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Wednesday, August 26, 2009

Here we are now, entertain us

Nothing says "fun" on Tri-Met better than when a large group of teenagers climbs into your bus or train car. Especially the ones wearing gangster outfits and carrying their weapons in their backpacks. You can expect a lot more of that fun now, as any kid showing a Portland high school ID (real or fake) will be riding for free, 24/7. This one may have good intentions paving it, but it's going to be a bumpy ride, and somehow we doubt that it will wind up where the do-gooders think it will.

Comments (41)

Interesting to see who pays for this folly - according to the announcement, "Funding is provided through business energy tax credits; the passes do not cost PPS additional money." Of Course ....
And the boilerplate at the bottom, to the effect that PPS "recognizes the diversity and worth of all individuals and groups and their roles in society." Really? MS-13, the Brown Pride Mexicans & other gangs who regularly decorate our fences? I don't doubt it - just need more 'outreach."

Perfectly sensible to have school kids riding the bus to get around. But I'd like it better if they paid a small student fare.

I left a Max train at Hollywood to escape a gang of baby thugs playing with switch blades within reach of me. My call to 9-1-1 resulted in the police waiting for the thugs at Gateway. Unfortunately, the perps got off at 82nd. This was during the middle of a weekday. Next time I'll drive downtown and pay for parking.

Especially the ones wearing gangster outfits and carrying their weapons in their backpacks.

Sounds like you're using code for black kids, Jack. Nice.

Only one of 'my' baby thugs was black. Two were female(!) Three were male. In my experience, there's nothing racist in Jack's observation, at least when you aren't looking to be offended.

I'll be saving that $26 per month now on my kid's pass. That's about $234 over the school year. For once I feel like I got something from Trimet besides screwed.

I can't believe some people would let their children ride on Trimet alone in the first place

PPS and other districts used to provide "yellow bus" transport for upper grades. Most of them cut it, leaving transportation to and from school up to the kids and their parents to figure out.

The passes shouldn't be valid over the weekend or after 6 pm in the evening. They are supposed to be a substitute for school bus service not transportation carte blanche.

The passes shouldn't be valid over the weekend or after 6 pm in the evening. They are supposed to be a substitute for school bus service not transportation carte blanche.

Excellent idea.

"I can't believe some people would let their children ride alone on Trimet in the first place"
LOL, Anthony, My "child" can handle himself. He could take me to the floor by age 12!

Sounds like you're using code for black kids, Jack. Nice.

Sounds like that to you, I guess. Actually, the whole gangsta-with-a-gun-in-ma-backpack look knows no racial bounds. But if you want to assume that I share your stereotypes, go right ahead.

I ride the # 12 bus from downtown to NE 72nd. During the school year a bunch of kids from Central Catholic and other school kids ride the bus. I have never seen any bad behavior during the last 5 years of riding that line. On the contrary, I enjoy listening to their conversations and banter. Actually I am really impressed by their demeanor and really intelligent conversations. Remember these kids are our future and what I have observed it is going to be a great future. I just hope that kids from the parochial schools will also be awarded the free pass.

maybe a backhanded way to drive up ridership statistics? potentially to seek future fed $$$?

what ever happened to school bus routes?

That's lovely, but there are some other bus lines (and Max, of course) on which the scenes aren't quite so idyllic.

I just hope that kids from the parochial schools will also be awarded the free pass.

Interesting question. Does anyone know if all high schoolers get the free ride?

"Especially the ones wearing gangster outfits and carrying their weapons in their backpacks."

I believe that would be an equal opportunity regardless of race - White or Mexican, which I've ssen.

Unless you are implying only african-americans dress like this.

Allan L. commented: But I'd like it better if they paid a small student fare.

He's right. The "free ride" only encultures and encourages young people to feel entitled to free riding in life -- on Tri-Met and in society later on. Pitch in a little for yourself, for goodness sake!

Burk 54 scores a bull's eye with this observation: maybe a backhanded way to drive up ridership statistics? potentially to seek future fed $$$?

Stay tuned for the next episode of Bureaucrats Behaving Badly

A 50-cent student fare wouldn't be asking too much. That's a 75% discount.

Jack, we just can’t let the hoodlums take over our city and transportation system. Yeah there is a lot of bad behavior on some of the lines and on the Max. We don’t need to put up with it. I was on the MAX the other day and some little sh*t bird was spouting the N-word over and over talking to his fellow felons. I just looked him in the eye and politely told him that he was using inappropriate language. I am a big guy and have a demanding presence. He and his little friends got off at the next stop. No problem. Just stand up to them. (I do have a concealed handgun license however.)

And say, Jack, what's up with this? -- Funding is provided through business energy tax credits

What business(es) are the source of the "Funding" -- CoP? (not a biz) PPS? (not a biz) Tri-Met? (not a biz).

And business tax credits are not monies paid by a business, but rather are accounting credits granted by a taxing authority to a tax-filing entity. Or something like that. Right?

This is not typical of such scholastic pass systems, e.g., higher ed institutions around the U.S. negotiating a reduced fare annual pass for faculty, staff, etc., as an employment benefit.

The taxpayers of (fill in jurisdiction) are paying for all of this -- how's this being swung in this case?

There's no info available on that through any of the material or links provided by PPS there. Shinola.

Portland can't even think of the autoamusement of keeping weird if it completely loses its collective mind.

Why not include home schooled as well as private school students in PPS districts? There is a whole other student body under- represented in this decision by city hall. Moreover, many of these students are probably decently socialized as well, as illustrated in the comment above regarding Central Catholic students on bus #12.

Heck, why not include kids from the 'burbs as well?

Mojo, here's the answer, though I doubt you'll like it any more than I do: all the government agencies have to do to ride on the BETC gravy train is find a profitable business and sell them the tax credits that they manage to convince the Oregon Dept. of Energy that they're entitled to based on some program guestimation (energy saved by having kids ride buses vs. parental unit transport or yellow bus fleets).

The credits sell at a steep discount -- so Wal-Mart has bought some really big ones from school districts and what not at like 35% -- so Wal-Mart gets to deduct say, $10M off its taxes by paying $3.5M to the selling district.

It's a really, really, really screwy form of corporate welfare. Alas, it's easy to see how we got here though -- between the kicker law and our tax limitation measures, even the shrewdest governmental building or fleet manager can't find two dimes to rub together to make even the most logical, fast-payback investments in conservation (and I'm not saying that these bus ones are those, I haven't seen those numbers). But public organizations have a TON of low-hanging fruit: leaky windows, uninsulated crawl spaces, leaky vent ducts, oversized motors with inefficient controllers, no smart monitoring of energy use, etc. etc. etc. The smarter ones figure it out but to find the money to make the improvements (and save us all some money) they have to find a corporate sugar daddy to buy the BETC (the sale is what funds the improvements).

You'd think a smart state would say "Hey, screw that, let's just bond the improvements with five year notes and pay them back with the increased taxes that we get from not having the hogs swilling down BETC money." Indeed, you're right, that's what a smart state would do. That's sure not what Oregon does.

Some folks are never happy. Would you rather these teens be DRIVING?

Would you rather these teens be DRIVING?

Sure, why not? Im sure they would rather be driving (and probably will be given the choice).

Thanks, George. No wonder the Paulsons came to Portland: Slow prey.

John Benton:

As far as I understand it, that word is only offensive to Whites when it drips from the lips of non-Black folk. Of course, for all I know you could be Black, in which case what you did would be perfectly acceptable in the eyes of White liberals.

Meh, personally, I lived in majority Black areas of US Cities for many many years, so I'm totally inured to it's usage all day every day.

"Sounds like you're using code for black kids, Jack. Nice."

Because only black kids can wear "gangster outfits" and carry backpacks with knives or guns, right?

Hint: if you go looking for racism, you'll find it. You're looking for it.

According to today's paper Tri Met has decided to drop the rider advocate program. So they are going to be adding hundreds of high school age riders and taking away the program of advocates who ride the buses and help to defuse potentially volatile situations. Transit police are not the answer, they only react. Rider advocates are proactive and much needed.

PPS and other districts used to provide "yellow bus" transport for upper grades.

PPS hasn't provided school buses for high schools kids for at least 25 years, except for special ed kids and those bused across town. The whole theory is that there's no reason to duplicate citywide bus service for high school kids when you have a citywide public transportation service.

I'm with the commenter who is happy to be saving $26 a month on passes for his kid. Even a $.50 per ride fee is about $20 per month. Yes, this is funded through a corporate tax credit, but it's nice to see the benefit flow directly to families.

Keep in mind, however, this is pure profit for TriMet. If some of these lines need additional buses to handle the kids, we need to hold TriMet accountable since this is an additional $2-$3 million in gravy for them with no added costs.

Before we get too gleeful about our bus pass savings, realize that Fred and his buffoons will no doubt be cutting or eliminating most of the routes that go near a high school!!
Oh, and the part about "taxpayers will subsidize the program if the energy tax credits fall short" is another comical aspect to the story.

Jack, don't you think that there would be a lot more PPS kids who don't fit your "gansta"-profile riding the bus than those who would? Are you really ready to penalize the majority of teens because of the -- well, let's call it a "minority" -- that you don't like?

As for including the "kids from the 'burbs'", I think the whole point here is that there aren't school bus routes in the Portland system. No yellow bus to get the kid from home to school and vice versa. As the OPB version of the story put it:

Nearly every student in Oregon gets a free ride to school on a yellow bus – except for high schoolers in Eugene and Portland.

So as I understand it, this establishes some parity with the "burbs", no?

I'm amazed but not surprised by those of you who are so frightened of the city and its scary ways that you wouldn't
let your high-school age kid ride the bus to school and back with their peers during the day. I truly feel sorry for your children.

How do we know these kids were carrying weapons in their backpacks? Were their packs open? Or are we jumping to conclusions a bit here?

I've been riding Tri-Met daily for almost 10 years, and in most of the situations I've seen kids acting gangsta they are nothing more than pathetic wannabes who wouldn't dare handle a weapon. I have only seen an actual weapon twice on Tri-Met - both times involving lethal-looking knives and one that also involved brass knuckles - granted, that is two times too many. Fortunately, in neither case were the weapons actually used. Also, in neither case was a teen handling the weapon - in both cases it was an "adult."

My deduction is that the vast majority of the obnoxiously-decked-out teens are not packing anything other than attitude.

Full disclosure - my experiences are mainly on the 4, 54 and 56 buses as well as the yellow and red lines. I cannot comment on other routes.

That's lovely, but there are some other bus lines (and Max, of course) on which the scenes aren't quite so idyllic.

Which ones? C'mon don't be so stingy with the facts! Give us some statistics on teen-related incidents per rider/mile, what that translates to in daily figures, and where they happen.

Of all the dispiriting posts I've read on Jack Bog's Blog, this one might win the prize. Are we really so afraid of teenagers -- are they really so awful? -- that the idea that they'll be riding the bus has us assuming dire consequences? Sure there are problems and challenges, but what a crappy attitude to take toward young people. You think they don't see it and feel it?

Give us some statistics on teen-related incidents per rider/mile, what that translates to in daily figures, and where they happen.

Please take your rage elsewhere.

I have only seen an actual weapon twice on Tri-Met - both times involving lethal-looking knives and one that also involved brass knuckles - granted, that is two times too many.

Yes, and now the rate of such incidents will increase. That's not good.

Are we really so afraid of teenagers -- are they really so awful?

I'm not afraid of them, but when they move in large packs trying to look threatening, they nauseate me. The more of them there are on Tri-Met, the less likely I'll be to spend my $2 to ride it.

You think they don't see it and feel it?

I hope so.

"Rage"? You've got to be kidding. I'm laughing at you.

You're a lawyer, aren't you, Jack? I know, a tax lawyer, but still a guy with a degree in law. I don't know if you ever did trial cases like my wife did back in the long-ago days when she was an attorney doing criminal, child welfare, and other pick-up cases, but I think her law school made it imperative to support her case with some facts -- even if those facts had to be cherry-picked like Dick Cheney claims that torture worked to save lives -- to suit the client.

What you seem to be missing in this is that there are already plenty of kids riding the transit system to school and back. What free passes for high-schoolers will do is make some parents who drive their kids to school tell the kids to take the bus. Kids within walking distance are likely to be unaffected. I just really don't see the source of your paranoia.

And really, how often do you drop $2 in the fare box, anyway?

And I'm perfectly willing to admit that there are bad elements of teens running around on the transit system. My wife was shepherding a couple of mentally-challenged adults downtown on MAX one day when it was crowded and they were sitting in the door wells when one gang of kids thought it would be fun to step on the fingers of the people she was with. She had to stare them down and tell them to stop it, which they did, although she said they weren't exactly quiet about it.

But I don't think she'd condemn all teens because of incidents like that. Or because of any of the numerous juvie offenders she worked with at Donald E Long.

Jack - I have no doubt that increasing teen ridership of Tri-Met and Max will raise the odds that I'll be stuck sitting near a "posse" of obnoxious teenagers. In my near-decade on the bus and the rails, I haven't seen a teen with a weapon, although I haven't inspected any backpacks to verify this. Accordingly, I disagree with your assertion that allowing high schoolers to ride for free will result in more weapons on the bus and the train.

I freely admit that, now that I'm a grumpy old man nearing 40, I might experience an increased *desire* to use a weapon if I have to sit near more wannabes who've seen "New Jack City" a couple of times.

STUPID KIDS! GRRR! Get off my lawn, err, my bus!

Youth aren't quite as dangerous as you might think. I fully applaud the City of Portland's efforts to get their future citizens accustomed to getting around town without an automobile.

This is supposed to help kids get back and forth to and from school and healthful school-related activities. You can bet there will be no study done to see whether that in fact is how the free rides are used. Because we all know there will be all sorts of other trips, many of which we will wish the young people hadn't been taking.

And more money for beer, dope and cigarettes!

"And more money for beer, dope and cigarettes!"

I doubt the monthly Tri-Met fare was interfering with a teen's ability to buy those items. We're getting dangerously close to Dean Wormer territory.

If the teens get bothersome, just retreat to a conversation with your neighbor. If alone, fire up the MP3 player - I've got Pink Floyd's "Another Brick in the Wall" downloaded for teen-oriented emergencies.


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