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Thursday, October 29, 2009

Tri-Met hacks away again -- at bus service, of course

Maybe I haven't been paying enough attention, but I haven't seen any publicity yet on this new set of service reductions in some popular Tri-Met bus lines. Most, if not all, of these lines are labeled "frequent service," but at 17 minutes apart, that's starting to become a bit of a stretch of the English language.

The purposeful degradation of downtown-centered bus service in favor of goofball streetcars and trains to nowhere marks a real decline in mass transit in Portland. It's too bad. We had a great thing going there for a while. How the people responsible for this -- people like Earl the Pearl and Crocodile Fred Hansen -- pass themselves off as champions of transit is beyond me. Champions of pork and condos is what they are.

Somebody ought to ask the candidates for governor whether they like what's happening at Tri-Met. After all, the new gov will eventually be appointing new bobbleheads to run that agency.

Comments (20)

Tell me about it! TriMet is bullsh*t.

Now I can't get a ride home on my bus line past 10:30 on a weeknight and 6:00pm on weekends!!

TriMet expects me to use Beaverton Transit Center, which is more than 2 miles from my house and a $10 cab ride.

One of the reasons I moved into the neighborhood I live in was that there was a reliable bus line that passed my home on a regular basis. I have been toying with the idea of getting rid of my car, which is paid off but still costs $$ to maintain and fuel. Now that plan is out the window unless I move.

This organization is not a college campus shuttle. It should not be run like one.

But I thought public transit use in Portland had *doubled* since 1990? How strange: Claims of rampant growth in transit use, but continued cuts in service.

The decline of bus service from Tri-Met is inexcusable and clear evidence of management incompetence. To the extent that bus frequency is the issue, though, riders can compensate in part for the diminished frequency by using Tri-Met's on-line tracking system to determine when they should show up at the bus stop -- be it an hour, a day or a week later -- to board the bus.

I'm right there with you, none. I'm in the process of getting a place in Southeast. There's a stop a block away from my house, but service ends at 9 pm on weeknights and doesn't exist on weekends. I was looking forward to taking transit. Perhaps not now.

I gave up on TriMet years ago.
Here's a challenge that I DARE Fred Hansen and anyone else in the executive suite to take: Leave your Lexus at home and ride your own system everywhere for a week exclusively. Let us know how that works out for you.

A couple of years ago, I read about a study done in Copenhagen, Denmark, where the use of public transportation has been declining. After many experiments with lowering fares, etc., it turns out that frequency of service was the main issue.

And, believe it or not, but downtown Los Angeles may have a better transit system than Portland. For many years now, they've had a system call DASH, that consists of airport-style shuttle buses that charge 25 cents per ride, including a transfer for a second ride. As I recall, there are six routes that loop throughout downtown, with all of the routes overlapping in the center of downtown, and with buses running at 5- to 10-minute intervals. No tracks, no overhead wires, no infrastructure.

Those and jittneys are prohbited in the Portland region.
Isn't that special?

Haven't you guys heard that in the future all Portlanders will bike everywhere? All streets will be turned into bioswales and community gardens.

Yep, bikes and streetcars. That there is the future! Just waiting for horses to come back into style. Of course, we'll need designated "horse boulevards" at that point, and a Horse Master Plan.

Yes, I would have to agree; cutting service while experiencing more and more demand seems like a weird decision.

MAX trains are getting more and more ridiculously full, the usual bus lines I ride are getting bananas full (15, 19 and 20), and we're cutting some service.

While the cuts seem to be during "off peak hours", I know a lot of people rely on bus service during these times and this will put a kink to their schedule. Stinks.

I'm more flabbergasted about how TriMet would cut a good portion of the 15's commute down 102nd; if you're not aware, the end destination for that line is now at Gateway; they just cut service for 102nd from, essentially, Glisan to Sandy on 102nd. Maywood Park'ians no longer have a bus that goes by their area.

If they would have saved some $$$ not building the infrastructure for the WES, maybe we wouldn't be seeing these cuts..

of course not, TriMet is bleeding
$ 1/2 million every month for WES.
No doubt that doesn't include the debt service on the construction.

Hey Snards, I bike everywhere because Tri-Met is so slow and the waits are so long. I can bike from 39th Ave. to downtown in about a third the time it takes to ride a bus.

So don't get your snark confused. Bicyclists are not necessarily big fans of Tri-Met (and don't get me started on bus drivers who enjoy endangering cyclists.)

Did y'all check out TRIMET'S new BABY!

"Trimet is bleeding $1/2 million every month for WES"

Goodness, that's enough money to add one more full-time executive to their ranks. Not including other perks and benefits of course...

Fred actually does use his system to get around. And while part of the problem may be with opening two new rail lines in short succession that don't replace any existing bus service, it should be noted that even though the payroll tax rate has been increased (and the increase was put into place when the economy was good), the revenues from it went DOWN (including any additional taxes normally expected due to inflation/wage increases). So it's not all TriMet's falt.

TriMet's joke. This is what happens when government runs a "business".

Portland used to have private transit, and it was successful. Sure, some transit companies went bankrupt, but this served to keep the industry in check. Other companies would buy up the assets and resume service.

If only TriMet would be allowed to go bankrupt and its assets could be sold off to the highest bidder. Costs would decrease (although fares might rise), the bums and drug dealers wouldn't be tolerated, and the market would drive transit rather than central economic planning.

"FRED does use his system to get around"
Umm, yeah. I wasn't talking about the SUV supplied to him by TriMet...

Portland used to have private transit, and it was successful

Please show me one city in this country which still has a private mass transit system. Must be one which serves the vast majority of a metropolitan area, have fares roughly comparable to TriMet and operate full ADA service. Bonus points if the operators enough pay and benefits to help take care of a family.

Umm, yeah. I wasn't talking about the SUV supplied to him by TriMet...

Well, I wasn't either. And I'm not sure he even gets a district-supplied vehicle. For proof, see this picture.

Jason, I've attended a few parties that Fred attended. He didn't ride the bus. He drove even with bus service five blocks away. But I drove too.

Same goes with Randy and Sam, but in those cases the bus stopped right in front and MAX was one block away. And I drove again.

Please show me one city in this country which still has a private mass transit system. Must be one which serves the vast majority of a metropolitan area, have fares roughly comparable to TriMet and operate full ADA service. Bonus points if the operators enough pay and benefits to help take care of a family.


The reason few American city's have private transit is because most legally prohibit private operators from competing with government transit monopolies. Some cities also have rather draconian regulations on the number of taxis allowed (sometimes some fixed number that's proportional to the population). Atlantic City has a privately operated paratransit/jitney service and jitneys still exist in parts of Miami. I don't know much about Miami's jitneys, but the drivers in Atlantic City make a comfortable middle-class salary and usually work 32-hour weeks. They admittedly serve a higher proportion of tourist compared to other urban areas, but they still have a core base of transit-dependent customers that have limited or no access to a car.

Abroad, the Puerto Rico publicos are probably the best example of successful private transit system that could be transferred to the U.S., as the country has similar modal shares of private car travel that the agencies must compete with. Not surprisingly, the country's public transit agencies that operate expensive trains and high-capacity buses operate at a huge loss, while the private jitney operators still turn a profit and serve many more people. These operators have a strong incentive to be innovative and efficient, so they forgo obsolete and expensive transit modes like streetcars and light-rail the public agencies splurge on. When Tri-Met needs money, they have an incentive to raise our taxes.

For more info on paratransit in the U.S. I recommend reading Robert Cervero's Paratransit in America: Redefining Mass Transportation

This is the governments approach at business. Less for more. Just wait til that alleged 'stimulus' money never shows up, Oregon tax revenue drops like a stone and transit workers are do to re-up their contract. The best thing you can do is to start walking five miles a day now so that you will be a little better prepared for when we have to wake up from the progressive dream and face reality.

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