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Tuesday, July 7, 2009

100 pages of poppycock

It took about a dozen planners and some "citizen advisor" face cards like Cora "Lents Stadium" Potter and Chris "Voter-Owned" Smith to churn out this monstrosity -- the Portland citywide streetcar manifesto. I love the part about how the greedy developers (the authors pretty much admit that's whom the streetcars are for) are going to "step down" their infill bunkers to the poor souls in their single-family houses. Yeah, right, that's gonna happen.

Oh yeah, and peak oil! They're great with the peak oil!

The total price tag for all the new streetcar lines? A mere $750 million. Plus many millions more every year to operate them, with laughable (if any) fare enforcement.

But cooler than buses. Way cooler.

Comments (28)

I rode the downtown streetcar out of sheer curiosity and I was not impressed. Its bumpy and slow and plodding, and it gave me motion sickness after a 10 minute ride. Plus when my stop came they wouldnt open some of the doors for some bizarre reason. No explanation of which doors would open or not open, and the manual open buttons didnt do anything.

60 plus years ago our leaders took out the streetcars. When I moved to Oregon in 1960 the empty streetcar barn was on Killingsworth near Albina. So are the leaders now on to something good or are streetcars best as a novelty for tourists?
(They have a really cute one on Istiklal Caddmus in Istanbul)

I am shocked, simply shocked that SW Portland outside of the core looks to be the most underserved area in this proposal. Afterall, it's aleady the most underserved area by Tri-Met currently. So it makes perfect sense overserve what already has much better public transportation and to continue to underserve the most underserved areas.

But hey .... taxation without equal service really isn't like taxation without equal representation, is it? Now where are those tea merchants and a harbor and my ancestors?

I cringe at even suggesting something so foolish, but it can't be any worse than the streetcar fiasco ... if Portlanders are against the bus because it just isn't cool or trendy enough, maybe they just need to get a different bus.

I'm thinking some double deckers like they had in London would fit the bill. Samadumbs and crew can even paint them silver to match the tram. Yes, I know it rains in Portland - so what?

Streetcars don't move many people for their cost. They're not as "green" as the new busses. They will cost us $billions to build. South waterfront is still half vancant after several years, so they don't even help sell condos very well. Why are we building them?

Peak oil is a reality! If it wasn't, the price wouldn't have continued to skyrocket since it hit $150 a barrel last summer... er... wait a minute...

I love the section with the rhetorical question: "Can I walk faster than a streetcar?" Answer: "It depends". Honest answer: "Yes".

Why are we building them?

We are building them for the following reasons:

1. They provide an excuse to give tax breaks to politician's friends.

2.They provide an excuse to give tax dollars to politician's friends.

3. The construction shovels money to politician's friends.

4. They provide ribbon cutting opportunities.

All of the above is especially true in the case of a politician who needs a lot of support (and cash) to fight off a recall.


"Why are we building them?"

One more reason to build the oh so needed CC Hotel.

In the long run, this is all about building monuments. Stuff in place now, like infrastructure, is nowheres near as exciting.

Here is another gem from the deluded planners. A definition of a “twenty minute” neighborhood:

Figure 6. The 20-minute neighborhood.
A 20-minute neighborhood is the area that can be
reached in 20 minutes (about a 1-mile walk). A
streetcar can extend the pedestrian environment up to
approximately 3 to 4 miles.

Holy Sh*t, Batman, your life is up to 4 miles away from home. WOW, a whole 4 miles, just like in the 1800's where most people seldom traveled far away from where they were born.

My “twenty minute neighborhood” is from twenty MILES in each direction not just along a slow crappy streetcar track. Reason: I have a Automobile!.

I suspect that most of the poeple who creat this crap also have cars, they just want others to give up their cars.

It is time to fire about 300 of the region’s 350 planners.

The really sick part is the idiots who wrote this report really believe in peak oil because they have no concept of basic economics.


JK: I certainly can't drive 20 miles in any direction in 20 minutes in my neighborhood. (Well at least I can't without breaking traffic laws and probably killing people.)

I can probably get about 10 miles if I hit the lights right.

I certainly can't drive 20 miles in any direction in 20 minutes
Ever hear of freeways?


I like the Streetcar, but I'm not sure why MLK is a priority. Don't we already have a mass transit line running right through North Portland, in the MAX Redline. Seems redundant.

Ever hear of freeways?

Yeah but it takes a little over 10 minutes to get to one, and then they may be jammed depending on the time of day. (Not to mention the wait on the metered on-ramps.)

And then you might not be able to get off anywhere near where you want to go.

I still hold that I doubt very few people, if any, can get 20 miles from their neighborhood in 20 minutes without breaking traffic laws.

I love streetcars, and not only because loonies like Karlock hate them (although that would be reason enough). That report was 80% tedious wank but the content was clearly well thought out.

What I don’t understand is why this is the 10,000th post that claims to have found out what streetcars are for: ”the authors pretty much admit that's whom the streetcars are for.” They are about development and that has always been front and center. Somebody will make money, but then again somebody will make money by scraping Helvetia and building snout houses.

The streetcar won't be anything more than a sucking redundancy until the city figures out how to get people to pay to ride it. And it doesn't help that most of its route is in fareless square which only confuses visitors who think (and are sometimes even told by other riders) that the entire streetcar route is free.

They are about development and that has always been front and center. Somebody will make money, but then again somebody will make money by scraping Helvetia and building snout houses.

Yeah but they practically stuff the streetcar full of $100 bills like a pinata before shipping it down to the condo developers, i.e. the city subsidizes the crap out of the developments (see the sidebar of this blog for the city's rapidly expanding credit limit). I'm pretty sure "snout" houses in Helvetia would sell without billions in subsidies (I could be wrong, maybe they're considering street money pinatas too).

I'm pretty sure this kind replacement of the housing market with central planning subsidization was the downfall of the great communist powers (or at least a contributing factor). Except those that had economic reforms in the 60s and 70s, I guess. Doesn't look to sustainable to me.

All elected officials should use public transit everyday for all their personal and family needs.

If Sam Adams has to get somewhere he should use the bus. No cars, pickup or any other form of private transit. Same goes for Gov. Ted and every damn one of them.

And next up for Portland, gas oil lamps, or maybe whale oil ones.

Libertarian Guy, you're onto something. It ought to be written into the contracts of, at least, the city council members AND those managing transportation, including the CEO of Tri-Met.

Sam wouldn't have a very difficult time. He could walk up to the MAX yellow line and ride it straight into town. But he doesn't. Because he doesn't have to.

As my old boss used to tell me, "Mass transit is for Democrats and poor people."

For what it's worth, this stepdown nonsense has been part of Portland's zoning ever since the big white tower now known as the Wells Fargo Center started blocking views of Mt. Hood from the west hills.

Never mind that people sell unused vertical space above existing buildings to new developments; or that zoning variations happen...

I love the section with the rhetorical question: "Can I walk faster than a streetcar?" Answer: "It depends". Honest answer: "Yes".

No way. Streetcar's faster. I'll happily take that bet. Say, $100?

If you start at Good Sam Hospital and travel to the PSU Urban Center, the streetcar will take roughly 23 minutes, while walking will take roughly 39 minutes -- nearly twice as long.

Er... that's thirty nine minutes for you, Kari.

Skinny walker,

You are incorrect.

When the streetcar opened I did just such an experiment. I walked from my house on NW 25th (3-4 blocks from the stop at the hospital) to an appointment I had in the Wells Fargo tower on SW 4th and Columbia. It took 20 minutes. On the way back I took the streetcar, it took 40 minutes!

*the timing was door-to-door so it includes walking to and from the stop and waiting for the next train. Comparisons like Skinny Walkers assume the pedestrian would wait for the streetcar before heading to their designation or walking in the opposite way from their destination before setting out.

The problem with those Google calculations is that they utilize different routes. The walking routes they chose are rather hilly and would likely be slow.

The average speed of the streetcar, assuming that stretch of streetcar line to be 2.4 miles, would be about 10mph. The minimum speed that the aforementioned PDF from the Streetcar folks is 7mph. Both Google and the Streetcar folks assume 3mph walking average speed.

I tend to walk about 4-5mph but can go faster when needed. I would definitely be able to beat it if there were some headway involved--an even race would be interesting, and I've been wanting to try it for awhile.

And regarding the plan in the PDF--I see they're extending a line into Washington County--gotta love Portland imperialism.

I concur with John. I use to walk to work from NW Marshall and 24th to the Standard Plaza Building across from the Portland Building in 20 minutes. It took me 35 minutes to go from Good Sam (even two blocks closer)to a point four blocks away from Standard Plaza (the closest point) by trolley. Six blocks total in less distance than the walking scenario. And I'm a little chubby.

The problem with those Google calculations is that they utilize different routes. The walking routes they chose are rather hilly and would likely be slow. ...

Choose any route you want.

I've got $100. And yes, it's going to be an even race -- you don't get to count the time waiting for the streetcar to arrive as part of the trip time.

Given enough of a headstart of "waiting time", I could walk across America faster than you could fly across it. Please.

Good Sam to the Urban Center. You walk. I'll ride. $100. Let's go.

If it's 4:30 on a rainy weekday afternoon in late November, you could lose.

Snethen and I tried this very thing once. It was mid-afternoon, summer, no traffic, four years ago. We only got as far as 11th and Glisan before the streetcar passed us.

But if it were rush hour and bad weather, we probably would have gotten further. A lot further. I'd guess at least Stark.

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