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This page contains a single entry from the blog posted on August 21, 2006 4:49 PM. The previous post in this blog was Saturday, in the park?. The next post in this blog is Perfectly legal. Many more can be found on the main index page or by looking through the archives.

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Monday, August 21, 2006

Two grouchy old guys commiserate

A friend writes, of Portland's much ballyhooed "urban planning":

it's sick... it really is... and too many people around here drink the kool aid... i always come out against trains and trolleys and am branded as anti-mass transit... all i ever say is they're the tools of developers to increase property value while being subsidized by the city... buses are fine and not subject to the restrictions of anchored-rail problems ... trolleys are incredibly inefficient, slow and stupid -- but if you're putting up a development these days, you just gotta have one ... cute little things really help sell condos... and we keep dumping hundreds of people on street grids built for just a few people -- or in the case of south waterfront, no people... and the citizens cheer them on... hooray for us -- we know things about living nobody else in the world knows! and homer just buys himself another segway...

Comments (1)

Duh. I just figured out why south waterfront traffic wasn't a planning problem. It's obvious in retrospect... everyone there will use Segways to get around.

Next step: FlexWay.

Yeah, baby. Put that in the new urbanist pipe and smoke it.

Posted by: Alan DeWitt at August 21, 2006 06:57 PM

There ya go!

Posted by: Jack Bog at August 21, 2006 07:50 PM

So, got any actual ideas? Other than just "planning, trams, light rail and government suck"? It really does sound like you and your merry band of grumpy old farts (GOFs)won't be happy until Portland becomes Toledo.

Posted by: Scott at August 21, 2006 10:15 PM

So, got any actual ideas? Other than just "planning, trams, light rail and government suck"? It really does sound like you and your merry band of grumpy old farts (GOFs)won't be happy until Portland becomes Toledo.

Posted by: Scott at August 21, 2006 10:18 PM

"and too many people around here drink the kool aid..."

In the last two decades I've lived in three cities, including Portland, which are serving the same "kool aid." All three cities continue to suffer under the exorbitant Federal, State and Local expense AND the inefficiency of a light rail/subway system.

Additionally, I have experienced mass transit in Europe, Central and South America. In all of the cities I've traveled to, rail travel is not the answer to the efficient transportation of the citizens. Rather, the investment and maintenance of an efficient, clean, safe, and convenient bus system IS THE BACKBONE of their transportation grid.

Let's stop drinking PDXKoolAid

Posted by: carol at August 21, 2006 10:45 PM

It seems that folks are so offended by the Max and streetcar systems they loose sight of the fact that those are part of the overall system of public transit here in Portland. The BACKBONE,as mentioned above, are the hundreds of buses that trimet operates. And operates damn well, even if folks aren't willing to see it.

For the record, i like living here. I don't want to live in a toledo.

Posted by: Mark at August 22, 2006 08:49 AM

The problem with buses on city streets is that if the city street gets clogged with cars, the bus can't go anywhere.

One advantage of light rail in Portland (but not the street car, so far) is that it is on an exclusive right of way, or, in downtown Portland, in an almost exclusive right of way. It won't be stopped by a traffic jam like a bus will.

The most promising transit solution, offering both flexibility and reliability, is an exclusive bus route. The bus transit mall on 5th and 6th Streets is almost exclusive, and allows the buses to go through downtown on a reliable schedule. Instead of building a new bridge across the Willamette for light rail, why not build it for buses only, and then extend an exclusive busway along Highway 99E South - along with connections to regular street routes on Powell, Division, and Hawthorne?

And, instead of commuter rail, why not buy one ofr the two train lines and convert it into an exclusive busway between Beaverton and Wilsonville? For example, the Lake Oswego to Beaverton bus route takes almost 50 minutes to traverse its route. Putting the part of the route from the Tigard Transit Center to Beaverton would shave quite a few minutes off the route and would thus most likely increase ridership.

To sum up, I think the "grouchy old guys" and their constant "no's" aren't the answer. Undoubtedly, my proposals would cost a lot of money, probably not as much as rail, but plenty.

But it's time Tri-Met and the City with its prettified streetcar started taking mass transit seriously by giving us a system that maximizes the effectiveness of taxpayer dollars.

Posted by: Gordon at August 22, 2006 10:51 AM

Buses are vital, but how many decent cities of Portland's size around the world don't have some form of rail? And what form of transit anywhere isn't subsidized to the hilt, including roads?

Posted by: libertas at August 22, 2006 11:10 AM

Yes, lots of cities have rail, and so does Portland. I'm not advocating tearing up the MAX system, or even the streetcar. But future investments need to give us the best transit for the money, and many cities are realizing that exclusive busways, in combination with city streets, do a better job of that. Los Angeles is the latest city to get the message - its newest transit line in the San Fernando Valley is an exclusive busway instead of a rail line. Curitiba, Brazil has had such a system for at least a couple of decades now.

Posted by: Gordon at August 22, 2006 11:49 AM

Sorry, folks - light rail is an incredibly expensive loser.

I'm all for express bus lanes, but of course, that would require investment in (gasp) asphalt.

Our "leaders" aren't about to go for such an antiquated approach. You might be able to get them to go for tram networks, though.

Posted by: Max at August 22, 2006 12:54 PM

Gee ... not one word about looming oil scarcity ... not one word about pollution (such as choking on the diesel soot from belching buses) ... not one word about bicycles!!

The motorized paradigm is one that clings to the enduring fantasy of no limits.  As an older technology, trains are a step back from hyper-industrialization.  Bicycles are even less industrial and, therefore, most sustainable of all.

But all of this is moot if Portland progressives continue to welcome more and more people, and continue sucking up to La Reconquista.

Posted by: Knappster at August 22, 2006 02:01 PM

Wow, Knappster has managed to combine the Luddite theology with the Know-Nothing mantras. Amazin'!

Posted by: Matilda at August 22, 2006 02:56 PM

Oh Matilda you are soooo glib.....

Posted by: Scott at August 23, 2006 10:03 PM

[Posted as indicated; restored later.]


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