Open Thread for week of 9/29/2013

A few hot items:



30 responses to “Open Thread for week of 9/29/2013”

  1. To be clear:

    -On weekdays, bus transfers were supposed to be good for one hour up to the end

    -The issue is that the times were based on the end of line plus rounding up to the next half hour–see TriMet Code 19.25(G). So even if the operator is following the rules, a transfer will often be valid for more than 2 hours from boarding.

    On weekdays, all it takes is boarding a trip that arrives at the end after the half hour at least 30 minutes before (30 minutes to end of line + ~30 minutes rounding + 1 hour afterwards)

    On weekends, transfers could be valid for much more than 2 hours: If one boards the Saturday 12:51PM Line 20 at Gresham, a transfer should be good for over 3 hours 30 minutes. (2 hours past 2:30 PM)

  2. Jason already pretty much nailed it. The issue with transfer times is NOT an issue related to driver discretion. Yes, some drivers gave longer transfers than they were supposed to. But both TriMet Code (19.25(g)) and the Standard Operating Procedures that were used to train bus drivers established longer weekend transfer times as AGENCY POLICY. No (or at least a negligible amount of) weekend bus riders previously got two hour transfers as a result of the old policy. Even those that boarded just a few minutes before the end of the line still got two hours + 30 minutes rounded up due to the SOP. There is plenty to discuss about why TriMet did this, and or the various pros/cons of ticket printers on busses. But the basic fact that weekend transfer times on the bus have been cut as a result of the printers is objectively true. Period.

  3. I guess this is OK on the open thread:

    Report from my front yard on the Springwater Trail. Bicyclists are disappearing faster this time of year than fruit flies. And more soaking rain is on the way ;)

    No more bright colored, spandex riders out for a pleasurable recreational spin; just the die hards in day glo green and yellow raingear. So, looking on the ‘bright’ side:, the high density, bicycle oriented, planning trend is at least half right.

  4. “at least half right” is generally preferable to entirely wrong.

    But if you have quantifiable numbers/observations to help clarify your point, you’re welcome to provide them.

  5. Scratch a major “Cascadian” earthquake off the list as a reason to build the CRC ( along with a lot of other earthquake preparedness projects.)

    This report, originating from OSU, even is in the US Geological Survey file:

    So….gov’t shutdown or no—we should be OK for a few hundred years more. And save the $250 million in seismic upgrades to the state capitol too.
    (Can you say “predatorial out-of-state contractors?”)

  6. The area down around OMSI is turning into quite a fun little place to take a kid on a rail- and transit-oriented Saturday adventure. Recently the 6yo and I have taken the 14 to the Hawthorne Bridge stop, walked down the Esplanade to OMSI, and then over to the Oregon Rail Heritage Center – – which is free admission for the time being, and where the Holiday Express trains are being worked on. From there we got to take a diesel locomotive down to Oaks Park and back – – first in the open-air seating area, and then on the way back in the cupola of the caboose! Then the folks at the museum pointed us to the weirdly convoluted (due to current construction) path that leads to the starting point of the Streetcar line. While waiting for the Streetcar we walked over by the opera building to gawk from the vantage point of the bike path at the TriMet bridge being built. Then it was the Streetcar to the 14 to home.

    I haven’t been following the development of that south-of-OMSI area too closely, but it’s shaping up to be a pretty cool place to visit, what with the bridges and paths and museums. A bit of a city-of-the-future thing going on there.

  7. I sympathize with you. Al M.

    In fact, Bob R. said nothing when I lapsed out of PC territory and referred to myself as “part Lapplander.” The correct term for this group is “Sami” and “Lapplander” was a sometimes derogatory term (which sadly, included Finns, in that desultory appelation, as well, used by Norwegians, who perhaps resented assimilation of these semi-nomadic, Asiatic, reindeer butchers into their carefully controlled culture). But as justice would have it these same Norwegian claptraps were taken to the woodshed for countless centuries by better (and more violent) Swedes and Danes who ruled their silly Euro-version of Appalachia, likely in its better interest. They succeeded in keeping these silly Norwegians in their tiny, little one room w/loft “bungalows”, making sure only that there were adequate goats to chew the weeds off the sod-roofs of their sorry little dwellings….. rotting away in their sorry little W. Norway/Appalachia corner of the Old World.

    I hope that helps.

    So, you see. Justice was served and she gets her way no matter what.

    But that is just my old man’s side (I guess it is OK to use that term, since male seniors are, of course, “the powerful” as we all know). My mom’s side had Krauts and a whole bunch of degenerate redneck Scots-Irish, some who were even pirates in Massachusetts, no less, according to Mom.

  8. [Moderator: Ethnic slur for ripoff removed. – Bob R.
    ~~> Huh, what ethnic slur? What did I say there, I don’t even remember.

    Hey CHRIS SMITH (level headed moderator) I have a specific question for you.
    We always hear the street car dispatchers authorizing Street cars to block intersections.
    We need to see the legal authority that allows them to do that.
    Can you provide it please.

    Thanks Ron, Bob has been enjoying picking on me lately, I’m considering how to fight back.

  9. Just so people that have not been been participating in this blog for as long as I have ? THIS is a video I made called the ‘pin heads of portland transport’ SIX YEARS AGO after being abused just so you know just how long I have been berated and abused here.


    (the video is very crude, this was the very beginning of the tech revolution in blogging)

    • Yes, Al, we know you have a penchant for making things personal and harassing people by calling up their former employers.

  10. Huh, what ethnic slur? What did I say there, I don’t even remember.

    Then think first before posting. The slur was common, but nonetheless offensive and unnecessary and it detracted from your actual point.

    Bob has been enjoying picking on me lately, I’m considering how to fight back.

    Fight back by robbing me of ammunition: Post factual points, not demonstrably-false invective. Avoid slurs. Stick to the topic. Shouldn’t be difficult for you.

    This also goes for people with other points of view (which I might otherwise agree with) on the various threads, too… I tire of hearing Vancouver/Clark County-residents broad-brushed using a particular political slur. Granted, the recipients of that slur originally chose it for themselves, but they’ve moved on, and it doesn’t help the discussion here at all.

    And, despite your feelings of solidarity, Al, I really don’t know the point behind Ron’s fixation on racial heritage and what kinds of cars he thinks people of various political persuasions drive (other threads) but it’s also off-topic and pointless.

      • For the record, and I hate to use this term, you said “Gypped”, as in TriMet “gypped” people. Other moderators may choose whether or not to remove these comments.

        • For the record, and I hate to use this term, you said “Gypped”, as in TriMet “gypped” people. Other moderators may choose whether or not to remove these comments.

          ~~~> I had no idea until today that that word was derived from the word gypsies.

          Persons other than you are also people, too. Think about it – for a change.

          ~~~>Did I ever say they weren’t?

          I know what the problem is, and its the same problem I see everywhere.

          Nobody wants to hear the naked truth and dealing with someone like me is painful because I don’t hide behind the niceties and political correctness of my ideas.

          My ideas are harsh, reality is harsh, the cold hard truth people don’t want, this is Amerika, a land built by illusions and mythologies.

          I have no use for niceties when dealing with important issues.

          You don’t want me around here kick me off, at least I can wear that as a badge of honor, like being kicked off the official BART youtube channel, and being stricken off the Trimet facebook page.

  11. OK, Bob, I admit I really do feel more comfortable in Appalachian style culture: whether it is the Norwegian version or the American one. Uff da!

    Now I am going to go chew on some caribou jerky with my friends in the greater Wasilla (N.Appalachia) metro. area.

  12. Has Portland Transport investigated this stuff yet? (And will it listen to me rant about it?)

    -Tri-Met real time data is way off sometimes, lately. There are some hotspots for errors. For example, at the PSU north station, northbound, the last MAX train that departed always seems to be “Due”, even when it’s long, long gone.

    Otherwise it seems random. I saw a 77 on Everett scheduled for five minutes into the future predicted for 45 (!) minutes, and actually arrive in five minutes. That’s pretty typical of when it goes wrong.

    The transit union had a newspaper ad in which they told of a new GPS system giving bogus results. I wonder if the problem has to do with that.

    -I haven’t been getting real-time arrivals in Google Maps for weeks, just scheduled ones. Is it this way for anyone else?

    -I’m seeing a trend in pedestrian-unfriendly traffic signals, even in the “walkable” neighborhoods. The new ones by the Fremont New Seasons require a button press to cross along Fremont. You do it one second after the light turns green, you have a “don’t walk” until the next cycle. This is so even though the green phase is always long enough for a crossing. And you also need to press the button on the side of the street that vehicles can’t even turn into!

    The new signal at 9th & Division has a button to cross Division. If it’s not pressed, traffic turning right has a green arrow through the crosswalk. Why can’t this be a green ball with no button press required? Not many peds around there yet, but there will be once MAX starts there.

    Aside from these, the general trend seems to be to shorten the pedestrian phase relative to the green light phase – to give vehicles more opportunity to turn? to mitigate late-crossing pedestrians? I’m thinking of signals in the Burnside-Couch couplet where the ped phase ends well before the light turns red. But they’re all over.

    Whatever the purpose, it’s annoying, and bound to bring about a counter-trend of Boston-like pedestrians who ignore the stupid signals and make their own crossing decisions.

    • TriMet switched over to a new CAD (Computer-aided dispatch) system earlier this year, which is the system the provides the vehicle location data. They briefed developers on some capabilities in the pipeline recently, but did not mention any accuracy issues.

      I’ve long thought it would be fun to develop some cheap camera-based sensor to try to measure vehicles arrivals to calibrate the prediction systems. Do we have anyone out there with skills to help with algorithms that can tell when a large transit vehicle (but not a truck) is in the frame?

      • Chris I wanna know about the streetcars getting permission to block intersections.
        Can you provide me with the legal authority for that please?
        (hopefully i’m not insulting someone with this post)

        • Al, if I understand the question, I think it’s a matter of operating procedures, not legal authority.

          I assume we’re talking about the case where a streetcar enters an intersection legally on a green light but can’t completely clear the intersection because of traffic ahead? I think I remember a CAC discussion about it very early in the operating history. It was part of the effort to keep headways lower.

          I think it’s been an operating rule from pretty much day 1 that this is acceptable (although I believe MAX drivers are trained that it’s unacceptable).

          • I do know for sure that if the streetcars did not block the intersections they would never get anywhere given the traffic situation in Portland.

        • This won’t fully answer the question but it may give clues as to where to look… If there’s a problem with the way PSI is running things, it may take a lawyer with knowledge of the Portland City Code and Oregon Revised Statutes, as well as administrative law, to sort out…

          However, here goes…

          ORS 811.130 is what applies to blocking intersections:

          First of all, it refers to “Motor Vehicles”. In most of the ORS, a definition is used of “Rail Fixed Guideway System” (801.406), which clearly applies to streetcars and light rail. The Portland City code prefers to use the term “Light Rail Vehicle”, which is defined to include streetcars.

          It is unclear whether under these definitions a Streetcar is legally distinguished from “Motor Vehicle” as far as the vehicle code is concerned.

          But even if a streetcar is a “motor vehicle” in terms of operating rules, this clause in 811.130 may grant it an exception:

          811.130 (2) A person is not in violation of the offense described under this section if the person is proceeding in a manner needed for safe operation.

          If the City Traffic Engineer (or other applicable regulator) has made a determination that the (if true) streetcar operating procedure of crossing an intersection before the other side is completely clear is “needed for safe operation”, that might be sufficient.

          Now interestingly (to me at least), ORS 811.160 defines penalties for interfering with a Rail Fixed Guideway System, and a literal reading of this statute would actually penalize drivers for not getting out of the way once the streetcar has started across the intersection! See here:

          811.160 (1) A person commits the offense of interference with rail fixed guideway system operation if the person does any of the following: (a) Drives any vehicle in front of a rail fixed guideway system vehicle upon a track and the person fails to remove the persons vehicle from the track as soon as practicable after signal from the operator of the rail fixed guideway system vehicle. (b) Drives a vehicle upon or across rail fixed guideway system tracks within an intersection in front of a rail fixed guideway system vehicle when the rail fixed guideway system vehicle has started to cross the intersection.

          (It depends of course what “signal form the operator” means, but one way to read this is if the streetcar operator rings the bell, and you’re on the tracks, you must quickly depart the lane.)

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