Doritos Open Thread

It’s now October, and for some reason, there seems to be a run on tortilla chips down at the convenience store.  :)

52 responses to “Doritos Open Thread”

  1. With regard to affordable housing, one school of thought is that investors are driving prices out of reach of many middle-class buyers.

    I don’t know enough about tax policy to work this out, but is there a way to use the tax code to make housing a lousy investment vehicle? Maybe a two-tier property tax system: very high taxes for investment properties and income-generating properties, but fairly modest taxes for homeowners on the house/condo they are living in as full-year residents.

    If taxes can clear the investor class out of the housing market, then normal people — who just want a place to live — might be able to buy a decent home again.

    • What you are referring to is not really suited for the real property tax code. Rather it is best for the homeowner association to enforce such rules to prevent flipping & other investor tricks. My condo association has such rules in place.

      By doing it this way, you prevent the one size fits all problem & focus where time & resources are needed, plus in Portland there is the “Metropolitan Housing Rule” that requires affordable units to be built within any new built complex or in a separate structure that is nearby but is in the same neighborhood. This is to prevent large clusters of low income housing in a few areas as well as increasing the number of tax ratable properties in the city. Of course it hasn’t been perfect, but the concept is an interesting one & has brought benefits in several ways.

    • Florida has a Homestead Exemption system where homeowners can get (I think) $50k knocked off the taxable value of the property that they are living in. You can only use this for one property each year. Once you have filed for the exemption, it remains in effect each year for that property. You don’t have to file each year.

      • We all goof up @ some time.

        Has a vehicle choice been made for the new PD line? Personally I think an articulated bus from NewFlyer or Nova might do the trick or even a double tall from Alexander Denis might work especially if you want to grab attention.

        Here’s a great resource from Las Vegas of all places – & check out their fleet of vehicles for ideas.

        • Since articulateds don’t really fit the bays on the Mall, double talls are almost mandatory. But they will slow down the operation.

          • why wouldn’t they fit, especially since now there’s 1 stop per block instead of two, and now (except for one trip/weekday) McLoughlin buses no longer serve it?

            • Yes, you’re right. OK, then obtain some; getting 50% more productivity from a driver is worth the extra capital cost. And the hybrid versions can use both the diesel and electric moters simultaneously to get away from a stop like a trolley. At least, the RapidRides seem to be quicker than ordinary buses.

              They’re a little squirrelly on hills in the ice, but most of Portland’s east side routes don’t have hills so that wouldn’t be an issue.

          • Once the new electronic farecard system is in operationin 2017, bordings & bus movements should be faster. It will take a short period for growing pains, but that always works out in the end.

            As for double talls, here’s an easy rule to follow – only sit downstairs if you are traveling a short distance or if you have a special need such as use of the wheelchair slots. Otherwise – up you go. Also keep in mind these busses come in three lengths from 40′ to 45′.

          • “Articulateds don’t really fit the bays on the Mall…” except they were no problem from 1981 until 1998.

            They fit fine.

    • China has also introduced an electric bus—with an aluminum frame! So weight is going down, battery longevity is going up. And as I have been pointing out motor tech. is on the rise and actually in production as per Quebec’s TM4 corporation. Their powerplant can be retrofitted, so I wonder if the smaller TriMet buses might be changed to provide a shuttle service to OHSU, WHEN the battery technology improves enough to handle a steel chassis vehicle?


      What I think would be interesting in the medium to heavy vehicle field is the possibility of hybrid long distance freight. Maybe they could shut down to electric only, within the city? An overlooked problem, IMO, with buses and freight trucks is the noise problem of diesel engines.

      The next logical step would be increasing bicycle-carry capacity on buses. On the front rack how about adding a pull out slide, or two? And then some staggered height hangers inside behind the driver? Another option might be a camera monitored rear rack—reserved for access at major transfer stops. This would be especially good on an express route. Apparently TriMet is holding some related discussions.

      I realize there is some comfort factor drawback. OTOH, route expansion would be very simple.
      China New Energy aluminum bus,

      and their worldwide conference? (news to me), too:

    • All buses will be electric very soon. This is not going to change the massive advantage of light rail.

      The real advantage of light rail is the ability to form what are called “trains”. You may have heard of them? They’re much longer than buses, even longer than articulated buses, but they only have one driver, so they can carry many more people for the same labor cost.

      This is made possible by running on these things called “tracks”. If you don’t run on tracks, and you try to make a really long multi-articulated bus, you get fishtailing — it’s unavoidable. But if you put it on “tracks”, why then you don’t have fishtailing, and you can make a very long “train”.

      Sorry to sound like a kindergarten teacher, but it frustrates me that most people don’t know the basics.

      • “The real advantage of light rail …” – except thanks to the lovely design of MAX, a train can be no more than two cars long.

        To change this, you must:

        1. Figure out how to get a longer train through downtown Portland without blocking cross streets. That means building a subway – at the cost of BILLIONS of dollars – and one that will support two different lines, with three different entrance/exit points to downtown. Or an elevated system.

        2. Rebuild every single station, at a cost of likely $20 million or more, PER station. There are 97 stations, so we’re looking at a cost of around $2 billion – JUST to lengthen stations.

        3. Retime the entire signal system.

        4. Lengthen pocket tracks and sidings (think: Beaverton TC, Gateway TC, Rose Quarter TC).

        All together you’re looking at probably five billion dollars, JUST to allow the long trains you speak up – not including actually buying the trains.

        $5 billion will buy a LOT of bus service. Believe it or not, not all of the region has a need for a ten car MAX train; heck in many areas we can’t even fill a two car MAX train. We aren’t New York City were 12 car subway trains are commonplace. Many areas ARE best served by buses, despite your “kindergarten teacher” education, and an articulated or double-deck bus allows that additional capacity without adding to labor, fuel or maintenance expense. Rail has its place, certainly, but in the Portland area those places are actually quite limited. Orange Line ridership is so far no different than the bus ridership preceding it, and of course WES is a pathetic failure of a rail system. The Portland Streetcar largely runs empty on the eastside, while buses that run on the same streets are full – because the buses go where people want, but the Streetcar doesn’t.

        • Conceptually, the Blue Line could be expanded to four-car stations with a tunnel under Morrison from 1st to 18th, and selectively closing a few stations elsewhere in the core while expanding others. I doubt it would cost $20 million to rebuild every station, since many of them would require little more than platform extension and moving the signals. Washington Park and Sunset stations would cost a fortune to expand, though. But I doubt it the total cost be anywhere close to $5 billion.

          I doubt it would be needed, though. Not unless MAX ridership goes through some spectacular growth.

          • “I doubt it would cost $20 million to rebuild every station, since many of them would require little more than platform extension and moving the signals.”

            Cost of rebuilding the Rockwood Station was $5.5 million – included NO real estate acquisition, simply rebuilding the platform and shelters.

            Figure with a station platform twice as long, it’s going to cost at least twice as much.

            Then, add the costs of reconfiguring streets, parking, utilities, etc., and probably real estate…$20 million is not out of left field.

            Civic Drive cost $3 million, but had the benefit of having less to demolish, didn’t require a work zone within a street, no real estate, etc.

            So even if the final cost is $15 million instead of $20 million…to TriMet that just means fewer bus lines to cut.

            • At Rockwood, they re-did the area streets and moved one of the platforms to the other side of the intersection, and while I’m not sure the other one got demolished and rebuilt, they did enough to warrant building a temporary platform and closing the original one during the work.

              Outside of downtown Portland, there are few stations that have streets next to both sides of them.

    • Trucks within Portland go on the routes which have recently had streetcars designated to them. I guess the clearance is adequate—-14 feet–then? If they’re not then somebody screwed up big time!

      One thing I learned when I owned a 48 foot Chris Craft Constellation (thanks, Tom Potter for your moribund property crimes division!!) and this is what big rig drivers say, too, in one word: planning.

      Double Decker buses MUST stay on their route. Everything must be planned for and not changed. Maybe you could direct this question to the scores of cities using them around the world as to how they do it.

      • That might be true on most of the street sections, but I don’t think the SW Harbor Viaduct has the same clearance. It looked to me like the pantographs on MAX trains fold lower on that section then most other locations.

    • To further Ron’s comments–double-decker buses which are street-legal in the US are within 14′ in height, same as a semi, and designed to safely pass under Streetcar/LRT wiring, most overpasses, and other vertical obstructions, with a few exceptions.

      (One problem with them–they are uncomfortable for tall people due to low ceilings).

      • I’m 5′ 9″ & it really wasn’t a big deal to ride double talls in las vegas. The disadvantages related to lack of headroom are no match for the advantages of passenger capassity as well as Opperational flexability. Think about it – a double tall could be used nearly anywhere on the frequent service network & not just on the BRT line as long as there is a 14′ clearance.

        • I’m 6’1 and I’d rather drive a Smart Car than take another ride on any double deck bus I’ve been on.

  2. The Mayor has decided to stripe right-turn-only lanes on SW 10th and 11th where the streetcar tracks run. Why? I’m not quite sure. Congestion is never much of an issue in that section, and streetcar reliability would be better served by removing redundant stops. People parking their cars will still occasionally hold up the train. I predict it will be ignored almost as often as the transit mall restrictions.

    If the Mayor really wanted to improve transit operations, he would create BAT lanes on MLK and Grand that both the Streetcar and #6 could use. Other areas of concern include the SW 4th/Harrison intersection and Broadway/Weidler near the I-5 interchange.

    • The right turn lanes are to get cars out of the way of the streetcar so it doesn’t get stopped behind them at a light, unable to serve the stop until the next cycle of the light. That’s my understanding, anyway.

      The stop at SW 10th & Stark is slated to be removed, I hear.

      Thanks to everyone who explained the dbl-decker bus height thing, above.

      • I hope this posts.

        This tour of the Las Vegas Strip will give you an idea of what riding a double tall bus is like. Of course many streets in Portland aren’t anything near to the with of those in Las Vegas.

        • Seattle has them on downtown streets. I think we have to realize that transit technology is very rapidly evolving (and what isn’t?) so the following problem may not exist as new powertrains come into design.

          Being able to carry more bicycles on a double is critical, and the standard two bike front racks would be inadequate. I asked Martin Mungia of Community Transit if they could put them on the back; the answer was not now, since they can’t cover any of the diesel intake grill. But if electric power trains come out this could change. Or, if electronic boarding is standard and people can board in the back, why can’t they fit some hooks behind the driver, and stagger the heights a bit, so more cycles fit together. On front, I wonder if they could fit closer together: I guess the front tire hook needs a little room, maybe there is another solution? Or add a third, pull out rack? Or, as per putting some on back, designate those spaces specifically for major interconnection stops and the bus stops long enough so someone can get it back there?

          I see people holding on to their bikes on MAX, so they don’t always go into a rack. I guess an issue with having to be too creative (i.e sticking to bus transit, and at the same time, encouraging bicycle interconnection), is the drivers have to deal with more stress.

        • You don’t need wide streets to run double-decker buses. They do it all over England, a country not known for its wide streets.

    • There is already access on the Washington side in the summer on weekends. Skamania Transit runs weekday commuter service between Carson, Stevenson and Fishers Landing with one round trip midday as well.

      In the summer they run service on Saturdays and Sundays focused on bringing people to recreation sites in the county.

      So one can get to Cascade Locks and the PCT on the weekend during the summer, but if you want to hike in Oregon you have to pay the pedestrian toll on the Bridge of the Gods.

      it will be great if Oregon does a recreational line on the south side too; there are many more sites and Fishers Landing is not easy to get to from Oregon locations.

  3. Not that many years ago you could catch the Amtrak “Pioneer” in the early AM in Porltand, arrive in Hood River in an hour; The Dalles in 1.5 hours. The afternoon train back to PDX got you back around 6pm. ODOT should take a look at this option.
    I use the Amtrak “Empire Builder” when I need to come down to PDX from my place near Goldendale. Westbound leaves Bingen/White Salmon at 8:04, arrives at Union Station by 10am; Eastbound leaves PDX at 4:45pm, arrives B/WS at 6:15. Its a lovely ride.

  4. Woo-Hoo! The planners did finally pick LRT for the Southwest Corridor. But it does something very weird. It will go to Bridgeport Village, not Tualatin OR Tigard.

    I guess that’s the way to “honor” those towns’ votes to exclude it.

  5. So the preferred option for SW is light rail to Bridgeport Village that will bypass both OSHU or PCC … the two best prospective trip generators in the corridor. I gather the tradeoff was PCC or Bridgeport Village, and the planners went with Bridgeport.

    And apparently this thing will cost $2 billion.

    Not feeling a lot of excitement here.

    • Well, to hear Metro tell it, they’d get more bang for their buck if they ditched the OHSU and PCC tunnels and ended the line at Bridgeport (maybe it’s all a bargaining chip – who knows?). A real opportunity is being missed by not serving OHSU/Hillsdale directly, but I’m fine with them deep-sixing the PCC tunnel–geographically it’s far easier to connect a surface MAX stop to PCC than to OHSU.

    • My inclination would be to say “no” since the project bypasses the two biggest trip generators on the entire corridor. The planners chose to recommend against BRT, even though that could easily serve PCC at a fairly low capital cost.

    • I expect that the planners are depending on people saying “WTF?” about skipping OHSU and leaning on the hospitals to grow up and realize that boring a tunnel 200 feet below their buildings is going to be a big non-event.

      • I’m not sure if it was the tunnel itself that was the issue. My guess is that the construction of the elevators could have been quite challenging to implement without disrupting the Hospital.

        Still, it’s disappointing to see both OHSU and PCC get skipped. One potential option that might help offset bypassing PCC is the “Bus Hub” proposal for PCC. It would implement some of the SW Service Enhancement Plan by extending the 44 south to Bridgeport, and extending the 93 from Tigard to the campus. If implemented, it might help connect the very disjointed SW bus lines.

        Link to PDF: (See page 15)

        • Nobody said that the elevators have to come to the surface right inside one of the buildings. There are five hospitals on the top of the hill; the station could be sited such that the elevators surface in their own building just as they do at Beacon Hill in Seattle. And for that matter, at Washington Park.

          The hospitals are worried then about the truck traffic from digging the elevators? I can see that, but if so, put the station under Campus Drive by the existing bus stop and use one of the new vertical shaft drilling machines — which are sort of like completely automatic TBM’s — to bore the “tunnels”. A conveyor belt could then carry the spills down to Terwilleger Boulevard where it would be dumped into a line of waiting trucks.

  6. Things have been a little…. sedate on this blog lately, so I don’t believe this has been brought up yet, but the most recent Powell-Division BRT Project update reveals the current preferred route does not achieve the desired travel time savings due to constrained ROW in several sections, one of them being –surprise, surprise– inner Powell. One concept the document calls for is phased-in BRT, the first phase focusing on Division between SE 82nd and MHCC where ROW implementation isn’t as much of an issue (and it would be an easy transfer to the Green Line at 92nd).

    • This is quite disappointing, but as you point out, not very surprising. It has felt that this line was going to fall short due to inner Powell (and possibly 82nd). I wonder what this means for BRT in Portland. Southwest Corridor seems set to be LRT. I wonder if the TV highway HCT line will pop up in the next few years. With the South Hillsboro plan still chugging along, it would be nice to have a high level of service on an already busy corridor.

  7. To add to Dan W’s update, two other transit stories from Portland Transport’s “Silent Winter”:

    1) Portland Streetcar closed several stops downtown.

    Overall, I think this was a good move. I do wonder how the isolated Harrison Street stop got passed over. Unless a new pedestrian connection is added, I don’t see what it adds to the system.

    2) TriMet will be doing major track repairs along first avenue in May. It’s going to be a major disruption for many folks.

    I’m going to be very curious to see how they handle the (West) Blue Line operationally. Having it stop at the Library, then reverse across 10th and 11th (and therefore the streetcar) into the turnaround then back across 10th and 11th into Galleria is going to be tricky. Will they have flagers to control traffic? Are their signals for trains to operate that direction already?

    • I’ve seen service alerts where trains turned around at 10th/11th to return to the west side, so I’d assume they have at least some signalling infrastructure in place.

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