing this up, especially in the PUBLIC COMMENTS area, is simple:

    All this building of all these rail lines is not helping the general population, as is evidenced by Portland’s miserable employment and suffering index.

    So,

    WHO AND WHY, EXACTLY, ARE WE BUILDING ALL THIS STUFF FOR?

    Can one of you answer that for me?

    Don’t give me the green baloney, I live in NW Portland were ESCO is poisoning our air and the Willamette river is one of the most toxic in the country!

    Give me something that makes sense.

  53. Dave H
    July 4, 2009 at 1:07 pm Link

    Al, Portland does have a high unemployment rate, and that’s a problem. I don’t see how our single streetcar line or the MAX lines are causing us to have less jobs here.

    Of course, areas that are doing better invest in trains as well. Michigan has no streetcars and limited transit service in Detroit, yet they have worse unemployment than us.

    I fail to get your point at all, since you’re comparing two items that have nothing to do with each other. Are you suggesting that since we have other problems in the state, we should drop everything else and not plan ahead for once the economy recovers?

  54. Bob R.
    July 4, 2009 at 1:24 pm Link

    Al, the Streetcar System Plan is just that, a plan, looking out multiple decades into the future.

    Whether any of those lines get built will depend heavily on the involvement of the local communities, and a careful look at budget realities. The state of the economy 5 or more years from now, which is probably when groundbreaking could occur on any of these routes, may be far different than it is today.

    I do hope you noticed that in my video interviews with various politicos, I did not confine my questions to rail transit, and in fact asked specifically about improvements to bus transit and pedestrian access.

  55. al m
    July 4, 2009 at 1:24 pm Link

    Are you suggesting that since we have other problems in the state, we should drop everything else and not plan ahead for once the economy recovers?

    It seems to me that public policy must address the needs of its citizens, and that does not appear to be the case in Portland.

    I don’t see the streetcars, the max, the wes, blah blah blah, as doing anything to address the needs of Portland’s rank and file citizens.

    Public policy in this city seems to be addressing some minor sub group of it’s population

    Statistically we can prove this by looking at numbers such as poverty, unemployment, lack of insurance, etc.

    I do realize that Oregon itself is a somewhat BACKWARD state compared to many states, especially on the east coast, but Portland itself prides itself on being so gosh darn progressive.

    But the reality is completely different from the reputation.

    City policy is heavily invested in these rail lines, and it does nothing to help the rank and file citizens.

    It’s not two different things, its the same thing!

  56. al m
    July 4, 2009 at 1:36 pm Link

    I do hope you noticed that in my video interviews with various politicos, I did not confine my questions to rail transit, and in fact asked specifically about improvements to bus transit and pedestrian access.

    Bob, ya know those guys are there for the photo op!

    I know, I’m just ranting about things that I or nobody else is gonna change.

    THREE CHEERS FOR THE STREET CAR!

    HIP HIP HOORAY!HIP HIP HOORAY!HIP HIP HOORAY!

    Have a good fourth.

    Ranting concluded!

  57. Dave H
    July 5, 2009 at 1:52 pm Link

    City policy is heavily invested in these rail lines, and it does nothing to help the rank and file citizens.

    It’s not two different things, its the same thing!

    I guess my question is what alternatives would you prefer we look at?

    Poverty is a problem in the state, but how does providing better access to communities not benefit those in poverty? Most people who meet poverty definitions can not afford a car, so isn’t providing other options to them a benefit?

    Unemployment/underemployment is a big problem as well. (I should know, since I’m currently job-hunting.) I like knowing that the streetcars we’re buying are made locally. Buying buses from Manitoba and Minnesota (where New Flyer’s manufacturing facilities are) won’t help unemployment like making streetcars right here in the Metro area.

    Lack of insurance is a problem, but the funding sources for the streetcar are transportation funds. The federal funds can’t be moved over to health insurance, that’s an issue to take up with Congress and the Senate. The local funds I suppose could be more easily diverted by the city, but since as I understand it the anticipated funding is from local improvement districts I doubt that would fly.

    The plus for residents of the city is that after the initial capital costs are paid for we have an expanded transit system, as well as a city that allows those who can not or do not drive more effective mobility. I don’t see the harm in planning for that, even if it takes 30 or 40 years to make it happen.

    I agree that there are problems the city hasn’t handled well, but I don’t think planning a streetcar network is a part of that.

  58. EngineerScotty
    July 5, 2009 at 2:47 pm Link

    Dave,

    I think Al’s argument is that the poor are best served by service (more frequent service, more routes) to existing neighborhoods, frequently poor ones–not to capital-intensive rail projects. Furthermore, Al (and others) frequently argue that “transit-oriented development” (building rail lines to places in the expectation that high-density development will spring up) doesn’t benefit the poor–as the resulting development will be upscale. (There are also concerns about gentrification in areas where rail service is added). Finally, there is a longstanding argument that Streetcar (local-service rail) is essentially a “luxury” mode of transit, that we shouldn’t be wasting money on.

    There’s also the argument that “transit oriented development” is little more than a form of graft, rewarding developers and construction unions for political patronage. (Of course, any public expenditure can be framed that way, and such charges are almost impossible to falsify).

    I’m not going to defend any of these arguments here, but they exist.

    The current Portland Streetcar certainly doesn’t pass through any poor areas of town, though many of the proposed routes in the draft plan are through areas not as upscale as the Pearl, NW 23rd, or SoWa. Certainly, Gateway isn’t going to be confused with the Pearl.

    The longstanding stereotype/belief/meme/whatever that busses are for lower-income folk, and rail projects are built in nicer neighborhoods, might be coming into play. This dynamic has appeared in other cities (such as LA), where bus and rail are frequently pitted as competitive modes of transport, not complementary ones. I don’t see that to be particularly true in Portland, as MAX doesn’t currently go to the nicest neighborhoods in town, and does run through some pretty blighted areas. The reason the Streetcar is where it is is that’s the neighborhood which passed a LID for funding.

  59. Ron Swaren
    July 5, 2009 at 4:57 pm Link

    “There’s also the argument that “transit oriented development” is little more than a form of graft, rewarding developers and construction unions for political patronage. (Of course, any public expenditure can be framed that way, and such charges are almost impossible to falsify).”

    I don’t think it started with the intention of being “patronage.” But I do believe we have a serious danger of it turning into that. FYI, I was very supportive of the original Gresham MAX line and had been involved in some volunteer campaigning against the 1990 Transportation Plan (by Robt. Moses). Yet, good concepts should not be immune to critical re-evaluation. Now with costs approaching $200 million per mile for MAX lines I think we should be asking “how can we accomplish the same thing, more cheaply?) And more importantly “Exactly what is it that is driving the costs up, and can we make substitutions?”

    This needs to be looked at from a standpoint of
    “Systems analysis.” You don’t merely keep adhering to a system after it becomes inefficient. You get to a point where you realize it is time to scrap it and look for a better system. Of course, once the system has spawned a bureaucracy then you have the unpredictable human element of people not wanting to change because they have a way of making money for themselves.

    With the Green Line there was already a publicly owned ROW so that can’t be blamed. So yes it is nice to have a dedicate ROW not subject to traffic snarls. But do we need a vehicle with all of those overhead wires, the heavily built rails with concrete ties, the massive reinforced stations? There are so many other promising technologies coming at us these days, it is shocking.

    Maybe it would be far cheaper to look at negotiation with rail companies to utilize their trackage—since we already have available high capacity diesel powered rail vehicles. I also wouldn’t give up on buses—since electrical generation is opening up some new possibilities and they could have a lot of versatility for inter city travel. But since electric buses have been developed under the Bush administration Portland transit afficiandos will probably find something to not like about them.

    My concern with the “Patronage” issue is that we are creating the conditions for a large underclass of people as we budget more for various and sundry public works projects. This gives rise to a sociological phenomenon called “Importing Poverty”. When I look at 82nd Ave. and the Rockwood area it seems like this is one trick we too have mastered. I just saw a list of the stimulus projects: since when do convention center hotels cost $400 million and furnshings for a large federal building come to $250 million? They spent $600 million for hybrid vehicles for federal employees. Did anyone caclculate how many years it would take to recoup this “investment?” Or, that is, until they buy replacement vehicles for those? In Miami-Dade they aparently got better than $2.4 billion for a 10.5 light rail line. Do they really know enough people will use it? And the more we spend on public works the more planning headaches we will have from population increases. So an expensive public transit system can easily become a self-defeating notion.

    I would not dispute that in a city like Chicago or Boston a traditional light rail system is fairly cost effective: Yet every city will have its own equation.

  60. Dave H
    July 5, 2009 at 6:52 pm Link

    I just saw a list of the stimulus projects: since when do convention center hotels cost $400 million

    That cost actually sounds fairly low for what we’re trying to achieve with the convention center hotel. Many privately owned properties will spend $50-100 million just to renovate the property, so $400 for a complete building doesn’t sound that bad.

    The Sheraton Denver Downtown, which was already a fairly decent hotel that had undergone significant updates over the years is still spending $70 mil (estimated last winter) for a renovation they’re starting on.

    I’d love to see BRT used for some of the proposed MAX lines, such as Barber or the Milwaukie, until we have funding sources for the MAX projects, but the other issue is the way federal funding is use-it or lose-it.

    Transportation infrastructure money isn’t something you can ask to get back for the general fund, so capital projects are usually what you have to do. If you’re not building new infrastructure constantly, you’re just sending money to Washington so others can.

    Oregon learned this with the start of the MAX network, and Washington is effective at using it for both freeway and transit expansion. It’s very difficult to get the same funds just to buy some buses though.

    Yes, it’s spending money for the sake of spending it on some levels, but it also makes sense on some levels not to make people transfer to use the Green line to downtown. I’d imagine usage would be much lower than it will be if it only ran from Gateway to CTC.

  61. al m
    July 5, 2009 at 7:44 pm Link

    I think Al’s argument is that the poor are best served by service (more frequent service, more routes) to existing neighborhoods, frequently poor ones

    POOR HAS NOTHING TO DO WITH IT!

    I’m talking about the MAJORITY of Portland Citizens, most of whom are not “poor”!

    This development is of no use to US, THE MAJORITY OF PORTLANDERS!

    We don’t see it as being of any use at all to be honest.

    Who the heck needs a green line to CLACKAMAS TOWN CENTER?

    Gimme a freaking break will ya!

    Streetcars is a CUTE form of transport that panders to a particular stereotype American.

    It’s the same reason people buy Mercedes over Dodge.

    To deny that is to deny reality.

  62. al m
    July 5, 2009 at 7:49 pm Link

    This stinking WES, another PORK BARREL lunacy, could have had service 2 years ago in a luxury bus for 1/100 of the cost of that monstrosity that they have now.

    They run buses on it anyway since the thing is in the shop over and over.

    They could have saved themselves all this trouble by going with buses all along.

    BUT IT WOULDN’T HAVE BEEN CUTE WOULD IT?

  63. EngineerScotty
    July 5, 2009 at 8:05 pm Link

    Who the heck needs a bus line down Barbur Boulevard? Who needs the Red Line to the airport, or the Blue line, or US 26?

    The Green Line is useful to those who live, work, or otherwise need to travel near its route. If you don’t have any business along the I-205 corridor; you probably won’t benefit directly from the Green Line.

    But the same thing is true for any fixed-location infrastructure project, whether it be a new highway, a rail line, an airport, or whatever else. The further you are away from it, the less you directly benefit.

    A bus system distributes its benefits more widely–which is why busses will always be part of public transportation, at least for the foreseeable future.

    At any rate, what Al calls “cute”, I refer to as “luxury transit”–the same job done by a streetcar can be done more cheaply bus a bus (assuming new tracks and trolley wires need be installed). But streetcar attracts more riders–study after study has shown that there are lots of people who will ride a streetcar, but won’t get on a bus. Whether its because busses are perceived as “low class”, have a less comfortable ride, or are harder for casual riders to figure out where they are going, I don’t know.

  64. al m
    July 5, 2009 at 8:08 pm Link

    the same job done by a streetcar can be done more cheaply bus a bus (assuming new tracks and trolley wires need be installed). But streetcar attracts more riders–study after study has shown that there are lots of people who will ride a streetcar, but won’t get on a bus.

    I know that’s true.

    But its also well known that streetcar, and even Chris Smith agrees, is a tool for DEVELOPMENT, not a tool for transit!

  65. al m
    July 5, 2009 at 8:16 pm Link

    BTW, speaking of quality of life, it might interest some of you to know that Multnomah County is ranked
    the 6th worst county in the entire COUNTRY for your risk of developing cancer

  66. EngineerScotty
    July 5, 2009 at 8:33 pm Link

    Who the heck needs a bus line down Barbur Boulevard? Who needs the Red Line to the airport, or the Blue line, or US 26?

    The Green Line is useful to those who live, work, or otherwise need to travel near its route. If you don’t have any business along the I-205 corridor; you probably won’t benefit directly from the Green Line.

    But the same thing is true for any fixed-location infrastructure project, whether it be a new highway, a rail line, an airport, or whatever else. The further you are away from it, the less you directly benefit.

    A bus system distributes its benefits more widely–which is why busses will always be part of public transportation, at least for the foreseeable future.

    At any rate, what Al calls “cute”, I refer to as “luxury transit”–the same job done by a streetcar can be done more cheaply bus a bus (assuming new tracks and trolley wires need be installed). But streetcar attracts more riders–study after study has shown that there are lots of people who will ride a streetcar, but won’t get on a bus. Whether its because busses are perceived as “low class”, have a less comfortable ride, or are harder for casual riders to figure out where they are going, I don’t know.

  67. Ron Swaren
    July 5, 2009 at 8:57 pm Link

    “-study after study has shown that there are lots of people who will ride a streetcar, but won’t get on a bus. Whether its because busses are perceived as “low class”, have a less comfortable ride, or are harder for casual riders to figure out where they are going, I don’t know.”

    I agree, buses have a bad reputation. However, I’ve been on some LRT rides recently that left a lot to be desired, too (if you know what I mean) Big federal spending will lead to “Importing Poverty.” Just watch… you will have to have some fortitude to ride the Green Line as time progresses. So twenty years from now, if these massive federal spending programs go ahead, it won’t make no diff!

    So when these lines are built the neighborhood could become either Stepford Wives territory or Felony Flats—who knows?

    I don’t know where they did the studies on the Streetcar ridership—I do get your point. The Portland one is no doubt very popular BECAUSE IT IS MOSTLY FREE! and doesn’t go through any seedy areas.

  68. ws
    July 5, 2009 at 9:27 pm Link

    People don’t ride buses because they are difficult to understand, has many different numbers, goes all over the place, and their time schedules are not always prompt. Rail has a fixed line and is very logical in that sense.

    Once people get familiar with riding buses, it is less daunting.

    This is my take, anyways. I think some things could be streamlined with buses, especially w/ tickets/fare. An electronic system would be fantastic.

  69. al m
    July 5, 2009 at 9:37 pm Link

    The Green Line is useful to those who live, work, or otherwise need to travel near its route. If you don’t have any business along the I-205 corridor; you probably won’t benefit directly from the Green Line.

    They had bus service!

    72!

  70. Bob R.
    July 5, 2009 at 9:44 pm Link

    They had bus service! 72!

    Last time I checked, the 72 is still in existence and still going strong.

    The 72 competes with the Green Line no more than the #12 or #19 compete with the Blue Line. Different types of service, and not quite the same corridor either.

  71. Bob R.
    July 5, 2009 at 9:49 pm Link

    July 4, 2009 12:56 AM al m Says:

    July 4, 2009 9:50 AM al m Says:

    July 4, 2009 9:50 AM al m Says:

    July 4, 2009 10:02 AM al m Says:

    July 4, 2009 12:54 PM al m Says:

    July 4, 2009 1:24 PM al m Says:

    July 4, 2009 1:36 PM al m Says:

    Ranting concluded!

    July 5, 2009 7:44 PM al m Says:

    July 5, 2009 7:49 PM al m Says:

    July 5, 2009 8:08 PM al m Says:

    July 5, 2009 8:16 PM al m Says:

    July 5, 2009 9:37 PM al m Says:

    OK, Al, you’ve made your opinion abundantly clear… take it easy.

  72. Dave H
    July 5, 2009 at 10:37 pm Link

    People don’t ride buses because they are difficult to understand, has many different numbers, goes all over the place, and their time schedules are not always prompt.

    Exactly the problems that I’ve seen with them.

    Every guest I’ve had in town has been very comfortable jumping on a train (MAX or streetcar) to get around. Buses, not so much. The maps are difficult to understand, knowing where to get off can be very confusing if you’re not familiar with the city, and overall there are less train lines than buses to figure out.

    I do the same thing in San Francisco. BART or Muni trains? Great, I can figure those out in no time. CalTrain was easy too, but I took a cab to it because I couldn’t figure out the bus route quickly, and was in a hurry.

    Typically if I’m traveling I avoid the bus network. Places I’ve lived I’m fine with using them, because I know the areas better, but getting lost on a bus system in an unfamiliar town is intimidating to many.

    Portland has definitely made it a lot easier on me to use buses than San Diego or Buffalo ever did, since at least I can see a normal map of the routes on Google Maps or TriMet’s site. The crappy diagrams on the buses and signs themselves spooked me away from trying to figure out the buses around my apartment for the first 6 months I lived here though.

    I wasn’t sure where to transfer to get the other bus I needed which was a big problem. The train maps make this much easier by showing ALL the routes.

  73. EngineerScotty
    July 5, 2009 at 10:55 pm Link

    Are you suggesting, Ron, that by building trains (or other public infrastructure) to blighted areas, rather than un-blighting them, we instead encourage poor folk from other parts of the country to emigrate to Portland, looking for bigger and better government largesse?

    Most poor people don’t travel much, in my experience–certainly, they don’t scour the country looking for the best deal from local government. (Corporations, on the other hand…) Likewise, cities which try to eradicate poverty by making life miserable on poor people (i.e. try to get them to move elsewhere) generally don’t succeed in these endeavors.

    Felony Flats and Rockwood were blighted long before MAX, and the Green Line isn’t likely to make much of a difference.

  74. al m
    July 5, 2009 at 10:56 pm Link

    You know Bob, I really hate it when you start this favoritism c**p.

    July 5, 2009 8:33 PM
    EngineerScotty Says:

    July 5, 2009 8:05 PM
    EngineerScotty Says:

    July 5, 2009 7:56 PM
    EngineerScotty Says:

    July 5, 2009 3:54 PM
    EngineerScotty Says:

    July 5, 2009 11:50 AM
    EngineerScotty Says:

    July 4, 2009 10:59 PM
    EngineerScotty Says:

    July 5, 2009 2:47 PM
    EngineerScotty Says:

    July 4, 2009 9:44 AM
    EngineerScotty Says:

  75. Bob R.
    July 5, 2009 at 11:21 pm Link

    You know Bob, I really hate it when you start this favoritism c**p.

    Al, you said nearly the same thing in every comment, and all I did was ask you to take it easy. If scotty starts going off like that, trust me, I’ll admonish him.

    Friends?

  76. al m
    July 5, 2009 at 11:32 pm Link

    I’m still pals bob, but do I or do I not have a right to speak my mind?

    It’s your blog you have a right to run it as you see fit, however I will always continue to fight for my point of view.

    We who are of advanced mind don’t resort to violence, we use words and battle it out in places like this.

    If only all of mankind could follow our lead what a world this would be!

  77. al m
    July 5, 2009 at 11:39 pm Link

    I’m (and plenty others) not happy with the way things are going in the Portland area, this transit issue is just another in the long list of screw ups that are being forced down our collective throats.

    I’m gonna keep trying, till my last breath.

  78. Ron Swaren
    July 6, 2009 at 9:33 am Link

    Engineer Scotty,

    I am not saying that all poor people scour the country looking for the best deal from local government—although there are some who will. What I am saying is that major construction projects beget a transient workforce—or “journeymen” —so there are two logistical problems. 1. Where to put the transient workforce on a temporary basis 2. How to accomodate them in planning decisions should they decide to remain. Plus there are the secondary businesses that spring up, whenever there is a huge influx of money into an area–whether it is private investment or public expenditure. Thus there can be an uncontrolled growth of “strip mall” type businesses.

    At a recent (last fall) METRO-sponsored conference the main speaker was advising local governments to prepare for a US population of 500 million by 2050 and one billion by 2100. Many of the leaders present snickered…but this guy was serious. The only way that this will happen will be by governments deliberately controlling the rate of public infrastructure projects. I think this has the makings of a runaway trend. I don’t necssarily have any kind of graph that analyses how any one type of project affects growth. I just know as a rule of thumb that money flowing into an area attracts job seekers—and the projects themselves (roughly in correlation to the amount spent) demand personnel.

    Now our officials are in a panic that our infrastructure is woefully inadequate for the projected population growth. But there needs to be a balance here. True, we should not be caught offguard. But I see no reason to be excessive in what we budget for this area. That is why I am opposed to the CRC project. That one, when combined with other related “needs” could fuel a $20-30 billion highway construction boom—and with it more workers coming in to the area seeking jobs, and finally more people choosing to stay (Which we have enough already with the general “Westward migration”), more mom-and pop types of businesses, more quickly erected cheap housing, more street planning. All of the ugly things of unchecked growth we have been trying to avoid.

    I am concerned that the light rail projects–while perhaps not as bad as the CRC and related freeway projects–would have a similar effect. As I have said before, I am not opposed to the concept —-just questioning the level of expense connected with it and whether it could be supersed with other technologies–maybe not in Portland, but in other cities. LBJ tried to make a “Great Society” in the US, some of which was good, but some of which caused a spiral of unwanted events and finally we overhauled a lot of that. Now we are starting down the same path again–pressured by the “social justice” movement which doesn’t have a modicum of understanding of economic –or even humanitarian—realities.

  79. EngineerScotty
    July 6, 2009 at 9:55 am Link

    Transient construction workers go where the work is. They generally have little trouble finding housing if they come to a city for a particular job (remember, they’re getting paid quite well), and they typically leave when the job is over–either returning to families, or going to the next job in the next city.

    That said–there is probably enough unused capacity among locally-based laborers and construction workers that the call won’t go out for out-of-area journeymen to come looking for work here.

  80. Ron Swaren
    July 6, 2009 at 11:13 am Link

    “That said–there is probably enough unused capacity among locally-based laborers and construction workers that the call won’t go out for out-of-area journeymen to come looking for work here.”

    It would if there was “full” employment. I see you, obviously, know a lot about the industry. Further, the fact that there is “unused capacity” is no reason in itself to initiate any particular type of publicly funded project. That would be a type of welfare state

  81. EngineerScotty
    July 6, 2009 at 11:30 am Link

    Starting infrastructure projects in a depressed economy is generally a Good Thing To Do.

    1) Stimulates the economy
    2) If you want, you can take advantage of a looser labor market to pay lower wages. Some in government may choose not to do so for various reasons, but…

    That said, none of the currently ongoing transit projects are of the “stimulus” variety, having been planned and approved long before the recession hit. OTOH, it appears we’re gonna start building a highway around Dundee and half of Newberg that until recently, nobody knew how to pay for.

    I’m not an expert on the construction industry–but I do know enough that large migrations of journeymen typically only occur when there are MASSIVE public works or other construction projects in an area. The rebuilding of New Orleans after Katrina, the buildup for the 2010 Games in Vancouver, the housing boom in places like Phoenix and much of California–are several examples. One transit project in Portland is probably a drop in the bucket.

  82. Ron Swaren
    July 6, 2009 at 1:05 pm Link

    “One transit project in Portland is probably a drop in the bucket.”

    Isn’t there a saying “Think Globally. Act Locally.”
    It may be a drop in the bucket but in the current welfare state climate, with certain self-promoting labor leaders acting as economic advisors (and they have no degree in economics), it is a pretty big bucket.

    Maybe you have been schooled in the thinking of the self-perpetuating welfare state. Like the people telling us to prepare for a huge population increase. Even Bill Clinton knew better than that. But, hey guy, I actually do work on issues of humanitarian concern–rather than endlessly argue political points. So, sayonara.

  83. EngineerScotty
    July 6, 2009 at 1:52 pm Link

    Ron,

    Your complaints agout the “welfare state” are reminiscent of Terry’s complaints about “socialism”–it’s a total non sequitur, methinks. I’ll note that when its business leaders, rather than labor leaders, in the position of “economic adviser”, such are equally capable of self-dealing and corruption. And I’ll assure you that my thoughts are my owned–I’ve been schooled in many things and many opposing viewpoints, and I’m more than capable of making up my own mind.

    At any rate, this is not the forum to dicuss wider economic theory; and complaints that we shouldn’t engage in transit projects (or certain types thereof) because they might somehow effect a transfer of wealth from one person or group to another, are probably off topic.

  84. Cora Potter
    July 6, 2009 at 2:21 pm Link

    Chris,

    Thanks for bringing up the issues of equity. I’m happy to see that was a factor in the phase 3 analysis too.

    I really hope that we can at the very least build the next line from the “outside” – in, and/or focus on a couple of lines that cross or meet existing HCT in areas outside the CBD.

  85. Dave H
    July 6, 2009 at 8:35 pm Link

    Like the people telling us to prepare for a huge population increase.

    Have we not already seen a massive population increase across the country over the past 30 years? 225 million in 1979 to 305 million in 2009 would be about a 135% increase in population. At that pace, we’d hit about 410 million people in the US by 2039, assuming that those additional people don’t procreate more than previous generations, or that additional immigrants come in.

    It makes me think that maybe we should think about building some infrastructure to keep up with population growth.

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