Open Thread for June 2010

Prediction: Rain today.

109 Comments

109 Responses to Open Thread for June 2010

  1. JeffF
    June 5, 2010 at 9:20 am Link

    from Wunderground:

    … Average total rainfall for June already reached at Portland…Salem… and Eugene…

  2. Daniel Ronan
    June 5, 2010 at 2:06 pm Link

    The Oregon Bike Summit was great experience! Among some of the comments at the end, there was a call for “health impact statements” along with environmental impact statements. It’d be nice to see some sort of health impact statement on any bridge proposal moving forward. I think health has been too often overlooked in our planning decisions. What do you all think?

  3. Chris Smith
    June 5, 2010 at 3:13 pm Link

    Health impact statements have been discussed in the Portland Plan process as a way to drive better outcomes from public investments.

  4. JayinPortland
    June 5, 2010 at 3:14 pm Link

    Anybody know why the bus shelter for the 9 Powell City Center-bound, on Powell around SE 34th out front of the Trillium complex there, was removed?

    I sent a note to TriMet the other day, but haven’t heard back (yet?). If someone here knows, thanks…

  5. Daniel Ronan
    June 5, 2010 at 9:12 pm Link

    Chris, any insight as to how far these “health impact statement” discussions have gone?

  6. John E.
    June 6, 2010 at 10:34 am Link

    How many of you will be commenting at the June TriMet board meeting to urge the suspending of the Milwaukie Light Rail project?

    Knowing that nearly all of you recognize the fatal flaws in continuing, is it responsible for you to remain silent?

    Isn’t that exactly how we got here in the first place? Too many participants and observers failing to speak up.

    Authentic due diligence has vanished long ago around here.

    But the results are now reaching a crisis level.

  7. Bob R.
    June 6, 2010 at 10:39 am Link

    Knowing that nearly all of you recognize the fatal flaws

    Please don’t try to read minds.

    Most people here have expressed criticisms or concerns, especially with regard to the bonding of future operating funds for a portion of capital construction costs.

    However, those concerns don’t necessarily equate to “fatal flaws” in everyone’s mind.

    To turn your question around: Will you be at the June board meeting? Will we see your testimony in the minutes?

  8. EngineerScotty
    June 6, 2010 at 11:24 am Link

    While I certainly have concerns about the project, most of the funding for Milwaukie MAX comes from sources that couldn’t be used instead to close the operational funding gap. The Federal dollars certainly won’t go to operations. One could argue that the $250 million Oregon Lottery contribution could go to other things, including TriMet operations, but I suspect that if TriMet were to cancel or delay Milwaukie MAX, that money would simply disappear–the state of Oregon has its own budget problems, and barring that, there are plenty of other agencies in the state who would happy to have the money instead.

  9. John E.
    June 6, 2010 at 11:43 am Link

    Bob,

    So “fatal flaw” is, or may be, slightly too harsh? Fine. That’s hardly the point.

    Although, you don’t even completely reject that characterization.

    “those concerns don’t necessarily equate to “fatal flaws” in everyone’s mind”

    Is that supposed to mean the concerns come close and/or in only some minds they equate to fatal flaws?
    Hey you can call it anything you want and speak for everyone as well.

    I don’t care & that doesn’t matter one bit.

    What does matter is the effect of proceeding and ya’ll know that TriMet itself cannot afford to do this.

    You know this will mean more severe problems for bus services, fare increases and TriMet itself.

    You also know that proceeding equates to TriMet giving the middle finger to all the people who testified at the last board meeting.

    All those people relying upon bus service who pleaded with TriMet to avoid cuts and fare increases.

    Your expressed criticisms here represent enough severe problems with continuing the project. Those concerns about “bonding of future operating funds for a portion of capital construction costs” are multiplied with other criticisms about other funding portions which do the exact same thing.

    The $250 lottery share will take from the current operating capital at agencies and programs currently funded by the lottery. Over the life of retiring those bonds at least $400 million will be siphoned away from the lottery proceeds.

    This June TriMet board meeting will approve the new budget which calls for spending $117 million in lottery bond proceeds in the 2011 FY starting July 1st.

    Even though the total funding package/agreement with the yet to be acquired fed share will not be accomplished until 2012 at the soonest.

    Local funding shares from Urban Renewal/TIF will also do the same thing as the TriMet bonding. Borrow against future operating funds.

    The portion funded by TIF will easily surpass $100 million.

    Other funding from Portland will come from parking revenue already committed to streetcars and other needs.

    Whether you want to agree or not, with all things considered, this project is currently fatally flawed.

    It may be speculated that some time in the future when bus service is stabilized and reliable revenue sources can be identified it will make some sort of sense.

    Proceeding now is nothing short of fiscal madness.

    Or to borrow your Analogy:

    If I state, “I cannot afford to add another bedroom to my house, at the present time, due to all of my future income is committed to my mortgage, utilities, taxes, and other living expenses.

    Yet I am going to get a loan and add the bedroom anyway knowing I’ll have to use living expense money to pay off the loan.

    TriMet is relying upon the magic of spending the same money twice.

    As for your concern for my participation?

    I didn’t see you or Chris at the past TriMet board meeting, even though you both expressed, here, your opposition to the funding.

    Fred Nussbaum was there. Gave the board some good comments. Many others were quite good as well.

    Every one of you should have been there.

    There’s no excuse.

    So if you’re waiting for another reason to show up, yeah I’ll be there.

    However, I suspect neither you or Chris will show.

    More rail at any and all costs.

  10. Bob R.
    June 6, 2010 at 11:51 am Link

    John –

    I don’t speak for anyone here. I was chastising you for acting as though you knew everyone’s opinions on this topic, and the implied hypocrisy you were laying at everyone’s feet.

    Yes, I know that Fred was at the last meeting. Last month you made a point of mischaracterizing his comments to the board and Fred had to come in here and correct the record.

    So I don’t feel out of bounds at all in telling you not to leap to assumptions about what other people think.

    If I do go to the next board meeting, I’ll be sure to say hi and chat with you. Who should I look for?

  11. Chris Smith
    June 6, 2010 at 12:02 pm Link

    Chris, any insight as to how far these “health impact statement” discussions have gone?

    I can’t say I’ve seen any particular traction around the idea, but I’ll try to keep it alive as we move into the strategy selection round…

  12. JohnE
    June 6, 2010 at 12:47 pm Link

    Bob, Bob, Bob,

    Why do you insist on dwelling on the meaningless?

    We already had an exchange on the use of “fatal flaw”.

    As I said I don’t care what you call it and I quickly moved away from it in my lengthy response up thread.

    As for the “implied hypocrisy I was laying at everyone’s feet.”

    I am flat out saying it. You’re acknowledging severe problems (fatal flaw) with MLR funding and don’t act.

    Exactly like the TriMet Board and management.

    In stark contrast Fred did act. As did many other people at the TriMet board meeting.

    The prior issue here with Fred was only about the small difference in “halting” and “deferring”.

    One suggests permanently and the other temporarily. And again I don’t care which word is used.

    Yes Fred came here and clarified that he was calling for deferring MLR.

    However his scenario for later proceeding is one which first requires a healthy bus system and new revenue.

    IMO that moves the deferring idea to be effectively the same as halting.

    Unless someone can explain how TriMet will be developing a healthy bus system and discover new money in the next 20 years.

    So let’s defer the project till that happens.

    Why don’t you focus on the most germane point.

    Should MLR proceed or not?
    Forget me. If you align with the Hansen and the TriMet board, what would your response be to the many others who were pleading with the TriMet board?

    If you and Chris genuinely believe this is a grave mistake by TriMet why don’t you also call for deferring the project?

    I guess we’ll find out at the next TriMet board meeting.

  13. Bob R.
    June 6, 2010 at 12:53 pm Link

    As for the “implied hypocrisy I was laying at everyone’s feet.” I am flat out saying it.

    That’s the big problem here, John. We can’t have a serious discussion about the merits (or lack thereof) the project because you can’t make it through a single post without derisively maligning people’s character.

    So where should I look for you at the next board meeting? I don’t believe we’ve met.

  14. John E.
    June 6, 2010 at 1:20 pm Link

    Bob,

    Are you for real?

    Implied hypocrisy is “derisively maligning people’s character”?

    Wow Bob.

    We can’t have a serious discussion about the merits (or lack thereof) the project because you’re nit picking over word useage.

    You won’t even answer the simplest of questions.

    If you think there is a severe problem with the project funding why don’t you call for deferring it?

    So far you’ve addressed that you don’t like “fatal flaw” and “implied hypocricy”.

    Forget fatal flaw and hypocricy.

    Call it troubling funding with inaction.

    If that is acceptable, please kind sir, tell me, should MLR proceed or not?

    If you align with the Hansen and the TriMet board, what would your response be to the many others who were pleading with the TriMet board?

    I have no doubt those same folks and more will be back at the next meeting.

  15. Bob R.
    June 6, 2010 at 1:35 pm Link

    Are you for real?

    Yes. That’s why I post with my own name and everything.

    Implied hypocrisy is “derisively maligning people’s character”?

    It’s pretty close, but then you doubled down and said “I am flat out saying it.” That’s derisively maligning people’s character. Yes. And for no other reason than you perceive that they won’t be at a board meeting to speak out and back up your opinion.

    Forget fatal flaw and hypocricy.

    OK, that’s progress.

    Call it troubling funding with inaction.

    I have called it troubling. So have others.

    should MLR proceed or not?

    It should proceed with changes to the funding structure, which may require design alterations or scaling back or identifying new sources of revenue. None of that is easy.

    I, for starters, would defer the park & ride garage, but federal funding formulas probably wouldn’t look kindly on that and the outcome would be less federal funding and a larger local match, and we’re back at square one with the bonding issue.

    If you align with the Hansen and the TriMet board

    What is this, some kind of team game or loyalty test? Sheesh. There’s a whole spectrum of opinion out there. People who disagree with your characterizations of the project aren’t therefore “aligning” themselves with anyone else.

    I have no doubt those same folks and more will be back at the next meeting.

    That’s great.

    So where should I meet you?

  16. Just Saying
    June 6, 2010 at 1:51 pm Link

    “The prior issue here with Fred was only about the small difference in “halting” and “deferring”. ”

    That is not a “small” difference. In fact, “deferring” has nothing to do with “fatal flaws” in the current light rail plans. It has everything to do with the current lack of operating funds.

    As a practical matter, I think “deferring” and “halting” are probably the same thing. But I doubt Fred agrees. If he did, I am not sure he would continue to support “deferring”. There are plenty of people who have doubts about the funding that are not willing to abandon the commitment made to Milwaukie and southeast Portland neighborhoods.

    Its also not clear to me how many actual dollars from operations would be saved in the short run by deferring the expenditures. When are the bonds scheduled to be issued? Anyone know?

  17. Chris Smith
    June 6, 2010 at 2:01 pm Link

    My understanding is that TriMet bond debt service would begin in 2011 (probably not a full year’s worth) and continue for 20 years to the tune of $3.2M/year.

    I’m ONLY referring to the TriMet bonds (which are paid back with revenue that could otherwise be used for operations). There are also bonds based on allocation of regional flexible funds. I’m not sure of the schedule for these. And there are lottery bonds for the bridge construction.

  18. jimkarlock
    June 6, 2010 at 2:55 pm Link

    Can someone explain the social benefit of MLR?

    Will it be faster than driving?
    Will it cost less than driving?
    Will use less energy than cars 20 years in the future?
    Will it have less effect on crime than driving?

    Thanks
    JK

  19. John E.
    June 6, 2010 at 3:06 pm Link

    Sorry Bob,

    But IMO your trip through the hypocrisy= “derisively maligning people’s character” minutia is convoluted at best.

    Likewise is your recommendation for TriMet proceeding with MLR.

    TriMet is not seeking and there are no available changes to funding structure. They are simply proceeding with reckless abandon.

    And they have not identified any sources of funding other than existing revenue streams already flowing to other needs.

    That’s why it is important for more involved people such as you and Chris to object to the project proceeding.

    And as I clarified repeatedly the other funding components are equally “troubling”.

    Hypothetical notions of design alterations, scale back or seeking other sources of revenue are not helpful.

    Your suggestion amounts to nothing more than sugar coated reckless abandon.

    Now at least we know you do align with the board in terms of moving forward with the project.

    As usual it’s more rail any any and all costs.

    I have no doubt those same folks and more will be back at the next meeting and they’ll not be comforted by any hypothetical sugar coating.

    Just Saying,

    “Fatal flaw”, although opinion, could very easily be an accurate characterization.

    If the excessive diverting of operating revenue results in additional cuts in TriMet services and a terminal destabilizing of the agency then the funding structure is indeed a fatal flaw. For many who “have the doubts about the funding” this is happening.

    With the added analysis of the TriMet financial structure it is assured.

    The “small” difference between halting and deferring is in the context of my earlier comments.

    Yes, as a practical matter, “deferring” and “halting” are the same thing. But I talked to Fred myself at the last TriMet meeting. The difference is not significant at all.

    Fred would like to see the project proceed someday. But not at the expense of bus service or TriMet stability.

    If TriMet can’t get their finances and bus service in order than deferring will amount to halting.

    You should not be suggesting Fred would not be in favor of deferring the project if it meant halting it.

    Mr. Saying,

    This is some kind of word working.

    “There are plenty of people who have doubts about the funding that are not willing to abandon the commitment made to Milwaukie and southeast Portland neighborhoods.”

    Really? How do you know that? Got a poll or a vote? I’ll guess you just made it up.

    You’ve tried to essentially dismiss the doubts while inflating the need to proceed. And you sounded like Fred Hansen. :)

    Most of those Milwaukie and SE Portland neighborhoods would like their bus service preserved and/or better bus service because MLR won’t come anywhere near them.

    But your rationale for proceeding is what? Never mind what it costs or where the money has to come from to build it or operate it?

    You asked “Who knows how many dollars from operations would be saved in the short run”?

    If you asked Hansen he would say “none, we’re building a community asset and we need to move forward.”

    Lottery bonds have been issued with $117 million for MLR and the spending is pending TriMet Budget approval of the FY starting July 1.

    I’ll put Just Saying as aligned with Hansen and full steam ahead.

    Metro is contributing $140 million in flex funds for debt service.

    Again, all the funding will come from existing revenue streams which are effectively already spent.

  20. Bob R.
    June 6, 2010 at 3:15 pm Link

    Sorry Bob, But IMO your trip through the hypocrisy= “derisively maligning people’s character” minutia is convoluted at best.

    Deal with it. If you’re going to continue to come in here and act like a jerk toward people, you can be barred from commenting. It’s not your blog. We have rules of conduct, and I’m one of the people who can enforce said rules.

    Stick to the facts, and avoid casting pointless, hyperbolic aspersions such as “sugar coated reckless abandon”, “I’ll guess you just made it up.”, and silly guilt-by-association games like “I’ll put Just Saying as aligned with Hansen”.

    I suggest that if you spent half as much time engaging on the issues rather that coming up with smug-sounding dismissals, you’d get a lot more people on board with finding some common ground with your positions.

    This is your final warning.

  21. John E.
    June 6, 2010 at 3:48 pm Link

    Ok Bob,

    Now let’s get back to the issues.

    Of which the vast majority of my comments were engaging.

    The central issue is TriMet has no funding for this project other than mulit-level borrowing against various levels of operation’s revenue.

    You call that troubling and I call it a fatal flaw.

    Should MLR proceed or not?

    Your response is to proceed with changes.

    The problem is, adequate changes needed to preserve bus service and other operations will not occur without deferring the MLR project.

    That leaves your concept of proceeding with changes entirley unworkable.

    You’re talking abot major reworking of the funding structure and project itself.

    Unless you can explain how proceeding now will or can involve any sufficient changes these suggestions of yours are not applicable.

    They would be with a deferral.

    Especailly since the feds and other funding agreements will not be finalized until 2012.

    Changes must be made before proceeding.

    So why rush into committing operation’s revenue for MLR now? And I ask that in the greater funding context and not just the TriMet $39 million.

    All the current components rely upon future operations funding.

    Back to square one is where we should be going.

    To find independent funding and changes to the project as you suggested.

    Don’t worry, I’ll find you at the TriMet board meeting.

  22. Bob R.
    June 6, 2010 at 3:53 pm Link

    At the risk of belaboring a sore point, I would like to thank you for the last comment. That’s entirely within the boundaries of what’s appropriate here. Please continue along those lines in the future.

    Now, to the substance…

    Referring to “defer” in the context you just laid out, I could give that my tentative support if I had more information and assurances that a moderate amount of delay for scope/funding adjustment would not in any way jeopardize the timeline for federal funding approval.

    That’s still a big “if” — does anyone have details on the nuances of federal funding requirements & timing for this project? Is there a window for reassessment in which “defer” does not mean “cancel for a long time”?

  23. Bob R.
    June 6, 2010 at 3:58 pm Link

    (And, if changes were made in project scope, would a new EIS process have to kick in, or could the current EIS be amended? What would a new EIS cost, and are there other public-process issues that would get rebooted?)

  24. John E.
    June 6, 2010 at 4:15 pm Link

    It’s my understanding that John Charles did background work on that very question and he confirmed the funding sequence would accomodate deferral. We essentially have all of this upcoming FY and more to seek a more workable plan.
    The various dynamics of this quandary make deferral far away the most responsible approach.

    Even more so if we are to be cautious of the economy possibly worsening and government budgets plummeting further.

    And remember, we don’t even have the $800 million fed money guaranteed yet.

    Without that and other major changes the situation is insurmountable until such time as we can craft and afford a plan that works.

    If the cautious approach results in “cancel for a long time” it is only because it is would have been a prudent decision to defer.

  25. John E.
    June 6, 2010 at 4:36 pm Link

    TriMet’s recent cuts to bus service and fare increases will be repeated if MLR goes forward.
    The payroll tax has been committed to new pojects leaving little help for bus service.

    http://www.cascadepolicy.org/2010/03/22/testimony-before-the-metro-council-regarding-the-milwaukie-light-rail-line/

    The problem is that when TriMet commits to massively expensive rail projects, at least 40% of the capital costs have to come from local sources, and some of that is from TriMet’s own general fund. Moreover, once the train opens, the agency has very high operating costs (compared with bus service) because it does not share ROW with millions of other gas-tax paying motorists, as buses do.

    The relationship between payroll tax increases and the ongoing operating cost of rail was summarized in a letter dated July 7, 2004 from Fred Hansen to Pete Stark of the Central Eastside Industrial Council. In that letter, Mr. Hansen outlined the need for an increase in the payroll tax rate as approved by 2003 legislature:

    “You may be aware that the timing of the payroll tax proposal is linked to the region’s application for federal funds for the I-205/downtown mall light rail project, due August 20 of this year. We are seeking a 60% federal match for these critical projects. In order to qualify for federal funding…TriMet must show its ability to pay for the operation of the I-205/Mall project for a period of at least 20 years.

    “Lastly, as we have committed, these revenues will be used only for new projects…the payroll tax increase will only be used to provide new service in the regional system.”

    While TriMet did open “new” service last fall with the Green Line, it came at great cost to the rest of the system, as previously noted. Continued obsession with “new” service such as Milwaukie LRT, the CRC rail line, and the Lake Oswego trolley, will commit billions of dollars in expenditures, while no new service from those projects will be seen for years. The inevitable result of will be loss of bus service. We cannot “save” the bus transit village by destroying it with LRT.

  26. Just Saying
    June 6, 2010 at 5:20 pm Link

    John Charles has never forgiven Trimet for taking away his beloved express bus from the Gateway park-n-ride to his office door in downtown Portland. He wrote an editorial for the Oregonian a few years ago in which he proposed paving over the entire eastside MAX. His antagonism, combined with his entirely ideological approach to every issue, makes his analysis worthless. That doesn’t mean he isn’t right about the possibility of deferral. It just means that his saying it IS possible should make people more skeptical, rather than less.

    “Moreover, once the train opens, the agency has very high operating costs (compared with bus service)”

    Actually, the opposite is true. MAX costs less to operate. The primary cost of transit operations is the operator. And one MAX operator handles many more passengers over more miles than a bus operator. So, in fact, if MAX had not been built there would have to be far deeper cuts to transit service or, more likely, it wouldn’t have been affordable to begin with.

  27. Bob R.
    June 6, 2010 at 5:27 pm Link

    Just saying –

    I just admonished John E. about derisive remarks… Please tone it down when referring to other persons. While I have my own fact-based reasons not to automatically trust analysis and proposals from Mr. Charles (such as when he suggested converting the Lake Oswego / Willamette Shoreline right-of-way into a tolled express lane, rather than a streetcar, apparently unaware that such is not legally permissible under the current property easements, not to mention politically infeasible), I refrain from referring to him as “purely ideologically driven”.

  28. Bob R.
    June 6, 2010 at 5:28 pm Link

    Regarding John’s point about MAX costing more because it is not sharing a right-of-way with automobiles, I believe he is referring to the cost of maintenance of the ROW. But that’s not quite an example of potential cost-savings, rather it is an example of cost-shifting. TriMet’s rail maintenance is largely on TriMet’s books, not some other agency, but street maintenance is not on TriMet’s books. That doesn’t mean that wear & tear from buses doesn’t have a cost, it just means that some other agency is footing the bill.

  29. AL M
    June 6, 2010 at 5:33 pm Link

    Halt the MLR project now! It’s the wrong project at the wrong time!
    (Of course we all know that nothing will stop it short of armed revolution)

    Join Transit workers and OPAL June 11 at the
    RALLY FOR THE RIDE EVENT and protest these transit cuts at the time when citizens need transit the most!

  30. AL M
    June 6, 2010 at 5:36 pm Link

    Then you can read the editorial by Joseph Santos-Lyons and Jonathan Ostar HERE!

  31. Just Saying
    June 6, 2010 at 6:17 pm Link

    Bob –

    Criticism of people’s sources, even harsh criticism, is perfectly acceptable in any discussion. Its fine for you to be even-handed. It is not fine for you to suggest a legitimate critique of sources is somehow out of bounds.

    John Charles was being sourced as an authority. And many people may never have heard of him or have no information about his background.

    John Charles works for, and is paid by, an ideologically driven think tank not noted for letting facts stand in the way of its ideological arguments. The Cascade Policy Institute starts with a conclusion and marshals facts to support it. You can almost count on its analysis to be distorted.

    That is obviously my opinion. People can take it for what it is worth. `But I think it is a huge mistake to suggest that those kinds of criticisms of people’s claim to authority are inappropriate here.

    End of meta-argument.

  32. AL M
    June 6, 2010 at 7:51 pm Link

    Thank god I am no longer in the middle of these disputes!

  33. jimkarlock
    June 6, 2010 at 8:35 pm Link

    Just Saying Says: Criticism of people’s sources, even harsh criticism, is perfectly acceptable in any discussion.
    JK: Then why did you mention his name? And why did conger up a supposed rational for John’s beliefs? (John Charles has never forgiven Trimet for taking away his beloved express bus) How do you know that? Did John say so?

    I’ll tell you what he did say: He used to ride trains every day and likes them. Its just that they doesn’t make any financial sense in cities like Porltand. And YOU can hear actually say that for yourself at 10pm tonight on Comcast cable channel 11. You can also hear him talk about the huge “time penalty” of riding transit.

    Just Saying Says: John Charles was being sourced as an authority. And many people may never have heard of him or have no information about his background.
    JK: Let me fill you in a little:
    Prior to joining the [Cascade Policy] Institute, Mr. Charles was executive director of the Oregon Environmental Council for 17 years. During that time he served on dozens of local, state and federal commissions and advisory boards related to environmental protection. Charles was also an active participant in Oregon legislative proceedings, and helped author numerous environmental statutes in the areas of forest management, toxic substances, air pollution, watershed restoration, and transportation.

    Mr. Charles received a B.A. degree from the University of Pittsburgh in 1976 and an M.P.A. degree from Portland State University in 1990. (cascadepolicy.org/staff/)

    Just Saying Says: John Charles works for, and is paid by, an ideologically driven think tank not noted for letting facts stand in the way of its ideological arguments.
    JK: Got any evidence of that piece of character attack?

    Just Saying Says: The Cascade Policy Institute starts with a conclusion and marshals facts to support it. You can almost count on its analysis to be distorted.
    JK: Got any evidence of that? BTW, do you disagree with them on drug policy?

    Thanks
    JK

  34. John E
    June 6, 2010 at 8:55 pm Link

    I recommend people simply read what Just Saying may not have even read and did not use in disparaging of CPI and John Charles.

    http://www.cascadepolicy.org/2010/03/22/testimony-before-the-metro-council-regarding-the-milwaukie-light-rail-line/

    It’s quite a read.

    You’ll find no such “antagonism” or “entirely ideological approach” as Just Saying attempted to smear the messenger with.

    The presentation is simply the cold hard facts from TriMet’s own records.

    As for Charles suggestion years ago for paving over Eastside MAX, it was in the context of that allowing buses to use it and come directly from every eastside neighborhood, without transfers, and get downtown.

    Anyone interested should read the presentation and discover for themselves what Just Saying doesn’t want considered.

    Rather than rebut anyting in it he prefers you not even read it.
    The TriMet board members have copies.
    I wonder if they took the JS approach.

  35. Bob R.
    June 6, 2010 at 9:07 pm Link

    then why did you mention his name?

    Because John mentioned the name first.

    Guys, I’m the moderator. Thanks for your help, but “Just Saying” has already been admonished and we can stick to the facts.

  36. Bob R.
    June 6, 2010 at 9:11 pm Link

    paving over Eastside MAX, it was in the context of that allowing buses to use it and come directly from every eastside neighborhood […] I wonder if they took the JS approach.

    Well, that would have resulted in a system which was nearly as capital-expensive as MAX but served far fewer people and at greater operating expense.

    Plus, that undermines your premise that dedicated right-of-way is undesirable from a cost-perspective in relation to buses running in shared lanes that are paid for with automobile and truck traffic.

  37. John E.
    June 6, 2010 at 9:24 pm Link

    The point made was in addressing what do with the already built MAX. Not creating a new dedicated right of way for buses.

    Just as I am not suggesting creating a dedicated right of way for Portland/Milwaukie buses.

    The most germane issue now is deferring MLR for all of the right reasons.

  38. AL M
    June 6, 2010 at 10:42 pm Link

    These “think tanks” are basically stooges of the elite business community, although occasionally John
    Charles does make sense.

  39. EngineerScotty
    June 6, 2010 at 10:47 pm Link

    Here’s a question:

    The sticking point for many, for MLR, is the bonded payroll tax–which represents a fixed expense which must be paid out of an unstable revenue stream. The expense appears on the books next year, when construction starts, and remains there for a period of decades–both during construction, and after the line opens.

    When the project is complete, there is the hope that MLR (and other factors related to the dedicated right-of-way afforded by the Caruthers bridge) may result in operational efficiencies which offset (partially, or in total) the financing hit (in addition to the service and capacity improvements).

    But during construction–can TriMet expect a similar windfall due to construction payrolls? How much of the $1.4 billion will be subject to payroll tax? I suspect that it’s not enough to cover the nearly $10 million in debt service TriMet will accrue through construction, but it has to help…

  40. AL M
    June 6, 2010 at 10:50 pm Link

    Stop the MLR boondoggle!
    CLICK HERE!

  41. jimkarlock
    June 6, 2010 at 11:03 pm Link

    AL M Says: These “think tanks” are basically stooges of the elite business community,
    JK: The Brookings Institute will be glad to hear that they are stooges of big business.

    Thanks
    JK

  42. AL M
    June 6, 2010 at 11:16 pm Link

    JK: The Brookings Institute will be glad to hear that they are stooges of big business.Thanks

    Your quite welcome JIM!

  43. John E.
    June 6, 2010 at 11:18 pm Link

    Al,

    I’m glad you’re speaking out MLR.
    But I know John Charles and CPI “think tank” very well. They have absolutely no “stooge” role for any elite business community at all, period.

    And despite the effort by Just Saying and others to disparage him, John Charles is the most informed transportation analyst around.

    EngineerScotty,

    If it were only the bonded payroll tax that is problematic with the MLR this entire conversation would not be happening.

    Frankly I don’t understand why regulars here continue to address this issue as if it is the only problem.

    Other funding components do the same thing and will also effect budgets for a period of decades.

    The idea, or hope, that MLR may result in operational efficiencies which partially offset the enormous cost cannot be qualified or quantified.

    The $40 million bonded by TriMet, $140 million in flex funds from Metro, $400 million from the Lottery and $100 million in Urban Renewal/TIF all must be paid out of unstable revenue streams.

  44. al m
    June 6, 2010 at 11:41 pm Link

    OK, I’ll clarify my remark on John Charles, who I freely admit has some very useful points of view on various subjects.

    I consider him an ideologue first and foremost, sorta like Sarah Palin. More interested in being “anti government” than in looking at situations in their totality.

  45. Bob R.
    June 7, 2010 at 12:20 am Link

    Alright, enough about John Charles from a bias perspective. If you want to post about how he is wrong in various points, especially in regard to light rail, that’s fine. In other forums, feel free to savage whomever you like. I’m not a fan of the guy. But we have rules of conduct around here and in my subjective judgment dismissing a named person (who has also posted here in the past if memory serves) as a pure ideologue violates our rules here and serves no purpose in furthering the debate (as the sideshow distractions that have resulted sort of proves).

  46. EngineerScotty
    June 7, 2010 at 1:20 am Link

    Changing the subject to that OTHER proposed rail line running down the Willamette–the DHT has a go, sort of, at the Lake Oswego streetcar project.

    At least it doesn’t cost $1.4 billion…. :)

    Re John E: What would you use that money for instead?

  47. Just Saying
    June 7, 2010 at 6:40 am Link

    ‘(John Charles has never forgiven Trimet for taking away his beloved express bus) How do you know that? Did John say so?”

    Actually, yes he did. Before eastside MAX was built, he commuted to Gateway and took an express bus downtown which dropped him at his office on the transit mall.

    Of course, if you needed to get anywhere but downtown, that express bus didn’t get you there. Light rail served a lot of other people better and cheaper, but it made his commute longer. John Charles is hardly the only person who has made this same complaint.

    As for reading John Charles testimony, no I haven’t read it. And I am not going to waste my time doing so. Neither should anyone else unless they are prepared to conduct their own research from scratch to verify it. His “analysis” and “research” are totally unreliable and lacking in credibility for the reasons I stated above.

  48. Just Saying
    June 7, 2010 at 6:50 am Link

    JK –

    Your description of Charles’ career is essentially that of a professional lobbyist. Even I wouldn’t be harsh enough to reduce him to that…

  49. Just Saying
    June 7, 2010 at 7:28 am Link

    Going back to the issue which brought John Charles into this discussion. Can Trimet realistically defer issuing bonds for the Milwaukie line without “halting” the project? I have no idea of the answer to that question. I agree that, if they can, they probably should given the hit they have taken to their operating revenue.

    The region has been committed to an expanded light rail network. The question has never been whether another line will be built, but where. The development of that light rail network is a long term process with a lot of interrelated decisions that need to be managed for it to work.

    I do know that Trimet consciously understands that to keep the team of people in place which has delivered light rail projects on time and under budget for the last 25 years, they need to have projects for them to work on. That means managing both current and future projects so that staff can move seamlessly from one project to the next.

    For the critics here, I think they are correct that means Trimet has organizational imperatives to build light rail rather than BRT or commuter rail or river taxis or … There may come a point at which expansion of the light rail system no longer makes sense and it will be hard for Trimet to pull the plug on its own.

    I think we are a long way from that point. There is a lot of low-hanging fruit out there of corridors with substantial employment concentrations and other destinations that light rail can serve. And each time you expand the destinations you can reach by light rail, you make the rest of the system that much more valuable.

    On the other hand, when they start talking about expanding light rail to places like rural Clark County where there are no jobs, its time to call it quits. Because its not enough that people live there who would use transit, there have to be destinations that give people reasons to ride in both directions.

    No matter what people might think intuitively, the difficult part of transit is not getting people to a transit line. Its getting people the last mile to their destination. You can drive yourself to the park and ride and get on transit. You can’t take transit to the park and ride and drive yourself to your destination.

    The Milwaukie line makes sense because it has significant destinations it can serve, not just commuters trying to get downtown. Although it will serve a lot of those as well.

  50. John E
    June 7, 2010 at 7:41 am Link

    Just Saying,
    What kind of approach is that?
    If you did bother to read the presentation you would learn about the “Growth of FS (bus service), how it is being dismantled, how TriMet has become the classic “black hole” of public spending, how vast sums disappear into the TM general fund, never to be seen again in the form of useful economic output, how service levels have actually declined by nearly 10%, service measures for TriMet, rides per dollar of revenue, etc.

    All of which is backed with TriMet data.

    Your approach, and advise to others, to avoid learning how TriMet works is not a very credible approach.
    But thanks for clarifying your level of familiarity of with TriMet.

  51. John E
    June 7, 2010 at 7:41 am Link

    Just Saying,
    What kind of approach is that?
    If you did bother to read the presentation you would learn about the “Growth of FS (bus service), how it is being dismantled, how TriMet has become the classic “black hole” of public spending, how vast sums disappear into the TM general fund, never to be seen again in the form of useful economic output, how service levels have actually declined by nearly 10%, service measures for TriMet, rides per dollar of revenue, etc.

    All of which is backed with TriMet data.

    Your approach, and advise to others, to avoid learning how TriMet works is not a very credible approach.
    But thanks for clarifying your level of familiarity of with TriMet.

  52. Just Saying
    June 7, 2010 at 8:43 am Link

    “If you did bother to read the presentation you would learn about”

    My point is that I would “learn” nothing because the source is entirely untrustworthy. You can’t learn anything from it, any more than you can “learn” anything by listening to radio talk show hosts.

  53. Chris Smith
    June 7, 2010 at 9:01 am Link

    I take a more generous view. Even when I know I have completely different values and underlying assumptions from someone disagreeing with me, I sometimes find that they have insights I can learn from.

    While Mr. Charles and I have very different worldviews, I have found that he often raises points that make me think, and indeed, learn something.

  54. John E.
    June 7, 2010 at 9:16 am Link

    “because the source is entirely untrustworthy”

    That is of course preposterous because Charles is the messenger and the sourse is TriMet, Metro and others.
    If you did read his presentation you would learn what the source really is and how wrong you are.

    But let’s set that aside and fidn out what it is you are advocating.

    Are you attempting to defend TriMet and their MLR plan?

  55. John E.
    June 7, 2010 at 9:21 am Link

    Just Saying “because the source is entirely untrustworthy”

    That is of course preposterous because Charles is the messenger and the sourse is TriMet, Metro and others.
    If you did read his presentation you would learn what the source really is.

    Are you also suggesting you are trustworthy while Charles is not?

    But let’s set that aside and find out what it is you are advocating.

    Are you attempting to defend TriMet and their MLR plan by disparaging critics?

    Are you in favor of and do you have any concerns about moving forward with MLR?

  56. R A Fontes
    June 7, 2010 at 9:25 am Link

    If transit operators successfully make the shift to autonomous vehicles, then the operating cost paradigm is turned upside down and buses unquestionably become the cheapest transit option.

    If they don’t, then no more public transit.

  57. Just Saying
    June 7, 2010 at 1:13 pm Link

    “Even when I know I have completely different values and underlying assumptions from someone disagreeing with me, I sometimes find that they have insights I can learn from.”

    So do I Chris. But John Charles is not one of them. I make a distinction between analysis and propaganda whatever its source. There are people whose conclusions I agree with and still mistrust their information and analysis. In fact, I sometimes agree with John Charles, I still don’t trust his information or reasoning.

    I would be curious what John Charles has done to make you think.

  58. Ben
    June 7, 2010 at 1:48 pm Link

    Just Saying,

    You don’t even read his reports yet are sure what’s ever in them cannot be trusted and that you wouldn’t learn anything?

    If used you approach I wouldn’t trust what TriMet, Metro or the PDC says yet I wouldn’t keep up with what they do or report.

    If you are curious what John Charles has done all you have to do is read the presentation he prepared. How simple it that?
    And at least then you would be an informed critic of his.

    http://www.cascadepolicy.org/2010/03/22/testimony-before-the-metro-council-regarding-the-milwaukie-light-rail-line/

    “The proposed Milwaukie light-rail line is 554 times more expensive to build per-mile than the Rapid Bus alternative; in what ways is it 554 times better? In fact, it is not superior by even a single metric. The Rapid Bus system is cheaper, more flexible, almost twice as fast, arrives more often, is easier to implement, is a high-capacity system, and doesn’t require its own exclusive bridge over a major river.

    While this project has been rubber-stamped many times before, it’s not too late to move to a lower-cost strategy. Most of the budget has yet to be spent, and a FFGA is at least a year away from being signed.
    Light rail construction and operation is cannibalizing TriMet’s “Frequent Bus Service”, which is the workhorse of the system.”

    And here is some more dandy testimony

    http://www.cascadepolicy.org/category/transportation/

  59. Bob R.
    June 7, 2010 at 1:57 pm Link

    Well I have read it, and I find it to be a very misleading comparison — about as “apples to oranges” as one can get — and not particularly useful for evaluating Milwaukie light rail.

    It is further telling that several “rapid bus” portions of the network he touts from LA are now being upgraded to rail.

    A more proper comparison would be to true BRT in dedicated ROW. Eugene did this on the cheap, with extensive “single-track” portions which limit capacity, and sharing the ROW with other vehicles on the highway, and still wound up with a cost far, far higher than what Mr. Charles attributes to LA.

    (And _some_ critics in Eugene/Springfield are now leveling the same complaints about Bus Rapid Transit as critics here do about light rail. That it “cannibalizes” service, that it requires “feeder buses”, forces transfers, etc, future expansion should be “deferred”, etc… sounds familiar.)

    So, without referring to the personal integrity of Mr. Charles, I find that his written testimony to Metro, which I’ve read a few times now, to be bunk.

    Which is a shame, because I would like to see a true apples-to-apples comparison of what a best-practices BRT system would look like in our region compared to MAX.

  60. Bob R.
    June 7, 2010 at 2:02 pm Link

    And to “Ben” and “John E.” — sock-puppetry is forbidden here. You’ve been warned once before, so you now get a nice comment vacation for the rest of June.

  61. jimkarlock
    June 7, 2010 at 2:08 pm Link

    Just Saying: I would be curious what John Charles has done to make you think.
    JK: In my case he was an early exposure to the claim that light rail was bad for us. That added to suspicion of the propaganda put out by the government. What I did next, what you disdain above, was actually look at the data he talked about. (Actually looking at the data can be dangerous, as you frequently find yourself the lone voice against a crowd who only is exposed to propaganda.)

    What I found was APPALLING. And it all supported John’s claims. The bus actually used more energy than many readily available cars, MAX kills people at 2 ½ times the rate of cars, both bus & LRT cost much more than cars. Eventually I also found evidence of what we all knew – transit is also very slow compared to driving!

    One early story that I vividly recall was my mentioning that buses use more energy than cars sparked a somewhat heated question: “who told you that!” Simple answer, since I had actually bothered to get the data, was: “TriMet”. End of dicussion.

    This whole, years long, experience led to my creating DebunkingPortland.com and its policy of making all claims traceable to good sources, preferable government data.

    So I began asking what is the social benefit of mass transit beyond helping the needy. I have never gotten a reasonable answer to that one.

    PS: This kind of personal attack on John Charles is a reason that we should know “justsaying’s” real name so that he can take personal responsibility for his, I believe unfounded, attacks.

    Thanks
    JK

  62. Bob R.
    June 7, 2010 at 2:14 pm Link

    This kind of personal attack on John Charles is a reason that we should know “justsaying’s” real name so that he can take personal responsibility for his, I believe unfounded, attacks.

    No.

    He has already been admonished for the personal remark. Drop it.

  63. Bob R.
    June 7, 2010 at 2:18 pm Link

    What I find appalling is that the assertions JK is making (again), have been debunked using the same facts and figures that JK has posted, along with other credible sources, many many times. And yet the claims are made again and again, as though the previous arguments (pages and pages of which can be found on this very web site) were never made. Yet more apples-to-oranges comparisons, and when we do go through the whole exercise (again and again), the usual response is a non-response, a shift of the goal-posts, a redefinition of terms, or shouts of “nit picking!”.

    They are, indeed, challenging assertions that make a generally curious individual want to pour over the tables of data, look for additional sources, do the math, check the underlying assumptions, etc., to try and arrive at a clear picture. But more and more that picture is resembling “groundhog day”.

  64. Jeff F
    June 7, 2010 at 2:24 pm Link

    JayinPortland Says: Anybody know why the bus shelter for the 9 Powell City Center-bound, on Powell around SE 34th out front of the Trillium complex there, was removed?

    Yes. The shelter was removed for “emergency GGE underground work.” It will be restored when the work is completed.

  65. Just Saying
    June 7, 2010 at 2:31 pm Link

    “The proposed Milwaukie light-rail line is 554 times more expensive to build per-mile than the Rapid Bus alternative;”

    This is utter nonsense. So now, I suppose, someone is supposed to figure out how this kind of bizarre conclusion was arrived at and then dispute it. Life is too short.

  66. jimkarlock
    June 7, 2010 at 2:59 pm Link

    Bob R. Says: What I find appalling is that the assertions JK is making (again), have been debunked using the same facts and figures that JK has posted, along with other credible sources, many many times.
    JK: Your memory is a lot different than mine.
    Lets get specific. I am willing to defend each of the claims that I made above. Try to debunk each:

    1. The bus actually used more energy than many readily available cars. (Note the distinction of readily available, not ALL cars NOT SUVS, not average cars and NO location was specified. Although, nationally, average buses use more energy than average cars.)
    portlandfacts.com/top10bus.html
    portlandfacts.com/transit/busvscartedb.htm

    2. MAX kills people at 2 ½ times the rate of cars,
    portlandfacts.com/transit/maxsafetychart.html

    3. both bus & LRT cost much more than cars. (Note that the car cost includes road construction, (does not include the, about 1% local/state government subsidy to roads) while transit costs generally leave this one out.)
    portlandfacts.com/top10bus.html
    portlandfacts.com/transit/cost-cars-transit(2005)b.htm
    portlandfacts.com/roadsubsidy.htm
    ti.org/antiplanner/?p=500
    ti.org/antiplanner/?p=2199
    portlandfacts.com/parkingsubsidy.html
    portlandfacts.com/delucchi_chart.htm

    4. Eventually I also found evidence of what we all knew – transit is also very slow compared to driving! (Referring to average conditions, not a carefully selected few square miles in ONE city.)
    portlandfacts.com/commutetime.html

    Bob R. Says: shouts of “nit picking!”
    JK: Yes, its “nit picking” when someone points out a 2% error (or difference of opinion) when the overall difference between two modes 300%. Especially when the underlying data is not even close to being that accurate.

    Thanks
    JK

  67. Jeff F
    June 7, 2010 at 3:21 pm Link

    JK: 2. MAX kills people at 2 ½ times the rate of cars,portlandfacts.com/transit/maxsafetychart.html

    You’ve repeatedly ignored the fact that your numbers do not add up. In fact, you don’t have enough numbers to add. Roughly one person per year since 1986 has been killed by a MAX train. If your numbers, which you based on incidents per mile IIRC, made any sense, the number would have tripled (or more) in line with expansion of rail service. In fact, the numbers haven’t changed at all.

    You do not have enough data to make any conclusions at all.

    You also continue to ignore the basic safety fact: no one has been killed because they were in a MAX vehicle, whereas thousands and thousands die while traveling in automobiles. According to these numbers, it is vastly more safe to travel via light rail than via automobile.

  68. Bob R.
    June 7, 2010 at 3:31 pm Link

    Even looking only at pedestrian fatalities (completely ignoring the issue of occupant safety), JK’s statistically-dubious numbers also compare urban rail systems (which by definition are in areas of higher pedestrian activity) with national stats that include miles driven on freeways, urban and rural, where pedestrians are prohibited or simply do not exist in any significant quantity. Of course that’s going to show fewer pedestrian impacts per-passenger-mile, and means absolutely nothing when determining policies which could affect pedestrians in an urban setting.

    In this particular case, JK is using real numbers. It’s just that the analysis has several logical flaws and leads to a nonsensical conclusion.

  69. John E.
    June 7, 2010 at 3:39 pm Link

    [Moderator: Follow-up from “John E.” claiming sockpuppet name “Ben” was inadvertent (apparently the bogus email address supplied to us along with the name was too), and follow-up questions to me about John Charles metro testimony removed. “John E.” is on comment vacation for the rest of June. – Bob R.]

  70. jimkarlock
    June 7, 2010 at 5:07 pm Link

    Jeff F Says: JK: 2. MAX kills people at 2 ½ times the rate of cars,
    portlandfacts.com/transit/maxsafetychart.html

    You’ve repeatedly ignored the fact that your numbers do not add up. In fact, you don’t have enough numbers to add. Roughly one person per year since 1986 has been killed by a MAX train.
    JK: A rate is the ratio of two numbers. In this case the ratio of deaths to passenger-miles. The absolute number of miles or number of deaths makes no difference, only the ratio is important.

    Jeff F Says: You do not have enough data to make any conclusions at all.
    JK: Why so? There are lots of passenger-miles and lots of dead people.

    Jeff F Says: You also continue to ignore the basic safety fact: no one has been killed because they were in a MAX vehicle, whereas thousands and thousands die while traveling in automobiles.
    JK: The standard way of counting deaths is the total number attributable to the mode, those inside the vehicles AND outside. Also count drunks and suicides. Both modes are counted the same way – ALL deaths. MAX does not get a pass for killing passengers before and after they get on the MAX just because they are safer inside. Tom Rubin has a nice explanation of this at: blip.tv/file/2743664

    Jeff F Says: According to these numbers, it is vastly more safe to travel via light rail than via automobile.
    JK: Not by any numbers I have seen, unless you ignore all the people mowed down trying to get to and from MAX.

    BTW, the MAX numbers are roughly consistent with national data.

    Thanks
    JK

  71. jimkarlock
    June 7, 2010 at 5:11 pm Link

    Bob R. Says: Even looking only at pedestrian fatalities (completely ignoring the issue of occupant safety),
    JK: I use the standard method. Your guiding the discussion to non-standard methods might appear that you are trying to redefine the question, to one that favors a particular mode. Take a look at Tom Rubin’s (former CFO of a Los Angeles transit system) explanation video: blip.tv/file/2743664

    Bob R. Says: JK’s statistically-dubious numbers also compare urban rail systems (which by definition are in areas of higher pedestrian activity) with national stats that include miles driven on freeways, urban and rural, where pedestrians are prohibited or simply do not exist in any significant quantity.
    JK: If you looked at my reference, you would find I used PORTLAND automobile data.

    I assume that no response is required to the remainder of your critique.

    Thanks
    JK

  72. Bob R.
    June 7, 2010 at 5:29 pm Link

    I use the standard method. Your guiding the discussion to non-standard methods might appear that you are trying to redefine the question, to one that favors a particular mode.

    No, JK. You have cherry-picked one particular methodology and then flatly stated “MAX kills people at 2 ½ times the rate of cars”. There’s no subtlety in that. You’ve made a definitive statement which isn’t backed up by the methodology in your documents.

    If you looked at my reference, you would find I used PORTLAND automobile data.

    I stand corrected. My mistake. In your other source regarding energy use, you used national data, not local, and I inferred you were doing the same thing here.

    I assume that no response is required to the remainder of your critique.

    Why? The other criticisms of conflating freeways with walkable urbanized areas still very much applies.

    [Moderator: Comment edited to remove error regarding automobile occupant deaths.]

  73. Bob R.
    June 7, 2010 at 5:49 pm Link

    And JK, this is critical, because you’ve been informed of it before, but your chart of deaths is VERY misleading.

    You just told us how very important the ratio of “passenger miles” is, but the very first death you list on your chart occurred before MAX was even open.

    The bottom of your chronological table is laid out like this:

    July 28, 1986
    Pedestrian walking in ROW Halsey & Banfield

    1986
    first day of full revenue service

    Now why is it that you list “first day of full revenue service” BELOW the July 28th death? And why is “first day of revenue service” the ONLY date where you put just the year, and not a month or day?

    Could it have something to do with the fact that MAX didn’t even open until September 5, 1986? Or that the person who died had climbed over a fence and was in a no-trespassing area?

    You’ve been told about this grievous error before and here after all this time you still haven’t corrected your chart. Why is that?

    The really funny thing about that statistic (which isn’t genuinely funny at all, given that it deals with death) is that for awhile there, according to your chart, MAX killed at a rate infinitely more than cars.

    Percentage-wise it doesn’t make that big of a difference in the final number, but credibility-wise it’s, well, aggravating.

  74. John E.
    June 7, 2010 at 5:53 pm Link

    [Moderator: Further protestations from John E. removed. – Bob R.]

  75. JeffF
    June 7, 2010 at 9:03 pm Link

    JK: A rate is the ratio of two numbers. In this case the ratio of deaths to passenger-miles. The absolute number of miles or number of deaths makes no difference, only the ratio is important.

    Nonsense. There is a reason why statisticians refer to sample size. You have no sample, JK. One person a year is not a sample, it’s a fluke or a blip. When you make a claim about something being “dangerous”, absolute numbers of deaths can’t be dismissed just because your theory is otherwise unsupported.

    JK: Why so? There are lots of passenger-miles and lots of dead people.

    Lots? One person per year is not “lots”. And I have to point out that you avoid quoting my point: if deaths are related to passenger mile, why has the rate not tripled as the miles have?

    JK: The standard way of counting deaths is the total number attributable to the mode, those inside the vehicles AND outside. Also count drunks and suicides. Both modes are counted the same way – ALL deaths. MAX does not get a pass for killing passengers before and after they get on the MAX just because they are safer inside. Tom Rubin has a nice explanation of this at: blip.tv/file/2743664

    Out of curiosity, what is this “standard”? All the highway data I’ve looked at makes a clear distinction between pedestrians and driver/passenger.

    And, again, look at your own website. How many deaths were passengers getting off or on? How many were people who wandered onto the Right of Way far from a station? How many deliberately put themselves in a position that they would be killed?

    And it all comes back to the simple fact that a statistically nonexistent number of deaths can be attributable to MAX. 24 years, JK, and how many deaths?

    JK: Not by any numbers I have seen, unless you ignore all the people mowed down trying to get to and from MAX.

    How many, JK?

    The use of vehicle miles is your choice. How many vehicle miles have passengers safely ridden MAX? How many people have died because they were passengers on MAX?

  76. jimkarlock
    June 7, 2010 at 11:37 pm Link

    Bob R. Says: (Quoting JK): I use the standard method. Your guiding the discussion to non-standard methods might appear that you are trying to redefine the question, to one that favors a particular mode.

    No, JK. You have cherry-picked one particular methodology
    JK: How so? It is the same calculation used by the feds. For instance I find “annual death rate has declined from 18 per 100 million vehicle miles traveled (VMT) in 1925 to 1.7 per 100 million VMT in 1997” on this page: cdc.gov/mmwr/preview/mmwrhtml/mm4818a1.htm

    Bob R. Says: and then flatly stated “MAX kills people at 2 ½ times the rate of cars”. There’s no subtlety in that.
    JK: What is the point here?

    Bob R. Says: You’ve made a definitive statement which isn’t backed up by the methodology in your documents.
    JK: Exactly how, in view of the fact that, as far as I can tell, I am using the same method as the feds (above).

    Bob R. Says: (Quoting JK): I assume that no response is required to the remainder of your critique.

    Why? The other criticisms of conflating freeways with walkable urbanized areas still very much applies.
    JK:
    1. How do you suggest getting the data to separate them?
    2. Will it make a significant difference in the final result?

    Of course both cars and LRT travel on restricted right of ways like the tracks along the Banfield and on the West side. And both cars and LRT travel on city streets, so that is your point in separating them? Would you have us also split the surroundings into twenty types and compare killings in each type of area?

    Thanks
    JK

  77. jimkarlock
    June 8, 2010 at 2:23 am Link

    Bob R. Says: And JK, this is critical, because you’ve been informed of it before, but your chart of deaths is VERY misleading.
    JK: In what way? The date problem you mention below is a detail and it has no effect on any final conclusions.

    Bob R. Says: …but the very first death you list on your chart occurred before MAX was even open. ….Now why is it that you list “first day of full revenue service” BELOW the July 28th death? And why is “first day of revenue service” the ONLY date where you put just the year, and not a month or day?
    JK: Because I did not have a date for the first day of service (The Oregonian archives only go back to 1988) and I assumed it was before the date of the first fatality. I have now inserted your date and added note about the discrepancy.

    Bob R. Says: Could it have something to do with the fact that MAX didn’t even open until September 5, 1986? Or that the person who died had climbed over a fence and was in a no-trespassing area?
    JK: I don’t have a clue. That date and description came from Trimet:

    Fiscal Year_____Description__________Date of Loss__Location
    FY86_____Pedestrian walking in ROW____7/28/86__ Halsey & Banfield

    Here is the pdf received from Mary Fetsch on 1/3/2007: PortlandFacts.com/docs/Fatalities1.doc.pdf

    Bob R. Says: You’ve been told about this grievous error before and here after all this time you still haven’t corrected your chart. Why is that?
    JK: Which/what error? Or are you still on the inconsequential date inconsistency?

    Thanks
    JK

  78. jimkarlock
    June 8, 2010 at 2:51 am Link

    JeffF Says: Nonsense. There is a reason why statisticians refer to sample size. You have no sample, JK. One person a year is not a sample, it’s a fluke or a blip.
    JK: We can go from the other direction and state the national LRT death rate then show that MAX is similar. So what? The conclusion is still that LRT kills at a much higher rate than cars. With either national data or MAX. (You did see the national data lower down on the page didn’t you?)

    JeffF Says: Lots? One person per year is not “lots”.
    JK: Year after year they add up – 25 so far!

    JeffF Says: And I have to point out that you avoid quoting my point: if deaths are related to passenger mile, why has the rate not tripled as the miles have?
    JK: Related to passenger miles???
    Usually a rate is little changed as the mile increase. In fact they have slightly declined from 1987/2000 to 2001/2006 from 1.46 to 0.88, but so did auto deaths. MAX went from 252% of auto to 232% which is probably irrelevant. But we can be pretty sure a lot of those people would be alive today if the bus system had been expanded, instead of building MAX.

    JeffF Says: Out of curiosity, what is this “standard”? All the highway data I’ve looked at makes a clear distinction between pedestrians and driver/passenger.
    JK: Like this: “annual death rate has declined from 18 per 100 million vehicle miles traveled (VMT) in 1925 to 1.7 per 100 million VMT in 1997” on this page: cdc.gov/mmwr/preview/mmwrhtml/mm4818a1.htm

    JeffF Says: And it all comes back to the simple fact that a statistically nonexistent number of deaths can be attributable to MAX. 24 years, JK, and how many deaths?
    JK: 25 (or more – I may not have the latest.)

    JeffF Says: How many people have died because they were passengers on MAX?
    JK: I always say that MAX is safe once you get on it. The problem is getting on/off; to/from and pedestrians (yes some drunk and trespassing, but drunks & trespassers are also counted in the auto data.)

    Thanks
    JK

  79. JeffF
    June 8, 2010 at 6:06 am Link

    JeffF Says: Lots? One person per year is not “lots”.
    JK: Year after year they add up – 25 so far!

    You’re just being silly, JK. How many people were killed by autos in the region over the last 25 years?

    There is no way you can turn one per year into “lots”.

  80. Bob R.
    June 8, 2010 at 10:44 am Link

    On the topic of speaking up at board meetings, TriMet has now posted (a bit short notice!) the time of the next board of directors meeting:

    TriMet Board of Directors
    Business briefing
    Wednesday, June 9, 2010, 9 a.m.
    TriMet Administrative Offices, Rooms C & D
    4012 SE 17th Ave
    Portland, OR

    Agenda (PDF)

    Important note: I checked with TriMet and this particular meeting, although open to anyone who wishes to observe, is a briefing only and does not have a period for public comments.

    The next board meeting which _will_ have a public comment period, according to the information I was given, will be:

    Wednesday, June 23, 2010, 9 a.m.
    City of Portland Building
    1120 SW 5th Ave.
    Conference Room C.

  81. jimkarlock
    June 8, 2010 at 1:36 pm Link

    JeffF Says: You’re just being silly, JK. How many people were killed by autos in the region over the last 25 years?
    JK: Maybe I should ask how many were killed climbing Mt Everest. Gee not very many, so it must be safe. Yeah, right.

    More were killed in cars because cars are used MUCH more and carry far more passenger-miles. On a per mile traveled basis, cars kill less than half as many people as light rail.

    JeffF Says: There is no way you can turn one per year into “lots”.
    JK: Yes, you can when year after year the bodies pile up at twice the rate of cars. It is the rate that matters. That’s why rate is almost universally used. For instance see page 47 of this Portland State report: its.pdx.edu/pdf/PSU_performance_report_2005.pdf

    Thanks
    JK

  82. Dave H
    June 8, 2010 at 7:31 pm Link

    Since it’s the open thread I was hoping to ask: Does anyone know who you report a missing street sign to?

    There’s a post down the street from my apartment that I know had a sign on it that’s now not there, but the post is. Oh, and a few pieces of the sign.

    Anyone know of an email or phone number I can alert to a sign being removed like that? It was probably a parking sign, but I honestly don’t know and can’t tell from the little bit left.

  83. GregT
    June 9, 2010 at 12:51 pm Link

    let’s talk about the Newberg Dundee bypass! A new highway is more exciting than a slow moving train. I got a flyer from ODOT that they are buying property for it, I wonder if it’ll ever get built?

  84. Jeff F
    June 9, 2010 at 3:19 pm Link

    JeffF Says: There is no way you can turn one per year into “lots”.
    JK: Yes, you can when year after year the bodies pile up at twice the rate of cars. It is the rate that matters. That’s why rate is almost universally used. For instance see page 47 of this Portland State report: its.pdx.edu/pdf/PSU_performance_report_2005.pdf

    I’m not questioning the validity of Vehicle Miles Traveled as a rate, I’m questioning your lack of data and your use of the measurement, JK. You use loaded terms like “bodies piled up” but that doesn’t change the fact that less than one person per year has been killed by MAX. “Twice the rate of cars” is meaningless because you do not have sufficient data to claim any such rate exists with LRT.

    You should also notice that the PSU document you reference does not use VMT in the discussion of pedestrian safety, which is after all what we’re talking about. That uses a fatality per population rate–what are the odds of being killed by a car, versus the odds of being killed by LRT?

  85. jimkarlock
    June 9, 2010 at 4:38 pm Link

    JeffF Says: You use loaded terms like “bodies piled up” but that doesn’t change the fact that less than one person per year has been killed by MAX.
    JK: Tell it to this lady: aaronsbridgetosafety.com/

    JeffF Says: “Twice the rate of cars” is meaningless because you do not have sufficient data to claim any such rate exists with LRT.
    JK: All limited data does is increase the error. IF you don’t like that use the national data. Light rail is still much more dangerous than cars. And close to THREE times a deadly as transit buses.

    JeffF Says: You should also notice that the PSU document you reference does not use VMT in the discussion of pedestrian safety, which is after all what we’re talking about. That uses a fatality per population rate–what are the odds of being killed by a car, versus the odds of being killed by LRT?
    JK: The Federal safety reports use deaths per passenger-mile for most (all?) modes of transportation. Cars, aircraft, trains & light rail.

    The reason to use per mile is that the goal is to move people from one point to another, so it is the most accurate reflection of one’s exposure to harm.

    Pedestrian deaths should be also be reported per mile walked, but I would guess that data is not available. Like I have never seen bike data per mile.

    Thanks
    JK

  86. Cameron Johnson
    June 9, 2010 at 10:32 pm Link

    I may be misunderstanding this, but is this seriously a huge argument?

    I may cry now.

    Can we stop, if this isn’t an argument, my apologies.

    Either way, I joined OPAL the other day (save any resentment, we’re WITHHOLDING ARGUMENTS, remember?) and they’ve been putting me to work. I like what I’m doing and hope to see you guys at the Rally Friday! :D

  87. EngineerScotty
    June 18, 2010 at 11:17 pm Link

    Lake Oswego residents are getting uppity about the prospect of HSR running through their town (connecting to the OE in Tualatin), rather than down the UP line through Oregon City. And of course, AORTA doesn’t like the idea either.

    Coverage at the DHT is here.

  88. Cameron Johnson
    June 24, 2010 at 7:01 am Link

    Well, I saw Mr. Richardson videotaping the board meeting yesterday. Mind if I ask what he’s using it for?

  89. Bob R.
    June 24, 2010 at 8:09 am Link

    Mainly it’s for background material for our upcoming interview with Neil McFarlane. In addition to lots of public commentary, it was also Fred Hansen’s last meeting as General Manager, and there was a new board member, plus a board member retiring. It was a good representation of a time of transition and a time of public skepticism.

  90. EngineerScotty
    June 24, 2010 at 11:02 am Link

    Now on DHT: A side-by-side comparison of MAX, WES, the Streetcar–and two metro systems, the LACTMA Red/Purple Lines, and Vancouver SkyTrain,
    here.

  91. AL M
    June 24, 2010 at 1:50 pm Link

    Scotty-
    Translate please:

    S I · E Q V V M · M O R T V V M · F L A G E L L ? S , · N O N · C E L E R I V M · C V R R A T .

  92. EngineerScotty
    June 24, 2010 at 3:00 pm Link

    My Latin is bad-to-nonexistent, but I think it means:

    “If you beat a dead horse, it won’t run any faster”.

  93. EngineerScotty
    June 24, 2010 at 3:02 pm Link

    Anyone who suffered through Catholic school, is a humanities geek, or otherwise has had cause to study Latin is hereby invited to inform me if I’ve conjugated where I should have declined, or vice versa…

  94. Dave H
    June 26, 2010 at 12:08 am Link

    Hey guys, this is a big deal to me:

    http://www.katu.com/news/local/97213064.html

    Al M looks to be in some trouble with TriMet. While I may not agree with his opinions, I’m happy to support that he’s a valuable contributor to giving a first-hand perspective to transit advocates in this region. He also has a great driving record according to the article I listed which is pretty awesome as well.

    I’ll admit I’ve been job searching, so I’ve intentionally muffled myself. This is a little much to me though. Al M has never represented him as a TriMet official, he’s just represented himself as an employee who is willing to talk.

    I don’t like the idea of stuffing any TriMet employees who want to have an opinion. That seems like a restriction we shouldn’t have in the USA.

  95. Bob R.
    June 26, 2010 at 1:21 am Link

    Al and I have cooperated on a project before, and have communicated a fair amount. Although we don’t agree on everything, and Al can be annoying (you know you can, Al!), and although I haven’t yet seen the videos in question, I must say that anyone who is performing their required duties, at any job, in a safe and efficient manner and who is not releasing truly proprietary information, has every right to speak their opinion and to document that using contemporary techniques. Until and if someone can show me that the videos were genuinely affecting job performance and/or safety, I defer to the ideal of openness and free expression.

  96. Bob R.
    June 26, 2010 at 1:29 am Link

    PS… After reading the comments thus far on the KATU blog, which usually can be very inflammatory and reactionary, I am pleased to see that the vast majority (as of the time of this writing) are supportive of Al and the right to engage in videography on transit.

    It should also be noted that TriMet allows panhandlers (non-agreesive), petition gatherers, and salespeople of various inclinations to operate on transit vehicles.

    So again I say that the correct measure should be tightly coupled to job performance and safety.

  97. Anandakos
    June 26, 2010 at 2:11 am Link

    Scotty,

    That was very subtle. With whom have you conjugated but in hindsight decided you should have declined?

    Thread winner!

  98. Anandakos
    June 26, 2010 at 2:12 am Link

    Scotty,

    That was very subtle. With whom have you conjugated but in hindsight decided you should have declined?

    Thread winner!

  99. Cameron Johnson
    June 26, 2010 at 7:29 am Link

    You Know for a fact that the news is gonna do everything they can to make Al look like the bad guy. I follow his blog a lot, checking like 12 times a day (Mostly after board meetings hint hint ;) ) And I find a lot of useful information in the news and stuff he finds out. I don’t really watch his video blogs cause I… just… don’t… but I support Al and say this, a concept rather learned from Al himself.

    I HAVE AN ARTICLE ON A GREAT BUS DRIVER I KNOW. (NOT AL, SORRY) I KNOW THAT IF I SENT IT IN TODAY, IT’D PROBABLY BE THROWN OUT. IF I SENT IN AN ARTICLE ABOUT HOW THIS GUY WAS DISTRACTED WITH PAYING FOR WRITING CLASSES AND TALKING ABOUT WRITING AND MY WORK WITH ME, IT’D BE EATEN UP AND SPIT OUT ON THE NEWS. AND THAT’S THE TRUTH.

  100. Just Saying
    June 26, 2010 at 7:52 am Link

    If Al is in hot water, it appears its because of actions he took on the job. I agree Al has a worthwhile perspective and he should share it. But I don’t think he should be shooting video for his blog while on duty, if that is what was happening.

    On the other hand, he is right about the incident on Hawthorne. There were a lot of comments on the BikeBlog about aggressive bus drivers and it turned out the problem was an aggressive, and not very bright or honest, cyclist.

    The bike/bus interactions on Hawthorne after it becomes two way are a mess. You end up leap-frogging one another in a way that I am sure frustrates both cyclists and drivers. Both drivers and cyclists need to stifle any aggressive tendencies. And they need to stop blaming one another for what is an inherently frustrating situation.

  101. EngineerScotty
    June 26, 2010 at 9:41 am Link

    Al would probably be better off not shooting videos on the job (or more accurately, having them shot), but beyond that–he’s done nothing wrong.

    If I were Jonathan Maus, I’d ban whoever is trying to get Al fired from bikeportland.com. While I studiously avoid discussing my employer on DHT (or even mentioning who it is), my real name isn’t a secret, and it’s probably not hard to figure out. Offline harassment for online slights is occasionally a problem.

  102. EngineerScotty
    June 26, 2010 at 9:47 am Link

    According to this video on Al’s blog, TriMet is considering a policy change which will disallow such interviews while operating the bus in the future–however, according to a TriMet spokesman, Al’s job is not presently in jeopardy. Our buddy has an impeccable safety record, and doesn’t appear to be violating current TriMet policy.

  103. Cameron Johnson
    June 26, 2010 at 7:16 pm Link

    Considering the amount of posts here on it, we should have a topic on Al.

    I watched the KATU review. What the heck is it with Katu and bus drivers? What did bus drivers ever do to KATU? I mean, they seem to characterize bus drivers as the devil.

    And no, this was not influenced by Al. Al just happens to share a lot of opinions that I am too nerved to vocalize. O_o

  104. Dave H
    June 27, 2010 at 1:07 am Link

    Cameron,

    I can’t believe I’m doing this, but I was a broadcast/management major in college, so I’ll defend KATU. (Don’t take this as what I believe, just how I understand how decisions are made in the local TV news arena.)

    Most TV stations depend on news for their revenue. Network produced broadcasts (prime time, sporting events, national newscasts) and syndicated broadcasts (everything from Wheel of Fortune, Opera, and Entertainment Tonight to Simpsons and I Love Lucy reruns) cost them money. In the case of a network broadcast they only get to sell a few of the ads themselves, otherwise the network sells the ads and gets the revenue. It’s how networks exist. Syndicated shows cost money. A lot more than a local newscast.

    Local newscasts thus become the cash cow of any station. The station, KATU, is totally separate from ABC. They only get first rights of distribution of ABC programming, but ABC is not involved in local newscasts. In this case, Fisher Communications gets the revenue from ads during the local newscast. This is why you see a station like KPTV (Fox 12) have news from 5-9 am, 11-11:30 am, 4-6 pm, 10-11:30 pm, as well as the news casts they produce for KRCW 32. They can rerun the same crap for a day or two and sell ads with no extra costs.

    The people working at the station are thus pushed to make as many stories as they can out of viewer tips. They typically want a story that’s fast to put together, and not time consuming to cover. That allows them to make efficient use of their time, and their bosses are happy. It also means a lot of research is missed, and that they look for sensationalist stories that attract viewers.

    Higher ratings means your job is more justified. Not to the network, but to the people who run the local station you work for. TriMet is a topic that gets eyeballs in town, so when someone emails a reporter a “tip” on something like this it’s a cost-effective story to run.

    Again, not what I believe, just how I’ve been taught (and seen firsthand) how it works.

  105. Cameron Johnson
    June 27, 2010 at 6:24 am Link

    While I disagree with you, I respect your opinion. I just don’t find it fair to lampoon bus drivers for ratings, although the fact that it does get the crew a bit more money (Mostly the ones who don’t make as much) a bit consoling. :D

  106. Just Saying
    June 27, 2010 at 6:28 am Link

    “If you don’t read a newspaper you are uninformed. If you do read a newspaper you are misinformed.”

    Mark Twain

    If you watch TV news, you are both.

    Just Saying

  107. Dave H
    June 27, 2010 at 10:39 pm Link

    Cameron, let me reiterate. I don’t agree with what I posted. It’s why I quit college after 3+ years. I’m regularly disgusted with local news, but it helps to understand the local news to understand the motives at least.

    I guess I’m just sympathetic to the employee. Yes, it was lazy journalism, but that’s basically what corporate ownership of media outlets requires. Ratings drive content.

  108. Cameron Johnson
    June 28, 2010 at 7:05 am Link

    I think I see now… Still, I hope nothing happens to Al.

  109. poncho
    June 28, 2010 at 9:13 pm Link

    I’ve always avoided KATU news, the other stations are much better.
    —————————
    PBS Blueprint America screening tour tomorrow tuesday at the Bagdad Theater 5:30 doors, 6:30 film

    http://www.pbs.org/wnet/blueprintamerica/reports/on-the-road/preview/1001/

    http://www.pbs.org/wnet/blueprintamerica/reports/on-the-road/find-a-screening/1008/

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