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Wednesday, October 28, 2009

(Rail)road to ruin

Tri-Met's WES train is proving to be a disaster on every level.

Comments (22)

I ride the Blue Line train in from Gresham to downtown Portland and back nearly everyday...and I have for more than 15 years. I can tell you that everyone I've spoken with cannot stand the new style cars. I think these are the same ones used on the WES. We don't get them on the Blue line as often but they are completely unreliable. In the short time they've been here, I've been on three that have broken down. Some of the seats are made only for midgets, and the heating cowling that runs the length of the floorboard has a fairly sharp edge that jams into your calf the entire ride. I'm not into all the politics that surround the issues, I'm just a boob who needs to ride the train. I just wish those in charge of these things would one day get it together. It can't be that difficult.

Tri-Met is not in good hands these days.

Looks as the "Big O" dropped that story off their on-line news page in a hurry.

But lets enjoy these links left there by an earlier poster, anyway:



Diesel? Is that 'sustainable'?

And...I have to ask...in this day and age of viral panics, the MAX, WES, and the East Annex Rail Line (EARL), along with all the regular buses should be emptying out.

Face it, folks, Tri-Met is nothing but a big ol' VIRAL VECTOR ENABLER.

I certainly would advise that travellers stay off of long flights...well, short flights, too, considering they recirculate the air on those things. Urban mass transit is just the next level down of mass exposure to viral vectors.

Remember, now, those 'seasonal' influenza vaccines you got? Those won't do you any good against the novel H1N1 'swine flu' virus. And, guess what? Reports are that almost ALL new influenza infections are testing out as H1N1.

Now, who'd have ever thought that driving to and from work, all alone in your personal vehicle, would be comparably safe and healthy?

Interesting that they are buying the Bud type units. They will probably last another fifty years. Bud built some of the best railroad stuff ever. http://www.budd-rdc.org/

I ride the Blue Line train in from Gresham to downtown Portland and ... I can tell you that everyone I've spoken with cannot stand the new style cars. I think these are the same ones used on the WES.

The WES trains are diesel-powered locomotives while the MAX 400 series trains are electric light rail vehicles.

I rode a north/south Green Line MAX train downtown for the first time today. I only rode for two stops on 6th Avenue to make a fast bank deposit. I got a 300 Series train so I didn't get a chance to note the interior accommodations on a new train.

I can tell you that not having free buses in the former Fareless Square is going to be take some getting used to for people like me who have grown used to bursting into any old bus that came by to travel north and south downtown.

September WES
Estimated revenue $28,958

Actual cost from TriMet $477,008

Monthly Deficit ($448,051)

Washington County paid $203,040 per month until July, then $166,667 per month

Clackamas County pays $25,000 in "assistance" each month

"The WES trains are diesel-powered locomotives while the MAX 400 series trains are electric light rail vehicles."

I stand corrected. It's the MAX 400 series electric trains that I was referring to...but still... they're new, they're unreliable, and they're just terrible. You would think Tri-Met would do some research, ask some regular riders what they think of the cars, do some testing first before committing millions to new cars that nobody likes riding.

WES needs to be converted to light rail. When that happens, it needs to have additional stations along its line, and to make a couple of "detours" from the freight line into Washington Square and Bridgeport Village, and at the end to "downtown" Wilsonville east of the freeway.

Oh yeah, it also needs to be extended north to the Sunset transit center, thence eventually along Highway 26 to Cornelius Pass Road.

Only $500 million or so will do the trick :)

Good greif, WES canot be converted to MAX.
WES runs on a shared freight train line.
There's no way to convert it to MAX unless the entire line is purchased, freight trains kicked off and the massive retro fit for MAX is completed which would cost in the billion IF the freight train agreed to go away.

But why would they?
TriMet completely re-built the entire line with new rail, new concrete rr ties, new ballast and new parralel spur lines and will maintain it forever.
As with other boondoggles the freight line got everything TriMet could give them.

Pretty sure the only way that WES hasn't botched it, is that no one has died yet.

Keep in mind that Tri-Met was forced to work with the crappy domestic locomotive supplier that built the WES lemons because of an old "buy American" provision. Other builders of the WES-type diesel multiple unit locomotives exist in the world and probably could have delivered a better product at better prices, but none had the domestic subsidiaries set up to get around the "buy American" provision (which is how the German company Siemens can supply Tri-Met with its MAX cars) or could do so in time to meet Tri-Met's deadlines. I'm all for promoting American companies, but in this case it has some costly unintended consequences for tri-county taxpayers.

Plus, a Tri-Met bus-driving relative of mind notes that Tri-Met really didn't want to do the WES line, but politics won out. Washington County leaders, like all government leaders around here, drank the choo-choo Kool-Aid and insisted on WES at the expense of increased bus service or a MAX extension (which would have met the needs of their residents and employers much better).

A MAX extension instead of the WES would have cost more and hindered even more the ability to fund buses and overall better transit service.

This enamour for rail transit could not be more convoluted and disingenous.

Despite the perpetual propaganda the comittments such as WES and more MAX lines have sentenced our region to reliance upon fantasy and goverment publications to create success where there is failure.
Objectively looking at the totality of cost, benefit and effects of this region's approach reveals it to be a stunning fraud.
One that is easily dismissed with "I like it" by the relative few and loud proponents.

And I thought the WES was just another hand-out to the developer of that ridiculous Villebois development in Wilsonville...I'll bet you don't have to look far to find where he fits into Fred's inner circle ---

Villebois was just one of the concocted excuses to justify WES but WES was never going to go to Villebois. No more than it goes to Washington Square, another lie from the beginning till it opened.

Yet Villebois is still called a transit oriented development. How special.

Now TriMet is stuck with a long term comittment to costly dysfunction.

And what are our glorius elected officials talking about?

How wonderful WES is and the need to extend it to Salem.
That's how they get re-elected.

Bottom line: no one rides WES, but we pay for it.

I'd love to get at least one ride on the darn thing, but it doesn't run on weekends. That's when I'd gladly use it to go into Beaverton and do my holiday shopping and not have to sit in grid-lock on Canyon Rd.

Have a nice laugh.


Washington County Chair Tom Brian said that local officials "have been advocating for this project for nearly a decade because it will improve mobility and will help strengthen the economic vitality of the cities along the alignment."

The 14.7-mile commuter rail line would use existing freight tracks to add transit service in the heavily traveled I-5 and Hwy 217 corridor. The line would connect with MAX light rail in Beaverton, then travel to Tigard, Tualatin and Wilsonville. Travel time between the five stations would take 37 minutes, with service every 30 minutes during rush hour.
Posted by Mary Fetsch, TriMet at 2:08 PM


August 3, 2005 2:44 PM
Mary Fetsch Says:

Since the Washington County Commuter Rail line will use existing freight tracks, it has to be a heavy rail vehicle that's self-propelled, rather than MAX that gets it's power from overhead wires.


August 4, 2005 9:26 AM
Ross Williams Says:

- the commuter rail will help to spur the needed improvements.
The Washington Square station connects to a major job center which has significant transportation challenges.
the train will be faster than commuting by auto. For people interested in the details Tri-met now has a page on the project.
The commter rail line in Washington county is an extremely cost effective way of providing transportation capacity in a corridor that has few other options.


August 4, 2005 2:48 PM
That said, the commuter rail project has been sponsored and promoted by local electeds in Washington County who are close to their folks and know what could get local support.
Let's support it, look for ways to make it work, see that the access infrastructure is put in place, and hope for the best!

Keep in mind that Tri-Met was forced to work with the crappy domestic locomotive supplier that built the WES lemons because of an old "buy American" provision.

I believe that company was struggling financially, and Tri-Met ended up buying the company so the trains could be finished. So they are building their own "crappy trains" now.

As for putting light rail in place of WES, the two different trains dont run the same gauge, so the entire rail line would have to be replaced. Thats why they went with diesel to begin with.

Yep, the thousands of us that ride WES every week are just a figment of someones imagination...

TriMet anticipated ridership: About 2,000 trips per week.
Current ridership: About 1,400 trips per week.

I hardly call the difference of 600 trips per week a "failure", especially given that thousands of jobs have been lost in Wilsonville and Salem in the immediate months after WES went into service...

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