Orange Line Open(ing) Thread

Tomorrow the Orange Line opens.  TriMet will be free for the day, and to tell you the truth, I don’t remember this much pomp and circumstance for the Green or Yellow lines.  (The Red Line opening festivities, of course, were cancelled by 9/11).

But since TriMet is throwing a party, it only makes sense to compare and contrast the Orange Line with Bridgeport’s Orange Line IPA:



Bridgeport Orange Line IPA TriMet Orange Line
Made with hops. Will not accept Hop until 2017
Fortunately not brewed in Milwaukee Runs to Milwaukie
$4 for 22oz at the grocery store; no all-day option $2.50 for 2 1/2 hours, $5 all day.
Can get you drunk Good way to get home if you are
American beer has caught up to Germany in quality American public transportation, sadly, has not.
Last call at 2:30 AM Last train at 1AM
“Dry-hopped with Lemondrop hops for aroma…” Smells like beer. :)

On a more serious note….

  • Our good friends over at Bike Portland are celebrating their tenth birthday.
  • The Metro Policy Advisory Committee (MPAC) is supporting the proposal to not expand the UGB in 2015, albeit in a split decision.
  • In somewhat related news (I say somewhat as new suburban single-family home construction is not a substitute for urban apartment buildings), the Portland Mercury reports that mass no-cause evictions (wherein a landlord evicts all the tenants in a lower-income building; does some remodeling, and then remarkets the premises to a higher-income clientele) are on the rise.
  • And The Oregonian notes that Ballot Measure 47/50, which reset property tax assessments back to 1996 levels (including for new developments) has a disparate impact on the poor–as residential real estate in gentrified areas is effectively taxed well below its market value.
  • While Portland continues to ponder bike share, The Transport Politic takes a look at the system being built in LA, which has several novel and important attributes:  It is run by the transit agency (Metro), not by a municipal public works department; and it focuses on the job of last-mile service–many bikeshares are located at transit centers, and your transit ticket lets you “transfer” to bike and vice versa.

43 responses to “Orange Line Open(ing) Thread”

  1. I don’t believe the canard that adding to the housing inventory, i.e as with much more rental housing, will bring rents down. Real Estate is subject to more than mere supply and demand—-as if even THAT was a simple, discernible factor.

    The biggest worry for most real estate purchasers is that little word, DEFAULT. A rational mortgage debtor does not want to default, since that badly upsets their investment plans, whether it is on one home or 1000 units. Landlords will then do what they can to avoid default—-which in addition to raising rents ALSO can involve a lot of marketing ploys and gimmicks to induce rental agreements. These may be tantalizing to some—-but have the eventual hook of suckering you into long term rent. The proclivity of these gimmicks can also vary by region of the country—-and even include schemes like “Rent to Buy”—-So blithely stating that rents always follow demand is blarney.

    You can raise “supply and demand” as a portion of price analysis. But this has to be put into the context of a much larger socio-economic theory. In commodity investing there are some people who believe that price is always controlled by rational choices. This is called technical analysis. The other side believes that there is more art than science and people do not always make rational choices. This is called fundamental analysis. Since having a roof over your head is not really an optional choice, I would say that trying to technically analyze the rental market is not very wise.

    • Housing is important, but so are food and transportation. All of these are very strongly effected by supply and demand. Sure, some people will keep buying beef no matter if the price doubles, but many other people will cut down on beef purchases and buy chicken instead, and farmers/ranchers may switch to raising cattle if the price stays high.
      The same thing happens with housing. If more people want to live in central Portland, rents and housing prices go up. If rents and real estate become more valuable, individual property owners and well as big developers have a reason to build new apartments, larger houses or new rental units next to an existing house. However, this only works if it is legal to build new houses! Many neighborhoods in Portland (and all the other popular big cities; Seattle, SF, NYC, LA etc) are zoned for only single family homes, and many others have parking requirements and other regulations that greatly increase the cost of new housing. So new housing is only built if the prices are really high, or if there is free land on the outskirts with no zoning limits. With supply limited, the price will go up and up, until enough people finally cannot afford to move to Portland (or San Francisco, or wherever) and start looking for jobs and housing in a different city instead.

      Sure, there are all sorts of important things about housing besides price: are there jobs in the area, does my family live nearby, are there good schools, is the neighborhood safe, is it liveable, fun, etc? But these are all just things that determine “demand.” And building housing is complicated for all sorts of reasons, and that’s what we mean by “supply.”

      To keep the price of housing down in Portland, either 1) demand needs to go down by making the city less attractive as a place to move or stay. EG: fewer jobs available, more pollution, more crime, worse transportation options, worse schools. I don’t think we want that!
      Or 2) Supply goes up. But it has to go up fast enough to keep up with the people born here AND the people who want to move here. With current building codes, restrictive zoning, other regulations, and complicated financing for housing, this is unlikely to happen.
      BUT, that doesn’t mean that restricting supply will make things any better! If zero new apartments and houses are built, the price will increase even faster, to an even higher level.

      TL:DR – supply and demand works. We just don’t have enough supply yet, and we are unlikely to get it without major reforms to zoning and other regulations that limit new homes from being built.

    • It’s been proven repeatedly that *prohibiting* the expansion of housing inventory (as with zoning restrictions which require “single-family”, setbacks, height limits, FAR limits, etc.) will RAISE rents a lot.

      Remove those prohibitions on construction and the rents WILL drop to what they would have been before you put all those prohibitions in place. Proven and reliable.

      How does it work? Well, developers see the high rents, and build taller buildings with less setbacks — more apartments per square foot of land. The new-build landlords charge the “top of the market” price and the richest young techies move into them. Since this increases the housing inventory, the *existing* landlords with older buildings have to cut the price they charge in order to compete — they can’t get the richest young techies any more, so they get the next-richest tier down of renters — and this goes all the way down the market to the bottom.

      By contrast, if you prohibit dense construction, (a) any new buildings enter the market with prices higher than anything which already exists, and (b) old buildings jack up their prices every year because they can. This is San Francisco — luxury prices for decrepit apartments.

      You can tell what’s going on by looking at the *VACANCY RATE*. It needs to be higher than 4%, preferably higher than 5%. If it’s lower than that, landlords can just keep jacking prices up because people are desparate for housing. Once the vacancy rate reaches 5%, renters start to have some power.

      (If the vacancy rate goes over 10% or 12%, developers may typically stop building entirely. So that’s the other end.)

  2. The PDC has put forward a preferred design for the US Post office redevelopment.

    Good summery:

    Full document [PDF]:

    I noticed a couple of interesting details outside of the post office site itself. First, the diagrams show that the Greyhound station will be moved from it’s current location to the triangular lot across from Union Station. This would allow the current two-block depot to be redeveloped, and (based on the diagrams) possibly split into single blocks.

    Second, there is a diagram showing BRT (presumably Powell-Division) extending north of the transit mall to a possible layover along NW Station Way, and what looks to be a potential BRT stop in the Pearl District along NW 11th between Northrup and Marshall. If implemented, it would be a nice way to connect the Pearl District to the Transit Mall.

  3. A couple of the “most” interesting articles from Green Car Congress (I know, it’s all interesting): Volvo comes out with an all electric bus:

    And Peugeot comes out with an all electric smart concept car:

    And the U.S. DOE has awarded $12 million in research grants for duel fuel and electric powertrain mods for medium and heavy vehicles:

    Plus, more fast charging R&D:

  4. Here it comes!:

    Bosch highlighting solid-state Li-ion cells; double current energy density, production-ready in 5 years
    15 September 2015

    At the Frankfurt Motor Show (IAA), Bosch is highlighting its solid-state Li-ion battery technology, saying that the technology for electric cars could be production-ready in as little as five years. The acquisition of the US start-up Seeo Inc. (earlier post) will help make this possible, Bosch said. In addition to its own development in the area of battery technology, Bosch now has crucial know-how in innovative solid-state cells for lithium batteries as well as exclusive patents.

    With the new solid-state cells, Bosch sees the potential to more than double energy density by 2020, and at the same time reduce the costs considerably further. A comparable electric car that has a driving range today of 150 kilometers (93 miles) would be able to travel more than 300 kilometers (186 miles) without recharging—and at a lower cost.

    • This is great news for the environment, particularly climate change, since it means that non-carbon energy sources will have a vast and constantly growing “battery bank” they can use when supply exceeds demand.

      However, it doesn’t do anything toward your goal of eliminating transit, because each on still takes roughly the same road space, requires two parking places, one at the owner’s home and the other at her or his workplace, and costs an arm and a leg, putting them out of reach of transit’s base level patrons.

      Curses, foiled again!

        • A battery that can move a car 93 miles sounds pretty useless for a transit provider unless they can put a few dozen of those batteries into each bus, pay for the time the driver would be out of service while charging, and manage to schedule around charing times.

          • There are three models of battery-electric buses on the US market with proven service lives.

            One from BYD
            One from Proterra
            One from New Flyer

            All offer large batteries, located under the bus floor (there’s room for a *lot* of batteries there, even on a low-floor bus). All offer fast charging stations, to be located at bus bases and layover/turnaround points.

            You do have to schedule time for charging, but you also have to schedule rest time for drivers, and it matches up fairly well.

            The energy savings are massive for city bus duty cycles, because electric motors (a) don’t use any energy when idling, and (b) regenerate energy when slowing down. Internal combustion engines waste enormous quantities of energy in the city bus duty cycle, both idling and slowing down.

            For highway express buses, the savings are much less significant, so they probably won’t adopt electric buses in the near future.

            But the city local buses should all go electric very very soon.

  5. The Portland Timbers are no longer offering TriMet passes with Timbers’ season tickets; instead offering discounts with uber.

    Given that parking is scarce (and expensive) around MultnomahPGEJELD-WENProvidence Park, this doesn’t seem to be a very good idea.

    (Of course, I was up in Seattle a few weeks ago; parking near the Clink for a Seahawks preseason game was going for $40… no, I wasn’t going to the game but did pass by the stadium.)

    • People who would have taken TriMet will probably still take it. $5 extra for a day pass on the cost of going to pretty much any sporting event isn’t a big deal. In San Francisco last October DreamForce (the SalesForce trade show) brought about 140,000 people to San Francisco during the Giants MLB playoffs. Parking during the games near the stadium went over $140 during the game from the TV news I saw.

      In Buffalo NY last Christmas a game day parking pass to park in any of the garages near the Sabres arena was $18. Ten years ago I spent $12 to park at a San Diego State Aztecs game at Qualcomm Stadium. Both venues are connected to light rail. People will choose to use transit for events like this even if it’s not paid for, since parking tends to cost quite a bit even if light rail connects to the stadium.

      The Q is on San Diego’s Trolley, and runs extra trains on Aztecs and Chargers game days because it’s at capacity for a while before and after the game. The Sabres play at the First Niagara Center (which has also been called the Crossroads Arena, the Marine Midland Center then the HSBC Arena since 1996) which is at the south end of Buffalo’s Metro Rail with a special service station.

      I don’t think $5 for an all day TriMet pass is even as expensive as a single beer at a Timbers game. I don’t think free tickets got that many extra people to use the MAX except maybe as a park and ride. Now they’ll probably still use the MAX to avoid the parking hassles, but most will pay for a day pass as well.

  6. Speaking of MAX, I took the Orange Line to Milwaukie yesterday for lunch. A couple of thoughts:
    Cost: in addition to the Tilikum Crossing, the line has FIVE structures. Interstate MAX ($350M) has one. Getting an exclusive transit ROW to Milwaukie and N. Clackamas took some doing and cost serious money ($1.5B). Views from all those overpasses are great!

    TOD: Lots for opportunity at some stations, none at others. The no-brainers are Lincoln & 3rd, South Waterfront and OMSI, but the latter two are all mostly vacant lots at present. More challenging will be SE Clinton & 12th and the two stations on 17th Avenue. Lots of industry surrounds each; will zoning be adjusted to encourage mix-use? It took BPS years to get the zoning right in N. Interstate Avenue around the MAX stations. Not much will happen at SE Bybee, SE Tacoma and SE Park for obvious reasons. Milwaukie feels a bit like station areas along Interstate…already some retail life, but more of everything needed…housing, mixed-use, etc.

    Disappointments: I saw that they are working on the connection at the Milwaukie end of the trail bridge that is under MAX over Kellogg Creek; I asked some construction supervisors when it would be ready. “End of the year.” But the bad news is, as they pointed out…it does NOT get you over McLouglin to the Trolley Trail! A very important missing link.
    The other disappointment is the lack of a clear link to bus lines with the easy transfers that Transit Centers offer. Regular riders will figure things out, but what about the rest of us?

    Overall, I was reminded why I am so partial to Interstate MAX (and Streetcar). There is already some “there” at almost every station along that line in N. Portland, with more to come, and bus connections are clear and easy. Milwaukie MAX feels more like the Banfield line…somewhat faster, but removed from the fabric of the city. Hopefully over the next decades things will fill in, but it took 30 years for Hollywood to show signs of life and more intense development in Lloyd took a Streetcar line to get started.

    Looking ahead to SW Corridor, a Barbur LRT (or I guess BRT for the timid) line would work a lot like Interstate with a couple of stations in S. Portland (with access to OHSU), a quick ride through the woods to Burlingame, then a series of stations (Burlingame, 19th & Spring Garden, 30th, Barbur TC/Capitol Hwy) that could develop into real places. The freeway is just far enough away. Converting the center two lanes of Barbur to exclusive transit ROW can be done with only a few structures. The big question: Do the residents of SW want it? and how bad?

    • Lenny, ultimately a traffic mess will be engendered. This is in its incipient stages in Sellwood as SE Tacoma Street is limited to two lanes (which is OK with me) but there is no way to prevent additional vehicles from the suburbs using Tacoma Street, SE 17th AVe and SE McLoughlin. Many people HAVE to get around the metro area with a vehicle——I was just talking with one of your PC faves, a black female realtor, and she agreed; she needed a motor vehicle to get from listing to listing. And they also have to get to third party businesses, to. Or delivery people, or emergency people, or self employed people, or tradespeople.

      So I dread crossing Tacoma Street—whether on foot, by bike or car. The through traffic should have been put underground and the bridge simply rebuilt—with a lighter weight deck and isolation bearings, thus reducing potential inertia forces.

      Portland is crowing about the high (7 percent) of bike commuters. But this could also be attributable to age demographics, and I wouldn’t argue that building a lot of expensive rental property probably induces residents of same to cut their travel-to-job requirements. It’s still not producing more livability for those who need to get to far removed places throughout the day. And dealing with cyclists who live by their own rules and distracted pedestrians plus the motorists who love them, contributes to the stress. And today in Portland, thanks to noodle headed design ‘experts,” we have to deal with bubble curbs and lanes that suddenly disappear or become turn-only lanes. One thing in Sellwood is southbound on 13th Ave at Tacoma they have now striped it to just one lane. Not sure why this is considered an improvement. Today I saw a left turning cyclist ( from the bridge I think) come through on the red light.

      So what is all the big excitement about “development?” Are you now a developer buddy? A Trump supporter?

      • I cross the street at SE 13th and Tacoma a lot (probably 15-20 times per week) and I like the adjustment. People don’t swerve around the guy turning left anymore, and it costs me a little more sometimes when I use Car2Go, but I feel much safer walking across there because I haven’t had a near miss since they repainted it.

        And while I’m sure that cyclists run the light a lot, almost every time I watch the intersection at SE 13th and Tacoma I see drivers run the lights. Earlier tonight I saw a guy driving an SUV run the red light when the pedestrian signals for SE Tacoma St went to the walk guy.

    • As a former tenant (from 2011 ’til 2014) of a warehouse/industrial space at the new 17th-and-Rhine station, I can say that there is PLENTY of redevelopment potential. And don’t shed a tear for those who might have to vacate, that happened over the past 3 years, with a roughly 50% increase in rent for some tenants. (You can hate on light rail for displacement, but you can’t argue that it lowers property values. My vacated space was re-occupied in less than a week.)

      • My rent went up 47% with 30 days notice in Brooklyn, but at least I won a gift basket from the O Marks the Spot contests!

      • I think all of 17th avenue in that area is going to be redeveloped into something resembling Williams. Otherwise the $1.5 billion investment will have been a bust. I think the ultimate catalyst will probably be if PGE moves its facility and redevelops the land. I wouldn’t be surprised if Trimet does something with it’s land. If it can get federal funding, it might move the bus barn. If not, an interesting solution might be to build a podium and place housing above the buses. Land values would have to sharply increase in that area for it to make sense.

  7. “Traffic messes” are fine…another incentive for those who are not auto-addicted to rethink how they get around. Every shift in mode leaves more room for the addicted! Slowing down the transportation mode that kills and maims the most should be top priority.
    More development brings more retail, more services, more activity with easy access via walking, biking and transit. Making the mode switch that much easier for folks.
    Portland still has acres and acres of parking lots, vacant lots and underused property adjacent to light rail, streetcar and frequent service bus lines, on or near good bikeways, and already equipped with sidewalks, crosswalks, etc. Developers, non-profits and public agencies together can build out the city so all are welcome. Prosperous cities are crowded, congested and lively; some people can’t wait to get out (that might be you, Ron), while others can’t wait to get in. So it goes!

  8. One more thought/question on the Orange Line. I wonder if TriMet is thinking about acquiring some industrial land adjacent to the line for a small maintenance and storage yard for MAX vehicles. Original South/North had that, and without it…as you can see from the new schedule…a lot of trains are running very early just to get into position to provide adequate morning service on the Yellow/Orange lines.

    • I was wondering if TriMet even needs to acquire land for that. The Orange Line runs right past their Center Street headquarters with its massive bus parking area. Couldn’t they just run a couple of tracks into the parking lot at Boise Street, and create storage for a couple of dozen MAX vehicles with a bare-bones maintenance shed?

  9. I assumed they would have done just that with some of the project savings if there was, indeed, room. Should run this question by someone in the know at TriMet.

  10. Lenny, by your logic you should be a Trump supporter. To me it appears that the once crafty and devious mogul may have had some epiphany, though. I’m supporting him, but not because he made a fortune encouraging a life controlling addiction, gambling. The US is being pushed on to the ropes and someone needs to fight back. But since you believe in bare knuckles real estate development Trump should be your man. Oh, I forgot, you are going to throw in some socialistic government interdiction!!!

    Your charge that people who have to drive have an addiction, i.e. a life controlling behavior, is downright silly. There are all sorts of middle class people—you know the type that might actually buy a home (as Clinton promoted) as opposed to renting—who need to get from one place to another pronto. ASAP.

    Likewise with the other apologists here with their recent comments. When I do use the bicycle I am impressed with the politeness of Portland drivers. But transportation modes—because traveling somewhere has inherent risks—do in fact benefit from defensive operating techniques, so why should bicyclists be different? Get someone with brains to come up with a promotable defensive and safety operation dogma, just as the defensive driving dogma absolutely had to be promoted in the 1970’s. Maybe you were in Germany when that happened; it was BIG NEWS here in the US: i.e. Do what you can to avoid an incident, even if it means sacrificing your rights. A very sound idea to promote.

    • Nobody has to get anywhere “pronto”. They choose to over-schedule or over-commit. Blaming one’s hectic life experience on anyone other than oneself is chickenshit.

  11. If Trump can cause the Republican party to implode, then I’m all for him. History’s dustbin awaits them all.
    Seriously, living car-light is liberating, why not build a city where that is possible? Maybe save a planet at the same time.
    Help me out here and spell out your auto-centric vision.

    • If you have one job at a single destination and you don’t live far away sure you could get there on a bike. I have no problem with that. What about a tradesman who is dispatched all over the METRO area, carries tools, power equipment, supplies, parts, paperwork, protective gear if needed, and also has to be there at 7 o’clock AM, fifteen miles from home? In fact on my last big union job we had a father and son who came to work in NW Portland all the way from Govt Camp. They lived up there because they also built a home, and maybe worked on others, I’m sure they had their reasons. Also we started at 7 am, so they said they would get up at 4, I suppose because there could be snow. I don’t know why but it seems a lot of guys in construction do this: they live a long ways away—maybe they have an acreage they raise things on—and get up 3 or four hours early? Why don’t you go after them for wasteful driving with their huge diesel pickups? The biggest rig I ever had was one ton Ford van that could haul just about anything, and I had bought it used.

      Now what about the person who works one job starting early in the morning, then has a second job for four or six hours, somewhere another ten miles away? What about the person who works a job and then picks up theri kids and then takes them to some lessons somewhere? What about the person who must show up somewhere with important documents at 10 am. meet a client at noon, and then make two other meetings in the afternoon, on the other side of town.

      This is typical. Don’t make me laugh at you anymore.

      • All the people you list have reasons, some good some stretching it, for driving a vehicle. But they are absolutely, with no doubt, certainly, for sure less than 20% of the people who drive to work on any given day.

        Subtract the 7% (in Portland) who bike or walk and the 5% who take transit and you’re down to 70%. If that 70% would go two per car, that alone would slash congestion and fuel use by more than a third. Everyone would get to work more quickly, safely and have somebody to complain about the other bastard drivers to.

      • Your first paragraph of examples isn’t typical.

        Some people do stuff like that, but it’s ridiculous to call it typical. Look at the stats: most people work office or service jobs, not plumbing or construction jobs.

        Your second paragraph of examples *also* isn’t typical. Most people with office jobs don’t have to take meetings on the other side of town. Most people don’t work two jobs a day, thank goodness.

        The closest to typical you got in your entire list is “works a job and then picks up the kids”. The kids can take the train and the bus too, y’know?

        • You need to do some lexicon work. In the context it was written it can mean “typifies” not necessarily that it denotes an average or median.

  12. The more people who do use transit, bike and walk to their employment, the more roadway space remains for those who must or who feel the need to use a motorized vehicle, especially freight. Everyone wins when we make sensible use of limited transportation resources. Its very unlikely any major roadways in Portland will ever be widened, so what choice do we have? And of course safety trumps (there is that word again!) everything; speeds of dangerous vehicles must be reduced.

  13. I agree with the carpooling. In fact I agree with a lot of things that get vehicles off the road, or reduce the need to build new roads, thus saving taxpayer money. However, as far as mass transit the technological advances WILL be in road vehicles. It’s simply Occam’s Razor in practicum; Simpler solutions should be considered first, AND they are easier to make adjustments to. Therefore user friendly engineering should rely on simplicity, before complexity. Furthermore, the bigger the project the bigger the RISK. Why do you think military planners have to take a lot more precautions to protect an aircraft carrier than a patrol boat?

    Unfortunately because of vested interests certain people will still push complex solutions, that are not really necessary. Thus my belief in self sufficiency also comes in, and this seems to be a valid philosophical basis, too.

    In fact, I wish people would get on bikes and also get off the roads, and then I wouldn’t have to stress about running into them, as I try to get around the city for necessary purposes. But what is the hangup, then? Officials are centering on political decisions, rather than practical construction decisions. Transit, even though it moves, is still basically a construction project.

    But I see some hope at METRO to break the deadlock.

    • You’re quite wrong about one claim: The technological advances have happened in railed vehicles first. *Always*. They get transferred to road vehicles later.

      Go visit Vancouver, BC with its fully automated elevated and underground rail lines.

      Or notice that trains are often already electrified, while road vehicles are not. Even “diesel” locomotives are actually hybrids, with a diesel generator producing electricity for electric motors.

      So the technological innovations happen on trains EARLY — *decades* before they show up in cars.

      Institutional, political things have prevented most places from actually adopting those innovations, which is an interesting topic to consider and discuss.

      “But what is the hangup, then? Officials are centering on political decisions, ”
      Yep. There are some political forces which encourage *inefficient* public transportation decisions. That’s why not all cities have Vancouver, BC’s Skytrain — if we’d been working on it, we could all have systems like that already.

      • adopting early is great, but the trains are in service for longer, so the ones on the ‘road’ or track in this case might have older tech

    • “Therefore user friendly engineering should rely on simplicity, before complexity”

      This is of course correct, so I’ll also point out that trains on tracks are fundamentally simpler than cars on roads. Stabilization, steering, suspension on roads are hugely complicated and finicky — not to mention tires!

      Conical steel wheels on rails is as simple as you can get and close to foolproof. It’s passively self-stabilizing even at high speeds, which is why you can make long trains without fishtailing.

  14. I’m working on an order. Another interesting thing; the LED bracelets, are only two bucks, pretty good deal, since it would be fun and give one good visibility to the side.

    But I’m trying to work in the sometimes sold out, wool, fleece lined jackets, also.. Probably the cyclists will drop significantly when that attire has to come out.

    ((Moderator) Maybe having that link on there is not so good; I’m getting blocked out on my Bing search Portland+transport by some squiggly Chinese stuff.)

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