Two TriMet-related editorials in the morning paper

This morning’s Oregonian has two editorials (one a guest submission, one by one of the paper’s regulars) on the subject of TriMet.

The guest editorial, by Craig Boretz, Randy Miller and Angus Duncan, deals with TriMet’s funding crisis. It calls for further “restructuring” of the labor agreements, including withdrawal of mandatory arbitration. But it also calls for improving the agency’s funding model–including increased revenue sources–but the latter is contingent on the former.

The other article, by conservative columnist Elizabeth Hovde, deals with the YouthPass brouhaha. She makes the surprising (but spot-on) observation:

The state, along with TriMet, has been taking a beating for the fact that other school districts have yellow bus service for high school students, but PPS does not. In reality, we should be searching to see if there are ways to make other districts look more like Portland when it comes to transportation, not the other way around.

And concludes with

Since transportation takes such a huge bite out of state and district education budgets, before insisting that transportation be provided, we might consider placing the duty of getting one’s children to school on families — no matter a student’s age. After all, a lot of families get kids to jobs, soccer practices, birthday parties and other activities. Surely we should be able to work out carpools, joint walks or bus passes to get our kids to one of the most important things that children do.

I expect the latter to be met with howls of outrage from suburban and rural constituents–in the countryside, in particular, the journey from home to school may be one of many miles–but money spent on public transportation goes much further if it is spent in places where there is higher density. Rural yellow-bus service is very expensive to provide.

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30 responses to “Two TriMet-related editorials in the morning paper”

  1. Small note:

    TriMet has been dropping some scheduled service inbound on the 10 Harold during the morning peak hour. Apparently they do not have enough operators.

    So we must just wait for the next bus.

  2. Lets be clear, this works only if you have one room school houses in rural areas close to where students live. The idea that parents are going to get kids to school 50 miles away every day doesn’t work. It may be that we can move to online schooling, but that is a lot bigger issue than the cost of transportation.

    Rather than eliminating transportation to school for kids, it would make a lot more sense to expand the bus system to allow it to be used by adults. That would make rural communities a lot less auto-dependent and encourage a return to compact development and walkable communities.

  3. Ross,

    Rural communities are one thing, but what about suburban communities? Could we use school transportation funds to get kids to school via trimet in, say, Beaverton or Hillsboro, with the added benefit of improving transit for all in those communities?

  4. Converting some place like East Portland (and the David Douglas school district, for instance) to using public transit rather than yellow bus service would be a start.

    East Portland has good east-west service on the major thoroughfares, but the N/S service is poor. There are many people living there who are in lower income groups–and either carless, or spending a significant amount of their household budgets on cars. Residential density is reasonable, and in the same order of magnitude as many closer-in Portland neighborhoods outside the downtown core. The pedestrian environment is problematic, with many streets lacking sidewalks.

    Converting this sort of place to public transit would be easier than a rural area. One thing that yellow bus service can get away with, that public transit cannot, is long, circuitous routes. When I was a junior-high student in rural Oregon City, my trip to school on the bus took 45 minutes; my trip home took five. (I lived a mile and a half from the school). Why? The morning trip served the high school (which had earlier bell times) first, before returning to the junior high; but the trip home was direct. Public transit, which generally doesn’t have many-to-one or one-to-many travel patterns, can’t operate in this fashion.

  5. I am a little surprised to see the first quote from the “conservative” columnist.

    As for the second, a) all the other events are optional and not as necessary as school is, b) they usually don’t happen every day like school does and c) not every child goes and can easily get to the other events, d) it would be inefficient (in multiple ways) to leave everybody on their own.

    Bottom line, as I’ve said before, the state should fund school bus alternatives up to the level of what school buses would cost.

  6. I don’t understand why the Portland Public schools gets a whopping 0$ from this whole excursion. They should have never gotten into this situation (did they ever have yellow buttons?)

  7. Glad to see the leadership of the Community Investment Initiative calling on Tri-Met to make more frequent service a priority. Seems that they could team with others, such as OPAL, local governments and interest groups such as 1000 Friends to help figure out how to do this sooner rather than later. Waiting for Tri-Met to act solo will take 5 to 10 years to return frequencies that we used to have. Where do Metro, especially new Councillor Stacey, and the mayoral candidates stand on giving us more frequent service? Perhaps a partnership, as was done for youth passes, is needed to improve frequency of service.

  8. I don’t really ride Trimet much any more I use car2go, which I find much more convenient, almost as cost-effective, and, ultimately, more fun!

  9. I like the idea of gradually converting communities to Trimet for high school students. Students should be walking further and getting more exercise anyway. Trimet could cover the same service with less bus miles, while providing rides for adults as well, and collecting some revenue.

    The will also have the “Macintosh effect” as I call it. Apple has always offered heavy educational discounts, so many students grow up using Apple computers, and this translates to higher rates of ownership. The same effect can happen with transit.

  10. Nobody but Jack Bogdanski talks about the billion and a half dollar mystery train.

    All the coneservatives are following the world wide template to destroy public service workers and public service itself.

    They always fail to mention the trillions spent in useless wars.

    Its all about everything domestic.

    I’m getting so sick of this I am getting ready to just put it all out of my mind and let nature take its course.

    All through human history is the citizens that have to suffer so the rulers can rule they way they want.

    2 billion people live on a dollar a day!

    Anybody talking about that?


  11. Al m, “All the coneservatives are following the world wide template to destroy public service workers and public service itself.

    They always fail to mention the trillions spent in useless wars.”

    George Bush, Sr. knew a better course in Iraq: Initiate, and then also follow, a UN resolution. There are some nutballs running around the conservative world who think that he was talking about a global government, when he referred to a “new world order.” This only referred to the current (1990) thinking that they would work to keep all national borders just as they were at the time, and if some other country aggressively tried to change those, then the UN would intervene. Strengthening the UN mission in Iraq would have been much simpler than goin’ in and shootin’ up the place, as GWB Jr. did.

    The flip side, however, is that it seems just about everyone in the world feels the US should be responsible for their happiness. Go to most poorer countries and as soon as they figure out you’re American—with good US dollars—the plots begin. So in the UN, you’ve got really vociferous people who will blame the US or Europe for everything and pass resolutions that alter the freedoms of Americans. So everyone has to be judged on a case by case basis.

    As far as most people living on a dollar a day that’s is changing fast. This was another upshot of the UN State of the World Forum I went to in 2000. They kept talking about developing countries “leapfrogging” the United States, at least in high tech adaptability. Lots of new middle class folks over there, also able to take advantage of the outlandishly cheap prices their fellow human beings are selling themselves for. It’s in the news this last week, Here:

    How much these people care about improving their fellow man, I don’t know. But believe me, conservative people, especially in religions, are reminded constantly about suffering people around the world. Probably why church mission spending runs around $60 billion per year.

    I don’t think libertarians like Ron Paul necessarily have the right answer, but I do think it would be better to form “regional security initiatives” (a UN term) so the US doesn’t keep spending money on such things. However, the UN is kinda weak to take on Red China, say, and there’s a lot of worried people in SE Asia and the Pacific starting to get alarmed. But “regional security initiatives” in which these other countries shoulder some of the costs of stability would be very helpful. That is what the African Union has been doing in Africa.

    It’s too long a subject for this forum…..

  12. Red China?

    Do they still call it that? :)

    I’ve been there several times, and trust me, the place is wall-to-wall cowboy capitalism. :) They still genuflect before Mao’s tomb, but the good Chairman would likely be doing cartwheels therein were he not nailed down.

  13. Yeah, they found a combination of Party rule, lax environmental standards and opportunistic enterprising plus computer hacking gets a lot of trade going their way. Plus American companies enforce little patent protection against their China based partners. But the Chinese are buying up resources all across the world and the population is spilling all over, too. Estimated 30,000 Chinese come illegally into the US every year. I was at a Chinese restaurant in Milwaukie where only one staff member out of five seemed to know any English. Now I wonder what kind of chicken that was, it tasted funny….

    The new Oakland Bay bridge is a half Chinese project. Need I say more.

  14. Nothing boggles my mind more than people who say let the parents take there kids to school. In my hometown they did. I spent 5 hours a day walking cause my mom had to work. Let’s not forget the huge amount of poor or minimum wage families in portland who dont have cars and can barely afford passes for the adults. Yes throw another 90 bucks a month on them I bet you would have alot more kids forced to drop out if they went with that. This time sam got it right. I am glad he did to.

  15. IMHO, yellow school buses are *only* appropriate in areas where public transit is nonexistent or cannot feasibly serve school trips, or for “special needs” students in some cases. Otherwise, it is more efficient to just give the kids a city bus pass. In addition, this helps them learn one of the functions of growing up to be a citizen, which is a major part of what school is about anyway. This doesn’t necessarily mean offload the cost onto poor families; arrangements can be made ranging from free passes for all at one extreme to means-tested discounts at the other.

  16. The recent arbitration ruling hinged on the idea that there was nothing left to cut in Trimet:
    “The Union and Employer are engaged in a zero sum game in which an increase in total compensation for the bargaining unit members will inevitably result in decreased transit service to the public.” That ruling freed up the reserve money that will most likely be funding YouthPass.

    It’s hard to see how giving away transit passes to teenagers who are either not poor or who live close to school meets the threshold of “uncuttable” service.

  17. Surely Tri-Met could restrict to youth pass to students who live more than fifteen blocks (safe walking route) from school. I walked fourteen blocks to middle school every day from grade 5-8, and twenty blocks to high school after that. I assume that most kids grade 4 and under aren’t walking to school on their own in this hyper-paranoid era. (I did, from K-4, back in the days of free-range childhood. But it was only six blocks.)

    If the free youth passes were offered based on “need” with “need” being based on distance, maybe we wouldn’t need all that many passes.

  18. Traditionally, school kids have gotten themselves to school, even in the country. When motorized transport came, city kids either walked, biked or took public transportation. Yellow buses were for rural children who lived miles from school. One did not find them in the city, and buses were only used for special events or occasions. As recently as late ’90s and early 2000s, I took the city bus to high school much of the time. I was not alone. It teaches you how to use the bus, and it gives you a way to get around on your own if you don’t have a car and don’t always want to rely on your folks for transportation. It’s quite safe anyway. People are really just paranoid these days. Kids who got into dangerous situations were finding trouble with fellow students. That can happen on the city bus or the yellow school bus.

  19. I know I am just repeating myself but I said over and over and over-if this whole BUDGET CRISIS was real then ALL THE PEOPLE MAKING SIX FIGURE INCOMES should have been confronted with a 15-20% slash in wages. So there insurance changed and we are stuck with it too. They work inside mostly 9-5, clean environments, limited exposure to the public etc (BTW the non union employees are not happy campers anymore than the union employees are)

    This place is going to have to go under eventually, as will most governmental units that operate on a set of rules completely opposite to citizens. The word “debt” to these governmental units has no meaning. All the people that function as executives are using tax payers money and none of them are accountable for it.

    The whole system has to be dismantled and re-built.

    This focus on the union benefits is a complete and total lie and the public, fools that they are, eat it up. “I don’t get that kind of health insurance, why should they”

    So the public does the work for the power elite.
    Power elite gets a cheaper and cheaper workforce and the public gets less and less jobs worth having.

    But what is happening to us is all based on a big lie. There is just no way to get the masses to understand that. The masses have always been ignorant, throughout history.

    The only reason I keep my blog going is to embarass Trimet at this point. Just so they can’t have total control of the message. And while their web site dwarfs mine, mine is still there, telling the other side of the story.

    But I know its hopeless, Trimet wins, every single time. The game is fixed and we can’t win, EVER.

    None of the SERFS (any working man for hourly pay) ever win, never once in the entire history of man.

    And when the government gets itself in trouble they just take everyone to war and wave the flag of patriotism. Thousands get killed and injured but the power elite maintains its control

  20. “None of the SERFS (any working man for hourly pay) ever win, never once in the entire history of man.”

    Oh, really? Some of the retired guys from the Carpenters union get monthly checks up to 4 G’s. Then they get their social security, too. Then they often work under the table, have rental properties or farms or have built and sold homes. Their spouses probably get some pension and SS, too. They got such big pensions because they got to work Saturdays and Sundays to fix their screw ups from the week before.

  21. OK, first… I haven’t posted or contributed much here lately because I’ve been busy with numerous other projects.

    But, I’m invoking moderator’s prerogative to shut down what would otherwise indubitably become a flame ware between Al and Ron. I’ve allowed both sets of comments to stand, so you’ve both had your say, but drop the bashing already and stick to documented facts.

    Bob R.

  22. Bob,
    FYI, my revelations about doings within the associations of Carpenters (notice, I am drawing a distinction between the unions, per se, and the craft) would not be happening at nearly such a level if there were documentation. That’s the catch; they can get away with it because they are not documenting it, in any sense that a legitimate business must. Documented in the bar tab, maybe.

    But, since you want documents, here is an IRS page on the ones they’ve caught:,,id=163008,00.html

    And, sad to say, a great many Carpenters Locals end up in this joint:
    Usually due to either an official or office manager siphoning off some hefty amount of dinero. I think the Office of Labor Management Standards is generally pretty busy. I think there are about 90 cases, on average, every year.

  23. Ron wrote:

    “Bob, … But, since you want documents”

    Who are you talking to? I didn’t ask you for documents.

    Al says:

    “Hey Bob- you never did put my post up like I asked you. Now you can’t tell me that’s not intentional.”

    Al, I already told you two days ago via private email. I told you the keyword that was triggering the spam filter and I told you that I was not moderating that particular post. It was left as an exercise for you to try posting again without that keyword.


    If your intent is to annoy and punish the moderators in order to do away with moderation on this blog, you’re failing.

  24. Oh I see, LOL!!LOL!!!

    Sorry Bob but its an irritating kind of day-all around!

    I couldn’t carry one without you moderating me once and awhile.

  25. Bob R.: “stick to documented facts.”

    Ron Swaren: “But, since you want documents, here is an IRS page on the ones they’ve caught:,,id=163008,00.html

    And, sad to say, a great many Carpenters Locals end up in this joint:

    Bob R: “Who are you talking to? I didn’t ask you for documents.”

    What’s the contradiction here? Also I just got back from Multnomah Co. Assessors office with copies of the “Confidential Personal Property Return (ORS 308.290). I doubt that hardly any of my union members have even seen this, let alone paid it. But how do they expect good old Multnomah Co. to keep paying for the projects they want to work on? The Ironwokers union guys were whining to the County Comissioners about how bad the Sellwood bridge was and could they *please* :) have a new project to wok on. How many of these doofs work on the side under the table, I don’t know. The Carpenters sure do. And then there is the Transit District tax that they don’t pay either. I would think you would be interested in seeing that collected, Bob.

    Oh well the deconstruction of the USA has a good chance of continuing down the hillside into the abyss after November, with a blind eye turned towards certain groups as long as they vote correctly.

  26. Ron and Al, since you fail to get my point: Tone done the needless hyperbole and stick to facts. This is a wonkish blog, not a rant and rave site.

    Al, I took your comments to Ron (lies and serfs, etc.) to be calling Ron’s own comments lies and an invitation for a flame war. I see that a literal reading of your remarks don’t personally call out Ron, but they come close.

    And Ron, especially since you’ve been warned before, drop the racist immigrant bashing. (And if you disagree that your Chinese food gripe, which had absolutely no business being here, didn’t have racist overtones, take the disagreement and your comments elsewhere.)

    This blog is quite simply not the place for this type of incendiary rhetoric.

    Discussion of taxes, benefits, policies, and even possible motivations behind those policies is OK. The way in which you are approaching this is not. I wish you could see the distinction.

    So lighten up, or blog elsewhere.

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