Streetcars go to the White House

Well, at least to the White House web site.

I suspect this is the first time that video from a gathering I was at made it to such an august location on the internet… goose bumps over the “vision thing”.

19 Comments

19 Responses to Streetcars go to the White House

  1. AL M
    April 20, 2011 at 3:00 pm Link

    All the stuff that the gubmit is planning on cutting but they are excited about this?

    Lets cut home heating oil for the elderly, pell grants, food inspections,literacy programs, close worksource centers for the unemployed, but lets build streetcars?

    Complete and total insanity.

  2. Bob R.
    April 20, 2011 at 3:17 pm Link

    The solution, Al, is not to cut investments in transit infrastructure, but rather to end massive subsidies to corporations like oil companies, tax giveaways to huge conglomerates like GE, and fewer foreign wars.

    You’re buying into the scam where we’re supposed to think it’s infrastructure vs. poverty programs. It’s not. That’s not where the real money is being spent.

    Try out this online “Tax Receipt Generator” and put in your info and see where your money is really going.

    http://www.whitehouse.gov/issues/taxes/tax-receipt

  3. Al M
    April 20, 2011 at 3:48 pm Link

    Thats the best solution Bob, agreed!
    But to continue funding fat while cutting muscle is abhorant.

  4. Aaron
    April 20, 2011 at 3:49 pm Link

    Lets cut home heating oil for the elderly, pell grants, food inspections,literacy programs, close worksource centers for the unemployed,

    … but God forbid TriMet wants their employees to chip in on their health care premiums? Getting off-topic, but I watched the video you posted earlier. I really don’t know where to start with listing the logical fallacies, but I’ll start with the biggest thing he was harping on. His biggest example of things seemed to be this carbon tax, but he declined to even posit a mechanism for which the corporations “pretending” to be against such a thing would benefit. And while the two-party system isn’t awesome for a lot of reasons, I don’t really see the analogy to Lake Oswego’s city council.

    And don’t worry, the people trying to cut things people want are no fans of Streetcars. In fact, if you do a Google News search you’ll discover a number of proposed Streetcar lines across the company in Jeopardy. Not sure how many of them United Streetcar was behind, but I bet they’re biting their fingernails.

  5. Aaron
    April 20, 2011 at 3:52 pm Link

    Erm, no, none of the streetcar lines are going to play on Jeopardy with Alex Trebek, I’m pretty sure!

  6. Erik H.
    April 20, 2011 at 5:16 pm Link

    All the stuff that the gubmit is planning on cutting but they are excited about this?

    Forget about the federal government cuts.

    Since the Portland Streetcar opened, just how many TriMet bus lines have been cut; how many bus trips have been cut; “Frequent Service” has been eliminated; TriMet has all but stopped replacing its aging bus fleet earning TriMet the dubious honor of having one of the oldest, least reliable and least fuel efficient bus fleets of any major North American transit agency; bus stops are a disgrace…all thanks to siphoning $6 million a year to fund the City of Portland Streetcar (along with a few other projects – three MAX lines and WES.)

    There’s never any money to fix what we have now that is most unquestionably broken and need of urgent repair – but there’s always money to give to special interests and political donors like the developers and the shareholders of United Streetcar/Oregon Iron Works. We can build 100% made-in-America buses – in fact Gillig does, and both Salem and Vancouver have purchased 100% made in America buses (TriMet favors New Flyer whose buses are assembled in Minnesota but the work begins across the international line in Winnipeg, Manitoba.) And Daimler Trucks, which has a largely idled factory right here in Portland, ought to have been encouraged to start up an Orion Bus plant which would have brought back hundreds of good paying blue collar jobs right here in Portland with at least two years of guaranteed work; plus the various shuttered RV factories all throughout the state could have also been used as bus factories. Using existing factories, existing, trained workers, and providing jobs and benefits across the state.

    Instead, we have a bunch of empty factory shells, a Streetcar “factory” that has just one completed Streetcar to show for it in several years of operation, a meager 50 jobs which pales in comparison to the hundreds and hundreds of lost jobs that would have been easily adapted to bus construction, and political payoffs that are robbing our transportation dollars.

  7. Bob R.
    April 20, 2011 at 5:47 pm Link

    Since the Portland Streetcar opened, just how many TriMet bus lines have been cut; how many bus trips have been cut;all thanks to siphoning $6 million a year to fund the City of Portland Streetcar

    TriMet’s commitment to streetcar operations in FY2010 was $3.2 million, the equivalent funding which would be given to a bus line of similar operating frequency. That has now been reduced to $2.8 million.

    When TriMet made service cuts to buses and MAX, it cut streetcar funds by an equal percentage. The streetcar gets higher ridership than most bus lines, by the way.

    There is no conflict between streetcars, light rail, and bus service. All have a role to play.

    It is the official, oft-stated position of Portland Streetcar management that bus service should be restored first prior to any increases in TriMet’s share of streetcar funding.

    From the February Streetcar CAC minutes:

    The  focus  for  TriMet  is  on  the  reinstatement  of bus  service  that  has  been  reduced. Streetcar  has  experienced  a  $400,000  loss  in  contribution  from TriMet  (equivalent  %  reduction  as TriMet experienced).

    From the April minutes:

    The  listed  $2.88  million  contribution  from  TriMet  is  not  the  amount  from  their  original  agreement.    When  the  service  cuts  started  for  TriMet,  streetcar  and  the  City  agreed  that streetcar  would  partake  of  the  same  cuts  in  funding  from  TriMet.

    (I am a CAC member)

  8. Bob R.
    April 20, 2011 at 5:50 pm Link

    a meager 50 jobs which pales in comparison to the hundreds and hundreds of lost jobs that would have been easily adapted to bus construction

    This topic came up in our recent interview with Neil McFarlane:

    Dave Hogan, Portland Transport: The fact streetcars are now being constructed locally has generated a lot of news. Could TriMet start lobbying for the local development and manufacture of next-generation buses? Can policy-makers jumpstart bus production, both as a showcase, and a way to help operate our fleet?

    Neil McFarlane, TriMet: Well, I think that I would love see that, and I’ve actually wondered that about out loud to more than one person over time, and I think actually we should be beginning to look at that. It’s a lot more complicated because bus manufacturers are pretty well-established, for example, Gillig down southern California, and many of the others, New Flyer for Minnesota, so there’s sort of established bases.

    One of the interesting pieces of that, though, is that of course we have the former Freightliner, now Daimler, truck manufacturing facilities. Many people know that Daimler is actually a major manufacturer of buses. And so, we’ve had some beginning conversations about that.

    I think it’s a big challenge to think about moving an industry here, it’d be better obviously if there were some increment of bus manufacturing capability in the region, there isn’t right now, other than components. So I think it’s something we should continue to look at and look for the opportunities to do.

    I think one of the more positive things related that is that the Obama administration is really focused on making sure that the funding it produces is really producing American jobs, so there may be some opportunities that we can pay attention to in the future.

  9. jon
    April 20, 2011 at 6:29 pm Link

    Al, if it makes you feel any better, high speed rail got slaughtered along with heating oil for the poor and elderly.

    I love what OIW and United Streetcar is doing but they’re going to need to build a lot more streetcars to live up to the hype they’ve been receiving.

  10. ws
    April 20, 2011 at 11:31 pm Link

    Erik H:

    It would be better to say “assembled in America” rather than “100% made in America”.

    When you look at the parts, I’d bet they come from many places. That’s why buying American cars might doesn’t mean much anymore, especially considering there are some foreign assembly factories in the US.

    I don’t disagree with the notion that we need to think about local manufacturing jobs.

    I actually heard TriMet will be purchasing new buses soon.

  11. Erik H.
    April 21, 2011 at 7:55 pm Link

    It is the official, oft-stated position of Portland Streetcar management that bus service should be restored first prior to any increases in TriMet’s share of streetcar funding.

    Then why is TriMet slated to add $3 million a year to Streetcar Loop funding before restoring bus service?

  12. Erik H.
    April 21, 2011 at 8:05 pm Link

    It would be better to say “assembled in America” rather than “100% made in America”.

    When you look at the parts, I’d bet they come from many places.

    I can order a Gillig (frame/body made in the U.S. from U.S. components, U.S. steel) with a Detroit Diesel engine (made in the U.S. of U.S. components), an Allison Transmission (made in the U.S. of U.S. components), Goodyear tires (made in the U.S. of U.S. components), Meritor axles (made in the U.S. of U.S. components), American made windows, seats, floors, emergency exits, throttle systems, multiplex systems…

    By the way, ARRA funding saved 175 jobs at Gillig alone and provided 12 brand new buses for Cherriots. If the overriding concern is bringing jobs to America, then why is TriMet getting a free pass after supporting Canadian companies (New Flyer, Bombardier), German companies (Siemens), a Soviet-bloc company (Ikarus), a Czech company (Inkeon)…clearly TriMet’s track record has not been to focus on American jobs or even Oregonian jobs. We can tout “50 jobs at United Streetcar” all day long but while we’re TALKING about Streetcars, Gillig is actually delivering products. Where should I put my money – on vaporware, or hardware?

  13. Aaron
    April 21, 2011 at 8:46 pm Link

    Gillig vs. New Flyer, what are the price differences like? Any reason to prefer one over the other (as a rider)? I was on a Phantom, I think, the other day, and to me it felt a bit roomier. But that might be more of a high-floor thing.

  14. Bob R.
    April 22, 2011 at 12:06 am Link

    Then why is TriMet slated to add $3 million a year to Streetcar Loop funding before restoring bus service?

    “Slated” does not equal committed, and by the time that line is operating, bus service ought to be restored. Bus service is being restored partially in the next budget (but admittedly, that’s not final either, and it’s not near fully restored).

    Your original point was to lay the primary blame of TriMet’s ills on the amount of funding they give the streetcar, and that’s simply and demonstrably not true. Beyond that, it is the attitude of the streetcar CAC, populated by transit supporters, that bus service has been cut too much and ought to be restored. Allies, not enemies.

  15. Chris Smith
    April 22, 2011 at 7:30 am Link

    And the amount “committed” by TriMet so far to Streetcar Loop operations is $1.2M annually, not $3M, although at least several hundred thousand more will probably be required before we actually have a budget that will support operations.

  16. R A Fontes
    April 22, 2011 at 8:52 am Link

    Chris,

    Do you know how much TriMet expects to budget or Portland Streetcar expects to ask for LOtP streetcar operations? The agency maintains it cannot budget for project ops before FY 2019.

    Since Frequent Service for the 35 isn’t scheduled until somewhere between FY 2018 and 2025 (according to the RTP), it’s likely that we’d be going directly from the current service to streetcar. If so, any savings from discontinuing Lake Oswego – Portland buses would be absorbed by extending the 78 to Oregon City or otherwise bringing that section up to Frequent Service. Therefore the entire cost of LOtP streetcar ops would be on top of current expenses.

    I’ve estimated it very roughly at about $3.5 million per year. It would be helpful for a lot of folks to know if there is another number being bounced around.

  17. Chris Smith
    April 22, 2011 at 9:13 am Link

    I think the premise of your question has a lot of assumptions that are currently unknowns. For example, it is not a given that Portland Streetcar Inc would operate LOPT, so Portland Streetcar has not “asked” TriMet for anything.

    TriMet has gone on record that LOPT would be regional service and they would expect to fund its operations, but could not do so before 2019. The DEIS has estimates of the operating costs.

  18. R A Fontes
    April 22, 2011 at 10:16 am Link

    Thanks for your prompt reply, Chris.

    I understand and agree that there are a lot of unknowns. However one would think that TriMet in declaring that it could not fund ops until 2019 must have some sort of a rough number or at least threshold in mind. Why 2019 and not 2018 or 2020?

    Regarding DEIS estimates: they’re for 2035 and include ultra-frequent commute hour runs that certainly wouldn’t be necessary for start-up six to eight years for now.

    Can it be assumed from your answer that you haven’t heard any number from insiders or that such a number is too preliminary for public consumption? In that case, if you believe that $3.5 million is wildly off, it would be helpful to know why.

  19. Chris Smith
    April 22, 2011 at 2:49 pm Link

    I don’t have any numbers that aren’t in the DEIS. I’m not particularly taking issue with $3.5M nor do I have any info to confirm it.

    I think 2019 is basically the first year that TriMet has any available operating funds after absorbing the new service hours required for the Milwaukie line.

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