Archive | Activism

TriMet continuning to ramp up PR campaign against ATU757

The other day, Portland Transport reported on the Westside Service Enhancement Plan. While wondering about the funding sources for such an ambitious expansion of service, I did take it seriously as a planning activity–and indeed, there are quite a few good ideas in there that I would love to see implemented.

However, in my wonky haste to discuss all the fun parts–I missed this little tidbit at the end:

Additionally, full implementation of the plan is limited until we are able to restructure our employee benefits.

A few readers have suggested that this “plan” is little more than a public relations ploy which TriMet is attempting to use to drum up support for its position in the ongoing contract negotiations–and something to be discarded if and when the agency wins the concessions from the union which it seeks. I have little reason to doubt the good faith and professionalism of TriMet’s planning staff, and it’s commonplace for planning activities to include more than an agency has the ability to pay for (this provides decision-makers with more options to consider). However, when planning documents (and planning outreach materials) come laden with an asterisk, it raises red flags all over the place.

And then a link to this “Save Our Service” page appeared in my inbox–promoting a “Transit Day” event at the state capitol in Salem, at which concerned riders will be invited to–well, it’s not precisely clear what participants in this even will be asked to do, beyond generic types of political activity. But the page in question is chock full of dire warnings, including the recent warning of 70% service cuts in the future, unless “reform” to the union contract happens. (ATU, naturally, disputes these warnings).

At any rate–given that the disagreement is fundamentally over healthcare benefits and costs–union workers aren’t getting richer if they have their way, it’s just that a particular defined benefit (health insurance) has gotten ridiculously more expensive over the years–perhaps reform of this problem would be more productive? After all, the medical industry is claiming an ever-larger share of the economic pie–and everyone else is left fighting over whose own piece will have to shrink as a result. In the private sector, workers have continually gotten the short end of this particular stick. HCR is, of course, a difficult nut to crack–even the modest reforms that made up Obamacare were quite politically costly for the Democrats, and in the current political climate, further reforms are pretty much off the table, at least at a national level. But this, folks, is the real problem–those of us who care about transit, whether as riders or drivers, are right now fighting over scraps.

82nd Avenue Transportation Workshop

From the Active Rights of Way (AROW) mailing list:

If you are interested in improving 82nd Avenue, please get this meeting on your calendar; September 24 at 7:00 PM.

One of the often mentioned obstacles to improving 82nd Avenue is that it’s under ODOT jurisdiction. Your attendance at this meeting will help give our public officials the clear message that we want 82nd to be under the City of Portland’s jurisdiction. Getting these public officials talking with each other will start the process moving.

Meeting Announcement: 82nd Avenue Transportation Workshop

Purpose: To learn about the process needed to transfer jurisdiction of 82nd Avenue from ODOT to the City of Portland.

Format: Panel discussion with public officials and state legislators about how to move ahead on this issue. Also, information on ODOT’s currently planned safety projects for 82nd will be available.

Who: Sponsored by the Montavilla Neighborhood Association and the 82nd Avenue Business Association. Panel will include Tom Miller, Portland’s Director of Transportation, State Senator Jackie Dingfelder, and Shelli Romero of ODOT.

When: September 24 at 7:00 PM

Where: Montavilla Methodist Church – 232 SE 80th.

Given that one of the currently planned ODOT “safety projects” for 82nd Avenue, the 82nd Avenue/Causey project, involves removal of the bus lane on 82nd near Clackamas Town Center, putting the street under control of local authorities strikes me as a wise idea. (This particular stretch of 82nd is outside the Portland city limits, and is located in Clackamas County; but ODOT has traditionally cared more about moving cars on its facilities than it has about moving people and facilitating local access). As there is a perfectly good freeway just to the east, there’s no reason to maintain 82nd avenue as an ODOT facility. (Likewise for Barbur Boulevard, Hall/Boones Ferry, and a few other streets I can think of…)