May 2011 Open Thread

May 2011 open thread

Mayday! Mayday!

As a new month begins, so must a new open thread.

To get the ball rolling, this morning’s Oregonian has a front page article on the changing faces (and races) of inner north-northeast Portland, mainly along the MLK Jr. corridor north of downtown. In 1990, Portland’s population of non-whites was mainly concentrated in the corridor. Today, much of Portland’s African-American population has been further north and east; and Washington County has seen a significant influx of Latino immigrants, with a particularly heavy concentrations around Hillsboro, Cornelius, and Forest Grove. The Latino communities seem to be mostly new arrivals to the region, but the shift of (generally poor) blacks from traditionally-African American neighborhoods like Albina to places like Rockwood, ought to give pause. Gentrification has most certainly come to North/Northeast Portland, and many people who used to live there cannot afford to live there any more.

What role transit, or other infrastructure improvements, have in this is hard to discern. The Yellow Line did open on the western edge of the region in 2004, but most of the neighborhood in question is cut off from MAX by the freeway.

But this is the Open Thread, so feel free to discuss any relevant topic you like!

109 Comments

109 Responses to May 2011 Open Thread

  1. Ron Swaren
    May 1, 2011 at 1:35 pm Link

    There were good opportunities to purchase housing in the N. Interstate Ave area for many years. Far longer than most other areas of the metropolitan region. Obviously, many people chose not to, and when prices rose following the construction of the MAX line, they moved out to the E. Portland area.

    Let’s just not spend anymore money trying to rectify discrepancies that are due to peoples’ choices. I wish I had bought property in the Silicon Valley area of California thirty years ago,, Too bad for me :(

  2. ws
    May 1, 2011 at 1:55 pm Link

    To say you don’t believe in gentrification is admission you do not want (built) improvement.

    With urban improvement comes higher prices.

    I do think there needs to be better involvement from developers and gov’t in allowing better access to affordable housing.

    It’s not asking much for a well-off developer to allow for a few units to be market rate affordable.

  3. jimkarlock
    May 1, 2011 at 6:53 pm Link

    ws Says: To say you don’t believe in gentrification is admission you do not want (built) improvement.
    JK: NO! The issue is the government forcing it with massive projects. Like light rail. Like urban renewal.

    ws Says: With urban improvement comes higher prices.
    JK: With higher prices, comes harm to low income people. It is simply amazing how many of Portland’s progressives don’t really care about this form of hurting low income people.

    ws Says: I do think there needs to be better involvement from developers and gov’t in allowing better access to affordable housing.
    JK: Why should they – that is not their goal. The developers goal is to get a lot of money off of the taxpayers via government handouts and the government’s role it to get more property tax, by raising property values, to buy votes and to give out favors to their buddies who will then make large campaign donations.

    ws Says: It’s not asking much for a well-off developer to allow for a few units to be market rate affordable.
    JK: Yes it is!
    It is asking the developer to raise the cost of housing for everyone else to accommodate a very few low income people. (You don’t think he is going to pay for these units out of his pocked do you? Would you take food off your table to make housing more affordable for others or give up you next European vacation?)

    Further with mostly upper income people in a neighborhood, the low cost grocery store and low cost restaurants and other low cost stores will go out of business or move up scale, so mixing a few low income people into an upper income neighborhood actually isolates them hurts them.

    The real fallacy here is that low cost neighborhoods need to be “improved” in ways that make them unaffordable to their residents. I have often thought that the one single, most important (and low cost) measure a city, that actually cared, could do is clamp down hard on actual criminals (not jay walkers nor graffiti nor casual drug use – I mean real crimes that actually hurt people.)

    Low cost neighborhoods fill a valuable need. For instance, inner SE has lots of small businesses that WILL take their jobs elsewhere when that neighborhood becomes expensive as Sammy desires with his street car. And low cost neighborhoods are the only place low income people can live. Do you prefer to split up families by making the neighborhood more costly and drive out family wage jobs? (BTW families get split up because the young generation cannot afford to buy a house in “the old neighborhood” Actually most of the residents couldn’t afford to by the house they live in and frequently can barely pay the taxes.)

    I think the best course of action is for the city to just leave them alone, except provide better basic services. Besides why is it the city’s job to rebuild neighborhoods?

    If you really care about not driving up housing costs, you need to get the government out of it! Start at Metro – get them to end their artificial shortage of land which is the root driver of our high housing prices and high unemployment. Then fire 99% of the planners at all levels of government. (OK that’s too harsh, keep 5% of the planners and restrict them to accommodating people’s needs and want’s, not the currently, in vogue, crackpot ideas of the ideal urban form – the actual ideal urban form is what people prove they actually want by making individual purchase decisions.)

    You can learn a lot more about government’s role in development at:
    http://www.portlandfacts.com/

    Thanks
    JK

  4. bjcefola
    May 1, 2011 at 7:49 pm Link

    The O has an article specifically on the Interstate line and its contribution to gentrification here.

  5. ws
    May 1, 2011 at 8:58 pm Link

    JK:

    I was not referring to any sort of government imposed gentrification or urban renewal.

    Have you heard of Manhattan? It’s gentrification on an island.

    Gentrification is a symptom of improvement. It’s just reality.

  6. jimkarlock
    May 1, 2011 at 9:12 pm Link

    I was not referring to any sort of government imposed gentrification or urban renewal.
    Of course it happens naturally, but, in Portland government is a major cause. Urban growth boundary is the worst offender followed by Metro’s artificial shortage of land and urban renewal districts.

    Higher density is automatically more expensive because of constructions costs that go up as you build taller. Combine that with Metro caused high land prices and you force up the cost of housing for everyone.

    The only winners are politically connected developers, consultants, construction companies, bankers and other receivers of this form of corporate welfare.

    Thanks
    JK

  7. Ron Swaren
    May 1, 2011 at 10:06 pm Link

    Higher density is automatically more expensive because of constructions costs that go up as you build taller.

    They sure as heck charge a lot more for it. Although usually five stories or less is still stick frame construction. For taller structures there are some prefab techniques that are pretty efficient around the world, but probably not up to US seismic requirements. However, if high rises were inherently cost-inefficient I wonder how they could be built all over Latin America and Asia? The way they are built here the two biggest expenses are the land costs in central city locales, and the huge foundations required for autos to get down below ground and for the capacity to support a tall building. The labor costs on US highrises are also much higher than suburban single family.

  8. ws
    May 1, 2011 at 11:24 pm Link

    You also have to look at taxation.

    A land value tax (lvt) that taxes solely the land the structure sits on not the building (arbitrary assessment) would allow for more efficient use of land and allow for naturally higher densities (ultimately at lower cost in the end).

    http://www.lincolninst.edu/pubs/1068_Incentive-Effects-of-Land-Value-Taxation-in-Metropolitan-Portland-Commercial-Corridors

    Libertarians like it too:

    http://freestateproject.org/about/essay_archive/lvtaxation.php

    LVT, in my opinion, is the best way to curb sprawl if that is the goal.

  9. jimkarlock
    May 1, 2011 at 11:42 pm Link

    ws Says: A land value tax (lvt) that taxes solely the land the structure sits on not the building (arbitrary assessment) would allow for more efficient use of land and allow for naturally higher densities (ultimately at lower cost in the end).
    JK: 1) Why do think higher densities are either good or desired by most people?

    2) Why do you think overall cost would be lower. Ultimately the tax rate will be set for the same dollars from each resident in order to provide services, buy votes, shower on buddies and general graft, so the only thing I see changing is the cost of the land going up due to increased density.

    Thanks
    JK

  10. ws
    May 2, 2011 at 12:07 am Link

    1) Higher densities are desired by some, not all
    2) Overlayed with sensible zoning, it puts development pressure on land in urban centers that are parking lots, abandoned, derelict, and so on.

    Let’s say you have 40,000 sf of urban land. Do you build a parking lot or build a tower? Probably a tower because the revenue is far greater. Or maybe if it works out, a combination of all of types of uses.

    From the economics of a project, people may look into buying that condo over other housing types because their property taxes are presumably lower.

    It’s not really me thinking costs will be lower, if the system is used, maximization of land (density) will result in lower property taxes.

    I’m not sure how you can disagree with this concept. It takes property taxes off improving structures and 100% on land. Our current tax system is punitive towards productivity.

    Reconstruct an old home under our system? Well you’re going to pay more taxes if you do. WTF kind of incentive to regenerate neighborhoods?

    Regarding traditionally poor neighborhoods, where is their incentive to improve their current neighborhood? If they do their homes will could be assessed at a higher values…

    The topic of gentrification includes rising property taxes, too.

  11. Ryan
    May 2, 2011 at 1:42 am Link

    Cities are constantly changing and they must change to address changing realities: natural population increases/decreases, immigration/emigration, demand shifts. Up to the recent past, we addressed change by building out. However, this mode is greatly inefficient.

    Demand is the most significant component to housing prices. People compete for a limited housing supply by paying more to secure such housing. If there wasn’t a demand for 1k apartments in downtown, they would not exist.

    I don’t know how developers conduct business, but if I were a developer, I’d determine what I can build based on current or forecasted market rates rather than set my rates based on what I build.

    The last thing we need is an expansion of the UGB; the first thing we need is more housing in desirable locations. And, we needed it five years ago. In such locations, poorly utilized land (e.g. surface parking, abandoned buildings) can be readily converted to housing.

    If Metro/Portland should be chided for anything, it should be for not encouraging more housing near desirable locations. Zoning does get in the way of this. Zoning codes need to be greatly simplified, so that builders can stop wasting time calculating setbacks or applying for variances, and start building.

    Affordable housing projects/requirements only exacerbate the problem. By keep rents low in high-rent areas, those with a greater willingness to pay spur demand in immediate surrounding areas and drive prices up.

    At the same time, Metro/Portland should be facilitating expansion of urban amenities that attract people downtown. It need not drive the development, save for public transport or parks, but should allow private individuals to improve their neighborhoods or open new businesses.

  12. jimkarlock
    May 2, 2011 at 2:59 am Link

    Ryan Says: Up to the recent past, we addressed change by building out. However, this mode is greatly inefficient.
    JK: Inefficient? How is lower cost inefficient? And those areas tend to have better schools, lower crime and lower taxes. How is that undesirable?

    Ryan Says: Demand is the most significant component to housing prices. People compete for a limited housing supply by paying more to secure such housing.
    JK: Me thinks you are a city planer when you say things like that. Price is NOT set by demand and price is NOT set by supply. Price is set by the balance between supply and demand. Portland’s housing cost is high because supply is not allowed to keep up with demand by Metro policy of restricting land supply. See portlandfacts.com/housing.html for a number of quality studies verifying this.

    Ryan Says: The last thing we need is an expansion of the UGB; the first thing we need is more housing in desirable locations.
    JK: More plannerspeak. You are assuming that you know what is the most desirable. But the only way to really tell is to see what people are actually buying with their own money. And that is not possible when Metro puts large amounts of the region off limits with is little Berlin Wall.

    Ryan Says: And, we needed it five years ago. In such locations, poorly utilized land (e.g. surface parking, abandoned buildings) can be readily converted to housing.
    JK: Why do you say surface parking is poorly utilized? I hope you know that structured parking is many times the cost of surface parking. Remember the upthread discussion about driving out low income people.

    Ryan Says: If Metro/Portland should be chided for anything, it should be for not encouraging more housing near desirable locations. Zoning does get in the way of this.
    JK: Yeah, some zoning still gets in the way of completely trashing our neighborhoods. (But in the end Metro’s density mandates will trash most neighborhoods.)

    Ryan Says: Zoning codes need to be greatly simplified, so that builders can stop wasting time calculating setbacks or applying for variances, and start building.
    JK: Great – lets make Portland in a big canyon. Five story ghetto bunkers lining every street with NO setback.

    Ryan Says: At the same time, Metro/Portland should be facilitating expansion of urban amenities that attract people downtown.
    JK: Why continue to spend tax money supporting an obsolete urban form – the high density down town? Have you noticed that modern cities, the ones formed after people were freed of the constraints of walking everywhere (first, briefly, by transit, then by the automobile) have no central downtown high density core?

    Why would we support the high density core? It is the center of congestion, pollution, panhandlers and is high cost.

    Thanks
    JK

  13. jimkarlock
    May 2, 2011 at 3:13 am Link

    Ryan Says: Up to the recent past, we addressed change by building out. However, this mode is greatly inefficient.
    JK: Here is a reference for the cost of density (they claim peer reviewed):

    Those who feel that increasing population density will decrease costs to local governments are correct, but only at very low levels of population density. “The increasing per capita spending as the density of counties rises above 250 people per square mile provides important evidence to counter the view, which emerges from engineering and planning studies, that higher density reduces public sector costs (pp. 291-292).” For most situations, more population density equals MORE per capita costs to government. http://www.ncsociology.org/sociationtoday/v21/review2.htm

    Thanks
    JK

  14. ws
    May 2, 2011 at 10:14 am Link

    JK:

    Densities decrease infrastructure costs. High costs you cit in cities stem from bureaucratic costs and social services.

    Beaverton isn’t exactly providing multi-million dollar housing to homeless people as Portland is.

    There is something to appreciate in the suburbs of prioritizing what people really want and putting all of the money into that — safe streets and good schools. I think if cities want to evolve, it needs to look beyond the dog parks, bars, and financial buildings and into appealing to a broader spectrum of people, old and young.

  15. some body
    May 2, 2011 at 11:31 am Link

    Sorry to change the subject, but KGW has done some bad journalism. MAX trains do not have “emergency stop buttons” as their article says.
    http://www.kgw.com/news/TriMet-investigates-MAX-separation-of-father-and-2-year-old-121061224.html

    I encourage everyone who knows this to call them at 503-226-5000, or e-mail them.

    What I believe the article is referring to are the “door open” buttons which usually aren’t used. It would be better if there were stickers saying that they’re only active when lit.

  16. Curt
    May 2, 2011 at 1:05 pm Link

    [JK should check out] Indianapolis if you cherish what you are writing about. We have all of what you want here. Low taxes. Long commutes. Lots of market driven strip malls. wide roads. enormous set backs and a gaping whole in relevant transit to allow people room on the road for their cars.

    We also have chronic particulate non-attainment. High impact to discretionairy spending when gasoline skyrockets, and get this, not enough money to build sidewalks, maintain the roads and prevent sewage from draining into the rivers every time it rains.

    It’s heaven here man! You’d love it!

    [Moderator: Comment edited to remove personally-directed remarks. Bob R.]

  17. some body
    May 2, 2011 at 1:22 pm Link

    I encourage Mr. Karlock and everybody to consider this: the streets in the Pearl District are about as wide as neighborhood streets in suburban areas, yet especially if you ignore cut-through traffic, still aren’t horribly congested even though there’s a lot more people living along them.

    So, with about the same amount of street infrastructure, the Pearl serves a lot more people.

  18. Chris I
    May 2, 2011 at 1:50 pm Link

    Also, when we talk about housing costs, we should be looking at total cost of living. This includes money spent on transportation, food costs, etc.

    There are plenty of places to live in this country that are exactly as JK describes. We do things differently here, and a lot of people like it.

  19. jimkarlock
    May 2, 2011 at 2:28 pm Link

    ws: Densities decrease infrastructure costs.
    JK: Lets see some proof of this claim.

    Thanks
    JK

  20. Bob R.
    May 2, 2011 at 3:29 pm Link

    Lets see some proof of this claim.

    This study constitutes “some” proof, in that it looks at development patterns more than it does density, but it is “some” proof nonetheless:

    Smart Growth & Conventional Suburban Development: Which Costs More (PDF format)

  21. Bob R.
    May 2, 2011 at 3:33 pm Link

    Here is a paper that looks specifically at the cost of water treatment infrastructure and the relationship to density. Among the conclusions:

    Higher settlement density reduces unit distribution costs and this may be the most
    significant effect to emerge from this study.

    Urban infrastructure: Density matters, not just size. (PDF Format)

  22. Ryan
    May 3, 2011 at 2:11 am Link

    JK,

    Thanks for your comments and continuing this discussion. I am working on my response and trying to address each of your concerns/questions.

    Can you please cite specific articles on your website regarding land supply and housing prices? I found a couple that seem to fit the description, but I don’t want to err.

    Thanks.

  23. Ryan
    May 3, 2011 at 2:11 am Link

    JK,

    Thanks for your comments and continuing this discussion. I am working on my response and trying to address each of your concerns/questions.

    Can you please cite specific articles on your website regarding land supply and housing prices? I found a couple that seem to fit the description, but I don’t want to err.

    Thanks.

  24. jimkarlock
    May 3, 2011 at 4:44 am Link

    Ryan Says: Can you please cite specific articles on your website regarding land supply and housing prices?
    JK: Econ 101: price is set by the balance of supply and demand. It is surprising that anyone would question this, most fundamental, principle of economics, but modern planners seem to. (Of course planners can get a degree without studying econ.)

    In answer to your question, first look at basic economics.

    Then (more generally planning, not just supply) look at:

    1. Papers from HUD, Harvard Institute of Economic Research, Federal Reserve, Regulation, University of Washington, Reason Foundation, Demographia.
    portlandfacts.com/housing/housingcost.htm

    2. Most anything on portlandfacts.com/housing.html , but don’t miss:

    * The chart showing the relationship between degree of regulation and affordability on the left side.

    * Link to the planning penalty americandreamcoalition.org/penalty.html

    * UW study: Rules add $200,000 to Seattle house price seattletimes.nwsource.com/html/businesstechnology/2004181704_eicher14.html

    * Link to Cost of High Density Construction based or real world costs & metro data.

    If you want to argue only whether supply restrictions increase price, please study some economics and quit wasting our time. That was settled decades ago. That planners deny it reflects badly on their whole profession. Why don’t you win a Nobel prize by showing that this basic theory is wrong?

    Thanks
    JK

  25. EngineerScotty
    May 3, 2011 at 3:21 pm Link

    Cascade Policy Institute has a new paper out taking a few whacks at rail transit here in town: Light Rail, Streetcars & the Myth of “High Capacity Transit (paper, press release).

    Now that I’ve linked to the paper, ’tis time to abuse it. The methodology presented is utterly laughable–surveys were conducted at five “high-traffic” events last year located near MAX or Streetcar(a Blazer game, a Cirque du Soleil performance, a convention at the Expo Center, “Black Friday” out at CascadeStation, and a holiday shopping day in Gresham), noting how attendees got to/from the events in question. Overall, 11% of the trips were taken by rail, 85% by auto, 4% by “other”. Thoughts:

    * Failure to account for other modes of transportation (including bus, bike, and walking), in general, strikes me as dubious. In some cases (the Expo Center), I would expect that these modes be low, given the location. The suggestion that nobody walked or biked to the Cirque du Soleil show located down on the waterfront, OTOH, sounds HIGHLY unlikely.

    * Likewise, conflating MAX and Streetcar also is dubious. They both run on rails, but beyond that have little in common. And I would hesitate to call the Portland Streetcar “rapid transit” in any cases.

    * Five events isn’t terribly statistically significant; and there’s no control case identified anywhere. Of course, this is a political paper, not scholarship, so strictly speaking, these things aren’t really necessary…. but still.

    * The paper doesn’t give much in the way of any indication of what level of mode share would be considered a “success”; though the paper’s frequent use of majoritarian arguments (“most people prefer to drive”) seem to suggest at least a plurality, if not a majority. I’m unconvinced by arguments of this sort (“most people prefer to do X, so only X should get public support”), but complaints of the transit-using minority somehow “oppressing” the rest of the population are a staple of this sort of literature.

    Most telling, though, CPI tries to have it both ways–criticizing MAX for insufficient capacity, while simultaneously suggesting that Portlanders don’t really like transit. The paper is yet another example of the the-patient-is-ill-so-lets-kill-him logic found among many transit critics. Real deficiencies are identified with MAX (capacity issues handling large crowds, insufficient coverage), both of which contribute to low ridership (many in the metro area have nonexistent or lousy transit to their homes)–but rather than proposing solutions to address these problems, CPI’s position is generally that we should simply abandon the whole enterprise.

    Ultimately, what this boils down to is the following: We’ve got one network (roads and highways) which has the benefit of generations of public and private investment, covers the entire metro area, and enjoys significant network affects–but is highly dependent on fossil fuels, and all that entails. And we’ve got another network (transit) that has had far less investment put into it; has significant coverage gaps, and far less in the way of extant network effects–and which thus enjoys a far smaller mode share–but is far less dependent on oil. How should future funding to the two networks be allocated going forward?

  26. Ron Swaren
    May 3, 2011 at 3:46 pm Link

    Question: What does “network affects” mean?

  27. Bob R.
    May 3, 2011 at 3:55 pm Link

    There was no streetcar stop at the Cirque du Soleil event. We discussed the matter at the Streetcar CAC of adding a temporary stop and it was concluded that it was not technically feasible at low cost. (Strike a victory for bus flexibility in that particular case.)

    Given that the nearest stop was about 1/4 mile away and not line-of-site for the newcomer, and that streetcar access was not widely promoted, I can only conclude that using this event as a “test” for the streetcar was designed to produce an intentional “fail”.

    Similarly, I could count the number of people arriving by car at a Sunday Parkways event and conclude that the majority favors bike riding, and similarly, I’d be wrong.

  28. Bob R.
    May 3, 2011 at 3:58 pm Link

    Network Effects refers to the phenomenon that the more nodes in a given network, the more useful it becomes, in an exponential fashion, thus attracting more users.

    Look at the growth of the World Wide Web in terms of commerce, for example, or the growth of email addresses. (A non-academic, non-computer person in 1986 would have had relatively little use for an internet email address, even though you could get one, but today an email address is at least marginally useful for just about anybody.)

  29. Bob R.
    May 3, 2011 at 4:03 pm Link

    The CPI “study” also says that the streetcar stop was “about 300 yards north of the circus tent”. I’ll be generous and assume they north of the event entrance, but according to Gmaps pedometer, that was still about 440 yards, and to the tent itself was about 530 yards, as the person walks.

  30. EngineerScotty
    May 3, 2011 at 4:16 pm Link

    Right now, Ron, there are many places in the metro area which aren’t reachable by transit, or for which the trip is highly inconvenient. If, for example, you happen to live by Tualatin High School, the only TriMet bus that will come nearby is the 96, which only runs on weekdays during rush hour. While use of transit may be adequate for 9-5 commuters there; for everyone else in that neighborhood, TriMet is just about useless (unless you are willing to get yourself to a park-and-ride or bike-and-ride). Likewise, even if you lived in the Pearl District and enjoyed excellent coverage in your own neighborhood, if you wanted to visit your aunt Madge who lives by Tualatin HS, transit is all but useless for you.

  31. EngineerScotty
    May 3, 2011 at 4:29 pm Link

    The fact that many trips in town are impossible or inconvenient with transit means that a carfree lifestyle is difficult, especially if you routinely have to travel outside the urban core. And the economics of car ownership (with many of the costs being fixed–and for personal autos, depreciation is best treated as a fixed cost, as cars lose resale value even if they sit in the garage) means that once you have one, it’s often more (personally) economical to use it for the majority of your travels, even for trips where transit is a useful option.

    Growing the transit network, including rapid transit, is a necessary project precisely because it increases the overall value of the system well in excess of the cost of the additional infrastructure. TriMet knows this–they have lots of data that shows this. And those with an economic interest in keeping Americans dependent on fossil fuels know this as well–which is why alternatives to the automobile are frequently fought tooth and nail. (Though in fairness to CPI, they frequently oppose public subsidies for the automobile; OTOH other supposedly-libertarian publications are gleeful supporters of highway construction and suburban sprawl).

  32. bjcefola
    May 3, 2011 at 6:30 pm Link

    “There is something to appreciate in the suburbs of prioritizing what people really want and putting all of the money into that — safe streets and good schools. I think if cities want to evolve, it needs to look beyond the dog parks, bars, and financial buildings and into appealing to a broader spectrum of people, old and young.”

    ws, your comment is worth repeating! I think it takes a huge toll on cities when families (and implicitly this is families with means, since they are more likely to have choices) choose to leave or not move there in the first place.

  33. Chris I
    May 3, 2011 at 6:58 pm Link

    bjcefola,

    How safe are the streets in the suburbs? They might be safe to walk your dog around the block, but are useless for getting anything done. You are typically much further away from schools, parks, businesses. And if you do walk to businesses, it usually involves crossing 4 to 6-lane boulevards.

    IMO, the perfect balance for families are the “streetcar suburbs”. They are generally denser, so you can walk to run errands, and the side streets are safe (and because they run in a grid pattern, you can avoid major streets). I live near Hollywood, and I’m a 10 minute walk from MAX, grocery stores and businesses in Hollywood, and about 5 minutes from the neighborhood school. The sacrifice? A smaller, older home.

  34. EngineerScotty
    May 3, 2011 at 7:07 pm Link

    The difficulty, bjcefola, is that “safe streets and good schools” frequently means “no poor people”. The way many suburban communities achieve safe streets and good schools is via zoning standards (and other means) which make it difficult for the poor to move in. A surplus of poverty makes life hard for municipal government (including school districts), particularly when ad valorem property taxes finance government, as property values (and thus tax receipts) are lower in poor neighborhoods, whereas the demand for public services (police, social services, special-needs education) is higher. And when the higher-income taxpayers all move out, then things can get really tough.

    The communities with bad schools and unsafe streets aren’t necessarily that way because of poor or corrupt governance (though that can certainly play a role); in many cases, there simply isn’t enough of a tax base to pay for adequate policing and good schools/teachers. And thus you get into a vicious cycle where nobody wants to live in community X because the schools are bad; thus the only folks that do live there are those who can’t afford to live elsewhere, and thus the poverty rate remains high, and thus the tax base is low, and thus the schools are underfunded and are thus bad.

  35. jon
    May 3, 2011 at 11:00 pm Link

    The sacrifice? A smaller, older home.

    You make that sound like a bad thing.

  36. bjcefola
    May 4, 2011 at 12:00 am Link

    Chris and Scotty, don’t get me wrong. I’m not arguing that families should leave the city, I’m saying that many families are making or have already made that choice and it’s worthwhile for advocates of density to think about why.

  37. jimkarlock
    May 4, 2011 at 2:23 am Link

    EngineerScotty Says: And those with an economic interest in keeping Americans dependent on fossil fuels know this as well–which is why alternatives to the automobile are frequently fought tooth and nail.
    JK: Am I missing something here? How does transit solve the foreign oil problem?
    1) Average buses use more oil derived energy per passenger-mile than average cars.
    2) Light rail uses mostly coal, natural gas and nuclear instead, but is extremely expensive – about 5 times the cost of operating a car. So if the goal is to reduce foreign oil use, then we should look at building coal to gasolene plants to run our current cars. Or better yet, just remove all drilling restrictions (but still forbid any real damage to the land and air.)

    I would say the real reason learned people fight to save the car is that cars are cheaper, faster, more convenient, contribute mightily to our standard of living and do not use more energy than transit.

    EngineerScotty Says: OTOH other supposedly-libertarian publications are gleeful supporters of highway construction and suburban sprawl
    JK: Why do you say that as if highway construction AT THE EXPENSE OF HIGHWAY USERS is a bad thing? And what is wrong with “sprawl” since it saves money, is less polluted, allows more chices of where to live, and usually has lower crime and better schools?

    Thanks
    JK

  38. jimkarlock
    May 4, 2011 at 2:44 am Link

    EngineerScotty Says: Ultimately, what this boils down to is the following: We’ve got one network (roads and highways) which has the benefit of generations of public and private investment, covers the entire metro area, and enjoys significant network affects–but is highly dependent on fossil fuels, and all that entails. And we’ve got another network (transit) that has had far less investment put into it; has significant coverage gaps, and far less in the way of extant network effects–and which thus enjoys a far smaller mode share–but is far less dependent on oil. How should future funding to the two networks be allocated going forward?
    JK: In today’s dollars, what is the actual value of our road network and of our transit system. (Obviouosly over the same area, for instance Porltand city limits to be fair.)

    I recall, a few years ago, Mayor Sam mentioning the cost of our road system and, at the time, I mentally, compared it to our LRT system, including MLR & CRC LRT and concluded that they were close to the same cost.

    If (BIG IF) that is correct, the answer is obvious: stop wasting money on the system that serves a single digit percentage of the population while costing about the same as the system that serves 100% of the population (buses, freight, bikes & pedestrians use roads too).

    Anyone have real numbers for the current value of the road system? (I’ve got the transit numbers scattered about PortlandFacts.)

    As to the foreign oil problem – what is the lowest cost, most beneficial way to solve the problem? Herding people onto transit, drilling for domestic oil, coal/natural gas to oil conversion, CNC cars, electric cars?

    Thanks
    JK

  39. EngineerScotty
    May 4, 2011 at 9:24 am Link

    I said: And those with an economic interest in keeping Americans dependent on fossil fuels know this as well–which is why alternatives to the automobile are frequently fought tooth and nail.
    JK: Am I missing something here? How does transit solve the foreign oil problem?
    1) Average buses use more oil derived energy per passenger-mile than average cars.
    2) Light rail uses mostly coal, natural gas and nuclear instead, but is extremely expensive – about 5 times the cost of operating a car. So if the goal is to reduce foreign oil use, then we should look at building coal to gasolene plants to run our current cars. Or better yet, just remove all drilling restrictions (but still forbid any real damage to the land and air.)

    The whole “cars are more energy efficient than busses” nonsense, as has been ‘splained to you before, is based on a whole bunch of dubious assertions–the most flagrant of which is the failure to distinguish between “social service” routes/runs (which tend to be mostly empty, but are often run with full-size busses for logistical reasons), and well-frequented runs. A Prius with 1.3 occupants probably gets better gas mileage than a typical run of the 84. It doesn’t beat the 72.

    JK: I would say the real reason learned people fight to save the car is that cars are cheaper, faster, more convenient, contribute mightily to our standard of living and do not use more energy than transit.

    If you already own a car but don’t have a bus pass, the marginal cost of operating a car is cheaper than a bus ticket for most short trips; though as gas gets more expensive, the cut-over point starts to change. The “energy” myth is addressed above.

    EngineerScotty Says: OTOH other supposedly-libertarian publications are gleeful supporters of highway construction and suburban sprawl

    JK: Why do you say that as if highway construction AT THE EXPENSE OF HIGHWAY USERS is a bad thing?

    If it were done solely at the expense of highway users, it wouldn’t be so bad; but its not. We’ve been over this before–gas taxes generally pay only for highways, not for municipal streets.

    JKL And what is wrong with “sprawl” since it saves money, is less polluted, allows more chices of where to live, and usually has lower crime and better schools?

    “Lower crime and better schools” has to do with excluding poverty, not with urban form (though limiting density is a good way of pricing out the poor). There are plenty of dilapidated suburbs in the country with poor schools.
    JK

  40. Chris I
    May 4, 2011 at 9:57 am Link

    JK,

    Sprawl might be less polluted if you look at a given area, but contributes more to overall pollution than dense communities. More destruction of habitat and farmland, more fossil fuel consumption per person, more pesticides, etc, etc…

    And what’s the deal with that website? Did you make it yourself?

  41. jimkarlock
    May 4, 2011 at 1:08 pm Link

    EngineerScotty Says: The whole “cars are more energy efficient than busses” nonsense, as has been ‘splained to you before, is based on a whole bunch of dubious assertions–the most flagrant of which is the failure to distinguish between “social service” routes/runs (which tend to be mostly empty, but are often run with full-size busses for logistical reasons), and well-frequented runs.
    JK: Those runs are a REQUIRED part of any system. If they don’t have low ridership runs, people can’t get to or from those areas, making the system less usable. Further if those runs were eliminated, the overall system ridership would go down more. Therefore it IS APPROPRIATE to include them – the usual practice of including ALL transit and ALL personal vehicles for comparison is appropriate. Or should we eliminate your choice of bus lines AND my choice of cars from the comparison. Where do we stop? BTW, as I have shown before, even big dense cities don’t do much better, so the “we just need to get more dense” claim also does not work.

    Or should we limit transit to only non “social runs” and eliminate all runs that do not pay for themselves? In any case as long as those runs exist, we cannot ignore them.

    EngineerScotty Says: If you already own a car but don’t have a bus pass, the marginal cost of operating a car is cheaper than a bus ticket for most short trips; though as gas gets more expensive, the cut-over point starts to change.
    JK: I figure the “cut-over point” is around $12-$16 gal, ignoring increased transit system costs.

    EngineerScotty Says: We’ve been over this before–gas taxes generally pay only for highways, not for municipal streets.
    JK: Tom Ruban, CPA, former LA transit system CFO, founder of transit audit division at a big eight accounting firm, did a careful analysis of all highway expenditures and user payments, both federal and state by state. He concluded that road users pay a lot more than their costs – about $17 BILLION more! (They also pay for a lot of transit!) For the report and extensive spreadsheet of the data see: http://www.portlandfacts.com/roadspaidbyusers.html

    You can also see the federal government’s analysis of highways paying more than their costs here: portlandfacts.com/roadsubsidy.htm

    And the Pew Charitable Trusts published a study that, when you correct for a few mistakes, shows a road user subsidy of 1.1 c/mile compared to a transit subsidy of 60c/mile. see ti.org/antiplanner/?p=2199

    So, please quit repeating this claim– it is clearly inaccurate.

    EngineerScotty Says: (though limiting density is a good way of pricing out the poor).
    JK:HUH!! High density construction is far more expensive than low density sprawl.
    You can see real world actual numbers at: portlandfacts.com/smart/densitycost.htm

    Thanks
    JK

  42. jimkarlock
    May 4, 2011 at 1:21 pm Link

    Chris I Says: Sprawl might be less polluted if you look at a given area,
    JK: Yeah, the area where the people actually live is less polluted in sprawl.
    And the area where the people actually live is MORE polluted in high density.

    Chris I Says: but contributes more to overall pollution than dense communities.
    JK: You have a conceptual problem here as pollution is gunk per area, so more gunk over a larger area is less pollution, not more as you imply.

    Chris I Says: More destruction of habitat and farmland,
    JK: The amount of land sprawl uses or could use is a small percentage of available land. I hope you have noticed that most of those farms around Portland are grown potted plants and lawns, not food.

    Chris I Says: more fossil fuel consumption per person,
    JK: So what? What is wrong with fossil fuel consumption? We are not running out of oil and if we were we can make it from coal and/or natural gas. BTW, do you have any good evidence of overall energy reduction? Especially when you include making cement and steel for high rises. And for toy trains.

    Chris I Says: more pesticides, etc, etc…
    JK: I think you will find that farms use more pesticides per acre than the average homeowner.

    Chris I Says: And what’s the deal with that website? Did you make it yourself?
    JK: PortlandFacts is my work (also addressable as DebunkingPortland.com).

    Thanks
    JK

  43. Bob R.
    May 4, 2011 at 1:27 pm Link

    You have a conceptual problem here as pollution is gunk per area, so more gunk over a larger area is less pollution, not more as you imply.

    Except when that “conceptual problem” is CO2 emissions which stick around a long time and homogenize throughout the atmosphere. Then, “more pollution” is “more pollution”.

  44. Bob R.
    May 4, 2011 at 1:31 pm Link

    PortlandFacts is my work

    An “about us” or “contact us” page might be handy.

    The only two “About Us” links on your site link to the Portland Bureau of Transportation and to the Seattle Weekly editorial staff.

  45. EngineerScotty
    May 4, 2011 at 1:58 pm Link

    JK,

    Many social service runs are not “required” for viable service, and are only there for equity reasons (or, admittedly, to maintain the service footprint within an area so payroll tax collection can be justified). TriMet cancels (and restarts) them quite often, in response to budget pressures, with little to no impact on overall service. The 84 is one example–the community of Boring considers it next-to-useless, and because of the low frequency, they’re probably right.

    TriMet probably could eliminate much of its suburban routes, focusing service on the city core, and still have a viable system. I don’t think they SHOULD, but they could–similar setups are found in quite a few other cities where transit doesn’t bother with the burbs.

    Some social service routes, particularly paratransit, ARE required–not in order to have a viable service, but by the ADA and similar legislation.

    You already put a thumb on the scale for auto mileage by various tricks such as including rural mileage, and making questionable assumptions about the composition of the US automobile fleet and average occupancy.

    A more interesting question is MARGINAL fuel economy–how much more fuel is burned by an additional passenger (and an additional vehicle thrown in when one gets full)? Here, transit wins easily, as even the most fuel-efficient auto on the road is not likely to come close to the fuel economy of a full bus.

    But if your objection to transit is that its inefficient because the busses are empty, perhaps you’ll help support the service enhancements which would make them fuller? One of the great paradoxes of transportation infrastructure is that due to a combination of network effects and high elasticity, increasing supply increases demand (and likewise in the opposite direction, as we’ve observed in the past few years). We’ve an ample supply of roads, a technology which produces quite a few negative externalities, but a rather low supply of transit. Would you support increased transit service, which will drive ridership up, and help the busses not run empty?

    [reference to paper up on JK’s website].

    I went and looked at the ADC paper, and what do I find right at the front?

    This costs and revenues underlying the general issue expressed in the title of this paper can be broken into two major component parts:

    1. That of what we will refer to as “hard” costs, those that relate to actual receipts of money from user charges and taxes paid by road users as a direct consequence of their road use, compared to the expenditures on the construction, maintenance, and operations of roads and other costs clearly and directly related to road use, such as traffic law enforcement and emergency response.
    2. “Soft” costs, such as environmental and health impacts.

    This report is concerned solely with the first, that of “hard” costs; primarily because it is far easier (although not necessarily easy) to collect data on hard costs, particularly in regard to soft cost accuracy and consistency.
    We will leave the analysis of “soft” costs for another day.

    Something tells me “another day” won’t come for a long time, as ignoring environmental impacts is a favorite trick of this sort of publication. Fortunately, the Victoria Transport Policy Institute wasn’t so sloppy in their methodology, and does consider external costs in their analysis. I’ve pointed you to their report before, JK; you might read it.

    JK: High-density construction is more expensive than low.

    I think you’re confusing high-RISE construction with high-DENSITY. The sorts of density I’m thinking of are the 2-3 story apartment complexes that are ubiquitous all around town (where not prohibited by zoning). These are extremely cheap to build, and frequently opposed by neighbors for various reasons. High-rise construction ala the Pearl or SoWA is expensive to build, but these buildings are being targeted towards higher-income occupants, not the poor.

  46. jimkarlock
    May 4, 2011 at 1:59 pm Link

    Bob R. Says: Except when that “conceptual problem” is CO2 emissions
    JK: CO2 is NOT pollution, it is plant food. No CO2, no plants, no life on earth. Further CO2 was far higher in the past than today, allowing much lusher vegetation. Some greenhouses even add CO2 to increase plant growth.

    Bob R. Says: which stick around a long time
    JK: Credible estimates of CO2 life in the atmosphere is a few years, not decades or centuries as some claim. After all, nature emits 96-97% of all annual CO2 emissions and sucks it back up. Man’s 3-4% of the total annual CO2 emission is close to the roundoff errors in our calculations of natural sources.

    Thanks
    JK

  47. jimkarlock
    May 4, 2011 at 2:01 pm Link

    Bob R. Says: The only two “About Us” links on your site link to the Portland Bureau of Transportation and to the Seattle Weekly editorial staff.
    JK: Care to tell us how you found those links?

    I guess you did NOT find them by following any of my links.

    Thanks
    JK

  48. jimkarlock
    May 4, 2011 at 2:25 pm Link

    EngineerScotty Says: You already put a thumb on the scale for auto mileage by various tricks such as including rural mileage, and making questionable assumptions about the composition of the US automobile fleet and average occupancy.
    JK: I just used national data from the feds. You gottta a problem with that?

    EngineerScotty Says: A more interesting question is MARGINAL fuel economy–how much more fuel is burned by an additional passenger (and an additional vehicle thrown in when one gets full)? Here, transit wins easily, as even the most fuel-efficient auto on the road is not likely to come close to the fuel economy of a full bus.
    JK: We don’t live in a marginal world. The data I used is real transit systems in today’s real world. And a full bus is about the same as a full car. So if we ran our cars full …

    EngineerScotty Says: But if your objection to transit is that its inefficient because the busses are empty, perhaps you’ll help support the service enhancements which would make them fuller?
    JK: All that would do is make transit more expensive than it already is. Further, if you want fuller buses look at our densest city LA: their bus system energy use is similar to a 22 mpg car; NYC is similar to a 25 mpg car. No big savings there, although bus loads are a lot higher at 18 people per bus cpompared to Trimet’s 10 people per bus (http://www.portlandfacts.com/top10bus.html)

    EngineerScotty Says: Would you support increased transit service, which will drive ridership up, and help the busses not run empty?
    JK: Why? Increased ridership didn’t help LA or NYC transit energy or cost. See above. And transit is still slower than driving even in those cities. See portlandfacts.com/commutetime.html

    EngineerScotty Says: I went and looked at the ADC paper, and what do I find right at the front?… We will leave the analysis of “soft” costs for another day.
    ….
    Fortunately, the Victoria Transport Policy Institute wasn’t so sloppy in their methodology, and does consider external costs in their analysis. I’ve pointed you to their report before, JK; you might read it.
    JK: Sorry, I have looked at their stuff before – their analyses have ZERO credibility.

    EngineerScotty Says: The sorts of density I’m thinking of are the 2-3 story apartment complexes that are ubiquitous all around town (where not prohibited by zoning).
    JK: And their costs are still high compared to single family homes. See the real world data at portlandfacts.com/smart/densitycost.htm

    Thanks
    JK

  49. some body
    May 4, 2011 at 4:04 pm Link

    “I just used national data from the feds. You gottta a problem with that?”

    We are talking about the urban Portland region, which is much different than the entire country, which is mostly rural.

    “So if we ran our cars full”

    Even if what you say about full cars is true, people don’t do that. Or would you be OK with mandatory carpooling?

  50. jimkarlock
    May 4, 2011 at 5:04 pm Link

    some body Says: We are talking about the urban Portland region, which is much different than the entire country, which is mostly rural.
    JK: No, that conversation was national in scope – foreign oil is a national issue. Anyway the numbers for Portland aren’t enough different to change the conclusion.

    some body Says: “So if we ran our cars full”

    Even if what you say about full cars is true, people don’t do that.
    JK: Neither does transit – that was my point.

    some body Says: Or would you be OK with mandatory carpooling?
    JK: I’m not OK with government mandatory anything (almost).

    Thanks
    JK

  51. some body
    May 4, 2011 at 6:06 pm Link

    “I’m not OK with government mandatory anything (almost).”

    This means it’s dishonest for you to talk about “full cars”. And that a another car user means another car, while another transit user means (virtually) no impact, since they would be using something that’s already there but not being used: an empty transit seat.

    Yes, it may be true that adding another user to a car is about the same as adding another user to transit, but people are unwilling to add another user to their car, while transit welcomes the additional user.

  52. Bob R.
    May 4, 2011 at 6:22 pm Link

    Care to tell us how you found those links? I guess you did NOT find them by following any of my links.

    Let me Google that for you.

    You are correct, however, that following any of your links typically would NOT reveal the person(s) responsible for your web site.

  53. Bob R.
    May 4, 2011 at 6:25 pm Link

    CO2 is NOT pollution, it is plant food. No CO2, no plants, no life on earth.

    Nonsense. Can you at least try to be serious? There is such a concept as “too much of a good thing”.

    As has also been stated before, this is not a site for debating the existence of human-caused global warming. We operate with the scientific consensus as the baseline here. Take denialist arguments elsewhere.

  54. Bob R.
    May 4, 2011 at 6:28 pm Link

    Scotty has done a pretty good job of pointing out the problems with your cart-before-the-horse (dead horse?) arguments about transit an energy use and “social service” transit, but I’d like to point something out:

    On many occasions, including here on Portland Transport, you have advocated that TriMet should NOT be spending money to attract “choice riders” and that we should only be providing transit to the most needy. Well, that’s “social service” transit and it uses more energy per passenger-mile, which is the measurement you like to use most when comparing apples and oranges.

    Your complaint about transit energy use is inconsistent with your advocated policy positions, if they’re really your positions. (I know you’ve made arguments you didn’t actually believe in the past, but you seldom label them as playing devil’s advocate.)

  55. jim karlock
    May 4, 2011 at 7:04 pm Link

    I’m just responding to the claim that mass transit saves energy.

    And you are the one who brought up CO2. (I think you’ll find what I posted IS the consensus of most of both sides.)

    thanks
    jk

  56. jimkarlock
    May 5, 2011 at 4:07 am Link

    This means it’s dishonest for you to talk about “full cars”.
    JK: Was there some logic to that statement? Your conclusion does not follow from the initial statement.

    In any case, it is no more dishonest than for transit advocates to talk of all transit vehicles being full as a basis of evaluating the system Of course some cars are full and some transit vehicles are full?

    some body Says: And that a another car user means another car, while another transit user means (virtually) no impact, since they would be using something that’s already there but not being used: an empty transit seat. Yes, it may be true that adding another user to a car is about the same as adding another user to transit, but people are unwilling to add another user to their car, while transit welcomes the additional user.
    JK: Again you appear to have no logic. Cars’ empty seats are easily filled by friends or family members. It is called car pooling and is one things that happens more frequently with higher fuel prices.

    BTW, the next time you decide to call someone dishonest, please give us the courtesy of revealing you real name, otherwise some people may think you are afraid to stand behind your remarks.

    But you are merely providing a diversion away from the real world fact of the actual energy consumption of real transit systems being no better than real world cars, especially new cars.

    Thanks
    JK

  57. jimkarlock
    May 5, 2011 at 4:48 am Link

    Bob R. Says: On many occasions, including here on Portland Transport, you have advocated that TriMet should NOT be spending money to attract “choice riders” and that we should only be providing transit to the most needy. Well, that’s “social service” transit and it uses more energy per passenger-mile, which is the measurement you like to use most when comparing apples and oranges.
    JK I think you completely miss my point(s). I usually (always?) apply the “attracting yuppies out of their BMWs” complaint against LRT, not plain old bus. Considering the cost of LRT, it is a valid criticism. FYI the construction cost of the Vancouver extension, using 7% amortization and today’s transit ridership, yields a cost of around $36 per trip. I think that it is pretty difficult to argue against my criticism of that cost.

    As to the “social service” aspect of buses, I think we need to take a close look at how to best serve the needy and how to best serve the downtown area. Possibilities are to set the fares at the actual cost and give transportation vouchers to the needy (like food stamps). Perhaps the downtown landowners could pay the cost of serving downtown (separate subject from helping the needy). Perhaps we should allow jitneys to join the mix. But we aren’t having these discussions, instead they are just pushing forward with building LRT which can never serve most region trips and NONE of the freight.

    Bob R. Says: Your complaint about transit energy use is inconsistent with your advocated policy positions, if they’re really your positions. (I know you’ve made arguments you didn’t actually believe in the past, but you seldom label them as playing devil’s advocate.)
    JK: I brought up transit energy usage here when transit was falsely claimed to save energy. I merely pointed out that this is not true.

    The reason that I point out that most of the claimed advantages of transit are incorrect is because of a number of governments have plans to force people to switch from cars to transit. I am merely pointing out that it is a flawed policy that cannot succeed because it is based on bad data – none of the stated goals are supported by real world experience. Not energy saving. Not cost saving. Not commute time saving. Not saving in right of way construction cost. The congestion reduction ONLY occurs near the central city, while congestion increases in some areas due to reduced number of auto lanes and buses blocking traffic when they stop. I believe I have solid date to support each of these claims except the congestion claim (but who can argue that Interstate avenue got less congested after LRT.)

    Thanks
    JK

  58. Chris I
    May 5, 2011 at 7:51 am Link

    Considering this discussion, I think this is rather topical:

    http://www.economist.com/node/18620944?story_id=18620944

    Say what you want about our region’s policies JK, but if you compare the U.S. to other developed counties, we are clearly doing something wrong. We spend more time commuting and have much higher fatality rates. This was a particularly good quote:

    “In 2006 German road fees brought in 2.6 times the money spent building and maintaining roads. American road taxes collected at the federal, state and local level covered just 72% of the money spent on highways that year, according to the Brookings Institution, a think-tank.”

    I suppose this is the point where you argue that your website is more legitimate than the Brookings Institute…

  59. EngineerScotty
    May 5, 2011 at 7:57 am Link

    Its not often that I cite Reason magazine–far too many of their articles and positions appear to be influenced more by petro-dollars rather than principles of libertarianism (or any other concrete ideology, for that matter). But not all; and here’s one that made me chuckle.

    http://reason.com/blog/2011/05/05/nation-of-gas-speculators-cond#comments

    I don’t particularly care about the issue of oil and gas speculators, so long as its done honestly. (Although the futures markets for gas is something that TriMet ought to avoid…) Yet this article does go to highlight an important issue: Many people in the US act as though cheap gas is a constitutional right.

  60. John Charles
    May 5, 2011 at 9:59 am Link

    Responding to comments on my HCT paper: if people think directly observing how people come to major events is poor methodology, what would they suggest?

    The most common methodology used by academics (at least in the Portland region) when measuring mode split at TODS is to mail surveys to residents and ask questions about daily/weekly travel. But that means a large number of non-respondents, and no quality control of the data.

    Other studies, published by TRB, have relied on pneumatic tubes laid across curb cuts to measure auto use at TODs. But that doesn’t measure vehicle occupancy, and doesn’t account for unanticipated uses such as the way Stadium Station apartments has rented out parking to non-residents for years. It also doesn’t account for off-site parking necessited by the deliberate under-building of parking at the TOD — such as occurs routinely at Center Commons on NE 60th/Glisan. If residents leave the TOD in the morning by foot, but get in cars parked a block away in a low-density neighborhood, the pneumatic tubes will miss that entirely.

    Some readers seem to think we did not measure non-auto modes. In three of the five cases we were able to measure all modes because every trip was easily observable.

    There were no comments on our observations at Cascade Station and Gresham Station. Keep in mind that both sites were treated by local planners as potential TOD Utopias. They were highly planned/regulated/subsidized, and in the case of Gresham Station, decades in the making. They were supposed to be showcases of how smart Portland planners are. And now, at build-out, they are epic failures in terms of LRT use. Someone needs to take responsibility.

    Network effects: sure, road users benefit from network effects. That’s why our transit system should be road-based. If TM would stop wasting huge sums of money on slow trains and simply improved the bus system (with nicer buses and many more express-bus options), they could increase ridership quickly at relatively low cost. But local planners seem to think there is no glamour in running a bus system.

    Finally, field studies should not even be necessary. Local planners should already know that in terms of moving people past a fixed point over a certain time period, none of the passenger rail systems in Portand qualify as HCT. That’s why the transit mall now has less passenger throughput with LRT than it had beforehand. LRT is inherently a low-capacity, high-cost system; what we need is a moderate-capacity, low-cost system. TriMet isn’t interested.

  61. EngineerScotty
    May 5, 2011 at 10:59 am Link

    John,

    Thanks, for the response.

    Obviously, field work of this sort is difficult, and subject to error. That said, a few suggestions on how to improve methodology:

    * Ask questions. You’ll probably get a lot of non-responses (which you will need to deal with), and depending on the venue you may need permission from the venue owner or operator, but for the folks who do answer questions, you’ll get more accurate responses. As you note, watching where people come from, especially in situations where parking is distributed, is difficult and error-prone. Particularly for the Cirque du Soliel, I suspect that modes other than auto and streetcar have been undercounted.

    * Do more surveys. The five events you observed each is different in nature, demographics, and location.

    * Develop a single hypothesis that you are trying to test–and pick one that isn’t obvious. You seem to be trying to prove two things at the same time–that MAX has insufficient capacity, and that nobody rides it–the case for one tends to undermine the case for the other.

    * Rather than making assumptions about people’s transit choices (i.e. if someone takes a car rather than MAX it means they “prefer” toe car), you might ask them.

    As far as the capacity issue goes, I’ll agree somewhat–the system is designed to handle typical commutes (and seems to do this rather well), not the load of 20,000 fans streaming out of the Rose Garden after a Blazer game. But that can be verified by simple math. And it seems disingenuous to compare MAX to things like BART, when I’m fairly certain that if a BART-like project were proposed for Portland (or even something like a downtown tunnel to mitigate the current system bottleneck) that you would be opposed to such a project. The Lincoln Tunnel XBL is not a good example, unless you are suggesting that Portland build something similar to the Port Authority bus terminal next to the Rose Garden; the “freeway of busses” concept breaks down the minute those busses have to stop and pick up passengers.

    As far as the other hypothesis goes, suggesting that MAX and Streetcar have failed to attract motorists out of cars (or sufficient ridership generally to justify continued investment in the system), you neither provide a control case (such as major events or shopping centers not located near transit lines), nor a statement of what level of ridership would be acceptable in your opinion, nor justification for that level. Given the level of development of the transit system (many parts of town, and many trips, are only done on transit with great difficulty; whereas the road network is compehensive and the vast majority of Portlanders own cars), 11% may not be unreasonable. Many cities in Europe and Asia, as well as a few in North America, do far better–but in these places, driving is far more difficult and expensive.

    If your argument is essentially an argument from inertia–“we’ve already got a transport system (roads) that is comprehensive and enjoys network effects, thus its wasteful to try and build up another (transit, particularly fixed-guideway transit)”, go ahead and make that argument. But that’s fundamentally a political argument, not a technical one–you don’t need a survey to make that argument (nor do I need one to offer opposition to it). But the argument(s) the paper is making, when viewed in aggregate, is that “we shouldn’t invest in transit because it offers low quality service, as evidenced by its limited capacity and coverage and low ridership”. To me, the issues identified in the paper sound like a perfect reason to invest in transit–comprehensive transit systems do get used, even by “choice” riders. Transit demand is highly elastic–cutting service decreases ridership, and expanding service increases it. The notion that only a small fraction of the population would consider using transit under any circumstance, and that the majority will not consider anything but driving–and thus any further expansion of transit represents pursuit of diminishing returns, isn’t supported by any evidence that I’m aware of.

  62. jimkarlock
    May 5, 2011 at 3:48 pm Link

    Chris I Says: Considering this discussion, I think this is rather topical:

    economist.com/node/18620944?story_id=18620944

    Say what you want about our region’s policies JK, but if you compare the U.S. to other developed counties, we are clearly doing something wrong. We spend more time commuting and have much higher fatality rates.
    jk: We generally make it easier to drive and require less training. If you want really slow commute times, look at transit vs driving: portlandfacts.com/commutetime.html

    I assume you know that most motorized travel in the EU15 countries is by private car and that transit market share, like in the USA, is going down. see portlandfacts.com/transit/eurotranistshareloss.htm

    Chris I Says: This was a particularly good quote:

    “In 2006 German road fees brought in 2.6 times the money spent building and maintaining roads. American road taxes collected at the federal, state and local level covered just 72% of the money spent on highways that year, according to the Brookings Institution, a think-tank.”
    JK: Many counties drive up the cost of driving by using user fees as a source of general revenu. The USA does not. That is good as it reduces the cost of mobility – a key factor in our superiour standard of living. BTW, that 72% figure is wrong, the ral figure is about 9% excess of revenues over expenses. See item 3 below.

    Chris I Says: I suppose this is the point where you argue that your website is more legitimate than the Brookings Institute…
    JK: That’s correct. The stuff on my website IS more credible. Let me explain:

    1) The U.S. Department of Transportation, says Fedeal highways return excess money over the costs. See http://www.portlandfacts.com/roadsubsidy.htm for charts and quotes from the referenced U.S. Department of Transportation publication.

    2) Using the data from the Pew Charitable Trust report and putting things in the correct categories (such as counting bonds as road money, not general fund as they WILL be repaid out of road user money) O’Toole comes up with a tiny subsidy of 1.1 cents per passenger mile compared to 60 cents per passenger mile for transit. see: ti.org/antiplanner/?p=2199

    3) A careful and comprehensive study by a competent financial expert concluded that for all roads in the USA, road users pay $17 BILLION more than they cost. see portlandfacts.com/roadspaidbyusers.html

    Since you seem concerned about credibility of the source (instead of looking at their data and methods), let me ask who prepared the Brookings report and how do their credentials compare to those the person, Tom Rubin, who did the report in item 3 above. Here is Tom Rubin’s bio:

    CPA, CMA, CMC, CIA, CGFM, CFM,

    More than 35 years of transit and transportation industry experience as a senior executive for two of the largest transit operators in the U.S., including the Southern California Rapid Transit District prior to the merger that formed Los Angeles County Metropolitan Transportation Authority; (including when they built their first light rail line.)

    Founder and director of the transit industry practice of what is now Deloitte & Touche, LLP, who grew it to the largest practice of its type,

    He has served well over 100 transit operators, metropolitan planning organizations, state departments of transportation, the U.S. DOT, industry associations, and suppliers to the industry with a wide variety of projects, as well as heading or being a key member of the audit teams for dozens of them.

    Thanks
    JK

  63. Jeff F
    May 5, 2011 at 5:03 pm Link

    * Develop a single hypothesis that you are trying to test–and pick one that isn’t obvious. You seem to be trying to prove two things at the same time–that MAX has insufficient capacity, and that nobody rides it–the case for one tends to undermine the case for the other.

    It’s the Yogi Berra hypothesis: “Nobody goes there anymore. It’s too crowded.”

  64. Chris I
    May 5, 2011 at 9:08 pm Link

    http://subsidyscope.org/transportation/highways/funding/state/

    State Funding: (Oregon)
    User Revenues $10,526,178,327 39%
    Non-user Revenues $1,027,449,745 4%
    Bonds $1,846,836,998 7%
    State Subtotal $13,400,465,070 50%

    Local Funding:
    User Revenues $223,864,327

  65. jimkarlock
    May 5, 2011 at 10:16 pm Link

    Chris I Says: http://subsidyscope.org/transportation/highways/funding/state/

    State Funding: (Oregon)

    Local Funding:
    JK: That proves nothing.
    Are those bonds paid out of user fees?

    The Federal money IS from user fees.

    What is in the alleged “Non-user Revenues ” how much is really non-user?

    You forgot to tell us how much of those “road” expenditures were really for bikes and transit.

    Please show some better research or quit wasting our time.

    Thanks
    JK

  66. EngineerScotty
    May 5, 2011 at 10:54 pm Link

    JK: Federal funding can come from a variety of sources; not all of which come from the federal highway trust fund (which is funded by the federal excise tax on gasoline).

    At any rate, if you think the research is flawed or incorrect, come up with better. Also, remarks like “please show some better research or quit wasting our time” border on the uncivil–if you think the numbers are wrong, please be specific as to why. SubsidyScope goes into quite a bit of detail about their methodology and sources.

  67. jimkarlock
    May 5, 2011 at 11:42 pm Link

    EngineerScotty Says: Federal funding can come from a variety of sources; not all of which come from the federal highway trust fund (which is funded by the federal excise tax on gasoline).
    JK: But most/all of them are users fees. And don’t forget the big chunk of the gas tax that gets taken for transit – net that out against any non user fees.

    EngineerScotty Says: At any rate, if you think the research is flawed or incorrect, come up with better.
    JK: I did upthread.

    EngineerScotty Says: Also, remarks like “please show some better research or quit wasting our time” border on the uncivil–if you think the numbers are wrong, please be specific as to why.
    JK: What do you call it when someone comes up with six lines of unsubstantiated numbers in response to a well researched paper by a life long professional CPA CFA etc?

    And his claim included bonds as a subsidy, while just a few messages ago, I mentioned that that was one of the mistakes the Pew people did.

    EngineerScotty Says: SubsidyScope goes into quite a bit of detail about their methodology and sources.
    JK: Yeah, I just checked – they are from Pew, the source that Randell corrected to provide his 1.1c/passenger mile subsidy to roads and 60cents for transit. See upthread

    So all he did was take the source for one of my references and present it as new data without the corrections to make it reflect the real world.

    He is also trying to shift the subject from national to local: “but if you compare the U.S. to other developed counties,” started this branch.

    Thanks
    JK

  68. EngineerScotty
    May 6, 2011 at 9:00 am Link

    An important article on Bike Portland, on the apparent disconnect between the city of Portland’s stated priorities and actual ones WRT transportation infrastructure.

  69. EngineerScotty
    May 6, 2011 at 12:39 pm Link

    EngineerScotty Says: [please don’t be uncivil]

    JK: What do you call it when someone comes up with six lines of unsubstantiated numbers in response to a well researched paper by a life long professional CPA CFA etc?

    Civility refers to manners, JK, not strength of argument. You may dispute the numbers posted by Chris I; but his bare recitation of them is not “uncivil”. Remarks like “quit wasting our time”, on the other hand, are uncivil; it’s possible to disagree without being rude.

  70. R A Fontes
    May 6, 2011 at 1:37 pm Link

    A bit of a post-tsunami/earthquake/partial-meltdown surprise?:

    http://www.nytimes.com/2011/05/08/automobiles/08JAPAN.html?hpw

  71. Bob R.
    May 6, 2011 at 3:20 pm Link

    I must say, and with no disrespect intended given the tragedy, that the NY Times photo is the _most_ “Japenese” image I’ve seen lately. It just contains so much in a single image.

  72. EngineerScotty
    May 6, 2011 at 3:42 pm Link

    One wonders if those vehicles are street-legal in the US…

  73. Bob R.
    May 6, 2011 at 3:48 pm Link

    Yes, they are actually, the iMiev has been shown/tested over here. But next year they’ll actually be selling a US-version called the “i” which is slightly larger but featuring the same overall shape/appearance.

  74. Bob R.
    May 6, 2011 at 4:02 pm Link

    http://i.mitsubishicars.com/

  75. GregT
    May 8, 2011 at 3:35 am Link

    enough of the CRC and how its going nowhere, let’s talk about another monumental waste of money, ala never ending “environmental studies” when are they ever going to start building the new Yamhill County Freeway?

  76. Dave H
    May 8, 2011 at 5:17 pm Link

    I just saw this article on KATU’s site about high speed rail in Oregon:

    An advisory group will begin work this summer on a plan for rapid passenger rail in Oregon.

    Eugene Mayor Kitty Piercy announced at a celebration of National Train Day Saturday that she and Portland developer John Russell are leading a group to write a plan for Oregon’s 105-mile segment of the 466-mile Amtrak Cascades line.

    The Register-Guard says Gov. Kitzhaber is appointing the Oregon Rapid Passenger Rail Corridor committee to come up with a formal state plan. To be eligible for federal money, states must have a federally approved plan for their passenger rail systems.

    The committee may decide whether rapid passenger rail is best served on the current tracks, which the Amtrak trains share with freight, or whether other tracks are needed.

    Better late than never, I guess.

  77. GregT
    May 8, 2011 at 6:55 pm Link

    if they’re gonna waste money on such a gargantuan project, let’s do it up real good . . . . lay the tracks parallel to the freeway have super frequent service and power it all with solar panels placed alongside it. While at it relocate the airport to the South and have it all tied together. It could be one super wide truly multi modal energy and transit corridor

  78. EngineerScotty
    May 9, 2011 at 3:15 pm Link

    Port of Vancouver gets $15M for high-speed rail program.

  79. Douglas K.
    May 9, 2011 at 9:11 pm Link

    The Mayor of Milwaukie is proposing a Milwaukie to Lake Oswego trolley line.

  80. John Charles
    May 9, 2011 at 9:25 pm Link

    In response to EngineerScotty:

    I agree that in doing field research, it helps to talk with people. Actually I’ve been doing this type of research for over 10 years and have learned quite a bit from commuters, homeowners, renters, realtors, developers, pension fund managers, and others whom I interviewed regarding LRT and TOD. Occasionally I’ve even been invited into people’s condos for wine because people are always curious to know what I’ve learned about their neighborhood, and they usually like to talk.

    Of course, not everyone is glad to see me. I’ve been kicked off of a street that I thought was publicly owned, told to leave a public sidewalk by Port of Portland police, and hassled by WES train operators. One of my summer interns, an attractive young woman from BYU, was kicked out of the Clackamas TC transit center last July while doing research as she was deemed a “threat.” My immediate reaction was that if rail lines had more “threats” like her, I would ride more often…

    Of course five events does not tell a definitive story, but it was a nice cross-sample. This is also an ongoing project. Now that the Timbers are drawing big crowds I’m sure I’ll do some observations at Jeld-Wen Field soon. And I also want to count actual train riders coming across the Steel Bridge in the AM peak, since this would be the highest-throughput location on the entire LRT system.

    But I’ve already done extensive counts at about 8 stations on the Westside MAX line and probably 6 more on the Eastside, plus about 18 major employers located near MAX. So the HCT paper I released was just a small part of the total research. Earlier today I presented at a TRB conference in San Antonio, comparing the way TODs on the Westside MAX perform with how planners predicted they would.

    As for coming up with a single hypothesis, I begin with the hypothesis (or assertion, really) of the TriMet/Metro/Portland planners about how rail is going to perform, then I go out and see if the predictions came true.

    BTW, I’m not anti-transit, not even anti-train (actually at a personal level I enjoy trains). But with limited dollars to spend, we should learn from experience so we can make better decisions. Unfortunately, local planners have no incentive to ever compare actual performance with their prior predictions, thus we just keep doing more of the same regardless of results.

    JC

  81. R A Fontes
    May 11, 2011 at 7:11 am Link

    Google is pushing legislation in Nevada to allow autonomous vehicle operation.

    http://www.nytimes.com/2011/05/11/science/11drive.html?hpw

  82. Dave H
    May 11, 2011 at 7:59 pm Link

    Port of Vancouver gets $15M for high-speed rail program.

    I wandered into this topic to post a similar article. It seems like an overdue investment that’s a great idea.

  83. EngineerScotty
    May 12, 2011 at 4:51 pm Link

    TriMet’s April ridership reports are out, and things are looking up.

  84. Jason Barbour
    May 13, 2011 at 9:56 am Link

    A new report using real data determines the Portland Metro Area is the #12 transit city in the US, not #1:
    http://www.brookings.edu/reports/2011/0512_jobs_and_transit.aspx

    (Hat tip to a post on another site which appears to have since been deleted.)

  85. Bob R.
    May 13, 2011 at 10:26 am Link

    From the Brookings Report:

    “Nearly 70 percent of large metropolitan residents live in neighborhoods with access to transit service of some kind.”

    (Emphasis added).

    What does personal body weight have to do with this? I’m trying to improve my diet but I don’t want to lose my transit stop! (Sorry, couldn’t resist!)

  86. EngineerScotty
    May 13, 2011 at 11:27 am Link

    The Brookings report is interesting, and its top 20 is rather surprising: The top 20 metros are:

    1) Honolulu, HI
    2) San Jose, CA
    3) Salt Lake City, UT
    4) Tuscon, AZ
    5) Fresno, CA
    6) Denver, CO
    7) Albuquerque, NM
    8) Las Vegas, NV
    9) Provo, UT
    10) Modesto, CA
    11) Ogden, UT
    12) Portland, OR
    13) New York City, NY
    14) Milwaukee, WI
    15) Madison, WI
    16) San Francisco, CA
    17) Washington, DC
    18) Seattle, WA
    19) El Paso, TX
    20) Bakersfield, CA

    A few things to note:

    * One of the ranking criteria, “share of all jobs reachable via transit in 90 minutes”, likely benefits smaller, more compact cities. The only “large” cities in the Top Ten are San Jose (a city which gets half the ridership of TriMet despite having a larger population than the TriMet service area) and Denver. It would be interesting to instead compare transit commute times with similar trips made by driving–but land use is important, folks.

    * The regions of interest are metropolitan statistical areas, so many cities with excellent urban transit but poor transit to the ‘burbs do poorly–in particular, many large East Coast cities with well-regarded transit systems (such as Chicago, Los Angeles, and Boston) fell into this trap. And New York and Washington DC, while making the top 20, were ranked lower than Portland.

    * Quite a few college towns make the list–and I suspect that a few more (such as Eugene/Springfield) would also do well were they to have sufficient population to be considered for the study.

    Portland does well on two of the criteria (% working residents near a transit stop, and wait times), but does poorly on the “90-minute” criteria. I suspect the large number of jobs in places like Washington County has something to do with that.

    Anyway, thanks for the link, Jason!

  87. Douglas K.
    May 13, 2011 at 7:53 pm Link

    Y’know, I bet the places that are big and sprawling aren’t any great shakes for driving either. Seems to me some kind of comparison between average driving time and average transit time to work would be a more reasonable way of figuring out the “best transit system” than an arbitrary 90 minute commute that penalizes large metro areas for nothing more than being large.

  88. Dave H
    May 13, 2011 at 11:51 pm Link

    Scotty, I have to ask: When did Los Angeles move to the east coast?

  89. EngineerScotty
    May 14, 2011 at 12:27 am Link

    Scotty, I have to ask: When did Los Angeles move to the east coast?

    When a giant earthquake caused everything east of the San Andreas to sink into the Atlantic? :)

  90. Jeff F
    May 16, 2011 at 8:28 am Link

    Brookings says Modesto is #10? Seriously?

    They’ve obviously never been to Modesto.

  91. EngineerScotty
    May 16, 2011 at 11:38 am Link

    Apparently, a Tigard woman riding Amtrak was removed from the train and arrested after refusing the request of Amtrak staff to not talk on her cell phone, and otherwise acting in a disorderly fashion. (The train actually met police at a siding).

    I don’t care much about the particulars of this case; according to the news report, the woman was disrupting Amtrak staff. However, is a “no cell phone” policy on Amtrak appropriate (assuming that one doesn’t engage in excessively-disruptive conversation)? People are permitted to talk to their seatmates, obviously. There’s no restrictions on cell phone use on local transit. Cell phones are restricted on airplanes due to interference issues; though many airlines provide (expensive) alternatives for passengers to use while in flight.

    Why would long-distance rail travel be any different? Should part of Amtrak’s value proposition include a quiet(er) journey than other modes of travel, and ought this outweigh the needs of other passengers who may wish to conduct business en route?

  92. Bob R.
    May 16, 2011 at 12:23 pm Link

    Setting aside what the Amtrak policy should be, this touches on a long-standing gripe of mine. (And exposes me as an “old timer”.)

    Generally, people talk louder and in a more distracting way on cell phones than they do in normal conversation.

    There is a technical reason for this.

    Traditional land-line phones were what is known as “full duplex”. (Nowadays, depending on your provider, they actually might not be!). Full-duplex means that you can speak at the same time as the person on the other end and both hear each other. Relatedly, and most importantly, you can hear your own voice in the earpiece as you talk. (There’s a separate term for this which I can’t recall, but it is normally associated with full-duplex landline service.)

    This combination of being able to speak at any time, and being able to monitor the audio quality of what you are saying, in your own ear, as you say it, gives confidence to the caller that they are being effectively transmitted. With that confidence, they can speak more softly. Back in the land-line days it wasn’t uncommon to see someone cup the mouthpiece and whisper so that they could have a private conversation. “Can you hear me now?” is a rather uncommon phrase for land-line to land-line calls.

    Now, many cell phone calls are indeed full-duplex. You can talk and the other caller can talk at the same time. But you won’t hear yourself in the earpiece. You have no idea if your words were ever actually transmitted.

    Worse, when using wireless interfaces such as BlueTooth and speakerphones, you won’t be full-duplex. If one party is on BlueTooth and the other is not, the BlueTooth party can be the “loser” … none of their words will get through while the distant party is yammering. Which means the BlueTooth party must constantly repeat phrases until they can barge in.

    We have traded amazing convenience (and new exciting features) for call quality, plain and simple.

    Similar problems arise with VOIP (Voice Over IP) services now provided to homes as an alternative to land-lines.

    My point is this: A cell phone conversation is NOT the same thing as two people sitting next to one another sharing a private chat. It is louder and more disjointed, and does not become appropriately quiet for private/secret phrases.

    Fortunately there is texting. :-)

  93. Dave H
    May 16, 2011 at 10:33 pm Link

    While everything Bob said sounds correct to me, I’ll also add that reports are that she was combative with other Amtrak riders, Amtrak staff, and it’s been indicated that she was threatening to others (unidentified specifically if they were riders or staff) to others on the train. It sounds like she was a bit more of a problem than just talking on a cell phone.

  94. Jeff F
    May 17, 2011 at 10:02 am Link

    I’ve certainly observed the phenomenon Bob describes and really appreciate his explanation. I would speculate that the volume of cell phone speakers is also a product of the space they are in, and airplanes, trains and buses “allow” us to hear loud talking at a greater distance than we would outdoors (plus, outdoors I can run away).

    I experienced this on an Amtrak train from Seattle, in fact, and kept praying for dead zones we occasionally traveled through. Not only was the man incredibly loud, but he spent the trip berating employees for their failures.

    Do our societal norms require us to ignore this behavior, or can it be appropriate to ask them to tone it down? Is there a polite way to tell someone to shut up? The good thing about a quiet rule is that it reduces confrontation levels.

  95. ws
    May 17, 2011 at 11:21 am Link

    I hear little discussion of late of the business impact of the new Portland-Milwaukie LR line.

    http://trimet.org/pm/abouttheproject/index.htm

    Some questions I have:

    • How many businesses are impacted?
    • What will this to do to jobs in the area?
    • Where are those businesses relocating to? In state?
    • What is the impact of land-use in the area after the LR line goes through it? Example: Some of the line goes through a portion of a
      parcel…is the parcel still usable land?

    I am particularly worried about the impact of industrial land from this new LR line. I don’t care about impacting commercial activity as much — that land is much much easier to replace and more ample.

    I equate industrial land to an old growth forest. Once it’s gone, it’s gone.

  96. EngineerScotty
    May 17, 2011 at 5:25 pm Link

    MAX, TriMet bus collide downtown this morning. Minor injuries, minor service disruption, major oops.

  97. EngineerScotty
    May 17, 2011 at 9:07 pm Link

    Sunday Parkways to start up this weekend on Sunday, May 22.

  98. EngineerScotty
    May 18, 2011 at 1:43 pm Link

    More information on the woman ejected from a Coast Starlight train for talking loudly on her cell phone (and acting up when confronted by other passengers and Amtrak staff).

    The story has gotten quite a bit of national attention, apparently. More relevant to the present discussion, Amtrak has “quiet cars” in which cell phone use is not permitted, and other cars where it is. Whether or not the woman could have moved to a non-quiet car to continue her conversation (and why she was seated in a quiet car to begin with), I don’t know. That said, the quiet/non-quiet separation sounds reasonable to me.

  99. jimkarlock
    May 18, 2011 at 9:45 pm Link

    To Bob R: Sidetone. Not necessarily lost with simplex as mic signal can be added to earphone.

    Re: MLR jobs. Last I heard (~2yrs ago) the estimate was 1000 from SE industrial area. My opinion is that once a Portland non-retail, business is forced to move, it will be out of both Portland & Multnomah county.

    Thanks
    JK

  100. Bob R.
    May 18, 2011 at 11:29 pm Link

    Sidetone, that’s it. Thanks, JK. And yes, mobile phone designers could add it (or make it an option) if they so chose. I don’t know why they don’t.

  101. Bob R.
    May 18, 2011 at 11:30 pm Link

    PS… My business is one of those which may be forced to move due to MLR construction, but it will very likely remain in Portland.

  102. ws
    May 23, 2011 at 10:46 am Link

    How can we get TriMet to ban smoking on all of TriMet’s public property? Who’s with me? Smoking rules are not enforced, as evidence by the thousands of littered butts on the ground.

    Well said:

    http://www.trimetiquette.com/ban-smoking-at-all-trimet-bus-max-transit-areas/

    The rules are unclear and unfair (where signs are posted, but what does that mean?) to non-smokers.

  103. EngineerScotty
    May 24, 2011 at 9:30 am Link

    A thought-provoking post from Alon Levy, on the ongoing battle in many places between entrenched powerful interests, and those who seek to displace them–and its not always the case that the reformers are engaging in reform. Levy’s article is written primarily about New York, but quite a few of the characters involved have parallels here in Portland.

  104. Dave H
    May 24, 2011 at 10:46 pm Link

    I hear little discussion of late of the business impact of the new Portland-Milwaukie LR line.

    http://trimet.org/pm/abouttheproject/index.htm

    I just looked through a bit of that, and it actually makes the costs make a bit more sense seeing some of the examples of what the concept is for it. I didn’t realize how many intersections would be eligible for FRA funding due to the parallel rail tracks. $40 million from the feds to reduce the local price tag makes it a bit more appealing, especially if the streetscape improvements shown in the concept photos come true.

    The video of the alignment does look like a bit of industrial land will be sacrificed, but since I’ve been riding the 70 along part of this route I’m starting to see that maybe it’s more of a valid concept than I expected. The 70 serves a different route, but even at odd times seems to be pretty full for a route that never actually goes downtown.

    Some of the improvements seem to also have a scope outside the local transit part, which seems like a big plus for the project. Assuming freight mobility is really being designed for, that’s a big plus for better use of existing industrial areas. Some of the lost buildings might be made up for by lower costs of shipping and better use of space and staff costs from sites near the improvements. Assuming rail service is able to use quiet zones through these areas, it could entice more development in the surrounding neighborhoods, which is good for local and state tax bases. It could to some degree help Amtrak’s on time rates (by allowing marginally higher speeds) between Portland and Eugene. If ROW can be acquired for future sidings as long as buildings are being destroyed, this project could significantly help make higher speed rail faster and more likely to be on time in the future.

    I’m not completely sold on it, but it does look like a better investment than I thought it was before skimming the info provided.

  105. bjcefola
    May 26, 2011 at 6:43 am Link

    Interesting story in the O. It reminds me of this blurb:
    “At the worksession, Councilor Rex Burkholder pointed out that houses in Portland’s streetcar heyday simply had more people, perhaps averaging up to six people per home instead of 2 or 3 in Portland’s bungalows today.”

    Somewhere in there is a dilemma for Portland transit enthusiasts.

  106. Ron Swaren
    May 26, 2011 at 10:07 am Link

    Public Forum On CRC
    06/04/11 1:00am
    BRIDGING the Gaps
    Between Washington & Oregon
    You are cordially invited to attend this public forum on Columbia River Crossings to include experts and elected officials from both states. Citizen participation & questions are encouraged.
    Topics will include GAPS in:
    Transportation Priorities / New Bridges
    Spending Accountability / Funding / Oversight
    Citizen input / Vote / Transparency
    And More …
    Date: Saturday, June 4th, 2011
    Time: 1:00p.m. – 3:30p.m.
    Location: LifePoint Campus
    305 NE 192nd Avenue
    Vancouver, WA 98684

    (Next to new Costco Corner of NE 192nd Ave & SE 1st St)

    (Optional)

    3:30 p.m. – 4:30 p.m. Community interaction in foyer

  107. Ron Swaren
    May 26, 2011 at 12:15 pm Link

    Lithium-polymer battery takes German car 450 km on single charge:
    http://www.reuters.com/video/2011/05/03/electric-car-battery-boasts-range-of?videoId=205871922

  108. Douglas K.
    May 27, 2011 at 10:01 pm Link

    I’m visiting New York right now and noticed an MTA articulated bus branded “select service.” It looked like a different model of bus than most the MTA buses I’ve seen, and was painted with a different color scheme.

    I inquired, and discovered they’ve introduced a BRT-lite service: ticket machines at the platform (swipe your card, get a proof of payment), board through any of the three doors, limited stops (transfer points only) and service on more-lightly-traveled streets when possible. Right now there’s just one line in Manhattan and one in the Bronx. I’m guessing if it works there will be more in the future.

    This probably isn’t of any immediate use to Portland, but it will be another model to look at if Tri-Met ever gets serious about BRT.

Leave a Reply to EngineerScotty Click here to cancel reply.

By posting a comment, you are granting a license to Portland Transport for your comment. Please refer to The Rules.