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Tuesday, April 21, 2009

Smarter than streetcars

Yep -- the bus.

Comments (13)

Portland claims to be so progressive yet they can't figure this out. Trimet has the foundation for what could be an amazing transit system, yet they spend millions on light rail and street car that gets us little bang for a whole lot of buck. And like the article says, it is all because Busses are considered dirty, smelly third class transportation to most americans. Yet another example of how stupid our population is. I guess I can't complain though.... Trimet is better than most public transit in the US. Hooray for Light Rail to Milwaukee!!!!! Why do we need that again?

The problem with buses is that they have little opportunity for consultants and construction companies to bleed the taxpayers.

Bus rapid transit is a bit better at this, but LRT is the best (at bleeding the taxpayer dry.)

That is why Trimet does not even consider running buses in newly added freeway lanes. They need to spend billions on exclusive right-of-way so that Goldschmidt's buddies get their share. (Remember Trimet's board is appointed by Goldschmidt cronie and cover-up artist, K.)


Trimet has the foundation for what could be an amazing transit system, yet they spend millions on light rail and street car that gets us little bang for a whole lot of buck.

Actually, waaaay back in 1989, when MAX only ran between Gresham and Portland (and that was new), Tri-met was recognized as America's Best Transit Agency by APTA.

LIght rail has its purpose, and if you grew up riding buses for, say, 45 minutes to cover a measly 7 miles into town like I did, shaving some time off the commute with a somewhat faster light rail trip sounds pretty good. Tram? Not so much. My dad still fondly remembers walking a couple miles from his folks' place by the dump in Gresham to where he could catch the streetcars back in the '50s, though.

I don't think it should be an either/or proposition, myself. The buses ought to be clean and fast, and they are more flexible for handling feeder lines than tracked vehicles, but there does need to be some sort of high-speed, heavy carrying capacity transit as well. Even MAX takes 50 minutes to go from Cleveland Station to Pioneer Courthouse Square. It's another half-hour at least if you take the bus.

The bike.

Even conservatives and libertarians should like bikes, as they are an individualistic, personal form of transportation and don't really require any extensive public investment (local roads, which already exist and aren't primarily funded by gas taxes). All they need are low speed streets that actually connect and maybe a few dedicated paths on bridges or where streets do not connect. Low capital costs and zero operating costs.

I'd rather not arrive at work in need of a shower and change of clothes, so bicycling holds little promise to me.

The bus is obvious, and if anybody had bothered to research why Portland abandoned streetcars for diesel-engined, rubber-tired buses would know that it was because they were a whole lot more versitile. When you had growth in a new area that necessitated rerouting, it didn't require major civil engineering projects that diverted all other traffic through the middle of residential neighborhoods...no, you just rerouted the buses. No rails, nor overhead lines, to reroute in the process. Maintenance was cheaper, too.

Doesn't that seem obvious? To some, I guess not.

That's an excellent article Jack, thanks for posting it. Between the comments in this thread and the facts presented in the article, it's easy to see why Portland would never adopt something so obvious.

Jack check out Curitiba, Brazil which is where many of these ideas originated. Some of us local types have tried to get the politicians in town interested in this for years. Testified at their hearings, mailed them letters even given a couple of them notebooks with related information in them. Do we get an answer? Nope! The fail to even send a polite reply.

There might be hope for a bus-based system if it can be REEEEaaallllyyy cool looking, like the one in the picture.

If it's not snazzy, it won't pass muster. Of course, it has to be at minimum a hybrid (which makes sense) and preferably not built in China.

I don't understand why all buses in town aren't hybrids. My understanding is that hybrids work because you have an internal combustion engine running more or less constantly at its peak efficiency to charge the battery-driven electric motors that do all the stopping and starting.

The mini-bus feeder system is a great idea that tri-met might even adopt to bring people to Max stations, since most housing is not within walking distance of Max lines.

Yes, but the same webzine congratulates Portland as an American city "on the right track" because of its streetcars (scroll down). The editors seem to have drunk the kool aid.

I don't think that Portland is a remarkable example because it won an award in 2005 from Rudy Bruner Award for Urban Excellence. I don't care if Rudy Bruner thinks it's good. The people of Portland voted it down as they have EVERY Trimet Light Rail plan.

Anyone with half a brain knew intuitively that non-linear buses are a better choice.

Is this post in response to the lightrail problem in downtown portland on monday? What was that about? I saw that it was blocking the streetcar line. Ha-ha!

I walked a few blocks and took my regular bus home.

Bus Rapid Transit is indeed promising, but you don't have to go all the way to Colombia to see it. Eugene has EmX, which perhaps isn't the runaway success that BRT has been elsewhere, but still demonstrates a little bit of what could be done with buses above and beyond what we do now.

The reason that Portland doesn't embrace BRT -- or even just standard bus service -- is simply because current planning religion dictates that "Thou shalt not ride on rubber tires"... and planners are a pretty devout group. Our latest savior, Richard Florida (who has emerged as a sort of self-made urbanist rockstar), has decided that his elitist "creative class" will simply not board any conveyance that doesn't glide down steel rails.

In my planning courses, my professors often put Florida way up on a pedestal, like some sherpa who is going to lead us to urbanist utopia. I don't buy it, but I go along, since I want my degree in the end.

Portland is on board hook, line, and sinker. It's just going to be the way it is for now, even though it makes absolutely zero sense. That is, until the next sherpa emerges...

Here's an interesting line from Lane Transit District's website on EmX, suggesting that the love of Portland planners for light rail isn't based on economics:

"Why don’t we build a light rail line like Portland?
Eugene/Springfield lacks the population density and financial resources necessary to support the huge investment required by light rail transit. In fact, Portland, Oregon is the smallest city in the nation to have a light rail."

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