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Monday, April 6, 2009


A reader sends this photo of the Tualatin WES station, which he says was taken at 11 a.m. this morning, with the question: Where are all the cars that WES has allegedly taken off the roads?

Comments (29)

Maybe the creative class took the day off to play in the sun?

Maybe they all rode their bikes to WES?

If every trolley was full of hookers and johns and every MAX train was filled with heroin addicts and dealers Mayor Creepy would still support building more of them. 'Cause we need the jobs, and he needs the union votes.


That shadow looks pretty long for 11:00. I'm not familiar with the station so I couldn't tell you which way that's facing, but the EXIF information in the photo says that it was taken at 5:56PM.

Does anybody know which direction is the camera pointing?

It absolutely was at 11:00 AM today. The shot was from Tualatin Sherwood road facing north, as I drove by.

There were some cars at the far end near the train platform. But not many.

Wilsonville at 5:30 PM was another interesting view and story. I sent it to Jack.

Fair enough, I guess cell phones just handle EXIF differently than I'm used to.

Maybe the phone is on GMT?

The photographer adds:

Wilsonville was actually an even bigger flop. Much bigger lot with far more empty spaces. But I was there at 5:30PM. Like Tualatin there were some cars there. But mostly an empty massive lot.

A train was waiting for passengers and departure.

I was about to leave when a Wilsonville transit bus (SMART) pulled up and
about 36 people got off. It was a bus from the South. Maybe Salem, or Canby? 29 of them got in cars and drove off, the other 7 got on the train. It left and 5 minutes later a WES train from Beaverton pulled in. 8 people got off.

An independent count early last month put the riders at around 1100. All things considered that makes the cost around $270.00/per rider.

Here is his Wilsonville shot:

Yep, I was facing north, that shadow is from a tall pole or sign and the sun was from about due south at 11:00.

"Where are all the cars that WES has allegedly taken off the roads?"

In the driveway or the garage at home with their recently unemployed owners.

My 10:45 comment was addressing the Tualtin 11:00 am shot.

The Wilsonville 5:30 shot is from the west edge of the lot facing east.

Keep in mind the benefit of big civic projects is not the stated purpose.

The real benefit is spending money of politician's buddies.

Also passenger rail costs too much & does too little.

Factoid: Amtrak carries about the same number of daily passengers as MAX.


I was running errands in Beaverton and Tigard this late afternoon and evening and saw a couple of WES trains pass and my wife and I were chuckling at the fact there was no one on them...what a waste!

Ouch - it looks like the parking lot at Circuit City.

I've seen more cars parked outside an eco-charrette.

Many decades ago, the "Red Car Trolleys" in the L A basin had the same problem. Loons frequently assert that some "Wizard of Oz" style cabal took them out. But, they were dismantled because so few people used them.

Perhaps there will be a few more cars when gas hits $5 a gallon--who knows?

On a monthly basis’s I have keeping track of the amount of gas I have purchased and used (started last June) and since using WES just last month I save ~$85.00. I’m aware the price has fallen but I’m also tracking the amount of miles I’m driving and that has dropped by ~250 miles per month since WES came online. A flop, not for me or the coworkers that are also using it, you people are starting to sound lars or daniel miglavs. I hope the metro area is covered with rail lines!
PS and this includes dropping off and picking up my daughter at day care!

Whoopy for you Carl.

Imagine how much better it would be if you were provided a tax funded limo every day.
You could write the exact same thing.
Only more impressive.
It's meaningless if few people find it convenient. That's not the purpose.
It's supposed to serve enough people to make it worth while.
It doesn't. It's a huge flop, waste of money and an embarassment.

I also suspect you are a plant with a made up story.

I also suspect you are a plant with a made up story.

You thinking ficus, Ben, or maybe philodendron?

Ah, leaf him alone. I'm wondering how much he actually saved after deducting the monthly cost of riding the Wes. Of course perhaps Carl is being paid to be a "commuter in residence", like the blogger at Cyan.

I hope the metro area is covered with rail lines!

I think the tax increases required to operate that kind of infrastructure would surely be more than our personal fuel costs.
Add the added time it takes to go anywhere and its not worth it. I work 9 hours per day minimum, then I spend another 2 hours each day on MAX.
Just to go between Beaverton and downtown.
I can drive it in 10 minutes.

If monthly parking wasnt so expensive downtown I would be driving for sure.

WES is a great deal for someone who lives near a station and works near another station. But for everyone else, it is just a transfer payment. Metro sucks up the money out of our pockets and gives it to a few lucky people who get to ride to work in a train.

If the riders had to pay the bill there wouldn't be any. These kinds of projects are heavily subsidized just because they don't make any sense. I'm not exactly sure why Metro does this kind of stuff. Evidently to get elected to Metro you have to take a vow to pursue projects which waste taxpayer money.

But really it is everyone's fault. We keep electing these idiots. In fact, the last election saw a record number of morons elected into office. If you think WES is bad just wait until we start seeing high speed rail to nowhere. Or wait until you open up your utility bill and see what solar or wind energy is going to cost you.

While current WES ridership is disappointing, I'm not as pessimistic as the rest of the crowd seems to be. It seems to me that a few months isn't long to make a change in complex behavior such as commuting. How is WES adoption compared to curbside recycling adoption? Furthermore, recycling merely requires different behavior but no equipment while riding to work requires a car and insurance. Insurance premiums run on a 6-month basis. Car replacement is even longer. I would guess a longer adoption period based on these facts.

In addition, reliance on a community method probably depends on the assumption people will retain their jobs long term. Such assumptions seem unlikely given the current economic climate. Based on this, I think it's too soon to tell if WES is a success or not.

Also, it seems like value measurements are too low. We should be measuring the value of WES not based on number of riders but by the effect on the roads. There is a benefit both to riders and a simultaneous benefit to other drivers whose commute time is decreased.

Removing just a few cars can have a huge effect on average speed for everyone. Queueing theory predicts a Poisson distribution for wait time. This means when roads are very congested, removing just a few cars will make a big difference in the average speed for everyone.

Depending on assumptions for the value of people's time and the traffic patterns, I don't think it will take much increase in WES ridership to make it a net gain for everyone, riders or not.

That was insulting.

There is no benefit to non users at all.

Your entire tale was the stuff of TriMet gibberish. Are you doing CYA for them?
There isn't any car use or congestion reduction resulting from WES and never will be.

Those riding it could just as easily be served by buses.
Had the WES not been built far more people could have been served with mass transit at a fraction of the cost.

I could throw a dart at a map and plop down a boondoggle and some people would think it is great.
So what?
WES is an embrassment and reckless waste of tax money.

Dave C.: Thanks so much for your alleged list of "benefits" from WES. Maybe when you actually write a check for $400-500.00 every year to TriMet; and see your money being wasted on goofball projects like this that have no benefit whatsoever to your business you will have another viewpoint.
As a former homeowner in Tualatin who testified against this exravagant waste of public money; it was clear from the start that the "decision makers" at TriMet and ODOT already had their minds made up long before the public was involved in any way.

Removing just a few cars can have a huge effect on average speed for everyone. Queueing theory predicts a Poisson distribution for wait time. This means when roads are very congested, removing just a few cars will make a big difference in the average speed for everyone.

Dave C.,

You do not know what you are talking about. The Poisson distribution of vehicle arrivals breaks down for congested traffic, it only applies for uncongested conditions. The linear speed-density model (sometimes with a little modification) is used for congested traffic, and speed rapidly drops past LOS E. So removing a few vehicles at LOS F leaves you at LOS F minus a few vehicles.

WES actaully increases congestion. Try driving on Tualatin Sherwwood road when WES trains ( carrying almost no one) stop traffic during rush hour. It can add 5 minutes of idling for blocks of stacked up cars to the drive from I5 to 99W



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