In this morning’s Oregonian, the editorial board came out against Measure 26-119, the TriMet sponsored bond measure which would continue the soon-to-expire Westside MAX bonds, in order to pay for numerous enhancements to the bus system, particularly to help out the disabled.
Before we get to the meat of the post, a brief introduction. I’ve been a long-time commenter and kibitzer here at portlandtransport.com, and Bob and Chris have kindly asked me to become a contributor. I’ll also be joining the board of the nonprofit corporation that owns portlandtransport.com. I also operate a couple blogs of my own, most notably the Dead Horse Times, although I must admit I’ve been out to lunch for most of September. :) I’m a professional SW engineer and amateur transport nerd, and live out in Beaverton (mainly because I work there).
Onto the meat of the post. In this morning’s Oregonian, the editorial board came out against Measure 26-119, the TriMet sponsored bond measure which would continue the soon-to-expire Westside MAX bonds, in order to pay for numerous enhancements to the bus system, particularly to help out the disabled. Previously, the Oregonian had written that it would take a wait-and-see attitude on the matter–questioning the use of revenue bonds to buy short-term capital equipment such as busses. While not speaking for the paper, metro columnist Steve Duin had a scathing column of his own last week, suggesting that TriMet can have either this measure or Milwaukie MAX, but not both–and predicting which one the agency will choose.
Some of the claims made in the O’s most recent editorial have come under attack–blogger Alex Craghead wrote a blistering defense of TriMet’s rail focus, blasting the paper for its position. And some of the claims of the paper seem silly–it seems to act as though the very concept of debt financing is outrageous (as opposed to questioning the specific proposal on the table). And, as Alex also points out, passage of the measure wouldn’t raise anyone’s taxes, as it continues an existing levy–though on the other side of that coin, defeat of the measure would cause a small tax decrease for metro-area property owners. Craghead also criticizes the apparent “alliance” between libertarian critics of TriMet, many of whom would like to spend as little as possible on public transit, and some of the agency’s detractors on the left.