January 2012 Open Thread

Happy New Year, everybody! In 2012, the Eastside Streetcar extension is scheduled to open, TriMet has a few difficult decisions to make, and construction on Milwaukie MAX continues.

A few recent news items.

And if you’re going out to party on New Years Eve, TriMet will be free after 8PM.


42 Responses to January 2012 Open Thread

  1. EngineerScotty
    December 31, 2011 at 9:14 pm Link

    Congratulations to Bike Portland‘s Jonathan Maus who was named of of the Top 50 Most Influential Portlanders by Portland Monthly. Other Portlanders on the list who are involved in mobility or sustainability include Ralph DiNola of Green Building Services, Port of Portland director Bill Wyatt, Scott Andrews of the Portland Development Commission, United Streetcar’s Chandra Brown, and Mike Houck of the Urban Greenspaces Institute.

  2. al m
    January 1, 2012 at 8:58 pm Link

    Wheres the Portland Transport top ten stories of the year?

  3. al m
    January 2, 2012 at 3:40 pm Link

    This story is written for the Bay area but obviously will apply nationwide, congress has decided driving to work will get more tax breaks than taking transit:

    Public transit tax benefit leaves Bay Area riders in the lurch | Will Reisman | Transportation | San Francisco Examiner

  4. AL M
    January 2, 2012 at 5:55 pm Link

    Is it real?
    Video appearing on facebook of MAX explosion

  5. Chris I
    January 3, 2012 at 6:41 am Link

    They need to eliminate all tax write offs for transportation. Where is the logic in subsidizing parking for commuters? And public transportation is already subsidized, so why do we need additional tax breaks? Wouldn’t the poor people that need transit most likely not benefit from it, as they generally do not utilize tax write-offs as much as the more wealthy?

  6. Jason McHuff
    January 4, 2012 at 3:45 pm Link

    Where is the logic in subsidizing parking for commuters?

    From what I’ve read, it’s to discourage employers from moving from areas with high-cost parking (but probably better transit and amenities) to areas with low-cost parking (but poor transit and amenities).

  7. Chris I
    January 5, 2012 at 4:20 pm Link


    Are you a libertarian bus driver? You realize that if the folks at Reason were in charge, you wouldn’t have your current job. You would work for a private bus company without a cushy union benefits package.

  8. al m
    January 6, 2012 at 12:32 am Link


    There are pro’s and cons on both sides of the argument.

    If the ‘free market’ actually existed, which is does not, it would be a good thing.

    The fact that this country is now in a race to the bottom regarding workers pay/benefits is due basically to collusion between government and the power elites that control these governments.

    This country can start paying less wages and benefits for things like transit drivers, and the result will be much more carnage on the streets, guaranteed.

    If it didn’t have the pay and benefits, very few people would want this job.

    In a truly free market, you get what you pay for.

  9. EngineerScotty
    January 6, 2012 at 10:51 am Link

    Slate considers the age-old Portland/Seattle rivalry: http://www.slate.com/blogs/browbeat/2012/01/06/portlandia_premiere_has_portland_replaced_seattle_as_the_northwest_s_bastion_of_cool_.html

  10. EngineerScotty
    January 7, 2012 at 2:36 pm Link

    A couple of news items:

    ODOT, along with Washington County and the cities of Beaverton and Hillsboro, is starting up a planning project to discuss the future of the Tualatin Valley Highway (OR-8) between Beaverton and Hillsboro. This project will focus on whether TV Highway will be upgraded (or downgraded if you prefer) to “throughway” standards, which would imply a six-lane footprint, grade-separation at major interchanges such as Murray or 185th, limited access to adjoining properties, and a focus on higher-speed traffic; or be maintained instead as an arterial–four lanes (plus turning refuge), with lots of adjoining property access, and better compatibility with pedestrian, bike, and transit uses. Right now, the 2035 RTP calls for it to be a throughway, but it isn’t designed to those standards. The project website is here. (Also check out the Aloha-Reedville study, which focuses on land use/development in the area surrounding TV Highway and SW 185th).
    * TriMet general manager Neil McFarlane will be hosting a Twitter Town Hall to discuss the agency’s budget issues.

  11. AL M
    January 7, 2012 at 2:52 pm Link

    ODOT, along with Washington County and the cities of Beaverton and Hillsboro, is starting up a planning project to discuss the future of the Tualatin Valley Highway (OR-8) between Beaverton and Hillsboro.

    Why are they looking there? Why aren’t they doing something about roads like SPRINGVILLE, acess to PCC via a cow path with tar on top, ,sections of FARMINGTON that are so dark at night with no sidewalks its just amazing people aren’t dying daily there, or 198th which connects Farmington&TV Highway which is so narrow barely two buses can get past each other.

  12. EngineerScotty
    January 7, 2012 at 3:44 pm Link

    Springville Road is outside of ODOT’s jurisdiction. Farmington Road (OR-10) is another matter, and I agree that it could use lots of improvements, particularly west of 170th.

    At any rate, why do I suspect that my favorite ranting bus driver has been driving the #88 recently? I guess I better be extra careful walking down Hart Road. :)

  13. al m
    January 7, 2012 at 6:29 pm Link

    At any rate, why do I suspect that my favorite ranting bus driver has been driving the #88 recently? I guess I better be extra careful walking down Hart Road. :)

    ~~~>IT’s not me you have to be worried about, its the other traffic!

  14. EngineerScotty
    January 9, 2012 at 8:35 am Link

    ~~~>IT’s not me you have to be worried about, its the other traffic!

    Tell me about it. :)

  15. EngineerScotty
    January 9, 2012 at 2:56 pm Link

    The CRC isn’t the only controversial and expensive bi-state freeway project around; The Urbanophile today provides coverage of the Ohio River Bridges project, crossing the Ohio River between Indiana and Kentucky. (The article makes a decent case that Indiana taxpayers are being taken for a ride).

  16. Allan
    January 11, 2012 at 10:22 am Link

    The Lake Oswego Streetcar just got killed


  17. EngineerScotty
    January 11, 2012 at 12:51 pm Link

    In other news, the City of Portland is considering putting the Sunday Parkways program “on hiatus”, for budget reasons.

  18. EngineerScotty
    January 11, 2012 at 10:06 pm Link

    Grants Pass and the case of the $100k bus shelters.

  19. Chris I
    January 12, 2012 at 9:01 am Link

    ODOT has an updated fact sheet on the new Talgo trainsets:


    Included is a picture of the cabbage car. I love the paint job, but the styling makes me want to stab my eyes out. Looks about as aerodynamic as a 1980s Volvo. Thanks FRA.

    New trains will be in service this fall.

  20. Chris I
    January 12, 2012 at 9:05 am Link

    Also, they are confirming that NO NEW SERVICE will be added until 2017, when the point defiance bypass is complete, I assume. I would hope these new trains will at least allow them to run more trains during the holidays, and create special event trains (Sounders/Timbers games, Mariners, Oregon Ducks, etc).

  21. Chris I
    January 12, 2012 at 12:14 pm Link

    This also might be of interest:


  22. EngineerScotty
    January 12, 2012 at 9:53 pm Link

    This evening’s “Ask Neil” event on Twitter has been archived by MAX FAQs. If you want to read the original, it’s at the hashtag #askneil.

  23. EngineerScotty
    January 12, 2012 at 10:23 pm Link

    Arrests have been made in the recent beating incident on the Green Line, where three teenage girls attacked a fourth. Three girls were arrested, along with the mother of the two of the girls, who allegedly lied to the police about the incident.

  24. EngineerScotty
    January 16, 2012 at 6:02 pm Link

    An interesting editorial in this morning’s Oregonian, on the subject of the ongoing labor dispute and actions the governor might take to resolve it. (Tip o’ the hat to Michael Andersen). Warning–those on the pro-labor side probably won’t like it, as it places much blame for the current state of affairs on ATU Local 757…

  25. EngineerScotty
    January 19, 2012 at 1:07 pm Link

    Metro is seeking public comment on the four-year Metropolitan Transportation Improvement Program–essentially, what transportation projects ought to get done (and funded) in the next four years.

  26. EngineerScotty
    January 20, 2012 at 11:27 am Link

    An interesting article stating that Smart Growth advocates and programs in the US neglect bus service.

  27. EngineerScotty
    January 24, 2012 at 10:30 am Link

    Portland’s unique (and patented!) outdoor commodes get some national attention.

  28. EngineerScotty
    January 24, 2012 at 3:53 pm Link

    According to a recent posting at the ATU 757 website, TriMet commissioner Lynn Lehrbach will not be re-appointed by Governor Kitzhaber when his term expires. (Hat tip to Portland Afoot).

    While in some sense, it probably doesn’t matter–Lehrbach was frequently the -1 in numerous 6-1 decisions, and the ongoing ATU/TriMet negotiations are outside his purview anyway, ’tis interesting if true.

  29. Chris I
    January 25, 2012 at 9:56 am Link

    All Aboard Washington is looking for ideas on how they might utilize the two new trainsets that Oregon will be getting this year for Amtrak Cascades. There are opportunities for increasing capacity or tweaking the schedule, but we won’t be getting additional round trips until 2017 when the Point Defiance Bypass project is complete.


  30. Reza
    January 25, 2012 at 2:45 pm Link

    With the news that the Conway development is planning on moving forward, I’m most interested in this line from the article below:


    “In addition, Con-way hopes to entice the Portland Streetcar into extending service to the new district, as well.”

    I wonder what changes are in store for public transit in upper NW. Line 17 already serves the heart of the proposed Conway site now but has limited evening and no Sunday service. Lines 15 and 77, and Streetcar also provide service in the general vicinity.

    The Streetcar System Plan included a line up 18th/19th as part of the Burnside-Sandy line, but I’ve read (here: http://www.northwestdistrictassociation.org/?p=3177) that Conway is considering an extension off the existing line north on 21st, west on Raleigh and south on 23rd rejoining the existing line at Northrup. What would this mean for the existing track on Northrup between 23rd and 21st? Does this mean that all streetcars heading from Downtown would meander north to Raleigh before getting to the 23rd/Marshall stop? I hope not but way too soon to know what’s going to happen.

  31. EngineerScotty
    January 25, 2012 at 2:53 pm Link

    An interesting question, Reza.

    As Northrup and Lovejoy are two blocks apart, how many users along (or north of) Northrup looking to get downtown simply board the line on Northrup and ride out-of-direction to NW 23rd, rather than walk the two blocks to catch the inbound Streetcar on Lovejoy? I’m assuming the number gets higher the further west you go.

  32. Jason McHuff
    January 26, 2012 at 1:13 am Link

    Given that we’re talking just 4 blocks out of the way (OK, 8 round-trip), given that many users may not be time-sensitive, given that we’ve already consigned Broadway Bridge-to-south users to out-of-direction travel, given that the two blocks are only about 500′ apart and given that some same-direction streetcar stops are farther apart than that, not that much.

  33. EngineerScotty
    January 26, 2012 at 10:03 am Link

    TriMet board member (and downtown developer) Tiffany Sweitzer has, in the infamous words of Ricky Ricardo, some ‘splainin’ to do.

  34. Reza
    January 26, 2012 at 11:50 am Link

    I think my biggest concern with a possible extension is the sheer out of direction travel that may be required. Jason, there is no section on the streetcar existing or near future that has opposing tracks 4 downtown blocks apart from each other as it would if you have westbound (from Downtown) tracks on 21st and eastbound (towards Downtown) tracks on 23rd. You run the danger of turning the streetcar into a dreaded one-way loop rather than having a two-way route that is offset by 1 or 2 blocks in Downtown and Eastside.

    Sure, I think that some people traveling from Downtown to 23rd/Lovejoy might just get off at 21st/Northrup and walk the last two double blocks or those living north of Northrup might walk to Lovejoy to catch the Downtown-bound streetcar instead of riding out of direction. But it might also detract people from taking the Streetcar to NW 23rd entirely.

  35. EngineerScotty
    January 26, 2012 at 3:26 pm Link

    Some news from today’s TriMet board meeting.

    * Jonathan Hunt, ATU757 president, testifies, objecting to lots of stuff. One interesting claim he makes is that TriMet could save millions by insourcing LIFT operations.

    * Lynn Lehrbach (expiration of term) and Richard Van Beveren (resignation) are out at the TriMet board, Governor Kitzhaber intends to appoint in their stead Bruce Warner (formerly of PDC and ODOT) and Travis Stovall. Both need to be confirmed by the Senate.

    * Expectation is that arbitration on TriMet/ATU contract will start in March.

  36. Jason McHuff
    January 26, 2012 at 3:47 pm Link

    downtown developer

    Nitpick: The Pearl District is not downtown (I don’t know if she’s done other development actually in downtown).

    detract people from taking the Streetcar to NW 23rd entirely.

    I was only focused on people coming from the area, who would only have to walk from Northrup down to Lovejoy.

    Richard Van Beveren (resignation)

    I did not realize that. I did note that he’s been absent at both meetings this month.

  37. EngineerScotty
    January 26, 2012 at 3:54 pm Link

    When you live in Beaverton, the Pearl District is “downtown”.

    It’s kind of like the old joke–to someone outside the US, a Yankee is an American. To someone from the US, a Yankee is a northerner. To a northerner, a Yankee is someone from New England… http://www.urbandictionary.com/define.php?term=yankee

  38. Michael, Portland Afoot
    January 26, 2012 at 4:04 pm Link

    Maybe “downtown” isn’t appropriate here; for PA purposes I usually define it (arbitrarily) as the area in which you can’t ride your bike on the sidewalk, which goes north to Hoyt and west to 13th. Some of that is technically the Pearl, but this lot isn’t our usual “downtown.”

    Something else I hadn’t realized until Wednesday’s meeting: the three-year ATU contract headed for arbitration is due to expire this fall. Any pay or health care changes will be retroactive. The cycle of anti-union PR from TriMet is the groundwork for the next contract, which will start effect (if I recall correctly) in November and doubtless be headed for another endless legal fight.

  39. Jason McHuff
    January 26, 2012 at 6:31 pm Link

    My definition of downtown is the area covered by the Downtown Neighborhood Association (now called Portland Downtown Neighborhood Association)

    Something else I hadn’t realized until Wednesday’s meeting: the three-year ATU contract headed for arbitration is due to expire this fall.

    Same here.

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