This page contains a single entry from the blog posted on December 28, 2009 7:37 AM. The previous post in this blog was Musical interlude. The next post in this blog is New zoo boss being named today. Many more can be found on the main index page or by looking through the archives.

E-mail, Feeds, 'n' Stuff

Monday, December 28, 2009

Is Tri-Met pushback finally starting?

It looks as though the modern-day equivalent of the Portland hippies are planning a good old-fashioned protest against the latest moves by the management of Tri-Met -- gutting bus service in a transparent attempt to force transit riders onto expensive trains that go where the local real estate developers tell them to. The far-lefties say they'll be staging some civil disobedience later in the week to protest this coming weekend's replacement of Fareless Square, which for decades has provided free bus and train rides in the downtown core, with a "free rail" zone, in which only the condo-shilling streetcars and gangster light rail will be free in that area.

The killing of Fareless Square is but a symptom of the problems that the protesters are complaining about. They say the general manager of Tri-Met, Crocodile Hansen, is overpaid; that his captive board of directors don't know what they're doing; and that the governor has stocked the board with political appointees to use the transit agency to further the agenda of himself and the Portland Old Money. The protesters think the Tri-Met board ought to be elected directly by the public.

You tell 'em, kids.

They're also putting Mike Powell of Powell's Books on the spot -- he's a big streetcar proponent who at least until recently had dollar signs in his eyes regarding his own real estate holdings. So far, he's got the protesters guessing which side he's on in the Fareless Square controversy; it will be interesting to see where that all shakes out.

Unfortunately, the marchers are going to be putting a major "class war" spin on the whole issue, which will probably turn enough people off that the protest won't get anywhere. I wouldn't be surprised if something ugly happens -- childish vandalism, a Humphrey-esque arrest or two, that sort of thing. But people with bullhorns chanting on the transit mall about Hansen's salary and the anemic Tri-Met board? That's great theater, and a seriously good sign for Portland.

Comments (11)

I lean quite a bit to the right, but I can definitely side with the protestors this time! What percentage of Portlanders ever go downtown, let alone to the Pearl? That's the percentage of Trimet dollars that should be spent on downtown/Pearl transit.

Fred probably won't even be in town that day, and I'm sure no one will tell him about it. He's rather disconnected with Portland these days.

You could fund fareless square with the money they pay the thug fare inspectors. In fact the whole system could be free for a minimal gas tax. Sounds like a more Portland-friendly plan than Hansen's "streetcar of dreams" shopping trains.

Here are two of the leaders of the Transit Riders Union:


the whole system could be free for a minimal gas tax.

I dunno about that. Last I read, MAX alone cost at least 5x what they charge for an adult fare just to operate it.

What percentage of Portlanders ever go downtown, let alone to the Pearl?

I don't know about what percentage but according to figures from the Portland Business Alliance, just over 80,000 people were employed downtown in 2008, down about 5,000 from the year before that, which was when numbers had reached their pre-9/11 levels.

Obviously, not everyone who works in downtown Portland lives in Portland -- a lot of people commute in from places like Lake Oswego, Beaverton, Vancouver, and Gresham, if freeway traffic in the morning is any indication -- but then again there are a lot of stores and other businesses that are dependent on customers from Portland and the surrounding 'burbs who don't work there, too, so the number is presumably decent.

Fareless square and the zone pricing in general never made sense to me. Why subsidize short trips that could easily be replaced by walking, biking or cabs, at the expense of long distance commuters for whom car travel is the only alternative? Why subsidize tourists?

I can understand people wanting to subsidize transit for the poor, but a location based system is an absurd way to do it.

I thought the main rationale (or at least one I heard being tossed around) for eliminating fairless square was to curb criminal behavior tied to the MAX system. Now it and the streetslug are the only free transit choices, so using this logic wouldn't it make the problem worse? More thugs moving away from buses and gravitating towards the free trains, and maybe even staying on (!) outside fairless square without paying?

Fred Hansen will soon be joining his friends Vera, Neil and Peter Kohler living large with his family enjoying the lavish life style the elite officials get when they retire.

Right on, Ben. You left out Peggy Fowler ($795K per year)

Eliminating fareless square altogether makes sense to me. I never did understand why it should be free. The fare however, for short hops around downtown should be reasonable. Require a ticket to get on the train. Don't rely on the passengers good will or the ability of transit cops to catch all the scoflaws. As for the writer who questions why people would want to go downtown, perhaps he is among that great mass of people who prefer the mall to experiencing an actual city. I for one prefer a shopping experience that includes a decent bar...

Clicky Web Analytics