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This page contains a single entry from the blog posted on July 11, 2007 1:12 AM. The previous post in this blog was Nonsurprise of the Year. The next post in this blog is And now a word from Sam Bowie. Many more can be found on the main index page or by looking through the archives.

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Wednesday, July 11, 2007

Uncle Sam buys us toys we can't afford to run

I got into it a little bit with Chris Smith, the streetcar shill and Portland City Council wannabe, over on Amanda Fritz's blog recently. There was a thread going on and on over there about how the federal government pays most of the cost for building transit facilities such as streetcars and light rail. (They were also noting how OHSU paid the lion's share of the cost of the aerial tram [rim shot].)

What nobody was even acknowledging is the fact that while the federal government pays most (but not all) of what it costs to build some of these things, it hardly ever pays a penny to help operate them. For example, the city's taxpayers get to foot at least a third of the bill for the streetcars, and they aren't cheap to operate. As I pointed out:

Even if the feds and/or the state paid the full cost of building the streetcars (which of course they didn't), they don't pay jack squat toward operating them. Those shiny little condo sales toys currently cost the city "only" $1.6MM a year, according to your blog, and now we're talking about extensions that will run the total to $2.5MM or higher.

The aerial tram is another several hundred thousand -- we never got a straight answer, but I'm guessing [the city's share is] $350,000 a year.

Millions and millions every year that could have been spent much more wisely on other things. And wait 'til the equipment starts getting old. Is Earl the Pearl going to get us federal repair funds? Dream on.

They never talk about any of this when they're on the snake oil stand. Hey, Smith, what are the projected city general fund subsidies for operating the couplet streetcar and the east side streetcars once they're built? [crickets chirping]

A little while later, Smith took the bait, sort of "responding" this way:

To Jack's question about operating funds, on the west side we have largely funded this out of increased parking revenue. Essentially the business owners downtown have agreed to have parking rates increased to pay for this (and for some of the Mall Light Rail expansion). The east side will be trickier but I think in general we'll find relatively 'local' sources of operating funding - which may include rethinking fareless square in some way.
Such a typical nonanswer to a straightforward question. See any numbers there? Of course not. All you see is the double-talk about some magic special fund that's going to appear to pay for it all.

It will be all smoke and mirrors, just as it was in the Pearl. Parking meter rates went up, and somehow it's o.k. to divert all that added revenue to the annual streetcar subsidy, because... because... well, there's no reason, just because.

Wrong. Parking meter revenues can and should be used for pressing road maintenance needs -- you know, the ones that have now gotten so bad off that we'll need a serious gas tax hike or else "more people will die"?

A $2.8 million subsidy for streetcar and tram, every year, forever, is the equivalent of $56 million in your hand right now. Even just looking at an annual subsidy of, say, $600,000 for the proposed new streetcar lines, it's like $12 million in present value.

None of these figures factor in Tri-Met's costs to run the streetcar, which are twice as high. That agency loses money with every rider; the only way it stays afloat is through payroll and self-employment taxes, which every working person in the area pays directly or indirectly, willingly or not.

So when they all pat themselves on the back for the federal funding that they got to build the new toys, remember who's going to pay to operate them as they splash through their sea of red ink year after year. It's not Uncle Sam -- it's you and I here in Portland.

Comments (88)

Jack, the downtown businesses AGREED to have their parking rates increased to pay for Streetcar service. Why don't you go ask them if they would have agreed to that increase if it was going to be used for street maintenance all over the City.

May I put put a parking meter in front of your house to pay for the Burnside couplet?

No, I didn't think so. You only get buy-in (and in the post-measure-5 world, you HAVE to get buy-in) for new fees or taxes if those being taxed perceive a commensurate benefit.

And if TriMet were not helping pay for Streetcar operations, they would be spending the same money for bus service in the same areas.

First of all, I asked you for numbers. What's the projected city subsidy for Couplet Streetcar and Eastside Streetcar -- dollar amounts, ballpark estimates? I'm still waiting. Is no one bothering to project these figures? Or are they just being hidden?

May I put... a parking meter in front of your house to pay for the Burnside couplet?

What are you talking about? If you're the City of Portland, I'm sure you have the power to put a parking meter anywhere. Is there something in the City Charter that says you can't? News to me.

You only get buy-in

Are you telling me that parking meter revenues can't be used however the city wants to use them? Does there have to be some sort of election among the property owners about the spending of the meter revenues? That's quite a novel concept.

they would be spending the same money for bus service in the same areas.

Maybe. And probably much, much more efficiently, if they were. But the city would be paying nothing, which is what I'm trying to talk about through the thick smoke you're once again blowing.

Jack, the downtown businesses AGREED to have their parking rates increased to pay for Streetcar service. Why don't you go ask them if they would have agreed to that increase if it was going to be used for street maintenance all over the City.

When we look at Transportation System Development Charges, and there's no nexus between where they are collected from and where they are spent...we're told that we all benefit from the city-wide network of roads.

Now we're hearing the argument that parking meter revenue is, uh, site specific? And where we don't have parking meters in the Central Eastside Industrial District --and, more importantly, don't want them in our neighborhood-- we're to be told we have to have them...to pay for streetcar operations, despite the fact that the streetcar isn't intended to serve us, but rather as a catalyst for new development.

Can't we just skip the streetcar and get better bus service? Uh...no. In the "alternatives" analysis, the only option offered was NO new bus service whatsoever for us in close-in SE. It was the Streetcar...take it or leave it.

I'm not anti-streetcar...but run it up into the neighborhoods where people actually live and need better transit, and you'll find people more receptive to paying meter revenues and transportation system development charges for improvements that actually benefit them and not just new development.

Mr Dufay is right, we hear this story all day long about not being able to use the tram/streetcar money for anything else like potholes.

However, when it comes to getting money for the tram/streetcar anything funding source is fair game. I guess that speaks to the critical thinking ability of voters in this town.

OK, numbers for operating costs:

Burnside couplet - I have no idea. This is still a gleam in Sam's eye and it's at least three years behind the Loop in the planning process.

Loop - If you run 12 min service from OMSI to the Pearl, it's about $3.6M per year. If you run from OSMI to PSU or Riverplace, it's more like $5.6M.

We will likely submit the Federal application for the OMSI to Pearl configuration, then spend the time while we're building the project to figure out if/how we can fund the the longer reach. Note that the benefit of the longer run goes to two groups: eastside riders who don't have to transfer, and downtown users who will see their frequencies double. So we would be looking for downtown to contribute something to make the longer run.

Likely sources are farebox (unlike the current line, the new track is outside fareless square, some savings from reconfiguring the TriMet #6, paid parking on the eastside (again, only with the agreement of the district). Getting to the larger amount will likely require a re-assessment of fareless square (which should appeal to all of you who gripe that Streetcar is mostly free because it's inside the free zone).

And Jack, regardless of what the Charter might give the Council authority to do, you would scream bloody murder if they put meters in your neighborhood without convincing you there was a net benefit. Ditto for SDCs, Frank - there may be no 'nexus' requirement but there is a stakeholder committee making recommendations on rates and the project list to make sure it flies politically.

What if the city raised the fares for MAX and Streetcar to pay for paving roads?

Justin, that would be really ironic, considering that the fares don't even begin to cover the costs of operating the MAX and Streetcar.

"What nobody was even acknowledging is the fact that while the federal government pays most (but not all) of what it costs to build some of these things, it hardly ever pays a penny to help operate them."

or maintain, or expand them...like our crappy interstate system. It seems Uncle Sam's penchant for building things and leaving it up to the local community to operate or upgrade, or even fix the faulty engineering (ie. Oregon's bridge replacement program paid for by Oregonians, not Uncle Sam who built faulty bridges on the interstate to begin with) expands far beyond trams and streetcars.

Am I missing something here when Chris Smith writes about parking revenue? While businesses may have to "buy in," aren't the people who pay the higher fees just regular folks coming downtown? And if so, why isn't our "buy in" just as important?

I won't support a gas tax, but I would support parking revenue going to the backlog of road improvements. This is more akin to a real user fee.

I also would support more bus service vs. a streetcar. Fewer fixed costs/assets and greater ability to expand and contract capacity.

You guys don't get it. When Chris Smith runs for city council, and the Trib gives him another laudatory front page photo op, he wants to be riding the prow of a streetcar, one hand tucked in his tunic, like Washington crossing the Delaware.

Some things I've not seen mentioned about the Streetcar here:

1. Businesses advertise on the streetcar, both with their names printed on streetcar stops, and with announcements made, "This stop is sponsored by so-and-so..." Is not this advertising revenue used to help fund operations? If so, how much does it contribute?

2. It seems the streetcar was made for visitors. Look at the ticket, when you purchase it on the streetcar. It says "Welcome to Portland!"

3. The streetcar has never seemed serious about collecting fares. Often the farebox doesn't work, or doesn't take your bills. And it is unreasonable to expect people to manage their way to the farebox when the streetcar is crowded, and one is lucky just to find a spot to stand. And it is often very crowded.

4. The streetcar is great for the elderly and handicapped people who live downtown. It's easier to get on and off than buses are.

Wait...wait...

He thinks they'll pay for the streetcar operation with increased parking revenue?

Isn't the streetcar there to reduce the demand for parking, and thus parking revenue?

They intend to pay the cost of operating the streetcar with more people driving to the area?

Am I missing something?

Am I missing something here when Chris Smith writes about parking revenue? While businesses may have to "buy in," aren't the people who pay the higher fees just regular folks coming downtown? And if so, why isn't our "buy in" just as important?

Here's the political reality: when Council looks at adding parking meters, nobody from Beaverton (or Lents) shows up and says "I don't want to pay for parking downtown."

Instead, Portland Business Alliance shows up and says "this is going to drive some of our customers to Clackamas Town Center or Washington Square."

It worked in NW Portland where developer Richard Singer told Council the business community wouldn't accept parking meters until they were allowed to tear down houses and build parking garages. So far, no meters, sigh...

They intend to pay the cost of operating the streetcar with more people driving to the area?

Am I missing something?

Here's what happens: Streetcar attracts development, development attracts people in cars as well, who pay for parking. So while Streetcar helps create dense environments that are relatively less auto-dependent on a per-capita basis, it does indeed increase parking revenue in the immediate area. Parking meter collections along 10th and 11th (which were metered even before Streetcar arrived) have increased dramatically.

Chris, thanks for dumping on Lents. Appreciate you confirming that no one cares about my side of town.

It seems Uncle Sam's penchant for building things and leaving it up to the local community to operate or upgrade, or even fix the faulty engineering (ie. Oregon's bridge replacement program paid for by Oregonians, not Uncle Sam who built faulty bridges on the interstate to begin with) expands far beyond trams and streetcars.

The Federal money to fix roads & such is available, the problem is that Portland gets it & uses it all to build trains, trams, and streetcars. Oh, and the East Bank Esplanade.

Here's what happens: Streetcar attracts development

This again? Please, man...this is tired, tired, tired.

If streetcars & max trains were really that important for development, then the city wouldnt have to hang the tax incentive "porkchop" around its neck to get the developers to play.

One thing you all are forgetting is that the federal funds that pay for MAX and the street car ARE OUR FUNDS!! For every dollar Oregon gives to the feds, we get back about 98 cents- on average. We're not getting any supplemental dollars from other states and this smart growth crap is just sucking up more 'federal' funds for other pressing Oregon projects.

And Chris, subsidies attract development, not the streetcar. How much is the Pearl and SoWhat upside down right now? Just when are we expecting a positive ROI out of those developments? Where can I find actual, audited numbers?

And why does it makes sense to subsidize MAX ridership to the tune of $17 a rider?

Oh, and lets not forget the land giveaways to developers in "transit-oriented" developments....

i wasn't aware that parking meter revenue went to businesses, or that they had any involvement in how the revenue was spent.

Here's what happens: Streetcar attracts development, development attracts people in cars as well, who pay for parking.

if you've got any solid proof of that statement, i'd be grateful to see it.

Streetcar helps create dense environments that are relatively less auto-dependent on a per-capita basis

that's almost bordering on silly. the Streetcar only goes (and will only go) along streets that are already dense.

also, how can dramatic increases in meter revenue along 10th & 11th signify a "relatively less auto dependent" area? prove that there are less drivers per-capita now, please.

Chris, the slings and arrows you're experiencing are valid. i'm all for public transit, but the bright promises of reductions in traffic and auto use and Spandex jackets for everyone are not supported--anywhere--by fact.

When dueling data 'discussions' (so to speak), "to make sure it flies politically," (as said), blow black storm and smoke clouds over the bandwidth of City business information, by which stakeholding Citizens invest the riches they make, and are, of it -- and "it" is a trolley or ballpark or fire or police station or road repairs, and more -- the speculating thickfast often reminds me of elements in the popular computer game, SimCity, which virtually 'plays' the 'politics' of conception and delivery in a Simulated City.

And I ask: Can't we all just veritably get along?

It seems to me, a SimCity platform on the web could be databased, and built along, as a real, veritable City. Say, Portland. Based and builded for real terrain, real populace-osity, real ordinances, real offices of management, real time. Civics and municipality making, moving and shaking. Really.

A community establishment, "that speaks to the critical thinking ability of voters in this town."

Very much friction energy is wasted pointing back at wrongs, and around at confusions, and into decay; while the truth of our living is what's ahead, tomorrow, and we could be better looking into it and doing our investments open-eyed seeing the time-derivative value of our riches.

How about it? Could we commission the Real Portland network game, for speculating forward views? Linux world headquarters is around here, somewhere, and it's all about open source -- maybe it could get with the program. Just speculating where this is headed ...

Let's assume Jack's right and Portland can't afford to maintain the streetcar and lightrail toys given it by Uncle Sam. It's still a lot of "free" federal money to be giving up. Is there any strategy for working Uncle Sam to re-direct his gifting to other Portland needs? If Portland said to its Reps in D.C., we're boycotting your toys and want different new toys, would the Reps eventually give-in and give us more funds for things other than streetcars/lightrail? That's the question I've got for Jack.

P.S I live near downtown but don't think much of streetcars. The average speed of the streetcar seems to be about 7 miles per hour. Many of us can walk at a rate of almost 4 miles per hour, and many of us might be able to lap a streetcar on a bike in the latter's first lap. I also find it curious if streetcars are so great, why they were removed from the east-side some decades ago.

Could we commission the Real Portland network game, for speculating forward views?

Tenskwatawa, we're already living in the RealPortland game--hence the neverending dueling data discussions and statistical abstractions.

science is not going to save us from ourselves--yet we operate cities on the principle that it does, ignoring the dismal record of our wrong predictions and assumptions.

but, i like your idea of having some way that gathers and sifts the collective wisdom of citizens in real time.

I honestly cannot understand the need to try and make a claim that transit does not require huge subsidies from the taxpayer. The public is not angry about this, or we would not have the City Commissioners and Mayor we do. Light rail has never been supported at the ballot box, but government installed it anyway. Elected officials don't give a damn what the public thinks, so why worry about whether its operating costs are paid? The proper and honest response from the Jeff Smith's of the world would be "who cares?" Given that the existence of transit is completely irrelevant because 97 percent of all trips in the metro area happen without using it, the answer is "no one."

I also find it curious if streetcars are so great, why they were removed from the east-side some decades ago.

Pretty sure the automakers had a hand in that...

P.S I live near downtown but don't think much of streetcars. The average speed of the streetcar seems to be about 7 miles per hour. Many of us can walk at a rate of almost 4 miles per hour, and many of us might be able to lap a streetcar on a bike in the latter's first lap.

Yeah. I can see that. In cases like mine, though, one would need to take into consideration the time to find a secure parking space, secure the bike, shower and change clothing...which, I suspect, would allow many streetcar riders to arrive and start work while I was still getting ready. Assuming the facilities are present to shower and change.

If it's close enough to walk, walk.

I also find it curious if streetcars are so great, why they were removed from the east-side some decades ago.

Because they were too fixed. In a growing urban area, the ability to change lines as demand changed was a desirable premium. Fixed rail lines did not allow ready easy route changes. Rubber-tired trolleys were one step, but the advent of relatively inexpensive diesel buses allowed a lot more flexibility to the system.

I think we need to face the concept that public mass transit is the provision of a service to the less fortunate. I would suspect that the middle and upper classes who refuse to get out of their cars would be most interested in supporting it through an increase tax on alcoholic beverages...given that their direct experience will largely be when they have the driver's licenses suspended for drunk driving.

I find it amusing that increased funding for mass transit in the area has been sold to voters on the idea of "getting more drivers off the road". Sure, they'll go for that. Get all those other drivers off the road, so my drive won't be so nasty. Of course, when everybody thinks that way, we still have gridlock and underutilized mass transit.

5 million dollars for effective, non-polluting transit in the core of the city, creating a national model of how to make your downtown thrive? It's worth double that to the city.

Jiminy Christmas.

5 million dollars for effective, non-polluting transit in the core of the city, creating a national model of how to make your downtown thrive? It's worth double that to the city.

the majority of the population lives outside of and does not visit the downtown core.

it creates quite a bit of pollution to make a streetcar and install and maintain its infrastructure.

having streetcars in the city core has been done in dozens of cities for over a century. Portland's is no model of anything, really.

the correlation between a streetcar line and "thrive" doesn't exist, in my opinion, unless you mean housing, goods and services that less than 10% of the population can regularly afford.

or did you not know about Portland's growing chasm between rich and poor, even lamented by Sam Adams?

$5 million dollars, Torrid? Just where are you getting that ridiculous number?

Do you have to be reminded again and again it was our money that built it? It's our money that runs it? And it's our general fund getting depleted from non-participating TODs?

At what cost are we going to pay for a "vibrant downtown?"

BTW, the streetcar is not non-polluting. You gotta burn or churn something to generate the electricity to run the stupid thing.

The feds pay for building the streetcar and we pay at the local level to operate it. That sounds like a good deal to me. If someone gave me a car but told me I had to pay to operate it, I'd still consider it a highly beneficial gift.

I realize that when the federal government gives money to Portland it is, in a sense, just returning the money we had previously sent to them. But it's not like we have the choice to just keep the money here in the first place, so the system requires that we compete to get federal money to spend on projects the feds deem worthy.

Personally, I think that building mass transit networks is a good use of federal money (or, as the anti-tax crowd likes to say, "my money").

"Personally, I think that building mass transit networks is a good use of federal money (or, as the anti-tax crowd likes to say, "my money")."

Wonderful. While Earl the Pearl lobbies for funds to build toy trains that 3% of the population uses, the areas highways stay clogged ad infinitum.

Boy, that's thinkin.'

"Wonderful. While Earl the Pearl lobbies for funds to build toy trains that 3% of the population uses, the areas highways stay clogged ad infinitum."

Just pretend that the highways are clogged with "toy cars," just as you pretend that the streetcar is a "toy train," and perhaps you'll no longer be troubled by reality.

Once again, I love the Max, like the streetcar and understand why OHSU got the city to bend over for the tram. It seems there are even people here who hate the esplanade, something that truly makes downtown cool. What’s next a campaign against fountains, Washington Park and that horrible Gorge?

Having said that, I’ve yet to hear a decent case for the couplet and the Eastside streetcar expansion seems like the wrong priority if that area is to stay light industrial. I would imagine that a proposal sending it up Sandy, Broadway and Hawthorne would get strong public and developer support.

Hmmmm... It seems downtown businesses AGREED to have their auto parking customers parking rates increased. Some buy in that is.

non-polluting

Ask the salmon how they like electric trains.

A reader writes:

You've fallen into their trap -- you're dismissing FEDERAL money as if it's a gift from God... my goodness, that money comes out of our pockets, too... and the fact that all states chase this dough as if it's free money means that we all chase it to get our fair share… and the taxes get higher and higher and higher...

Good point.

"5 million dollars . . . to make your downtown thrive?"

Torrid Joe - Instead of taking taxpayer time on your CoP job to blog, you should get some exercise outside of work hours and look at Pioneer Place and ask stores how their biz compares to WashSq, ClackTC and Bridgeport.

I know biz owners and downtown really stinks for retail traffic. You can also look at Pioneer Place above street level and see the empty spaces.

If someone gave me a car but told me I had to pay to operate it, I'd still consider it a highly beneficial gift.

Problem: This is a fleet of Hummers. And we don't even have the gas money for a Civic.

Something that most people don't realize is that a lot of the "free" federal money is allocated to the cities and states based on their population and similar factors. Portland would get that money one way or another. So it it would make more sense to spend it on something that works, not something that is merely a toy.

Not that government ever makes sense.

It seems to me it's time for some OUTRAGE! by us drivers who are the clear majority. We've got to make our rubber on the road wheels squeak louder than steel wheels on rails. Whether your name is Earl....Sam...Chris.....metro....COP....we've got to yell louder and ask that this insanity be stopped and roads expanded and improved. We drivers have let the transit progressives roll all over us and throw Billion$ at mass transit and bike lanes, all to the detriment and continuing deterioration of our road and street infrastructure and ever-increasing congestion.

We need to join in with http://portlandtribune.com/opinion/story.php?story_id=118367546326788700
this group....sign up....make some noise...quiet the mass transit thunder that dins out anything with four or more rubber wheels. If voters say no to more light rail...streetcars....couplets, then force the issue and insist the bastards at Metro and Salem and DC spend their money where the rubber is.

This silliness and pork wastefulness must be stopped.

Where is the outrage?

Welcome to Portland.

"Wonderful. While Earl the Pearl lobbies for funds to build toy trains that 3% of the population uses, the areas highways stay clogged ad infinitum."

Has anyone ever seen a place where the area highways aren't clogged ad infinitum? If you build it people will drive on it. The feds pay to build the freeways but don't pay to maintain them either. Which is part of the reason why they are deteriorating.

Greg C

It seems there are even people here who hate the esplanade, something that truly makes downtown cool. What’s next a campaign against fountains, Washington Park and that horrible Gorge?

Wow.

You know, I dont have a problem with the Esplanade. I do have a problem with using road money to build it when there are roads that need fixin'. What did it cost? $30 million? Think that would have filled a few east side potholes?


"I also find it curious if streetcars are so great, why they were removed from the east-side some decades ago.

Pretty sure the automakers had a hand in that..."

The theory that automakers were responsible for the demise of streetcars nationwide stems from the fact that General Motors did buy some transit companies, apparently to ensure that they would buy GM buses as the streetcars lost popularity on their own.

"This story persists largely because of the natural human tendency to yearn for `the good old days', which are largely a figment of our collective imaginations. There are a lot of people who think that the dismantling of the old rail systems was a mistake, and it is much more comfortable to believe that some monolithic `they' did it, rather than to face the fact that it was the result of the individual decisions of thousands of people who chose to use their cars." (source: http://www.1134.org/stan/ul/GM-et-al.html)

"It seems to me it's time for some OUTRAGE! by us drivers who are the clear majority. . . .

"Where is the outrage?"

The outrage is that the United States in general isn't trying to curtail private auto use and excessive use of fossil fuels by, among other things, investing more heavily in mass transit. The last I heard, this country uses one quarter of the world's oil, and half of that goes to transportation.

And please don't try to tell me that mass transit systems don't reduce auto use. I know for a fact that if there weren't a bus system in Portland, I'd be driving to work. The same goes for about half the other people in my workplace. If the mass transit system here were more extensive and efficient, more people would use of it. And use of mass transit would increase beyond that if more individuals bothered to assess the moral cost of their unnecessary driving.

By all means, let's spend money to keep our roads and bridges in good shape. But to try to divert money from mass transit at a time when global warming has become a critical problem, and when we're fighting a horrendous war to establish permanent military bases designed to protect our access to one region's finite oil reserves, is absolutely self-defeating.

try to divert money from mass transit

"Divert" is an interesting word choice. I'd argue that the new streetcars are "diverting" money from existing transit needs, not the other way around.

""Divert" is an interesting word choice. I'd argue that the new streetcars are "diverting" money from existing transit needs, not the other way around."

>>>> Right--like the bus system, upon which this non-driver depends on for almost all of his transit needs.

Plus, this "development" myth is just that: a myth, when applied to Portland.
How many subsidies were given to developers to constuct all these condo buildings? THAT is the catalyst, not the silly streetcar.

How many subsidies were given to developers to constuct all these condo buildings? THAT is the catalyst, not the silly streetcar.

No "owner-occupied" condos in the Pearl were assessed their share of the costs of the streetcar. And Homer Williams' unsold condo units had their assessments moved to a vacant lot.

And yet the cost of a streetcar pass is $100 per year...also good on the tram. While the SE bus rider pays 6 or 7 seven times that.

I think we've got some equity issues here...

"And yet the cost of a streetcar pass is $100 per year...also good on the tram. While the SE bus rider pays 6 or 7 seven times that

I think we've got some equity issues here..."

A single streetcar ride costs the same as a single bus ride. Bus passes are honored on the streetcar, but streetcar passes are not honored on buses.

And then there is the matter of the old-school, coal fired, pollution-belching power plants over on the other side of the mountains, away from the rarefied air of Portland. How much hydroelectric power do we give away to California every year ?

Anyone have solid figures on how much of the power required to run the new Streetcar system will come from those coal power plants, as opposed to our nearly maxed-out hydroelectric system, which is not keeping up with the tremendous population growth ?

How about comparing the amount of energy used per passenger mile, of the streetcars and the bus lines they will replace ? How about entering Biodiesel and the new ultra-clean Fischer-Tropsch synthetic Diesel from coal into the equation, to take the "War for Oil" out of the argument ?

We're gonna burn various fuels to move people around, regardless. I'm just curious about how efficient these streetcars really are compared to modern alternatives.

On a side note, there was an OPB travel show featuring beautiful Russia on the other night. The ancient, decaying streetcar the host was riding on broke down and they had to walk.

"Torrid Joe - Instead of taking taxpayer time on your CoP job to blog, you should get some exercise outside of work hours and look at Pioneer Place and ask stores how their biz compares to WashSq, ClackTC and Bridgeport.

I know biz owners and downtown really stinks for retail traffic. You can also look at Pioneer Place above street level and see the empty spaces."

Whoops--see what you get for assuming? I'm at home, have been all day.

You also don't get anything for anecdotes. The numbers say downtown is thriving, especially compared to 90% of the rest of the country's downtowns. You might also want to ask those business owners you know, some time when construction is at its highest. You might get a less skewed answer.

As for the people trying to pretend that streetcars cause pollution, go ahead and let me know the amount of particulate matter produced when you run one, and I'll back off. To say that it pollutes because the energy it runs on itself was created with attendant pollution, is to ignore that a) the streetcar doesn't make electricity, and b) no one said you had to make electricity with coal, as opposed to wind or the sun.

The $5mil was the annual local operations cost, I thought. Jack put the estimate at or above 3, so I charitably rounded to 5. It'd be a bargain at 10.

go ahead and let me know the amount of particulate matter produced when you run one, and I'll back off

To move X mass takes Y energy. Whether the motor is gas-powered or electrical, it's all the same. Electric streetcars in these parts are powered by hydroelectric dams and coal-powered power plants. There may be a little bit of solar and wind power in there, but it's minimal.

And you are extremely tiresome.

Richard The outrage is that the United States in general isn't trying to curtail private auto use and excessive use of fossil fuels by, among other things, investing more heavily in mass transit.
JK: Of course the problem with that is that nationally, cars use less energy per passenger-mile than buses. And light rail is simply too expensive to be a viable transportation mode. If you really want to save energy, get people into hybrid cars - they beat the pants off of both busses and toy trains. see DebunkingPortland.com/Transit/BusVsCarTEDB.htm

Richard And please don't try to tell me that mass transit systems don't reduce auto use. I know for a fact that if there weren't a bus system in Portland, I'd be driving to work. The same goes for about half the other people in my workplace.
JK: The question is why? Mass transit DOES NOT save energy. It costs many times more than driving (DebunkingPortland.com/Transit/Cost-Cars-Transit(2005).htm) -so what is the point of it? Other than exporting parking spaces from downtown. Even in Perfectly Planned Portland, the market share of downtown employees getting to work by transit declined 18%, and driving alone increased by 10%, in the last few years. See DebunkingPortland.com/Smart/VibrantDowntown.htm

Richard And use of mass transit would increase beyond that if more individuals bothered to assess the moral cost of their unnecessary driving.
JK: The moral case is FOR autos and AGAINST transit. See above.

Richard But to try to divert money from mass transit at a time when global warming has become a critical problem,
JK: Be patient, the sun appears about to enter a cooling phase and we can return to worrying about the next ice age. See saveportland.com/Climate/index.html for examples of the last time this happened.

Richard and when we're fighting a horrendous war to establish permanent military bases designed to protect our access to one region's finite oil reserves
JK: I hope you are not forgetting that mass transit uses oil too - and more than small cars on a per passenger mile basis. Another good reason to switch from mass transit to small hybrid cars.

BTW, you mention of “finite oil reserves” while technically correct ignores the vast energy reserves in tar sands, oil shale, coal and uranium. All of which will satisfy our oil and energy needs for hundreds of years into the future. Hitler ran a war machine on oil made from coal - we can use the same process for a huge supply of oil. See en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Synthetic_fuel and fischer-tropsch.org

Thanks
JK

Torrid Joe The numbers say downtown is thriving, especially compared to 90% of the rest of the country's downtowns.
JK: Yep. Downtown gained 167 businesses and lost 4008 jobs between 2001 and 2005. See DebunkingPortland.com/Smart/VibrantDowntown.htm

Torrid Joe As for the people trying to pretend that streetcars cause pollution, go ahead and let me know the amount of particulate matter produced when you run one, and I'll back off.
JK: There are other pollutants besides “particulate matter” (primarily from diesels like buses). For instance coal puts Uranium, Thorium and Mercury into the air. see ornl.gov/ORNLReview/rev26-34/text/colmain.html All of the energy produced by dams, was spoken for years ago - all new demand is satisfied by coal and nuclear with a tiny bit of wind etc.

Torrid Joe To say that it pollutes because the energy it runs on itself was created with attendant pollution, is to ignore that a) the streetcar doesn't make electricity,
JK: No - that is the very point - the streetcar and toy train cause more electricity to be generated which causes more coal to be burned which releases more Mercury, Uranium and Thorium into the air.

Torrid Joe no one said you had to make electricity with coal, as opposed to wind or the sun.
JK: I’ll say it now: You have to make electricity with coal (at least until we build more nukes). That is unless you want the toy train (and the rest of society too) to stop when the sun goes down or there is no wind.

For the record, the streetcar was listed as costing $3.35 million/year to deliver 2.636 million rides. This works out to be $1.25 per ride. Since the average trip length is 3/4 mile, the cost per passenger-mile is $1.67. For comparison a car costs around $0.20 per passenger-mile, nationally or $0.25 adjusted for Portland. The lowest cost bus line is $0.34 and the toy train is $0.43 WITHOUT construction. Note that the car costs include most road construction and maintenance. see DebunkingPortland.com/Transit/Cost-Cars-Transit(2005).htm

Thanks
JK

"Be patient, the sun appears about to enter a cooling phase and we can return to worrying about the next ice age."

Jim:

I should have made it clear, when I expressed my concerns about global warming and other hazards related to burning fossil fuels, I was talking about life on planet earth, where some very smart and learned people, including the leaders of many industrialized nations (but not the US), are really worried about the future. I'm not sure what planet you're talking about--or for that matter, are living on--but I'm glad you, your website, and your team of top scientists have all its problems worked out.

Happy motoring.

"Anyone have solid figures ...?" "How about comparing ...?"
Glad you asked, Cabbie, 'the truth is out there,' but you gotta go get it -- it doesn't fit through the door here.

In seeking the history which led to today's situation, more of the info I was interested in came from searching in 'public transit,' than from 'trolley,' 'urban transit,' '(light) rail,' 'commuter rail' and so forth. The topic has many facets, which defracts the facts across a smeared-wide spectrum. As you seek, so you find.

Two 'background' articles I liked were papers by college students, (not politicized, yet), in Canada, (whatever the politics, it's not American-blown smoke).

EXPLORING THE AUTO CULTURE, April 15, 1996.

DESTRUCTION AND REBUILDING OF PUBLIC TRANSPORTATION, 12/11/91.

The second one offers some preparatory context for the first, in this viz: Rail and trolley public transit popularity was, indeed, deliberately undermined by automobile interests colluding, but not to eliminate competition for cars, rather to replace rail with buses, (which still bought tires, oil, diesel; made in Detroit, etc.) And private cars were a market success and did become dominant, although less by popular acclaim, of their merits and features, or cost-savings or operating convenience, and more by privately crafted public policy favoritism and sleight-of-hand subsidies, (the chicken-egg conundrum obtains here -- Which would come first: car popularity and sales, or road building? Answer: Bribed political appropriations built roads first.) Similar shiftiness, in changing public transit regulations and oversight responsibilities, debilitated rail usage.

An excerpt shard: The Conspiracy -- Many believe that the loss of electric rail services and their replacement by buses is the result of a conspiracy by automotive interests which converted the nation into our existing automobile-dependent society. The conspiracy theory is partly true. The conspiracy has been amply detailed in Congressional hearings and described in the media. ... The conspirators were tried and convicted in 1976; they were fined ....

America's automobile complexion was developed in partial- and phased-growth stages, cosmetic cover-ups, nips, tucks, transplants, and face-lifts, and was in no manner a foretold snowy-driven white purity and innocent flowering, as is ingenuously alluded in Steve Buckstein's simple-minded short-shrift of it as, "the result of the individual decisions of thousands of people who chose to use their cars."

Predominantly, people's choices were: cars or nothing. In our own times, the SUV 'popularity' is similarly rigged: The monstrosity is the only model on the dealers' lots. (Because, and after, Iaccoca got Dodge's early (1982?) Caravan cars exempted from legislated fuel efficiency requirements through a loophole for 'truck' designation, by lobbyists arguing Chrysler-Dodge was 'too big to (let) fail,' and the fact that the taxpayers' $2,ooo,ooo,ooo 'loan' (subsidy) would default repayment if Chrysler went bankrupt by no car sales, as no Caravans qualified, in enforcement of the law for mileage requirements. Subsequently, all car designs applied the look-and-feel of sporty Caravan utility boxes that didn't need no stinkin' fuel economy standards.) There was NEVER a populist market clamor to 'choose' SUV-styled 'family transportation' budget busters.

Automobile marketing since its advent has been most nearly characterized as Henry Ford's words presaged: You can choose any color car, as long as it's black.

Americans can choose any form of transportation, as long as it's a car.

Richard I'm not sure what planet you're talking about--or for that matter, are living on--but I'm glad you, your website, and your team of top scientists have all its problems worked out.
JK: Why don't you give it a rest at least until the ice uncovers all of those medieval Viking farms that are still buried under ice on Greenland.

BTW
Can you name the most significant greenhouse gas (in terms of warming effect)?
How much of the total greenhouse effect is due to CO2?
How much of the total annual CO2 emission is man caused?
According to the Anaretic ice cores, which comes first: rise in temperature or rise in CO2?

Thanks
JK

And please don't try to tell me that mass transit systems don't reduce auto use. I know for a fact that if there weren't a bus system in Portland, I'd be driving to work. The same goes for about half the other people in my workplace.

Not me, the high cost of parking downtown puts me on the bus/train. Otherwise I would drive. I have a fuel-efficient car, and I am not far from work. Gas for my car is cheaper per month than the cost of an all-zone bus pass. But its the parking that kills.

jim karlock: you got your head in the oil sands, so to speak, spank you very much.

For: "vast energy reserves in tar sands, oil shale, coal and uranium. ... satisfy our oil and energy needs for hundreds of years into the future.

Real. slowly. now.

tar sands and oil shale: It takes 4 bbls ('barrels,' energy equivalent) of oil input in the process to extract 1 bbl of oil output from t.s. or o.s. Crazy, here is your own reference back at'cha: Fischer-Tropsch process, et tu, links.

uranium: IF there were the hypothetical nuclear power plants, there is not enough uranium on the planet to fuel them to generate as much electricity as we use today! And electricity demand today is increasing. Old joke (not to slight anyone's age): If we had some eggs, we could have ham and eggs for breakfast; if we had ham.

coal: This just in: S.O.L. COAL - The Roundup, July 12, 2007. It's a lump o' anthracite-hard facts to chew on, so only three small bites here, in brief:
1.) ... projections suggest the global peak of coal production to occur around 2025 at 30 percent above current production in the best case. -- Energy Watch Group. ... good news for climate change and bad news for the global economy.

2.) Previously, virtually everyone in the fields of energy policy and energy analysis -— as well as nearly everyone involved in discussions about climate change -— had assumed that the world’s coal endowment was so enormous that no limits would be encountered anytime this century. The EWG’s conclusions turn this assumption on its head.... -- Richard Heinberg: 'Coal’s Future in Doubt'

3.) Recent programs to assess coal recoverability in limited areas using updated methods indicate that only a small fraction of previously estimated reserves are actually recoverable. -- US National Academy of Sciences

Hitler ran a war machine on oil made from coal - we can use the same process .... Hitler ran a war machine on fear-fueled propaganda lies - and you are ....

You're welcome.

Typical, T.

When asked a hard question, change the subject slightly to a related topic.

I asked about hard figures for energy and/or fuel consumed per passenger mile for electric streetcars as compared to modern diesel buses, factoring in recent paradigm-shifting developments in alternative fuels.

I've seen the PBS propaganda documentary on the demise of the streetcar systems, and it's as dated as the studies you cite, which I've also read long ago.

Electric power isn't some magical thing that comes from the sky or something, unless you have been reading too much about Tesla, but that is a whole other can of worms. The electric trolleys used in the golden age you so long for were powered by pollution belching coal power plants, just like the are today.

So typical of smug, elitist Portland. It's not so much the reality of a situation, but how it makes you feel.

The best option for romantic, antiquated, touristy electric trolley systems, if we were to implement them on a large scale, would be to power them with safe, modern Nuclear power, as is done in Europe.


Tenskwatawa jim karlock: you got your head in the oil sands, so to speak, spank you very much.
...Real. slowly. now.

JK:Sorry I have reached my limit of debunking BS for the day.

Why don’t you provide credible references for each of you wild claims. And I mean to the document and page, not some nutty web site of 10, 000 pages that you expect me to sort through.

In the meantime, I’ll give you as much credibility as I give any other masked person (do you happen to have a real name?)

Thanks
JK

Oh, lord, I actually spent some time reading those links full of watered-down Peak Oil gobbledygook for people with no background in science or logic. All roads seem to lead back to Jim "Y2K" Kunstler, that arrogant primadonna who dismisses real life approaches toward the idea of dwindling oil reserves such as Algae Biodiesel and the 2005 Nobel Prize winning refinement of the F-T coal diesel process, in favor of this sensationalist apocalyptic "Death to Wicked Capitalist America" scenario that some critics have labeled "Disaster Porn."

Even a major leftist hero, Greg Palast, has dismissed "peak oil" as a scam and nonsense, though I disagree with him about that somewhat, as I do with some of his other ideas.

The Russians have an entirely different approach to the resource debate called the "Abiotic Oil" theory...they maintain that the entire core of the Earth is full of vast amounts of oil, an endless supply of it, all you have to do is dig deep enough.

In Alberta, Canada, they are doing just that with the aid of nuclear power.

But all of that is neither here nor there.

I asked for solid figures on how efficient streetcars are as compared to modern buses, and Karlock here is the only one who stepped up to the plate.

Anyone have some real, concrete evidence that contradicts what he has put up ? I'd like to see it, because, romantic that I am, I'd like to believe that a 1910-style streetcar system is more energy efficient, too, though all evidence I've seen leads in the opposite direction.

Peak Oil is one of those odd debates where the people that know - such as the IEA and the heads of the oil companies – accept it’s coming very soon (if not already) but the sprawl junkies will never recognize it until it has passed. Weird.

Kunstler tend to be a bit acerbic, more so in print than in speeches. This is a good talk where he actually sounds positive: http://www.theoildrum.com/node/2418. I suspect he is spot on about everything except how quickly the suburbs will rot away. Having blown trillions on these Karlockian paradises, I’m pretty sure trillions more will be pissed away trying to find ways to keep them going.

I suspect he is spot on about everything except how quickly the suburbs will rot away. Having blown trillions on these Karlockian paradises, I’m pretty sure trillions more will be pissed away trying to find ways to keep them going.

Are you by chance thinking of the utopian, car-free Kunstlerian light rail dreamscapes along the Max line through Rockwood into Gresham ?

Or are you referring specifically to the amount of fuel burned in smoke spewing, coal-fired power plants to provide the electricity for every passenger mile on the MAX and streetcar, as compared to the fuel that would be burned more efficiently in buses serving those same regions of Portland's gigantic suburban sprawl ?

I was reading, and writing, about Jane Jacobs' work at the age of 13, Sir. Quit attempting to split the premise, and stop it with the childish Hegelian Dialectic detours.

Not one of you has stepped forward and offered proof that streetcars burn fuel more efficiently, per passenger mile, than the existing bus lines the streetcars would replace.


If, by, "efficiently, per passenger mile," you mean in dollars and cents (of the cost of petroleum fueling), then you are never going to get answered, your answer doesn't exist. Because, to begin with, money was never accounted in the total, that established drilling for fuel sources, fuel distribution infrastructure, fueling stations, the lost production from lives attending to it; and, for a valid comparative number, (of rail, still talking dollars and cents), there are no accounts for the subtracted passengers, captive to no-choice-but-car monopoly and held out of rail (sixty-year infrastructure development) as their option, and but being added in true, significantly reduces rail's 'passengers per mile' fractional cost -- these comprehensive ideas are in my previous links, in discussing why no valid comparisons can be made ... books have been cooked, embezzlements have hoodwinked history, and that's costly.

So it's a safe dare to shout for anyone to step forward with numbers that don't exist; and if are told, can be refigured with handwaves and fingerpoints in the artful dodge of abacus. Aba-ka-dabra, the numbers tell you what to think is so, and what to do, so you don't have to think enough to figure out your answer for yourself.

Because, to end with, nonrenewable natural resources are priceless, also finite, and for the "bus lines" nearly caput and of infinite cost, (we can't afford it, don't ask the question). And for each of us and our blessed progeny's liberty in the tomorrow-world we decide, and prepare, in today, the only answer that works is your answering for yourself in humankind's sustainment. (As for 'abiotic,' oil perpetually renewed from rock, third from the sun, and not, as nonrenewable, from incidentally trapped biomass pools, see here. Bottom line number is, IF there is an abiotic process, it is too slow to refill resevoirs as fast as we drain them, and so a source of zero. Since the resevoirs are fairly empty, in fact.) Go figure. You can have any car or bus you can build. Grow your own. Compare with all the people riding on the peace train, shake a hand, make a friend.

As for answering for yourself in humankind's sustainment, here's an example who has and is included.

... oops, left out:

It's about that Uncle Sam buys us toys we can't afford to run, (displacing noticing that U.S. and us is the same thing).

And the foolishness of our not being able to afford to run the toys, is first seen in current rails and trams, then in buses, and then, in wide awareness, gasoline cars. Anyway, bikes and boats are affordable ... got any?

Support our _oops.

Cabbie,

Do you still have the thoughts of the 13 year-old cabbie? If your current screeds are the result of years of “thought” and “research” I imagine they would be fun reading.

Buses, or any other mass transit (cabs don’t count), cannot serve sprawl. Efforts to try just lead to the kind of whining we hear here all the time: “I would use Trimet but it takes two hours to get from Tigard to Gresham.” If you choose to live in the land of compulsory car ownership pay your $6k per year and suck it up.

As for the cost comparison, it’s tricky. What’s the cost of a gallon of gas? I’ve hear anti-government subsidy types at Cato say it’s about $12. Others, who add health costs to the military costs, have come up with $20+. Coal can be burned much cleaner than we do and the possibility of finding some replacement sources is reasonably good. And of course there’s the cost of lives per gallon which is much lower. We will eventually run out of kids from Oregon towns you’ve never heard of to go and die so we can pretend car dependency is cheap.

Sherwood Buses, or any other mass transit (cabs don’t count), cannot serve sprawl.
JK: Most streetcar lines were built to ENABLE sprawl. Most of those lines to various Portland neighborhoods were built be the developers to get people out of the crowded, corrupt, polluted central city to the new suburbs that they were building. You know sprawling suburbs like Sunnyside, Hollywood, Lents, Rose City, etc.

Sherwood Efforts to try just lead to the kind of whining we hear here all the time: “I would use Trimet but it takes two hours to get from Tigard to Gresham.”
JK: You re so uninformed. See above. They not only tried, they succeeded.

Sherwood If you choose to live in the land of compulsory car ownership
JK Actually, at a time when the USA had the most “complete” transit system that it ever had, it only took twent years for most people to leave it for something better: the automobile. That happened about 80 years ago. Why are you trying to bring back the past? Do you expect a different outcome if we re-run hsitory? Do you expect people tosay “Wow - we made a terrible mistake getting a car when we can spend double the time standing up on a crowded, smelly bus watching gangsters do drug deals and threaten each other.” Yeah, right.

Sherwood pay your $6k per year and suck it up.
JK: Which is less cost than the cost of mass transit. The only difference is that transit users are sucking off of others for 80% of their transport costs. See DebunkingPortland.com/Transit/Cost-Cars-Transit(2005).htm
Since you will probably scream that auto users don’t pay their real cost (while ignoring things like the black smoke that belches out of buses and their lousy energy efficiency compared to small cars), see DebunkingPortland.com/Roads/Docs/Delucchi_Chart.htm

Sherwood As for the cost comparison, it’s tricky. What’s the cost of a gallon of gas?
JK: It doesn’t matter because buses use more of it than small cars. If your motive really is to save energy, you will advocate that everyone get plug in hybrid cars and just shut down Trimet. That is how to save both energy and money.

Sherwood And of course there’s the cost of lives per gallon which is much lower. We will eventually run out of kids from Oregon towns you’ve never heard of to go and die so we can pretend car dependency is cheap.
JK: Another reason to get people in small cars - they use less energy per passenger-mile than either rail or buses. BTW light rail kills people at about three times the rate of buses, with cars inbetween the two.

What is the real reason you are claiming to advocate saving energy while ignoring simple measures that can REALLY save energy like getting people out of transit and into hybrid cars?

Thanks
JK

Sherwood: Peak Oil is one of those odd debates where the people that know - such as the IEA and the heads of the oil companies – accept it’s coming very soon (if not already)
JK: After we run out of oil, there is oil from tar sands, oil from shale, oil from coal and even oil from air and water. Only in your wet dreams of a deluded Portland planner is there a shortage of energy. That is unless the planners convince the politicians to screw with the free market. Don’t forget that plug in hybrids will mostly free us from oil. I posted a detailed comment on this at: ti.org/antiplanner/?p=190#more-190

Sherwood: but the sprawl junkies will never recognize it until it has passed. Weird.
JK: And the planning fools will continue jumping from one chicken little story to the next in an effort to keep us fooled as they continue to waste our money on silly plans.

Sherwood: I suspect he is spot on about everything except how quickly the suburbs will rot away.
JK: Why would they rot away? That is where most of the jobs are and most of the people live. If travel is seriously curtailed, I would expect those people to quit coming to the city and the city to rot away in its own waste and corruption. It is already too expensive for many people. Who, but a fool like Kunstler would expect people to flee the low cost burbs (with big enough yards to grow part of your food and generate energy) for the corrupted, costly city, with no land for gardens or energy generation in new construction? Kunstler is a person with an agenda and, like Portland’s planners, if a fact doesn’t fit his agenda he twists or ignores it. That is when he actually deals with facts instead of feelings. His a fool.

Sherwood: Having blown trillions on these Karlockian paradises, I’m pretty sure trillions more will be pissed away trying to find ways to keep them going.
JK: That is people spending their own money on their wishes, unlike the planners spending other peoples money to force other people to live according to the planner’s relegion.

Thanks
JK

BTW light rail kills people at about three times the rate of buses, with cars inbetween the two.

It strikes me as patently unplausible that light rail manages to kill more people than cars do.

Do you still have the thoughts of the 13 year-old cabbie? If your current screeds are the result of years of “thought” and “research” I imagine they would be fun reading.

No, I have the thoughts of a 35 year old man who has been researching this stuff, admittedly as a layman, for a long, long time.

You are still dodging the question. Quit stalling, you Straw Man erecting, insult tossing ignoramus. The continual ad-hominems your screeds are laced with don't lend you very much credibility...are you even aware of that ?

Oh, man, I'm just gonna go make a pot of tea now. There is nothing to be gained by argument with people who do not even understand the specifics of what is being debated.

Cabbie and others interested in energy efficiency of rail versus that of other forms of transport:

It's difficult to find definitive comparisons, because context for the comparisons differs so greatly--urban versus long-distance, actual versus potential, this place versus that place.

Still, everything I've read (aside from JK's oft-repeated auto-loving fantasies) indicates that at least potentially, electric rail is the most energy-efficient form of transport by far. Yes, of course, electric rail uses energy from electric power plants, but it also uses that energy more efficiently than rubber-tire vehicles with internal combustion engines, in part because trains and streetcars can carry a lot of people, and steel wheels on steel rails involve relatively little friction or drag. Another advantage of electric streetcars is that the pollution from their power source is not emitted in the immediate vicinity of the streetcars themselves. As everyone notices, common diesel buses are much smellier--and louder--than electric streetcars. The great number of buses on certain downtown streets at rush hour can create a pretty oppressive environment, and I think concentration of pollution within our city should be a real concern.

Anyway, the guy at this website gathers lots of comparisons of transportation modes: http://strickland.ca/efficiency.html. To be honest, I don't know who he is, but his sources seem sound, and what he points out in general is in line with what I've come to understand over the years.

Quit stalling, you Straw Man erecting, insult tossing ignoramus. The continual ad-hominems your screeds are laced with don't lend you very much credibility...are you even aware of that ?

pot, meet the kettle.

I never start it, eco, but I will always respond to attacks on my character in kind.

Thanks, Richard, for a cogent reply. I've wondered about the dynamics you refer to for years. Of course, we get into light rail vs heavy rail, which is powered directly with diesel, in that discussion. Also, modern diesel engines are getting much, much more quiet and efficient, polluting far less, running on new fuels, and evolving at a rapid pace, which again mutates the argument a little more...

Still, any other solid figures besides JKs on streetcar energy usage per passenger mile vs diesel buses ?

I'm dead serious when I say that I find streetcars all quaint, touristy and romantic, in a good way, and I really want to see some unbiased statistics on their efficiency.

Oh, and I should be clear that I have a dog in the fight besides my taxes going way up to pay for the streetcar operating costs.

I'm pretty sure that I stand to make a bunch of money off of people who naively give up their cars, hoping that streetcars will magically serve all of their transit needs. Look at any old movie with streetcar scenes. What kind of cars do you see tons of in the background ?

"I really want to see some unbiased statistics on [the streetcars'] efficiency"

If you're talking about the Portland streetcar specifically, you might want to start by contacting Tri-Met, which operates the system. I have to go out of town (and leave the comment section of this blog) for awhile, but I may start looking into that when I get back. Now that you mention it, I'd like to know both how energy efficient the Portland streetcar is now, and how efficient it could be with greater ridership and longer routes.

I don't know if you'd regard Tri-Met as an unbiased source, but I notice that even its critics rely on the agency's own data. I don't know who else would be in a position to gather the data.

"You also don't get anything for anecdotes. The numbers say downtown is thriving, especially compared to 90% of the rest of the country's downtowns."

Show me the numbers if you have such a strong case. Compare downtown retail to suburban malls with parking and no mass transit, if you are brave.

Tenskwatawa: As for answering for yourself in humankind's sustainment, here's an example who has and is included
JK: Be sure to follow his link - it shows what planners really want for us: Turn our country into a third world county!

Thanks
JK

Jack's position on the streetcar is crystal clear (it's also mine). But I'm curious about this host's opinion of light rail and MAZ extensions? Do you lump them in with streetcars as a waste of money, like some of your posters on this thread have?

I don't have big problems with MAX. Rail on dedicated tracks, to and from the suburbs, makes a lot of sense. The airport line is more toy-like than practical, and running rail down the bus mall is stupid, but trains to Hillsboro, Gresham, West Linn, Oregon City, Vancouver? Sure. They actually get you around a lot faster than walking, and more conveniently than driving, which is the whole idea. If they ran anywhere near where I work, I'd take them, no questions asked.

Oh, and they're regionally financed in their entirety -- not paid for one-third by the City of Portland -- which is another plus in my view.

Jimmy, are you on the debate team? To use excellent examples of new urbanism such as Hollywood and Sunnyside (walkable, easily served by transit to DT, high density on arterials) to defend auto slums like Tigard is a smooth move. Extra credit is coming your way.

It’s odd to hear “Kunstler has an agenda” coming from the man basing everything on a premise that doesn’t even rise to the point of being wrong and banging on endlessly from there. As for going back in time, of course I do. It’s called learning from your mistakes. It might involve changing you opinion based on observable facts, something that doesn’t come easily to the conservative mind.

As for the fantasy of an energy crisis, I’ll go with the heads of oil companies and the IEA over someone who sees oil from water saving us anytime soon. People in the US use twice(ish) the energy as the middle class in Europe, mostly due to transport. I lived for many years in the burbs and would often drive 50-60 miles doing minor chores. I’ve lived in compact European towns where cars are a liability. I now live in a 90 year-old new urbanist area and do the same stuff while traveling 2-8 miles with the freedom to choose to walk, drive, bike or take the bus/Max. I take it you have lived in a bunch of different places and come to a different conclusion, although how you justify the constant chirping about freedom based on that is beyond me. What about those too old or young to drive, or too poor to buy a reliable hybrid, or those that own a dictionary and know that freedom requires options?

As for the polluted cities, I refer you to the development of indoor plumbing and recommend you take another look. When it comes to your fear of smelly gangsters on the buses, I can only recommend you join John Popper in his fortified bunker in Eastern Washington.

ba da bing ba da boom, three in the head, two in the heart.

Sherwood To use excellent examples of new urbanism such as Hollywood and Sunnyside (walkable, easily served by transit to DT, high density on arterials) to defend auto slums like Tigard is a smooth move. Extra credit is coming your way.
Sherwood You sure missed that one - those are not “new urbanism” , they are streetcar enabled sprawl of early 20th century. They were built as outter suburbs in their day. You guys all seem to miss the point that sprawl started when the second person build a home next to the first one in the area.

Sherwood ... coming from the man basing everything on a premise that doesn’t even rise to the point of being wrong and banging on endlessly from there.... you opinion based on observable facts, something that doesn’t come easily to the conservative mind....over someone who sees oil from water....
JK Always glad to get the ad hominems, a sure sign that you have run out of rational arguments.

Goodby
JK

File under Futureless Uranium:

© 2007. The Sydney Morning Herald. Sole survivor sitting on a $5b fortune, July 14, 2007.

As the only member of his clan, Jeffrey Lee controls the fate of Koongarra, writes Lindsay Murdoch.

JEFFREY LEE is not interested in the soaring price of uranium, which could make him one of the world's richest men.

"This is my country. Look, it's beautiful and I fear somebody will disturb it," he says, waving his arm across a view of rocky land surrounded by Kakadu National Park, where the French energy giant Areva wants to extract 14,000 tonnes of uranium worth more than $5 billion.

Mr Lee, the shy 36-year-old sole member of the Djok clan and the senior custodian of the Koongarra uranium deposit, has decided never to allow the ecologically sensitive land to be mined.

"There are sacred sites, there are burial sites and there are other special places out there which are my responsibility to look after," Mr Lee told the Herald.

"I'm not interested in white people offering me this or that … it doesn't mean a thing." ...

--------

So, ya' know, maybe fascists can burn their inflated paper money, in a power plan to turn electric generators.

Jack, I so hope and pray you see this, as the thread activity winds down. It has even got a part about subway commuters.

I think you might think of a reason, connection, to put it front page for itself -- it seems to me to make a nonpartisan comment about urban development.

You have to go to the link and then go to the video, since I didn't figure out how to get the video here alone, (although, like a two-fer, this same link has a blog link that's interesting, 'cognitive edge' or something).

www.opednews.com/maxwrite/diarypage.php?did=3982

Tenskwatawa "There are sacred sites, there are burial sites and there are other special places out there which are my responsibility to look after," Mr Lee told the Herald.

"I'm not interested in white people offering me this or that … it doesn't mean a thing." ...
--------
So, ya' know, maybe fascists can burn their inflated paper money, in a power plan to turn electric generators.
JK
Yeah, the planning class celebrates every time that it looks like society will have more expensive energy, not caring about low income people.

Of course their real desire is to re-create the 1800's and force people to live that way. (In poverty - because today is not “sustainable” in their fantasy world). They are totally uncaring about people, only about dictating their religion of poverty for everyone to everyone except them selves who will be at the top of the income chain due to their being anointed planners.

Thinks
JK

Tenskwatawa, thanks for finding that video. I'm going to test it on my daughter. She's one of those modern children that has been on many jets and seen every exotic animal imaginable but seemed confused by the Tilamook dairy.

Jim, christ on a bike man, go and sit in a kayak for a few days - away from am radio and blogs - and calm down. You've gone from angry to paranoid to delusional.


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In Vino Veritas

Louis Jadot, Pouilly-Fuissé 2011
Trader Joe's, Grower's Reserve Pinot Noir 2012
Zenato, Lugana San Benedetto 2012
Vintjs, Cabernet 2010
14 Hands, Hot to Trot White 2012
Rainstorm, Oregon Pinot Gris 2012
Silver Palm, North Coast Cabernet 2011
Andrew Rich, Gewurtztraminer 2008
Rodney Strong, Charlotte's Home Sauvignon Blanc 2012
Canoe Ridge, Pinot Gris, Expedition 2012
Edmunds St. John, Bone-Jolly Gamay Noir Rose 2012
Dark Horse, Big Red Blend No. 01A
Elk Cove, Pinot Noir Rose 2012
Fletcher, Shiraz 2010
Picollo, Gavi 2011
Domaine Eugene Carrel, Jongieux 2012
Eyrie, Pinot Blanc 2010
Atticus, Pinot Noir 2010
Walter Scott, Pinot Noir, Holstein 2011
Shingleback, Cabernet, Davey Estate 2010
Coppola, Sofia Rose 2012
Joel Gott, 851 Cabernet 2010
Pol Roget Reserve Sparkling Wine
Mount Eden Chardonnay, Santa Cruz Mountains 2009
Rombauer Chardonnay, Napa Valley 2011
Beringer, Chardonnay, Napa Reserve 2011
Kim Crawford, Sauvignon Blanc 2011
Schloss Vollrads, Spaetlese Rheingau 2010
Belle Glos, Pinot Noir, Clark & Telephone 2010
WillaKenzie, Pinot Noir, Estate Cuvee 2010
Blackbird Vineyards, Arise, Red 2010
Chauteau de Beaucastel, Chateauneuf-du-Pape 2005
Northstar, Merlot 2008
Feather, Cabernet 2007
Silver Oak, Cabernet, Alexander Valley 2002
Silver Oak, Cabernet, Napa Valley 2002
Trader Joe's, Chardonnay, Grower's Reserve 2012
Silver Palm, Cabernet, North Coast 2010
Shingleback, Cabernet, Davey Estate 2010
E. Guigal, Cotes du Rhone 2009
Santa Margherita, Pinot Grigio 2011
Alamos, Cabernet 2011
Cousino Macul, Cabernet, Anitguas Reservas 2009
Dreaming Tree Cabernet 2010
1967, Toscana 2009
Charamba, Douro 2008
Horse Heaven Hills, Cabernet 2010
Lorelle, Horse Heaven Hills Pinot Grigio 2011
Avignonesi, Montepulciano 2004
Lorelle, Willamette Valley Pinot Noir 2011
Villa Antinori, Toscana 2007
Mercedes Eguren, Cabernet Sauvignon 2009
Lorelle, Columbia Valley Cabernet 2011
Purple Moon, Merlot 2011
Purple Moon, Chardonnnay 2011
Horse Heaven Hills, Cabernet 2010
Lorelle, Horse Heaven Hills Pinot Grigio 2011
Avignonesi, Montepulciano 2004
Lorelle, Willamette Valley Pinot Noir 2011
Villa Antinori, Toscana 2007
Mercedes Eguren, Cabernet Sauvignon 2009
Lorelle, Columbia Valley Cabernet 2011
Purple Moon, Merlot 2011
Purple Moon, Chardonnnay 2011
Abacela, Vintner's Blend No. 12
Opula Red Blend 2010
Liberte, Pinot Noir 2010
Chateau Ste. Michelle, Indian Wells Red Blend 2010
Woodbridge, Chardonnay 2011
King Estate, Pinot Noir 2011
Famille Perrin, Cotes du Rhone Villages 2010
Columbia Crest, Les Chevaux Red 2010
14 Hands, Hot to Trot White Blend
Familia Bianchi, Malbec 2009
Terrapin Cellars, Pinot Gris 2011
Columbia Crest, Walter Clore Private Reserve 2009
Campo Viejo, Rioja, Termpranillo 2010
Ravenswood, Cabernet Sauvignon 2009
Quinta das Amoras, Vinho Tinto 2010
Waterbrook, Reserve Merlot 2009
Lorelle, Horse Heaven Hills, Pinot Grigio 2011
Tarantas, Rose
Chateau Lajarre, Bordeaux 2009
La Vielle Ferme, Rose 2011
Benvolio, Pinot Grigio 2011
Nobilo Icon, Pinot Noir 2009
Lello, Douro Tinto 2009
Quinson Fils, Cotes de Provence Rose 2011
Anindor, Pinot Gris 2010
Buenas Ondas, Syrah Rose 2010
Les Fiefs d'Anglars, Malbec 2009
14 Hands, Pinot Gris 2011
Conundrum 2012
Condes de Albarei, Albariño 2011
Columbia Crest, Walter Clore Private Reserve 2007
Penelope Sanchez, Garnacha Syrah 2010
Canoe Ridge, Merlot 2007
Atalaya do Mar, Godello 2010
Vega Montan, Mencia
Benvolio, Pinot Grigio
Nobilo Icon, Pinot Noir, Marlborough 2009

The Occasional Book

Maria Dermoȗt - The Ten Thousand Things
William Faulkner - As I Lay Dying
Markus Zusak - The Book Thief
Christopher Buckley - Thank You for Smoking
William Shakespeare - Othello
Joseph Conrad - Heart of Darkness
Bill Bryson - A Short History of Nearly Everything
Cheryl Strayed - Tiny Beautiful Things
Sara Varon - Bake Sale
Stephen King - 11/22/63
Paul Goldstein - Errors and Omissions
Mark Twain - A Connecticut Yankee in King Arthur's Court
Steve Martin - Born Standing Up: A Comic's Life
Beverly Cleary - A Girl from Yamhill, a Memoir
Kent Haruf - Plainsong
Hope Larson - A Wrinkle in Time, the Graphic Novel
Rudyard Kipling - Kim
Peter Ames Carlin - Bruce
Fran Cannon Slayton - When the Whistle Blows
Neil Young - Waging Heavy Peace
Mark Bego - Aretha Franklin, the Queen of Soul (2012 ed.)
Jenny Lawson - Let's Pretend This Never Happened
J.D. Salinger - Franny and Zooey
Charles Dickens - A Christmas Carol
Timothy Egan - The Big Burn
Deborah Eisenberg - Transactions in a Foreign Currency
Kurt Vonnegut Jr. - Slaughterhouse Five
Kathryn Lance - Pandora's Genes
Cheryl Strayed - Wild
Fyodor Dostoyevsky - The Brothers Karamazov
Jack London - The House of Pride, and Other Tales of Hawaii
Jack Walker - The Extraordinary Rendition of Vincent Dellamaria
Colum McCann - Let the Great World Spin
Niccolò Machiavelli - The Prince
Harper Lee - To Kill a Mockingbird
Emma McLaughlin & Nicola Kraus - The Nanny Diaries
Brian Selznick - The Invention of Hugo Cabret
Sharon Creech - Walk Two Moons
Keith Richards - Life
F. Sionil Jose - Dusk
Natalie Babbitt - Tuck Everlasting
Justin Halpern - S#*t My Dad Says
Mark Herrmann - The Curmudgeon's Guide to Practicing Law
Barry Glassner - The Gospel of Food
Phil Stanford - The Peyton-Allan Files
Jesse Katz - The Opposite Field
Evelyn Waugh - Brideshead Revisited
J.K. Rowling - Harry Potter and the Sorcerer's Stone
David Sedaris - Holidays on Ice
Donald Miller - A Million Miles in a Thousand Years
Mitch Albom - Have a Little Faith
C.S. Lewis - The Magician's Nephew
F. Scott Fitzgerald - The Great Gatsby
William Shakespeare - A Midsummer Night's Dream
Ivan Doig - Bucking the Sun
Penda Diakité - I Lost My Tooth in Africa
Grace Lin - The Year of the Rat
Oscar Hijuelos - Mr. Ives' Christmas
Madeline L'Engle - A Wrinkle in Time
Steven Hart - The Last Three Miles
David Sedaris - Me Talk Pretty One Day
Karen Armstrong - The Spiral Staircase
Charles Larson - The Portland Murders
Adrian Wojnarowski - The Miracle of St. Anthony
William H. Colby - Long Goodbye
Steven D. Stark - Meet the Beatles
Phil Stanford - Portland Confidential
Rick Moody - Garden State
Jonathan Schwartz - All in Good Time
David Sedaris - Dress Your Family in Corduroy and Denim
Anthony Holden - Big Deal
Robert J. Spitzer - The Spirit of Leadership
James McManus - Positively Fifth Street
Jeff Noon - Vurt

Road Work

Miles run year to date: 119
At this date last year: 21
Total run in 2013: 257
In 2012: 129
In 2011: 113
In 2010: 125
In 2009: 67
In 2008: 28
In 2007: 113
In 2006: 100
In 2005: 149
In 2004: 204
In 2003: 269


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