The Tram Show: 200 thumbs down
The folks who went down to Portland Commissioner Sam Adams's "town hall" meeting on the OHSU Medical Group aerial tram [rim shot] last night got an earful of cider, but not much satisfaction. In comments to my post of last night on the Stadum-Leonard Flame War, a couple of them wrote:
I just returned from the tram meeting. I felt they were stalling for time with endless presentations. Who really cares about the long process they went through to arrive at their decision? It doesn't make the tram any less dumb. I did get to flame at the end, after they dodged my question on security. End result: they said it would cost 15 to 20 mil to shut her down.The funniest part wil be when they announce the fake financing deal tomorrow. They'll say stuff like "we had a Town Hall meeting where everyone had a chance to clear the air" about five times.
Yeah, I was there, too.
Process: Take questions on tram, write them down and post them, have panel of specialists do dog and pony shows (complete with slide show) on various aspects of the tram, check the posted questions to see if they've been answered, say, "I'll have to get back to you on that," if it can't be answered, thank everybody for coming.
Notice anything missing?
Like an opportunity to question the information provided by the panel members or expand upon the nuances of the issues.
They are still saying that they can deliver 900 people per hour on a 200 second ride. If we round that to 240 seconds (4 minutes), that's 15 trips per hour, coming to a projected 60 riders per tram car. Given the scaling of the figures on the illustrations, the tram car would be lucky to fit a dozen people comfortably.
The also state that only 140 people per hour can be moved in the 15 minute bus ride up or down the hill. Hmmm... Lessee, a standard city bus can carry 44 seated passengers. If you have one run every five minutes, that's 12 rides per hour. That's 528 passenger per hour. That's only one bus every five minutes, and it's still a helluva lot more than the 140 people per hour they projected. And it's doable. For a hell of a lot less than $50+ million.
Now, they noted that the operator would have to provide alternate surface transportation during maintenance down time. Why just "maintenance" down time? Why not ALL down time. Like high wind downtime. Or thunderstorm downtime. Or equipment failure downtime. Or computer malfunction downtime. There's got to be surface transportation linking the two portions of the campus, anyway. If it's needed for downtime, why not run it all the time? Does the tram operator require a fleet of buses and a storage facility for them all? Perhaps that's what those three floors of underground parking under the "temporary park" are for - the tram operator's alternate bus fleet?
Then... The made the point that this whole development, which pointedly and carefully was defined to run "south from the Ross Island Bridge to where the waterfront meets John's Landing", was "not to provide a 'park and ride' for OHSU employees."
What about the Schnitzer land, just to the NORTH of the Ross Island Bridge? That whole vast expans of partially paved (and toxic) land. It sure has the look of a parking lot to me.
Anyway... I wasn't too impressed. I'd like to see a set of questions developed by those a little more...critical and frank...than those typical turnout at a meeting that's already been delayed once.
Adams left 20 minutes after his hurried and rather flippant answers to the posted questions to take additional questions and comments, after we listened to a lot of artful horse manure from the usual suspects who have driven this project from the beginning. The capsule history of the project was particularly deceitful. The only one I thought had any integrity at that presentation was the city attorney and, to a lesser degree, the finance guy. This was a public-relations exercise, nothing more.
There were a couple of bits of news, though -- Adams said they expect a deal on the $15 million gap "within a couple of days," they have two proposers for their tram operator's RFP who price the operations cost at $1.2 million per year, and as noted previously, they're spending like drunken sailors, full-tilt-ahead whether they have the money or not.
I can comment for days on this, but I've already said too much, I'm sure. It was a complete joke.
By the time the fine print on the deal is known, the tram will be 50% complete (or so they'll say), and so even though it's a rotten transaction for the city taxpayers, "it's really, really too late to turn back." That's been the game plan since day one, and nothing new was shown last night.