A piece at Human Transit underscores the question: if TriMet drops frequency on it’s “Frequent Service” routes to 17 minutes (the standard TriMet had defined was 15 minutes) are they still frequent?
Exactly why they should not follow through with this plan, my friend.
As far as I’m concerned, no.
Before Frequent Service, I remember some routes were “15-Minute Service” (I want to say they were 5-Interstate, 5/14-Hawthorne, 15-NW 23rd, and 72-Killingsworth/82nd). When TriMet started expanding this to other routes (33-McLoughlin and 12-Barbur Blvd. come to mind as specific examples), it was replaced by “Frequent Service,” with advertising all over the place that proclaimed: “The wait is over! TriMet’s Frequent Service bus and MAX lines run every 15 minutes or better during the day, every day.” This is taken verbatum from an old 75 schedule I still have.
Now, TriMet is saying that Frequent Service runs “every 15 minutes or better during weekday rush hour.” This tells me that TriMet could cut all but rush-hour service from something like 14 or 72 (or run something paltry and inadequate like hourly service middays and weekends) and the routes would still qualify as “Frequent Service.”
Also, I actually listened to the financial report during the last board meeting… passenger revenue is down 9% as more people buy tickets versus passes (or simply don’t ride transit at all). Tax revenues expected to be down, and worse than expected as employers cut hours and wages. We need real public transit funding reform now.
“We need real public transit funding reform now.”
Or, we need to stop spending money on projects that are complete failures, and were predicted to be such before they even broke ground. See: WES.
Maybe the payroll tax shouldn’t be thrown out with the bathwater. Payrolls tend to go up and down with transit demand and have a fairly reasonable correlation with inflation.
Maybe the real problem is TriMet’s own empire building. Even successful new lines (probably the green; maybe [with a lot of luck] the eastside loop & Milwaukie MAX) put additional pressure on TriMet’s operating budget. Throw in a few haven’t-got-a-chance boondoggles (we don’t really need to name them again, do we?) and service gets cut all over the place while TriMet is seen as being totally unable to manage money.
I think the general public would be supportive of increasing TriMet’s subsidy if most of us felt that transit dollars were being spent wisely.
The first step just might be for TriMet to publicly admit that WES is a debacle and either immediately get its cost/revenue structure in line with other services or walk away from it forever.
A second step might be to require local governments and/or local improvement districts to indemnify TriMet/Portland Streetcar from greater than average operating costs per ride on new services. I’m thinking specifically of the Lake Oswego streetcar extension, but it could apply to most, if not all, new services.
Finally, consider opening up transit to competition. Yes, there could be cherry picking and low cost labor could undercut everything that TriMet’s people have been working for. The hope is that just the thought of real competition would force TriMet/Portland Streetcar to do the best job possible with its current responsibilities and not concentrate so much on blue sky mirages.
Bonding payroll tax revenue to fund capital improvements, as apparently is being done for Mikwaukie MAX, is a BAD idea.
“Bonding payroll tax revenue to fund capital improvements, as apparently is being done for Mikwaukie MAX, is a BAD idea.”
No, they’re not frequent. And they weren’t frequent at every 15 minutes.
A frequent bus is one which will arrive at the stop within 5 minutes no matter when the rider arrives at the stop (grade A service). Assuming the trip uses only routes with this standard of frequency, timing of transfers becomes irrelevant.
Every 15 minutes is adequate (grade C) service. Less than every 30 minutes and it gets an F.
If TriMet thinks 15 minutes is frequent service, the board needs to go visit Vancouver. Translink’s idea of “infrequent service” is every 15-30 minutes. Anything more than 120 seconds between trains or busses isn’t considered frequent service there.
I wouldn’t call WES a failure, I would call accepting Colorado Railcar’s bid as retarded, though, given that the WES vehicles were literally Colorado Railcar’s first big ticket order, and it killed that company. TriMet bought Colorado Railcar outright to finish the order. TriMet briefly ceased operation of Colorado Railcar, and sold it to a liquidator called “Value Recovery Group” to recoup the losses, VRG is now operating the company as US Railcar to recoup their losses from buying it from TriMet.
Who would I have gone with? Cost not being a consideration, Talgo Spain (Amtrak Cascades) or Bombardier Canada (Type I MAX). Americans can’t make passenger railcars worth a damn.
In Toronto, “frequent” is 10 minutes or better. Its Yonge-University-Spadina subway trains run every 2-3 minutes during the rush hours and every 4-5 minutes outside the rush hours. Its Spadina streetcar can be every 2 minutes on a Sunday afternoon.
Anything worse than 20 minutes, I would consider bad service.
WES was the victim of the “buy American” clause in getting federal transit dollars.
The capital cost problems were one thing; the ongoing operating cost deficits are another. It is ridiculously more expensive to operate that thing than any other TriMet service – about four times as much to operate a MAX set, for example. WES deficits are eating into TriMet’s heart. At the current rate of about $3 million per year, the deficits are pretty close to what would be “saved” with the redefinition of “frequent service”.
It will only get worse in 2012 when Washington County’s $2 million annual payments to TriMet for WES operations come to a screeching steel-on-steel) halt.
Yes, there could be cherry picking and low cost labor could undercut everything that TriMet’s people have been working for.
Look, this is a red herring issue. The problem, as you stated, is empire building and pie in the sky crazy ideas. Add to that that they “planned” on payrolls increasing apparently “forever”, and there ya go, service cuts!
I’ve been saying, and still say (orange line, streetcar expansion etc) that this continual BUILD MORE MORE MORE will take its toll down the road.
Right here you have them acknowledging that they care more about land use then BUS SERVICE
Vancouver BC has the advantage (or disadvantage, if you prefer) of not having an extensive freeway network. Transit is a much more attractive option thus–with the additional riders, one can afford more frequent service (which increases the usefulness of the service).
First of all, it’s my understanding that TriMet is not calling 17 minutes “Frequent”, and if the definition is limited to rush hours, there are many more lines that run at least every 15 minutes. But one good thing that mitigates this is the ability to find out when the bus will actually be at your stop. Yeah, you might have to wait longer, but you can have some confidence that a bus is actually coming.
With wait times, 15 minutes waits can end up making a quick trip not very quick at all. 5-10 minute headways on the busiest routes would be nice, but buses seem to back up so they’re stacked on top of each other often enough I’m not sure that would help either.
Trimet could do a lot better with service if they cut labor costs..
Hiring low skill/ no education employees and paying them more then their college educated counterparts makes no sense to me.
Are you talking about Tri-Met’s drivers, Anthony, or management? :)
Vancouver also has the advantage of having a sane highway authority over it, not the USDOT, so they can come up with creative solutions like contraflow freeways (rather than expanding to a third motorway for Seattle-style express lanes to accomplish the same job).
My point being…there’s no reason we can’t take some cues from them in ways that our system does allow. Ultimately, as long as it doesn’t go contra to the Vienna Convention, it’s simply a matter of implementation and/or regulation.
Other than the Massey Tunnel (and the Lions Gate Bridge, which is hardly a freeway), where do they have contraflow lanes in Vancouver? That said–some of the US highway design standards strike me as a bit excessive.
There are plenty of examples of reversible lanes on US freeway (and even city streets) which don’t involve a third carriageway–the center two lanes of the Golden Gate Bridge are reversible, for example.
The USDOT is an issue mainly for projects receiving Federal funding; unfortunately most significant road and transit projects fall into that category.
Expressway 7 has multiple contraflow lanes at several key locations (usually bridges narrower than the expressway grade).
Granted it’s been a while since I’ve had any motivation to travel to California so I don’t know if they’ve fixed the design (I highly doubt it, we’re talking about the same state that thinks chainlink fence is a crashworthy freeway median barrier), much less spend any money there, especially directly to that godforsaken state’s government, but Golden Gate Bridge is hardly limited access, and I’m not sure I’d call striping a road as a one-way street and sticking rebar “lane closed” signs in expansion gaps is safe or sane (violates both the Vienna Convention and MUTCD standards; should use overhead signals or signs indicating which hours each lane is open; and I get the feeling putting a rollup sign on a rebar post mounted in the roadway doesn’t meet crashworthiness stadards)
As far as I can tell, there are no examples of a contraflow freeway in the sense you find in sections of 99 and 7.
Washington DC is full of contraflow lanes, for what its worth–ranging from third carriageways as found on I-395, to three-lane streets with a reversible middle land, similar to the Lyons Gate Bridge.
I agree that the arrangement on the Golden Gate is rather, er, primitive. :) (It also predates the Vienna Convention by a long shot…)
OR 43 between Lake Oswego and Riverdale used to have a “suicide lane” (a center lane which was used for passing equally in both directions); now it’s a typical 2+1 setup.
The Wikipedia article on reversible lanes is rather instructive.
No, it isn’t “frequent.” And if they’re going to trim service back to 17 minutes, they might as well just drop one bus per hour and make it 20 minutes. It’s a lot easier to remember, say, buses at 10 minutes, 30 minutes and 50 minutes past the hour, every hour, than 17 minutes, 34 minutes, and 51 minutes past the hour, followed by 8 minutes, 25 minutes, 42 minutes and 59 minutes past the hour, then 16 minutes, 33 minutes, and 50 minutes past the hour …
I agree that 15-minute service doesn’t really constitute “frequent” service. In Los Angeles, there’s a 12 minute standard for their major bus and rail lines. In fact, they even publish a 12 minute map that shows the network of frequent, reliable service throughout the city.
I would prefer that Tri-Met set a 10 or 12 minute standard for “frequent” service (5 or 6 buses per hour on their busiest routes), and otherwise stopped representing their serviee as “frequent.”
As for funding: as long as Tri-Met relies on unstable payroll taxes, I’d prefer to see them put some of that revenue into a reserve fund in the good years, so they can tap it to keep up operations in the bad years.
I’m aware of the suicide lanes, there was one just west of Vernonia on 26 well into my childhood.
Express lanes don’t count for the purpose of this discussion, the idea is making better use of the existing space, not just wasting more space. Portland could easily handle “Massey” style contraflow if it weren’t for the rather pansy USMUTCD. It’s badly needed between 26 between the Zoo and Shute Road needs it badly, as does I-84 between Lloyd District and Fairview, all of 205 and the strip of I-5 paralell to 205. Failing that, I’m still in favor of restricting single-occupant traffic to one, maybe two lanes each way, as is typical in Vancouver.
Express lanes don’t count for the purpose of this discussion, the idea is making better use of the existing space, not just wasting more space. Portland could easily handle “Massey” style contraflow if it weren’t for the rather pansy USMUTCD. It’s badly needed between 26 between the Zoo and Shute Road needs it badly, as does I-84 between Lloyd District and Fairview, all of 205 and the strip of I-5 paralell to 205. Failing that, I’m still in favor of restricting single-occupant traffic to one, maybe two lanes each way, as is typical in Vancouver and turning the rest over to reserved HOV3+/HOV8+, bicycle, bus or commercial freight use: Make it painful to choose to be selfish on the road.
Oh I see, cutting wages will improve service! Brilliant, just brilliant!
Well, if bus drivers were paid less, Tri-Met could afford to run more busses with the same budget. (Likewise with admin staff). I’m not suggesting this should be done… but it’s one way to improve service.
I’ll defer any discussion as to what bus drivers ought to be paid. :)
Well, if bus drivers were paid less, Tri-Met could afford to run more busses with the same budget.
Well heck, why should anybody earn a liveable wage in this country?
Wall Mart does well by paying nothing to its employees.
Macdonald’s does well by paying nothing to its employees.
Who needs to send kids to college anyway? They should take out loans and then work at WalMart for the rest of their lives so they can pay back the loans.
And why does anybody need health insurance?
Hell we can just go down to the emergency room for treatment in this wonderful democracy of ours.
And if your really sick they have to admit you to the hospital cause they can’t just let you die, I guess that’s how it works, so think of all the additional services that Trimet can have by getting rid of all health insurance for its employees!
And the retirement!
WFT?? THAT’S ABSURD IN OUR DEMOCRACY, EVERYBODY HAS TO LEARN TO FEND FOR THEMSELVES!
So yea, probably Trimet can restore a lot of stuff by eliminating all of that sort of silly benefit that employees get.
But what about those executive salaries, they should never be cut, right?
Cause they deserve it?
Cause those people are better, and smarter, and more deserving of the fine things in life than the rest of us peasants, everybody knows that.
So yea, no working man in this great democracy known as the UNITED STATES OF AMERICA deserves anything more than minimum wage jobs, that should be obvious to any true blooded American.
I’D RATHER BE DEAD THAN RED!
No really, lets cut to the chase, TRIMET needs to just get rid of all the bus services, all the bus supervisors, mechanics, etc, and concentrate solely on rail services. Then there will be plenty of money to build additional rail lines, street cars, DMU’s, etc. That’s what the planners, mayors, all honcho’s want anyway, so let’s get to it for crying out loud!
Why would Tri-Met want to get rid of all the busses?
Why would Tri-Met want to get rid of all the busses?
Your not paying attention Scotty! Because the “planners” want rail, cause its good for business and its “sexy”. All Trimet resources go into rail nowadays, the bus is there for backup in case rail fails. Rail is what they want, not bus, this very site promotes streetcars!Think of all the $$$$ that will be available if Trimet just gets rid of those pesky buses once and for all!
Al, that’s what happens when you have a railfan culture in the transit world.
BTW, the cuts down to unfrequent service are now official.
Hey, there’s a budget crisis at TRIMET, just ask Fred. That’s why they just bought two more DMU junkers that will need repairs because there is a budget crisis! See, there is no money for anything at TRIMET, so translation, buy junk DMU’S, cause we are broke. There is no money for anything anymore.
THE GOVERNMENT CAN!
Because the “planners” want rail, cause its good for business and its “sexy”.
It’s in large the customers who ride it. Would you like me to list the friends who have mentioned in the last 4 weeks that they’ll ride a train, but not a bus? (Rhetorical, that would be rude. They were all private conversations with friends.) It’s been more than 1 per week, and it’s almost entirely perception.
One excuse was a fear of getting loss, and a perception it’s easier to deal with a train since you know where it will run. Another was they had never been on a public bus, and weren’t sure how it worked. Another complained she’d rode a bus, but was creeped out by others on it and the driver was no help. (I don’t see how a train would have helped at all in this situation, but again, perception.)
One of these people commutes on the streetcar, but won’t take a bus. Maybe so-called “rail-fans” are also the customers TriMet serves?
Let me say this once again.
I have no problem with rail, I have a problem with cutting services to already existing customers in favor of new customers.
It’s the redeployment of resources that I object too, and the lying about it!
Thats funny, just the other day I had to wait 30 minutes for the 20 & 12 buses on east Burnside. On Friday. Around 2pm.
They already gutted “frequent service” about 3 months ago. Its dead, folks.
As a trolley/tram/streetcar/MAX/light rail support, I’d like my buses back, thanks.
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