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Wednesday, October 1, 2008

Guess who needs a bailout now: WES rail line

The company who's making the train cars for Tri-Met's new west side commuter train line is going down financially, and Tri-Met (that's us, the Portland region's taxpayers) is now paying the company's suppliers directly. The project's already $3 million over budget and five months late, and they're having some problems with a new type of computer system that's supposed to direct traffic on the tracks. Those tracks are going to be shared by the commuter trains and freight trains.

But don't worry. The president of the Tri-Met board is a retired bank president, and he's on the case.

Look for this one to get worse before it gets better.

Comments (9)

"And in Tualatin, officials almost welcomed the news, which ultimately gives them more time to research how to handle the issue of train horn noise that could affect its neighborhoods."

Well, of course. Now's a GREAT time to look into this... not, you know, before the deal is done and trains are being purchased and all that. I love our "blindly cause a problem, then pretend to care about solving it" mentality around here...

Grade crossings yet again. Not just ridiculously unserious as an approach to rail transport, a guaranteed recipe for loss of life.

$3 million? I've still got sticker shock from the $810 billion from last night. Another $3 million in state debt doesn't bother me. With the current devaluation of the dollar, I'll be able to repay it by the cans left at TriMet trash cans.

Don't exect much accountability from the TriMet Board. All of these people are appointed by our current worthless Governor; and don't think any public unput at their board meetings will change anything at all with TriMet. The current dance around not having any turnstiles at light rail stations is just another way for these people to avoid doing anything serious about fare collections.
It's way past time for such a large and important public agency to have a publicly elected board; with representatives from at least five or six districts. The current group that has no real accountability to the public has to go.

"time for a publicly elected board,,,The current group that has no real accountability to the public,,"

So if we elect them from around the region we'lll get a diverse and accountable board?

Gee that sounds like the elected Metro council.

Is the Metro council diverse and accountable?
Or are they a mirror image of the TriMet board, the Port of Portland board, the PDC comissioners and thw OHSU board?

IMO electing TriMet board memebers would provide nothing for the public.

Umm... so a manufacturer fails to live up to a contract and therefore the TriMet board needs to go? Talk about leaping to conclusions.

The cars will be completed, on TriMet's dime, to working order. After that, don't be surprised if the agency goes after Colorado Railcar legally for failure to meet its contract obligations.

As for the signal system, it is also under warranty only this time by a somewhat more solvent firm -- GE. The issue there has more to do with training, although there are a few minor glitches. The time will be more than enough to fix the problems.

Worse before it gets better? Unlikely for this one.

Um...I'm not sure how solvent GE is at the moment. Both of the "Generals" (Electric and Motors) could still be brought down by their financial arms.

Alexander - The cost overrun on the Westside light rail system is one of many things triMet has done a poor job addressing. They promised to install turnstiles at the 82nd Avenue and Gresham Main Light Rail Stations. Still haven't done it. Still have several MAX Stations without any security cameras at all. How difficult is that to install? And the 122nd Avenue Max Station STILL fails to have functioning ticket machines; as do many other MAX locations.

Cost overrun on the Westside line? You mean the MAX line that opened over ten years ago? Maybe we should start talking about things that Bill Clinton left un-addressed while we are at it.

Turnstiles on the MAX platforms -- an idea I think is terrible -- are scheduled. You don't build things in the space of two weeks. They'll show up, likely next year.

Cameras? There were never a lot around to begin with, and the T=DHS funding grant only just came through. Don't feel overly safe about that though -- a camera is useless without someone to watch it, and that requires additional operating budgets.

And anyone who thinks GE is about to go bust is living in la-la land. Or are we all standing in soup lines on the sidewalks now? I'd better go get my bowl.

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