Initial Thoughts on the ITDP Study

The transportation corner of the internet has been abuzz for the last week over the new study from the Institute for Transportation and Development Policy.

The report compares the amount of development catalyzed by a variety of transit projects, including Light Rail, Bus Rapid Transit and Streetcar – and looks at the ratio between capital investment in the transit system and the amount of development. It reaches the somewhat surprising conclusion that the best return on investment was from the Cleveland HealthLine BRT system.

HealthLine is compared against Portland’s own Blue Line MAX. While the Blue Line has a higher total development amount, the capital investment in transit is also much higher.

Portland Streetcar fares well with the third-highest return on investment.

The report suggests several conclusions about what makes for successful development along a transit line:

  • Run the line through a strong or emerging real estate market area
  • Make sure the line runs through the downtown district
  • Ensure that there are complementary government policies and programs that support development (zoning, comprehensive planning, investment tools, etc.)

These all make sense to me.

The startling conclusion the report reaches however is that the type and quality of transit matter very little:

“Our analysis found no correlation between the type of transit investment and the level of TOD investment. LRTs, BRTs, and streetcars all led to similar TOD investment outcomes under similar conditions.”

“The quality of the transit system investment matters, but only marginally. The very strong TOD impacts in both the silver-standard Cleveland HealthLine BRT and the silver-standard Blue Line LRT (Emerging land markets with Strong government TOD support) outperformed the TOD impacts of the below-basic BRT systems in Strong land markets with Strong government support (Kansas City Main Street MAX, Seattle SLU Streetcar, Portland Streetcar). This is the only clear indication that a higher-quality transit investment helped leverage more TOD impacts.”

The report has a methodology for evaluating the transit in term of “BRT Standard” equivalents, based on an elaborate scoring system, where Curatiba is Gold. The Cleveland HealthLine and our Blue Line are both rated Silver (there are no Gold systems in North America) while Eugene’s EmX is rated Bronze. Portland Streetcar is considered “below basic” (I’m hurt).

If you’re wondering about the choice of “BRT Standard” units as the scoring mechanism, keep in mind that WikiPedia indicates that ITDP “focuses primarily on developing bus rapid transit (BRT) systems.”

The reactions from different quarters have been interesting to watch:

So what do I think?

Fundamentally I agree with the idea that a combination of factors need to come together to stimulate development. But I can’t accept that the nature of transit doesn’t have significant impact.

Unfortunately, the report’s methodology (at least as reported) is not rigorous. An academic analysis of the same issues would include things like correlation coefficients, etc. We don’t have anything like that kind of quantitative analysis  here. And I suspect others are going to fact check a lot of details in the report.

I think the report suffers from the same “transit is about long trips” bias that imbues much of the criticism of Streetcar. Many of the reasons Streetcar scored “below basic” are related to not making an effort to support long, fast trips (but at the same time, Streetcar scores very favorably when compared on a riders/mile metric). For those of us working to create sustainable urban environments that rely more on short trips, Streetcar is a smashing success. I do agree with the report’s suggestion that Streetcar couldn’t work if there were not complimentary transit available for trips to other areas.

Fundamentally, the “type/qualify of transit doesn’t matter much” conclusion can’t be correct. My own hypothesis would be that what DOES matter about transit is the commitment of infrastructure in fixed locations that developers know won’t move anytime soon (permanence). Rails definitely serve that function, but it may well be that investment in BRT stations (the report describes “iconic” stations on the Cleveland HealthLine) and dedicated right-of-way is effective as well. Certainly here in Portland a number of folks have posed the question of whether catenary wires for electric trolley buses would have a similar effect. I hope at some point we see a rigorous study that illuminates this debate.

 

73 Comments

73 Responses to Initial Thoughts on the ITDP Study

  1. EngineerScotty
    October 1, 2013 at 2:39 pm Link

    It’s interesting to apply the BRT standards (gold, silver, bronze) to light rail. MAX is pretty much “silver” throughout–it has “frequent” service, off-board fare collection, and a dedicated ROW. Some parts of the MAX system are arguably gold (the places where it runs alongside a freeway), and I’d state that westside MAX between Beaverton Creek and downtown Hillsboro is also near-gold–while it isn’t grade-separated, it does have absolute priority over cross traffic.

    A bronze-level rail system would likely be the equivalent of a bronze-level bus system: Mixed traffic running, but enhancements like signal priority, infrequent stops, fast boarding, distinctive branding, and frequent service. Portland Streetcar has reasonably fast boarding and distinctive branding, but service in some parts of the system is a bit infrequent, stops are too closely spaced, there’s little signal priority, and issues like the can’t-quite-reach-the-platform-because-the-car-ahead-is-turning-right-and-waiting-for-a-pedestrian problem further detract from the quality of the service.

    Don’t feel bad, Chris–but the Streetcar is basically local bus service on rails. :) Only the on-board ticket machines give it a time/reliability advantage over the bus, and these advantages are frequently undercut by the restrictions of operating on a fixed guideway.

    The HealthLine, as noted in other threads, suffers from stops that are too closely spaced together. It’s reliable, but it’s slow. OTOH, the same is true about MAX downtown.

    • Oregon Mamacita
      October 13, 2013 at 9:15 am Link

      ” But I can’t accept that the nature of transit doesn’t have significant impact.”

      Chris, it is extremely hard for any person to change their minds on subjects that they find important. The only real shift I have ever made was on the subject of gun control (I am more sympathetic to gun rights now).

      Having said that, if you want to be a leader on transit issues, you must be willing to
      admit that BRT may be better than streetcars and light rail. I don’t have the background to evaluate this study, but I have seen BPS rely on shoddy studies by David Evans, when it suits them.

      So, more rigorous intellectual honesty (not a slam- you are capable of intellectual honesty).

      If you are incapable of admitting you are wrong, then that limits you as a transit
      expert.

      Also, for the love of all that is good, ditch David Evans and Associates. I hate their work- they just rustle up half-facts to support whatever position the public official wants.

      • Chris Smith
        October 13, 2013 at 9:37 am Link

        Mamacita,

        You’re making an incorrect assumption that I’m anti-BRT. I’m not, and I suspect that our region will get some direct experience with BRT before long. All I said was that the type and quality of transit IS likely to effect the kind of development you get.

        • Oregon Mamacita
          October 14, 2013 at 8:51 am Link

          My question, Chris S., is whether you are so attached to light rail that
          you will unfairly dismiss a study that challenges your beliefs.

          Right now, you have a study that says that the type of transit (brt vs. light rail) doesn’t matter, and you haven’t explained why I should reject that study.

          I am open to rejecting all studies by partisans, but then everything BPS has commissioned from David Evans goes in the round file, too.

          • Chris Smith
            October 14, 2013 at 8:55 am Link

            Mamacita, I thought I was pretty clear about my hypothesis:

            My own hypothesis would be that what DOES matter about transit is the commitment of infrastructure in fixed locations that developers know won’t move anytime soon (permanence). Rails definitely serve that function, but it may well be that investment in BRT stations (the report describes “iconic” stations on the Cleveland HealthLine) and dedicated right-of-way is effective as well.

            Note that I specifically include the idea that BRT can indeed attract development. You’re labeling me with a bias that I don’t think I have expressed.

          • Oregpn Mamacita
            October 15, 2013 at 8:40 am Link

            Chris, I didn’t think you are anti-BRT. My focus is; why are you pro-light rail? But, if this study is right, where is the justification for spending Mamacita’s tax money on light rail if BRT is so much cheaper and similar in efficacy?

            • Anandakos
              October 15, 2013 at 5:16 pm Link

              Because, Mamacita, “real” (e.g. Gold or high Silver level) BRT isn’t that much cheaper than LRT, unless policymakers are willing to give up existing general traffic lanes to buses but not to trains.

              It’s not clear why someone would take such a position, but if only BRT can claim lanes from autos, then it is certainly cheaper.

              If, however, you need to acquire right-of-way or build grade separations or tunnels the difference in structure costs shrinks dramatically. It isn’t that much more expensive to build a one way track structure than it is to build one lane of frequent bus-capable pavement.

              BRT vehicles are certainly cheaper, but more are required. Similarly, the wages of bus operators are typically considerably lower than those of LRT operators (the train drivers have more responsibility: more passengers and more expensive vehicles), you need more bus drivers for the same capacity.

              Buses wear out faster which creates an ongoing cost for replacement, but it also means that they are newish a greater percentage of the time. People like that.

              But trains are smoother and quieter, and people like that.

              So the aesthetic experience of a train appeals to some while fancy buses appeal to others. It’s likely not a large determinant for either mode.

              The bottom line is that it’s not a “slam-dunk” that LRT is vastly more expensive than is BRT. Certainly had the old Oregon Electric right of way through Washington County been paved instead of rehabbed for light rail, it would have cost very nearly as much as did Westside MAX and, as Scotty alluded, the level of service would be VASTLY lower.

              As it is when a MAX train comes, those gates go down, and the cars better stop. If it were a busway, just like on the Orange line busway through the San Fernando Valley which was converted from an old SP railbed, buses would be subject to stop lights at most crossing intersections.

              So far as the plangent Southwest Corridor, nobody will ever propose digging a bus tunnel under Marquam Hill so BRT will never serve the OHSU complex; LRT could.

              On the other hand, LRT can’t serve PCC Sylvania without another tunnel and deep station, so BRT is definitely better there.

          • Chris Smith
            October 15, 2013 at 9:17 am Link

            I don’t think the modal choice between BRT and LRT is automatic in either direction. I think the needs and opportunities in each corridor need to be evaluated and I’m looking forward to what I expect will be a very robust conversation in the Southwest Corridor project.

            My frustration with the report’s “type of transit doesn’t matter” is that it really just means their analysis wasn’t deep enough to find out what variables DO matter for development.

        • Oregon Mamacita
          October 15, 2013 at 9:20 am Link

          Chris S.,

          Thanks for a nuanced discussion. Agreed that you are not against BRT. Nor am I.

          My re-phrased (and hopefully clearer) question is: if BRT is cheaper to build and maintain, and just as good economically and health-wise, why the expenditure of my tax dollars on more expensive and more contentious light rail?

          I hope we can agree on cost and the fact that BRT is more palatable
          to the wider populace. (That last position based on recent anti-rail ballot measures and acceptance of BRT).

          Note that the city could promise a neighborhood that the brt would maintain certain standards re: schedule, routes.

          • Chris Smith
            October 15, 2013 at 9:24 am Link

            Part of the challenge in making the comparison is that LRT costs are a step function (you put rails in the ground or not) while BRT is much more a spectrum, depending on how robust it is (and I give the report some credit for an attempt at scoring this). If BRT is built with the same level of dedicated right-of-way that LRT typically is, I’m not sure how much cheaper it is. I look forward to finding out in the SW Corridor case.

            But we can agree that good public policy should be seeking to optimize cost/benefit trade-offs. But I can already predict arguments because benefits are more subjective than costs and not everyone is going to agree on how to value them :-)

  2. Dwaine Dibbly
    October 1, 2013 at 5:18 pm Link

    Every situation is different. I don’t know that you can really directly compare two (or three) different systems and draw general conclusions about BRT vs light rail vs streetcar. Who know is the Cleveland system would have done even better if it was light rail, or if our Blue line had been BRT it might have done better?

  3. Ron Swaren
    October 1, 2013 at 6:50 pm Link

    “Streetcar scores very favorably when compared on a riders/mile metric). For those of us working to create sustainable urban environments that rely more on short trips, ”

    Why don’t you ask the people who have been forced, through rising costs, to move out of the areas where there is now your version of “sustainable urban environments.”

    The most sustainable lifestyles I have seen in the last few years are the profits of contractors who have discovered that Oregonians are now suckers. Notably, David Evans and Associates and Stacy and Witbeck.

    • Anandakos
      October 2, 2013 at 6:58 am Link

      Who exactly lived in the area we now call “The Pearl District” before it was built? Well, other than the rats inhabiting the derelict old railroad yard?

      Your Faux News Populism is getting a bit old.

      • Ron Swaren
        October 2, 2013 at 9:06 am Link

        A LOT of people fled the Interstate Ave area as MAX was being completed because prices–and rents— went way up.

        The price rises in the Pearl will affect all of NW Portland.

        I’ve known of two businesses—in antiques—that have recently lost leases and I bet the property owners will significantly raise the rates.

        BTW, I went to the SW Wash. RTC meeting yesterday afternoon, deep within your Vantucky territory. Seems like certain Portland know-it-alls had been spreading rumors that structures in our area would “fall in the river” in the event of an offshore earthquake. This, of course, is good hysteria theatre for the masses, so they then can march in as citizen activists and demand that the gubmint do something, by cracky. And it plays into the hands of high priced “experts” who know how to fleece suckers when they find them.

        However, armed with the truth (USGS report 1661f—“Turbidite Event History”) I was able to enlightened some darkened minds that, in fact, we were rather safe here, especially compared with the Congressional District of a certain Peter DeFazio, from SW Oregon, where people might actually have some concerns for their infrastructure being damaged by the above said occurrence. And should not same Peter DeFazio constituents, living as report 1661f indicates in a higher seismic risk zone, not be alarmed tht our leaders were not doing so much to protect them, but were, instead, proposing multiple billions to be spent here, instead? And that Cong. DeFazio, being a member of the US House Transportation and Infrastructure Cmte. continue to promote the CRC here in our relatively placid area, while neglect insufficient infrastructure in his very own District?

        Previously, my good man, I had had the honor of delivering to your Congresswoman, Jaime Beutler, one precious copy of USGC report 1661f, which, based upon SCIENCE ( not self appointed expertise) would further strengthen her credibility as an opponent of the CRC project.

        One of your city council members, Larry Smith, said he would also obtain a copy. So, the Light is spreading, and if you continue to follow my posts you, too, may become illumined and have your irrational fears ameliorated. Such as your notion that local “brown creepers” are endangered, despite the fact that countless millions live in the US and Canadian Rockies. Or perhaps you fear that trees will disappear from Western Oregon (as some do). Please, my good man, stay tuned…..

        Now, does that help?

        • Anandakos
          October 15, 2013 at 5:33 pm Link

          “A LOT of people fled the Interstate Ave area as MAX was being completed because prices–and rents— went way up.”

          Well I say HOORAY! That prices rose means that more people flooded in than left, otherwise they would have stagnated or fallen.

          You seem to have this idea that a cabal of rich fat cats set real estate prices. Some may try, but they always fail because somebody else who’s brighter or has more access to capital always busts the monopoly. Real estate prices are set by location, quality of stock and amenities, and economic opportunity. If they go up in an area for which location (meaning access to employment and entertainment) hasn’t changed, then either the stock of housing has been improved, pedestrian amenities have come to the neighborhood, or economic opportunity for the residents has improved. In other words, the place became more desirable, so other people want to move there.

          There…Is…No…Other…Reason.

          And I really don’t give a rodent’s hindquarters what you gave to Jaime Herrera. She has a staff who meet her needs for information, I’m sure.

          So you are an implacable opponent of fixing up the Interstate Bridges. We all get that; we’ve heard it for quite a while now. Great; I’m with you. I want the bridges to remain exactly as they are (with the possible exception of peak hour HOV lanes), because I don’t want a bunch more Yahoos from Southern California and Texas moving to North Clark County. And keeping a firm cork in the bottle of Columbia River bridges is the best way to accomplish that.

          • Ron Swaren
            October 15, 2013 at 8:18 pm Link

            I guess I will have to quote myself here: “Previously, my good man, I had had the honor of delivering to your Congresswoman, Jaime Beutler, one precious copy of USGC report 1661f, which, based upon SCIENCE ( not self appointed expertise) would further strengthen her credibility as an opponent of the CRC project.’

            Anandakos, did you see the word “SCIENCE?”

            And, no, I am not an “implacable opponent of fixing up the interstate bridges.” Please try to be clear: You, from all intents and purposes have been in favor of tearing them down and putting up the CRC. I, however, as of late have been going to local officials with information about the Pacific Earthquake Engineering Research lab at UC Berkeley, venturing the idea that upgrades to the current bridges could be taken on as a project by this lab. Also please note that in May 2013, the PEER Lab hosted a World Wide conference on bridges and earthquakes….so wouldn’t there be some resources there? Maybe they can come up with a way to stabilize the counterweights (since structural safety of the bridges usually gets back to that problem). And your Congresswoman’s aide also suggested that since UC Berkeley receives some federal funds they may have larger obligations, than to CalTrans alone, and thus could be in service to our Interstate Highway system.

            Your posts are ever full of unfounded accusations, personally directed. But I guess I can ignore that. Now, I am hoping that Mayor Hales will see that a lot of other cities in this Big World of ours have transportation solutions that Portland might take note of: Such as London, Berlin, Hong Kong, Toronto, Sydney….to name a few, that find modern buses effective.

            Despite your frequent accusations I am not against mass transit, bicycles, pedestrians….or even polar bears. I am, however, against public spending hacks who apparently find limitless ad hoc justification for their badly thought out decisions.

            Now please look at your post above and count the number of insinuations you have made.

            • Bob R.
              October 15, 2013 at 8:50 pm Link

              Ron: You, from all intents and purposes have been in favor of tearing them down and putting up the CRC.

              What are you talking about? I just did a quick Google search to be sure, but the only comments I can find from Anandakos have been definitively anti-CRC (including the most recent comment, to which you replied, above). Why burn potential allies so dismissively?

              (The same goes for Anandakos – Ron has been largely against the CRC proposal, as far as I can tell, although he has his separate and much-debated “third bridge” proposal.)

              Such as London, Berlin, Hong Kong, Toronto, Sydney….to name a few, that find modern buses effective.

              London: Also has Subways, Light Rail, Commuter Rail, and Intercity Rail.
              Hong Kong: Also has Subways, Light Rail, Streetcars (trams), and Commuter Rail. (Maybe Intercity?)
              Toronto: Also has Subways, Streetcars, Commuter Rail, and Intercity Rail.
              Sydney: Also has Light Rail, Commuter Rail, and Intercity Rail.

              Maybe Portland isn’t so far off-base, or maybe you could come up with better counter-examples.

            • Anandakos
              October 16, 2013 at 8:15 pm Link

              NO I HAVE NOT advocated for tearing down the Interstate Bridges and building the CRC as designed! I have said over and over here and on The Columbian that the 12 lane (but we’ll stripe it for 10, wink-wink) bridge design is ridiculous rubber tire overkill. As I said, I would prefer to keep a tight cork in the bottle so Clark County doesn’t grow any more except within the city.

              I have also said many times that because of the cost of bridging the river and the limitations of the Steel Bridge chokepoint, it doesn’t make sense to extend the Yellow Line into Vancouver. If the Steel Bridge problem is fixed by a tunnel or parallel bridge for the east-west main line, then there would be sufficient capacity available for the Yellow Line to continue growing ridership within Portland AND to serve a gentrified downtown Vancouver. But right now the bridge is close to capacity and growth in ridership along the east-west line has to be accommodated before an extension to Vancouver could be countenanced.

              Putting the Yellow Line in downtown Vancouver would certainly give the central city a big boost; it would easily triple the number of people living there within a very few years and that would probably trigger even bigger changes. There is a lot of very low value land use between Columbia and the railyards south of Mill Plain that would certainly fill up with mid-rise development.

              But it would still be enormously expensive for the value garnered. There are places in Oregon served by MAX that could accommodate that growth.

              I have counted the “insinuations” and can come up with one: the business about the fat cat developers. But if that or something very close to it is not what you think, tell us all exactly how you explain that rents and housing prices would rise when people move away from an area.

              And so far as the “modern buses”, I assume you’re advocating for BRT. Fine; there are several places in Portland where it would work very nicely and be a big improvement to POBS. Eighty-Second comes to quick mind with several “activity centers” as does Powell, which looks like it’s going to get some sort of BRT, though it may be the “pseudo” sort.

          • Chris Smith
            October 15, 2013 at 8:41 pm Link

            A reminder that if you find your self typing the word ‘you’ in a comment, you’re probably at risk of a personally directed remark that isn’t going to help the conversation. Let’s try to avoid that.

  4. Alexis
    October 1, 2013 at 8:55 pm Link

    I agree that the statement that type or quality of transit service doesn’t matter is pretty clearly too vague or general. It’s like Mees’s argument that density isn’t destiny — that’s partly, but density (especially local density) clearly matters.

    But there is a question, which the report bypasses by measuring it in “BRT equivalents”, of what constitutes good-quality transit. As you say, most people regard this more as mobility — longer trips become faster. It could also be more access, or more “successful trip completion” (the latter sounds like what you are going for). However, I think two things are true: 1. you can make the argument that the type of access offered by transit is actually mobility, so that makes it the right measure (the other aspects are offered by land use); 2. access and successful trip completion partially conflate development impacts with mobility improvements. If you’re assessing development impact as a dependent variable, you probably want to have a measure that doesn’t do that.

    To my mind, Scotty’s comment about Streetcar is accurate. In a sense, that makes Streetcar very interesting for studies, because it offers only minimal improvements over a bus line, and off-board payment could be easily duplicated, but smooth running (rails vs tires) couldn’t, nor maybe capacity (but frequency could be better with a bus as there is not the equipment supply issue). Does Streetcar do more than a bus would do? Or would a bus line plying the same route, but with better speeds (by way of exclusive ROW, wider stop spacing, and better signalization) do better? The report doesn’t really answer that question, but it does offer the possibility that rail is not the only option for such experiments, and I think that is the proper way to take it. Or maybe I’ve just been overly influenced by Jarrett. :)

    BTW, your taborder is messed up. Need to check that the Submit button is next after the comment input.

  5. al m
    October 2, 2013 at 10:50 am Link

    Given the fact that this web sites exists as a light rail/street car ‘cheerleader’ its no surprise that the moderators would take exception to this article.

    Questioning the qualifications of ITDP is ludicrous, this is a worldwide publication and is not ‘vested’ in supporting one over the other.

    . An academic analysis of the same issues would include things like correlation coefficients, etc. We don’t have anything like that kind of quantitative analysis here. And I suspect others are going to fact check a lot of details in the report.

    ~~~>Right, all the rail advocates will do everything within their power in an attempt to ‘debunk it’, which is their right of course. I don’t buy any of your fancy theories Chris sorry.

    Fundamentally, the “type/qualify of transit doesn’t matter much” conclusion can’t be correct.
    ~~>Completely wrong except for one variable, Americans look down their noses at buses, its a societal problem which is completely ridiculous. It’s the same thing as looking down on a ford fiesta because you drive a lexus, just another example of American arrogance which has been drummed into us for so long. People that actually ‘NEED’ transit couldn’t care less what takes them where they need to go. They have simple needs, FREQUENT RELIABLE SERVICE, DECENT COMFORTABLE EQUIPMENT AND A DRIVER WHO TREATS PEOPLE RESPECTFULLY, that’s all they want. I spent 20 years driving in 3 different locations and I can tell you from experience this is what transit riders want.

    MAX is pretty much “silver” throughout–it has “frequent” service, off-board fare collection, and a dedicated ROW.
    ~~~>How can you say that with your familiarity of light rail. Trimet barely has true light rail. LIght rail is supposed to be FAST, and MAX is NOT FAST, too many stops, on the street, goes right through downtown at 10 mph, it’s definitely bronze but hey, I know what you guys are all about, RA RA SHISH BOOM BA-GO LIGHT RAIL!

    The most important item on this article, and the one I object the most strenuously to is
    this:
    Ensure that there are complementary government policies and programs that support development (zoning, comprehensive planning, investment tools, etc.)

    The pearl was not created by the streetcar, it was created via government tax breaks and incentives. The streetcar was put in to SELL CONDOS “move into our condo and get a free st car right at our door”

    This is why I hate light rail, its been robbing real transit needs for the advantage of developers. Typical American BS, the rich always control all public policy.

    • Nathanael
      October 12, 2013 at 2:09 pm Link

      Roughly 25% of the population gets motion-sick on buses but not on trains.

      Trains are vastly superior for that 25% of the population, which I am part of.

      Think about it for a minute and you’ll start advocating rail.

  6. Bob R.
    October 2, 2013 at 11:14 am Link

    Al, for all the exasperation and disdain you project in your comment, above, clearly in fact you have not actually read the ITDP report.

    Chris wrote:

    MAX is pretty much “silver” throughout–it has “frequent” service, off-board fare collection, and a dedicated ROW.

    And then you wrote:

    How can you say that with your familiarity of light rail. Trimet barely has true light rail.

    Then apparently you don’t like the ITDP study, either. If you had read it, you’d know that the study itself makes the following characterization:

    Of the LRT corridors we investigated, only the Portland MAX Blue Line scores silver. (Empahsis added) Page 30.

    You continued:

    LIght rail is supposed to be FAST, and MAX is NOT FAST, too many stops, on the street, goes right through downtown at 10 mph, it’s definitely bronze but hey, I know what you guys are all about, RA RA SHISH BOOM BA-GO LIGHT RAIL!

    Again, you’re attributing motives to “the moderators” which are in fact elements taken directly from the ITDP report: Page 23 ranks the studied systems by speed, and puts the MAX Blue Line at #7 out of 28 systems, and ahead of most BRT systems, in terms of overall average speed.

    I guess being at odds with the (flawed, as has been discussed by many) ITDP report must make you a closet LIGHT RAIL CHEERLEADER!

    Now let’s go condo shopping. Ra Ra.

    Next time do your homework and read for content before going off (not-even)-half-cocked.

    • al m
      October 2, 2013 at 11:19 am Link

      I read the article bob and did not agree with their silver award for Portlands light rail.

      And you can berate me like you always seem to enjoy.

      How many years have I been putting up with your lecturing and scolding?

      I’m used to it ok, so berate away, it doesn’t bother me in the least.

      • Chris I
        October 2, 2013 at 12:05 pm Link

        So you agree that the article is flawed? I thought it was a worldwide publication and questioning it is ludicrous? Who said that, again?

  7. Bob R.
    October 2, 2013 at 11:53 am Link

    Here’s another law in the study … in the table on Page 23 of operating speeds, systems such as MAX show the average speed including time spent at stops (this is appropriate), but in the same table, Ottawa’s transitway is shown at it’s maximum operating speed, 50mph, not including time spent stopped. That is absurd … it puts Ottawa at the top of the list for speed, when in fact they are somewhere in the middle, and they’re also known for serious peak hour congestion and schedule-slippage problems. (Anecdotally, I just hosted guests from Ottawa last week, and they’d much prefer that the overcrowded lines consider conversion to rail.)

    • al m
      October 2, 2013 at 12:07 pm Link

      I grew up with the MBTA, the green rail line is the slowest but even that moves like speed racer compared to Trimet’s light rail.
      Light rail is supposed to mimic subway travel, without the cost of the tunnel, that is not what is happening here.

      I’m talking about realities, not studies.

      • Bob R.
        October 2, 2013 at 12:35 pm Link

        “Light rail is supposed to mimic subway travel, without the cost of the tunnel”

        Says who? Light rail has always been portrayed as less costly, but I’ve never seen it portrayed as offering the same performance characteristics.

        If it’s a subway you’re advocating for, sign me up.

        I grew up with the MBTA, the green rail line is the slowest but even that moves like speed racer compared to Trimet’s light rail.

        It’s difficult to get speed information for the MBTA Green Line, especially since it has 3 branches, but just picking the first branch, the “B”, on its first run of the day it goes about 10 miles in 40 minutes, or an average speed of 15 mph.

        That’s actually the same or less than the average TriMet bus (15-ish mph) and way less than the average MAX line (19-ish mph).

        So if that’s the Green Line you’re referring to, your memory is incorrect. MAX is faster than the MBTA Green Line, at least the B Branch. Shall I score the rest?

        These pushbacks aren’t about your personal viewpoints or who you agree with most, Al, it’s about the fact-challenged and misdirected nature of your comments. We can’t have a reasoned discussion with any hope of learning from each other if your rants continue to be so routinely untethered from facts.

        • Chris I
          October 2, 2013 at 12:47 pm Link

          The MBTA Green Line is nicknamed the “Turtle” in Boston, and it is painfully slow. Due to tight corners, a circuitous route and congestion, it manages to travel more slowly in a dedicated subway than MAX does surface-running downtown. I got off and chose to walk to my destination multiple times on a short trip to Boston this year, due to crowding and delays.

        • Anandakos
          October 16, 2013 at 8:38 pm Link

          “If it’s a subway your advocating for, sign me up”

          Me, three.

          I think we all agree that until we get one the east-west line goes through downtown too slowly. At least two stations should be axed: either Old Town/Chinatown or Skidmore Fountain (probably Skidmore now that the Yellow and Green lines serve the US Bank Tower directly) and either Pioneer Square or the Pioneer Place pair.

          I know the second pair is sensitive: if either is removed, congestion at the other one gets worse and transfers to either the north or southbound mall vehicles becomes less convenient.

          In any case, MAX should get absolute signal priority on Morrison and Yamhill west of 12th. There’s no reason to stop a train for the few cars that go north/south west of I-402.

          • Anandakos
            October 17, 2013 at 12:31 am Link

            I-405.

  8. Bob R.
    October 2, 2013 at 12:04 pm Link

    And why does the study on Page 24, list the “MAX Blue Line” as having a weekday ridership of just 34,500? It hasn’t been that low since 1998. For FY2012, the Blue Line averaged over 65,000 boardings each weekday. If the ITDP is just counting what we call “Westside MAX” then they need to also include the MAX Red Line in their corridor counts, just like they do for the Ottawa busway where they count all the lines that run across the busway. If they’re counting the entire Blue Line (how, with only 34,500?), then they need to include the overlap of the Red and Green lines, too, just like they did for Ottawa.

    Seriously, you can’t adequately compare anything to anything in this “study”, there’s too much wrong everywhere you look.

    • Chris I
      October 2, 2013 at 12:09 pm Link

      I think this page explains everything:
      http://www.itdp.org/what-we-do/public-transport/

      There bias is blatantly obvious.

      • Bob R.
        October 2, 2013 at 12:44 pm Link

        Indeed … from the link (thanks):

        our specific area of expertise is bus rapid transit (BRT), and we work to spread knowledge about BRT and provide high-level technical assistance to cities pursuing BRT projects in the U.S. and abroad.

        and

        A grant from The Rockefeller Foundation is enabling ITDP to develop a strategy for the US where the opportunities for effective implementation are most promising in terms of political leadership, institutional capacity, financial viability, and prospects for full-featured network development. ITDP further promotes the development of BRT by highlighting the successes of existing BRT systems and sharing information among city leaders.

        So in other words, they’re yet another transportation consulting/planning/lobbying/P.R. shop. That’s apparently fine for BRT and highway projects, but when consulting/planning/lobbying/P.R. is brought in for light rail and streetcar projects, much wailing and moaning is to be heard from the commentariat.

        If too many consultants/too much P.R. is a problem in our public projects (and I agree that this is generally true), then the solution isn’t to cling to propaganda from a competing PR shop.

  9. al m
    October 2, 2013 at 12:12 pm Link

    My last comment on this topic.
    Heck you can find problems with every ‘study’ especially if it does not conform to your world view.

    As far as I am concerned, I’ll take the opinion of ITDP over the opinions of the people at Portland Transport (excluding Ron Swaren who I happen to almost always agree with)

    Thanks. Have a good day.

  10. Erik H.
    October 2, 2013 at 4:49 pm Link

    It is clear that the mode of transport is not nearly as important, but rather that the environment encourages transit usage, and the transit system itself is of quality design and function.

    However as much as one wants to cite a bias of the authors of this report in favor of BRT, it is odd that a supposed 501(c)(3) organization that is not supposed to advocate in favor of one thing or another, completely disregards and ignores the bias by our region that eschews bus service for streetcar and light rail service – nevermind the fact that it specifically excludes a significant part of our region both geographically and of population, that it too has come at huge expenses – including the disinvestment in our bus system (completely ignored), the necessary tax and property incentives (which has caused Portland Public Schools in particular to lose significant amounts of funding), and the overall disparity of transit access.

    Surely, I don’t see the Portland Streetcar supporters actually giving us an honest, non-biased view of the negative impacts it has caused, and surely an organization that is required to be non-judgemental should also be giving us a true, non-biased view of BOTH sides.

    We could solve the problem by following the lead of cities that have developed multiple modes of transport – Seattle, for example, has virtually every form of public transport – vanpools, local buses, trolley buses, express buses, commuter buses, BRT, Streetcar, light rail, commuter rail, ferries and monorail. (If you want to count the Metro Tunnel, you could argue they have a subway too, but it isn’t a subway on the same lines as New York, London, or other cities.)

    Los Angeles also has a wide variety of modes – all sorts of buses, light rail, heavy rail/subway, commuter rail. Throw in ferries if you include Long Beach. (I won’t count Disneyland’s Monorail, or the Main Street horse-drawn trolleys, or the Red Car, however.)

    Here in Portland, we have our blinders on and insist that light rail and streetcar – and ONLY light rail and streetcar – can encourage development. That is wrong, and it is false. And our citizens lose out, by being fed biased and non-impartial information. And what do I see from the above arguments? Basically an “attack the messenger” argument – they are for BRT, therefore since they aren’t for streetcars, they must be wrong.

    • Bob R.
      October 2, 2013 at 6:59 pm Link

      a supposed 501(c)(3) organization that is not supposed to advocate in favor of one thing or another

      Nonsense. 501(c)(3) organizations can focus on a great many things and can be biased to a particular point of view. (Otherwise, there’d only be one such organization and it would be for everything and focus on nothing.)

      Those organizations aren’t supposed to get into partisan politics or candidate races, but there’s no law that says a 501(c)(3) has to even-handedly advocate for all modes of transport. That’s just silly.

  11. Ron Swaren
    October 2, 2013 at 6:53 pm Link

    Thanks to the screwed up “network” of consultants, engineering companies, contractors, etc. the biggest beneficiary of our TOD objectives have been top drawer companies….. with our hard earned tax dollars going out of state. Sure, David Evans is a home grown company but a lot of their personnel now are in seven other states. Stacy and Witbeck is based out of Alameda, CA. I’m sure they weren’t shedding any tears when the cost of the Milwaukie MAX jumped from $515 million to $1400 million. And don’t even get me started on Peter Kiewit and Co.

    So, to me, the scorecard on “development” is:
    1. Prices generally driven up higher, all around the state
    2. Small towns in Oregon languishing, because Portland is where the jobs are
    3. Mega millions headed out of the state to “consultants.”
    4. Unreachable greenhouse gas goals, because more people moving here means more emissions
    5. Misplaced emphasis on transportation modes that don’t have “reliability; ” i.e day in day out, year round, round the clock, through all kinds of conditions, utility.
    6. Modes with tremendous future potential, through technological innovation, languishing, because “everyone knows” Portland is the leader of the urban planning pack (despite that there are hundred of other cities bigger than Portland, with workable ideas of their own.)
    7. Endless cycle of rising prices, and activist call for “equity” policies.

    Perhaps if Tom McCall was here today he would not only remonstrate about the artificially stimulated population growth but also the profuse bleeding of Oregon money to out of state businesses.

    Erik H. says:
    Los Angeles also has a wide variety of modes – all sorts of buses, light rail, heavy rail/subway, commuter rail. Throw in ferries if you include Long Beach. (I won’t count Disneyland’s Monorail, or the Main Street horse-drawn trolleys, or the Red Car, however.)

    And speaking of ferry systems, Seattle in fact has 4 major north south routes, (compared to our 2) because Highway 4 out west on the Kitsap Peninsula, connects to downtown Seattle via the ferry system. Kind of a side point, but I don’t see how Portland can figure that only 2 N-S routes is adequate.

    And with all due respect Erik H. since I used to belong to the UBC, there really isn’t even an organized labor argument for this kind of development. Most people in the UBC stayed plenty busy in previous recessions via residential and small commercial remodeling and repair. But then, So. Californian, Douglas “Cash” McCarron changed all that by welcoming illegal aliens into our trade. That’s why UBC and the Regional Trades Councils have now resorted to craven begging for taxpayer funded busy-work projects, like the CRC. Ditto, in general, for other “development.” Never was needed; ain’t “needed” now. In other words. the way it was is if you really wanted to work you could. (And that includes even volunteeering ( as one carpenter friend of mine did, for many winters,, in poverty stricken—-yet with pleasant climate in the winter—-regions here in the W. Hemisphere. Better to go south of the border and do some good —–and throw in a free break from the wintertime Oregon rain—-than carouse around down there and get thrown in the slammer.)

    Of course the MultCo Central Cmte knows better than us. Better hurry and spend hundreds of millions before anything “falls in the river.”

    Now, smarty pants politicians and “activists” have ruined it.

    • Bob R.
      October 2, 2013 at 7:02 pm Link

      Small towns in Oregon languishing, because Portland is where the jobs are

      The Portland metro area is a net-donor to the rest of the state in terms of tax revenue. Redistributionist policies favor rural over urban.

      If you’re advocating in favor of state tax revenues only being spent in the counties in which they were raised, I’m listening, but you’d lose in the state Senate right quickly.

      But yes, glad you noticed, Portland is where the jobs are. That says something about our little socialist utopia’s policies by and large – they’re actually working.

      • Oregon Mamacita
        October 13, 2013 at 9:03 am Link

        Hello- aren’t most of the new well-paying jobs in suburban Washington County? What about the expansion of Nike in unincorporated Washington County? Portland isn’t that great for business, outside of some smallish software companies. Go to SOWa and tell me that the city has the ability to attract employers. Where’s the bio-tech? And how about that wind energy?
        Oh wait-Solo Power- it was all hot air.

        • Bob R.
          October 13, 2013 at 10:39 am Link

          I don’t think we disagree about Washington county. I was careful to open my comment with “Portland Metro Area” and not “City of Portland”, but I see that I was clumsy at the end by just saying “Portland” and not “Portland Metro”. Of course there are a large number of great jobs in Washington County, there’s been a lot of growth out there, and I’m glad that light rail and transit improvements were a component (just one of many) of that growth. I’m glad that regional planning was a component of it.

          Portland (City of) has much of its land already developed, compared to the suburbs. So naturally, much visible growth will occur in the suburbs. It’s easier to build a development of hundreds of houses, or apartments, or condos, or a large factory where there is plenty of vacant land. So long as people oppose infill and higher-density redevelopment in Portland (City of), the growth rate as a percentage will be lower than the suburbs. But none of that means Portland isn’t great for business.

          And, as the former cofounder of a “smallish” software company that is still around today (I’ve been gone from it for over a decade, however), I can tell you that’s where a lot of innovation occurs. Don’t knock “smallish software companies”.

        • Chris I
          October 14, 2013 at 9:52 am Link

          There’s a reason that all of these companies are locating in Washington County, and not Douglas County; proximity to Portland and cheap land. You can’t start a tech industry in the middle of nowhere. You need access to a knowledge economy. The universities in the Willamette Valley and Portland pump out engineers and scientists for these industries. You could get a few of them to move to the middle of nowhere, but you won’t get the best of the best. These workers want to live in Portland and the surrounding area. Once you get a few anchor companies, you build a knowledge economy, where spinoffs and startups are possible. You just won’t see this in rural Oregon.

          • dan w
            October 14, 2013 at 10:44 am Link

            The same could also apply to why Washington County is attracting far more of these kinds of employers than Clackamas or Clark Counties; it’s not like either is in the middle of nowhere, but both have a ways to go until they can make themselves more appealing to a Nike or an Intel (Clackamas Co can start by electing actual leaders rather than cartoon characters).

        • Anandakos
          October 14, 2013 at 11:41 pm Link

          So Phil is a legal tax avoider like most rich people. Spare us the faux indignation. The Nike campus is in unincorporated Washington County because Phil invested some of his millions in the Oregon State Senate and got an embargo against the City of Beaverton annexing his doughnut hole for 35 years.

          Interestingly, when Tektronix was extended the same perq, (yes, that’s how it’s supposed to be spelled; it’s a contraction of “perquisite”) Nike leased Tek 58 so it didn’t have to expand farther into annexable land.

    • Anandakos
      October 13, 2013 at 7:37 am Link

      Ron,

      It’s “Highway 3” out in Kitsap couty. I know; I drive on it at least a dozen times a year heading to and from Hansville.

      In Washington State even numbered highways go east-west, just like with the Federal system.

      Check your premises, Howard Roark.

      • Anandakos
        October 13, 2013 at 7:38 am Link

        “county”, not “couty”. Disculpe me.

    • Anandakos
      October 13, 2013 at 8:03 am Link

      Ron,

      And also, the building trades have long been known as the most reactionary and selfish of unions. They’re essentially a medieval guild, not a progressive social action network like the CIO style unions that produced mass prosperity in this country.

      It’s no secret that building trade unions lean Republican; they’re just one more vehicle for the “I’ve got mine, f#@% you” mantra that has been the goal of the Right since Caesar’s day.

      • Bob R.
        October 13, 2013 at 10:45 am Link

        Anandakos, since Ron brought it up (as he so often does), I’ll let your comments (and his) stand, but this really isn’t the place for calling out people’s partisanship. It’s supposed to be more about policy.

        So Ron and everyone else, please no liberal-bashing or conservative-bashing or pitting one union against another, let’s talk about actual transportation and planning policy and how it might be improved. If a particular political party or interest group is advocating or opposing a specific policy, we can of course talk about it in that context, but this back-and-forth derision just seems unnecessarily bitter and borderlines on getting personal.

        Thanks,
        Bob R.

        • Nick theoldurbanist
          October 13, 2013 at 11:18 am Link

          Agreed. I hate it when people ‘politicize’ discussions about transit.

  12. Ron Swaren
    October 2, 2013 at 8:55 pm Link

    Bob, yes, we know that seaports have a far different economy and also tend to be quite a bit more stable than inland municipalities.. What does that have to do with smaller Oregon towns being in the doldrums? There are potentially plenty of reasons why Portland, a seaport, is a “net donor”

    Why don’t you try addressing the concerns that many people here are raising about the trend of Portland planning? I just got an earful about it tonight at the SMILE meeting. There was no good answer, however, about concerns about runaway prices, except they said they would also try to address the “gentrification problem.”

    I suppose that will entail another highly paid government bureaucracy.

    • Bob R.
      October 2, 2013 at 9:40 pm Link

      Portland is indeed a seaport but that’s not the majority factor in our economy.

      You should know by now, Ron, that we disagree about the nature of Portland planning. You apparently believe that increasing the supply of living spaces by allowing property owners and developers to build more units and less parking somehow magically increases prices and causes gentrification. I believe that allowing increased density along popular corridors eases the pressure on pricing. The whole supply/demand thing.

      You actually hit the nail on the head: Portland is where the jobs are. It’s also an attractive community that has (for better or worse) become famous and people are moving here. That’s why prices are going up – demand has gone up. Portland planning, among many other factors including the private sector (property owners, innovative businesses, developers, educators, artist, etc.), has created an attractive community. That creates demand. If we do not allow the demand to be addressed (overly-restrictive zoning, government-mandated parking requirements, anti-renter policies), then prices will naturally increase rapidly, beyond normal inflation.

      We can either address the demand to relieve prices, or we can reverse good policy to make Portland less attractive, or hope that the economy tanks again and people move away. That made Detroit very affordable, ya know.

    • EngineerScotty
      October 2, 2013 at 9:42 pm Link

      Jobs beget jobs, economic activity begets economic activity. This is why cities work–when you put lots of people together in closer proximity, their productive capacity starts to way exceed the sum of the parts. Outside cities, places are generally dependent on the land (agriculture, mining, tourism) for economic productivity.

      This has little to do with politics, other than the fact that some politicians of recent vintage have encouraged anti-urban policies. I’m not talking about you or anyone else here–but a good percentage of our national politics is based on the notion that cities are bad places, and that policies should instead support suburban and rural areas.

      There are many legitimate concerns about urban planning, in Portland and elsewhere; but a lot of recent debates boil down to “I don’t want to share common neighborhood amenities with additional people”, and simple fear of change. In some cases, unsavory attitudes towards differing demographics can play a part as well.

      Gentrification is a problem for the displaced poor–and can, in some cases, be a tool to drive the poor out of a given municipality–but gentrification is a secondary effect–the primary effect being “someplace became nicer to live in”. And any neighborhood investment–whether it be transit or something else–can improve the lots of the folks who live there, but result in someone getting priced out. (Thanks to Ballot Measure 50, which protects homeowners from steep increases in property taxes, gentrification is mainly a problem for renters, who have no similar protection from rising rents or even mass evictions and teardowns/redevelopments).

  13. Ron Swaren
    October 2, 2013 at 10:02 pm Link

    “You apparently believe that increasing the supply of living spaces by allowing property owners and developers to build more units and less parking somehow magically increases prices and causes gentrification. I believe that allowing increased density along popular corridors eases the pressure on pricing. The whole supply/demand thing.”

    No. I believe in macro-economics.
    Bob, it’s too late for a baby sitting job. Good night.

  14. Bob R.
    October 2, 2013 at 10:06 pm Link

    “No. I believe in macro-economics. Bob, it’s too late for a baby sitting job. Good night.”

    Translation: No cogent explanation handy.

    Sleep tight.

  15. Ron Swaren
    October 3, 2013 at 3:04 pm Link

    Bob, there are: 1. the expectations of a policy change, and then there are 2. the Real World results. Or there were the: 2. previous results and now there are the 2. current results. Or there is: 1 the actual result vs. 2. misleading spin.

    Thus in many cases. people may justify a decision on something other than the Real World results.

    And if you don’t understand the term “macro-economics” look it up. It appears that the prevailing justiication for PT mods to back the micro-apartment trend is that, at bottom, there are decided financial advantages. Baloney, based at least upon what has always happened in this city in the past: More people=higher prices, and tinkering with one component in the supply equation has little effect. And I have never heard any of our current crop of politicians supporting this, who say that they will be built, but then they will try to dissuade the population increase in order to keep the rents low. And the latter would be a necessary policy, if the supply actually did result in lower prices.

    In my Real World, and, I think, of most Portlanders, we utterly disdain the minimally precedented shifts to small apartments with virtually no offstreet parking. It’s the most contentious issue we have had in a long time, in this urban area that I have lived in for several decades. And I think any economist will tell you that merely increasing a supply in a commodity doesn’t automatically lead to lower prices. There are many, many other factors which influence “price.” And when I say contentious, I realize that issues like fluoridation of water have aroused a lot of debate. But, really, how many people will take time to show up at a neighborhood assoc. meeting for an issue? They are thronging in for questions about these small apartments.

    Furthermore there is very good reason to believe that based upon past experience a bicycling transportation oriented development policy will show wide fluctuations in utilization depending upon the weather conditions, in a particular city. San Jose, Carmel, Scottsdale, Santa Barbara, Pensacola, etc. may have vastly different results from us, or from Phoenix, or Milwaukee, or Duluth or Portland, Maine.

    And whatever happene with the Central City streetcar, good or bad, is mostly water under the bridge. I believe that Portlanders care about CURRENT issues, and I see a lot of well founded opposition to the small apts. w/no parking—-and to the restrictions on motor vehicle use such as parking restrictions, to name one—that seem to be headed our way in conjunction with the former.

    I think this is a very intelligent conclusion, I would like to discuss it with other PT commenters. And for you to venture out when your particular bailiwick is challenged is poor moderation technique: i.e. you speak up when your ox is being gored., and particularly against people trying to carry on an informed dialogue.

  16. al m
    October 3, 2013 at 3:08 pm Link

    And for you to venture out when your particular bailiwick is challenged is poor moderation technique: i.e. you speak up when your ox is being gored., and particularly against people trying to carry on an informed dialogue.

    • Bob R.
      October 3, 2013 at 5:43 pm Link

      It’s true, I do have a ox. It’s a very healthy, large, and friendly ox that I have nurtured for a long time, researching the best possible care. Thus, I don’t appreciate it when people cross the fence and gore that ox for no good reason. :-)

  17. Bob R.
    October 3, 2013 at 5:29 pm Link

    And if you don’t understand the term “macro-economics” look it up.

    Translation: Still can’t offer a cogent explanation.

    More people=higher prices

    Setting aside for a moment the glaring absence of any explanation from you why you think that is true, what do you propose is the solution? Sabotage the economy? Build a border fence around the Portland metro area? Mandatory birthrates a la China? How do you propose to keep people away?

    In my Real World, and, I think, of most Portlanders, we utterly disdain the minimally precedented shifts to small apartments with virtually no offstreet parking.

    Why is it the government’s responsibility to increase off-street parking (which is often geometrically impossible)? Why is it the governments responsibility, in light of this, to mandate that property owners increase off-street parking if they want to build something that (some) other neighbors down the street don’t like? Presumably, those existing neighbors already have off-street parking of their own, right? If not, why not?

    how many people will take time to show up at a neighborhood assoc. meeting for an issue?

    In my experience, people angry enough to oppose something (especially at the last minute) turn out in greater numbers than people who are quite happy to allow something to happen.

    Furthermore there is very good reason to believe that based upon past experience a bicycling transportation oriented development policy will show wide fluctuations in utilization depending upon the weather conditions

    Furthermore, there is very good reason to believe that people in the market for an apartment (regardless of size) which does not have off-street parking will take into account their own personal travel preferences and abilities.

    FYI, not forcing parking mandates on a particular parcel allows space for larger, not smaller apartments. Or cheaper. Take your pick.

    and particularly against people trying to carry on an informed dialogue.

    I’m both a moderator and a commentator. If that’s a problem for you, start your own blog. It’s (still, for now) a free Internet.

    Meanwhile, still waiting for information from you, such as an explanation as to why you think increasing housing supply increases prices.

  18. al m
    October 3, 2013 at 5:33 pm Link

    I’m both a moderator and a commentator. If that’s a problem for you, start your own blog. It’s (still, for now) a free Internet.

    Whoa Doggy the older Bob gets the meaner he gets!
    What’s up with you lately Bob? You seem to go off pretty easy these days….

  19. Ron Swaren
    October 3, 2013 at 6:51 pm Link

    Bob, I think the real reason is that you probably don’t like people who are part Lapplander, like me. (This is the reason I get tanned in the summer, instead of burnt to a crisp.) Got something against semi nomadic Asiatic people of color? I think under the original Oregon constitution we could still be here. You know, when the progressive GOP tried to right the errors of the past.

    This is probably going past you, but oh well….:(

    • Bob R.
      October 3, 2013 at 6:57 pm Link

      Ummm, no.

      I find it fascinating and telling that you are so quick to leap to theories of racial heritage, to mess with people’s names, and to infer that people are babies, rather than to actually debate the facts.

      Still waiting for a coherent explanation of your macro-economic theories.

      Are you going to post another Obamaphone YouTube link now?

  20. Ron Swaren
    October 3, 2013 at 8:54 pm Link

    OK, I give up. Apparently I have come under some judgement from the Lapplander Gods, just as was foretold, and there is simply no redemption for me.

    Our country is going downhill fast. China is taking over. Why…last year at Halloween I bought some orange glitter plastic pumpkins with multi color LED lights for 2.99 at Walgreens. Now Dollar Tree is selling some black glitter plastic pumpkins, also with LED lights for only $1 dollar, thus undercutting the aforementioned, prior Chinese import.

    This is obviously the work of Satan. What else could it be?

  21. Nathanael
    October 12, 2013 at 2:04 pm Link

    FWIW, “HealthLine” is on the single best route in all of Cleveland. It would have done better if it were an LRT, but basically you can’t lose by improving transit on THAT route. If Cleveland has an economic recovery, eventually they’ll probably have to convert it to LRT.

  22. Nick theoldurbanist
    October 12, 2013 at 5:09 pm Link

    ” “HealthLine” is on the single best route in all of Cleveland. It would have done better if it were an LRT…:

    >>>> How do you know, unless you lived there and used it regularly. I used to like LRT before I moved to Portland from NYC, but being a regular user of MAX during my first year here made obvious its glaring deficiencies.

    • Ron Swaren
      October 12, 2013 at 8:09 pm Link

      Nick, some type of rail could work. The Milwaukie–Lake Oswego area could have had rail connections via the Red Electric/Westshore line they purchased earlier for a few million. And that is not even with acquiring usage of the private rail bridge; it could have had a link over the Sellwood Bridge, which I advocated for, which could have been easily incorporated in a rebuild, (Hint: weld bridge cross beams to steel beams directly below the streetcar tracks. Incredibly strong, and the tracks could have been added later. But I think that the bike lobby just wanted to agitate for what they wanted and Comm. Kafoury was more than happy to commit 3x the actual requisite cost for fixing this problem. Our ) Then expess buses could have been added, all the way to Oregon City. Or perhaps even OPRR could have been persuaded to begin a commuter schedule.

      So, Milwaukie, LO, and OR City could have had effective HCT and the Sellwood bridge and interchange fixed for about 1/10th the cost of what is going on now. And for anyone who actually cares, there are some historic rail cars here in Portland, sitting idle, plus literally hundreds of them in Europe in rail yards, which could be brought over here on a Ship.

      Instead, we will be holding our breath to see if the new Milwaukie MAX actually gets usage exceeding that of the Interstate MAX—-which carries only a few dozen riders most of the day? Or we will have to encourage folks to live next door to the UP railyards so we actually get some riders for the train? Or we will somehow overlook the fact that in the two mile wide corridor on either side of the MLR, about half of the land is already tied up in low density areas which cannot be changed easily—such as parks, wetlands, golf course, high end neighborhoods or Reed College?

      BTW I am not against certain types of densification. Some other urbanists have seen the potential in the North Milwaukie area, along Johnson Creek: Perfect place for a greenway, has views, is close to downtown Milwaukie, is connected to transit corridors plus access to highway 99E. But no, I guess the important thing is proving that MAX will work, lining the pockets of out of state contractors, getting plenty of overtime pay for construction trades working around environmental restrictions and trying to figure out how to cram bicyclists into little, tiny –but expensive–apartments. I expect that these new apartments will just be the early 21st C. version of the now terminably cheap 1 and 2 br crackerbox apts, scattered all over suburbia. With the cheap siding.

      When you look at what is possible, planning here has taken a very silly turn.

    • Anandakos
      October 14, 2013 at 11:30 pm Link

      Nick,

      You “liked” LRT in the abstract when you lived in New York City, right? Because unless you moved here pretty recently, you had to go to Newark and ride the City Center streetcar or Philly for their PCC’s to experience “Light Rail Transit”.

      Now of course you could ride the PATH to the Hudson-Bergen line and ride real LRT.

      What are MAX’s “glaring deficiencies”? [Moderator: Bit that was borderline personal removed – Bob R.] Please be a little more specific; professorial hand waving is not going to convince any of the semi-professionals who read this blog.

  23. Lenny Anderson
    October 14, 2013 at 3:14 pm Link

    Couple of thoughts: trying to do TDM next to a freeway is like going into the ring with one hand tied behind your back. Tough to win. MAX alignments are too much along freeways…Lloyd to Gateway, the Green Line to CTC, and the new MPLR or at least a lot of it. The Yellow Line was wisely put down the middle of an old state highway, and each station has seen modest but steady development since before opening day. And this was exactly the hope of the community; we did not want NOPO to catch fire like the River District, but to develop gradually. Interstate MAX ridership is 3 times that of the old 5 bus. So alignment is critical to TDM, regardless of vehicle type.
    Someone out there help me out, but I am sure I heard that Curitiba has every intention of converting their BRT lines to LRT as soon as they can afford it. Why would you run 4 to 6 buses when one train would do the trick? Even the Tribune missed the higher operating cost of BRT due to labor costs of multiple buses vs LRT trains; their press operators must work for free or low wages.

    • Anandakos
      October 15, 2013 at 2:34 am Link

      Lenny,

      You’re spot on about the MAX alignments. The only genuinely brilliant one is West Side MAX beyond Beaverton Central. Using that derelict rail right-of-way which nearly perfectly bisects the catchment between the two primary westside arterials was pure genius. It kept the cost down to bridge replacement, track structure, crossing signals and overhead and tore open a whole slice of previously unreachable transit shed. It’s probably the best use of surface Light Rail in the entire US. Only the original San Diego Trolley line to National City would complete I expect.

      And even though the TOD score between Goose Hollow and Beaverton TC must be the lowest in the known universe, it’s a great express bus replacement.

      • Chris I
        October 15, 2013 at 7:48 am Link

        I wonder if they have looked at the possibility of adding a station just west of the west tunnel portal. This would be a relatively cheap project, and although it would be a freeway station, it would provide direct access to what looks to be several large open lots north and south of the freeway (a pedestrian overpass would be needed). Seems like an opportunity to build some denser apartments/condos in a more residential setting, but with quick access to downtown. There are several large apartment complexes just to the north that would be in the walkshed.

  24. Lenny Anderson
    October 15, 2013 at 8:49 am Link

    I have often thought a station adjacent to the medical office complex around St. Vincent’s would make sense. But every station adds time to the trip, so be careful. Remember Pioneer Place and Convention Center were added stations next to new destinations. It is almost impossible to remove stations. Has it been done here.
    I think Portland Streetcar should take the prize for TOD and/or DOT. We are now seeing its impact on the Eastside.

  25. Lenny Anderson
    October 15, 2013 at 6:00 pm Link

    Tech questions: why are comments on this string out of chronological order? Can I get the site to remember me and my email address? Thanks

    • Chris Smith
      October 15, 2013 at 6:14 pm Link

      Lenny, one of the features of our new site is ‘threaded comments’, meaning you can reply directly to someone else’s comment (in which case your comment goes below theirs, indented) rather than just added to the end of the stream.

      The ‘remember’ problem is a technical glitch we’re still trying to sort out.

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