February 2012 Open Thread

A few items:

55 responses to “February 2012 Open Thread”

  1. Wow, that Canby Ferry situation touches on a couple things from when I was a kid. Living in Tualatin and we would go see my Grandma who lived in Charbonneau, and in the summer we would sometimes go out of the way to take the Canby Ferry on the way, and I just loved it. And I can remember going through the locks on a field trip as a kid too, which was one of the most fascinating things for a nerdy kid like me. It’s sad to think both of those may be no more.

    Anyway, growing up in Tualatin I used to long for the day when MAX would go through there, and so I might be biased here, but I would think that routing the SW corridor through Tualatin would be far better than Sherwood. The stretch of 99W from King City to Sherwood would be such a dead zone for transit that it just doesn’t seem like a good place for HCT, and it’s outside the UGB.

    I think I saw on here a while ago some ideas thrown out that basically would have a LRT line as a tunnel which would be able to serve OHSU, perhaps Hillsdale and Multnomah Village, and then Barber Transit center and PCC, and surface from then on. I love that idea, though it sounds like wishful thinking. I’m not sure how I would feel about a LRT line just going down Barber, which, for most of the route, is the ne plus ultra of auto dependent suburbia. If the plan sticks closely to Barber blvd, then I would think BRT would probably be better suited for the situation.

  2. A bit short on cash to start off this month and I tried to pick up a 14-day pass at two grocery stores here in inner SE the other day. Looks like they’ve stopped carrying the 14-day passes. Or at least these two stores have, both of which I’ve picked more than one up from over the past year, the most recent occasion being early November since I was only going to be here in town for 14 days that month. One store didn’t even have them as an option on their ‘master price sheet’ thing anymore.

    Got to wondering if these are perhaps being phased out? Haven’t been around here much lately, sorry if I missed any previous comments to that effect if this is so? Just curious if anyone knows anything, or has run into this themselves…

  3. Interesting news on electric-vehicle research: Roads that charge electric cars as they drive on them? (Without needing a physical electrical connection, such as an overhead catenary or trolley pole).

  4. A proposed project to widen I-5 to six lanes through the Rose Quarter area is heating up. Bike Portland notes that this is being peddled as a safety project (it does eliminate some merge/weave conflicts); that said, Smeed’s Law suggests that motorists will respond to the perceived safety enhancements by driving more dangerously–and that the net effect is that this is a capacity improvement.

  5. Might we see another carsharing company in Portland in the near future?



    I’ve used this service in Austin while visiting and found the no-reservations, one-way, park-anywhere concept to be much easier to use than Zipcar if you just need to get somewhere now. Of course if you need more space than a smart car, Zipcar would be the way to go.

  6. That TransitSleuth link saddens me, I wish I could at least bring our street food scene (and our coffee!) with me when I move to Philly in a few weeks…

  7. I’m assuming that Philly is one of those cities where if you park a food cart somewhere, the cops will be by to shut it down faster than you can say “911”…

  8. Yeah, I’ve done a little bit of research on this, and it seems that Philly is slightly better than New York on food carts (though if I’m wrong I’d appreciate being corrected), and much better than DC or Baltimore… but nothing like the street food utopia we have here, of course.

    Oh well, something for me to fight for change on I guess. :)

  9. Is there a source on the full list of proposed TriMet service cuts for this year? The NW Examiner had a list of those affecting Pearl/NW/Linnton:

    -Line 16: Restructured to serve NW Industrial District, Linnton, St. Johns, Sauvie Island during peak hours on weekdays instead of Line 17 all-day service.

    -Line 17: Truncated at Union Station

    -Line 77: Rerouted to Everett/Glisan on the westside from the transit mall to NW 21st to replace Line 17. It’s unclear from the article if the line would follow the current Line 17 route to Montgomery Park along 21st and Thurman/Vaughn.

    I assume these changes would not take effect until the opening of Eastside Streetcar. Oregonian also has an article about the impending loss of all-day service to Linnton: http://www.oregonlive.com/portland/index.ssf/2012/02/trimet.html

  10. I think it would be cool if TriMet had a fleet of short buses and ran single MAX trains all night at reduced frequency. Charge a $10 night fare.

  11. Wow, so no bus service at all outside of weekday peak hours through NW Industrial between Montgomery Park and Linnton? This is really being proposed? Or am I reading it wrong, and maybe the 17 would still serve the area outside of peak times? I’d sure hope so…

    I actually rode the 17 most of the way through quite often, as a regular run of mine for the past four years was from my home here in Creston-Kenilworth up to St. Johns. I suppose the 75 does the same thing in roughly the same amount of time, but when I had a choice I’d do the 17 ninety nine times out of a hundred, for scenic purposes. And because it took the same amount of time. I’d rather ride through downtown and look at the West Hills and see the St. Johns Bridge than spend 25 minutes crawling along Lombard, but that’s neither here nor there, I guess.

    I’m gonna miss the hell out of Portland after I move back east, but I’m gonna love living one block from a 24-hour SEPTA bus line and within 10 blocks of 6 other 24-hour lines and the Market – Frankford El in a few weeks…

    Ever since I worked at a place up on Cornfoot adjacent to the airport, I’ve always wondered why TriMet (or someone else) didn’t run shuttles up that way. About half of the three dozen guys I worked with on my shift used to walk from the 75’s stop at NE 47th & Columbia to our hangar about a half-mile up the street; hundreds of people worked at places even further than that from that particular stop…

  12. re:Socrates visits the u.s. federal transit administration

    F. Well, streetcars, you know, in mixed traffic. Such a huge political movement. No travel time benefits at all, really, but this huge emotional response. Developers just love them, because their customers do. We figure, by counting ridership, we properly include those factors.

    (And the money they make, it’s unreal! Nothing like tax payer funded projects bringing millions into the pockets of those blue blooded all American developers)

  13. Would you prefer that we use tax payer money to fund consultants and Chinese steel workers with projects like the CRC? The streetcars are made in Clackamas.

  14. A Willamette Week article on Union Pacific Railroad’s receipt of various State of Oregon subsidies for transportation improvements. Our very own Chris Smith is cited in the article.

  15. “Our very own Chris Smith is cited…”

    As I told the reporter when she e-mailed me to confirm the quote: “accurate, but not my most articulate comment ever.”

  16. One other story getting some play on Twitter, is that Corvallis Transit System, run by the city of Corvallis, is now fareless, and has been since the start of this month. Its operations are funded by a transit operations fee levied against city homes and businesses–currently $2.75/month for single-family homes, and $1.90/month for apartments; business fees are complicated and not explained in the FAQ.

    CTS provides decent levels of small-town service–no service on Sundays, and half-hourly and hourly lines on other days of the week. Their service hours are over an order of magnitude smaller than what TriMet provides. CTS is a city operation, rather than a regional transit authority such as TriMet, and the City of Corvallis (being a city) has plenary taxing authority–such a fee supporting TriMet charged to people in the Portland metro area would presently be illegal, as TriMet is not authorized to levy one. And despite OSU’s (overrated) reputation as the “conservative” university, the city of Corvallis is quite liberal. (And apart from the student population, Corvallis residents are, on average, quite well-to-do).

    But still, it’s an interesting funding idea, regardless of whether or not TriMet becomes free.

  17. Here’s an off-the-wall request I’m hoping Portland Transport readers can help me with.

    I’m looking for the TriMet region icon/graphics that used to be in schedule and on Transit Mall signage — the leaf, raindrops, beaver, deer, etc. I don’t know if those ever made it into PDF form from TriMet, but high-quality original digital files would be best, but even larger printed materials I can scan would be terrific.

    I’m working on an art project and will be glazing these images onto tiles. I’ve found a few images on Flickr (thanks, Jason) but I’m looking for higher resolution and maybe even a reference to the original Pantone colors.

    (Yes, I’m asking for a lot, but anything better than the next-to-nothing that I have will be appreciated!)


    – Bob

  18. Update from STB on heavy rail in Washington. Some items affect the SEA-PDX route, including a shot of the new trains coming our way.

  19. The new eastside streetcar may pose hazards to motorcycles. While rails-in-pavement are always tricky for two-wheeled vehicles, the higher traffic speeds on MLK, coupled with at least one place where traffic must merge into the streetcar lane (the offramp from the Hawthorne Bridge), may result in greater danger than is posed by the current Streetcar line.

  20. TriMet also voted unanimously to pass the lift fare hike (now that they got that troublemaker Lehrbach out of there, I’m sure), and the fares will go up 30 cents every year until they reach $2.40.

  21. “It sometimes seems as if the whole country is looking to Portland as a role model for 21st-century urban development,” Governing wrote of the city. Clearly the magazine knew nothing about the political history that has turned Portland into a caricature of itself. God help us if this is America’s civic ideal.

    ~~>From the weekly standard

  22. Al m – Funny you dig up all that dirty, and still people make active decisions to move to Portland over Seattle or San Francisco all the time… not even counting all the Californians that move here regularly. PDX is a major egress point because even though we have some crumbling roads, we have as many or LESS than most of california, washington, or any other state for that matter.

    Balance man, balance! :P

  23. ^^^^
    Laughably bad article.

    Besides being a right-wing rag, any article that quotes Randall O’Toole as a credible source is immediately suspect. This author bashes everything from MAX light rail (it’s an obvious failure because it doesn’t carry as many passengers as NY or DC’s subways… brilliant analysis, Einstein), to the UGB (typical “free market” BS), to strip clubs, food carts, “hipsters”, Portlandia, Sam Adams, on and on and on and…

    Everything he hates is why liberals, progressives and people who enjoy a vibrant city love it here.

  24. The Weekly Standard is a joke. It is really just a mouth piece for Murdoch. It has never made a profit, and is continually propped up by Murdoch and other right-wing donors. I read that article, and it is a complete joke.

    I also have a big issue with the Oregonian article about PBOT. They continue to quote the $900 million dollar figure for the city bike plan, as if they actually had plans to spend that money in the near future. The reality is that they are way behind their goals, and have only spent a few million on bikes in the past decade. It pales in comparison to any major road or transit project.

  25. If the Weekly Standard had its way, Al, your “job” would consist of you renting a bus from the Randall O’Toole Transit corporation (NYSE:ROT) for $1000 bucks a day or thereabouts, and you getting to keep whatever’s left over in the till. Good news is the $1000 would include gas, insurance, and maintenance on the bus–thought at 2 miles per gallon for a 40′ bus, and $4/gallon for diesel, the amount left over for insurance and maintenance won’t be much–especially after Randall takes his cut. (And his cut will come first). The bad news is out of whatever funds you have left, you’d have to buy your own health insurance and pay your own taxes–including self-employment tax.

    Or, if you were an enterprising entrepreneur, who didn’t desire to work for some 1%er, you could take out a second mortgage on your home, and go buy your very own bus. When you’re the one paying the bill, you might find that a 20-year old Flxable won’t look so bad, and there will be plenty to be had at the TriMet liquidation auction. Your take-home pay will start to look better–at least until the bus breaks down on Barbur Boulevard with a crushload of passengers, demanding their money back, and you stuck on the side of a road, waiting for a tow (which you will pay for) to a garage somewhere, hoping the repair bill doesn’t wipe out the food money.

    This little parable isn’t intended, necessarily, to endorse the current activities of TriMet or the regional planning apparatus. But it is unwise to avoid the flies by hiding in the lion’s den.

  26. The Weekly Standard is the house organ for neocons and beats the drum for war on Iran. I wouldn’t expect them to have any use for Portland’s culture or politics.

  27. Estate of woman struck by MAX train in 2010 is suing for $3 million. Whether the estate will collect, and how much, is an interesting question. But it’s worth noting that the suit is alleging TriMet is responsible due to a lack of gates and other safety devices at the pedestrian crossing of the tracks at 175th and Baseline, and due to inadequately-trimmed vegetation. The woman was wearing headphones at the time of the accident, and the driver of the MAX train has been cleared of any wrongdoing in the incident.

    An interesting question: If TriMet is to be held to this sort of liability standard (and this lawsuit might get tossed or settled for a vastly lower sum, so who knows), why not apply the same standards to our roads and highways? If someone dies in an auto accident, whether as a driver, passenger, or pedestrian, should it be permissible to sue ODOT or the county/city roads department? States, generally, have the power to restrict such lawsuits under the doctrine of sovereign immunity (and some do); though there have been several cases of bicyclists suing government agencies in similar cases.

  28. Was the fact that this might be a suicide ever investigated? I mean, the gates go down for cars, with flashing lights and bells. Do they even have gated crossings for pedestrians anywhere in Oregon?

  29. I can’t think of any automatic gated crossings for peds, but there are plenty of places along the MAX line where lights and audible warning bells are placed along sidewalks to alert peds of an oncoming trains, and there are plenty of pedestrian diverters or manual gates (spring-loaded gates that open away from the tracks, and must be manually opened by a pedestrian to cross the tracks–regardless of whether a train is nearby) along the line.

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