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Wednesday, March 17, 2010

Center Garage

Word is out -- Fred "Crocodile" Hansen is retiring from Tri-Met. But the Goldschmidt Gang's grip on the agency will doubtlessly continue as long as Governor Ted and his appointees are calling the shots. Hey, maybe the Guv will want to run Tri-Met himself!

The O sends Fred off in style, with a photo of him in front of the WES train, which should have been named EPICFAIL. He will leave the agency weaker and less effective than it's been in many years. They'll blame the economy, but I don't think so. It's clueless management as much as anything else. Go by streetcar, Fred!

Hey, wait a minute, he's only 63. Perhaps there's one more Network appointment before he is weaned from the public breast. The Port? OHSU? Oh, the possibilities.

Comments (13)

If John Kitzhaber (or BB) is elected Hansen and the rest of the status quo will be very happy.

Just vote for Alley and clean out the scoundrels.

Why not roll Tri-Met, PDC, the Port and OHSU into one giant conglomerate public-private bendover, er, partnership.

It could be called The Combine, in honor of Kesey's book about an insane asylum.

Don't worry about Fred. He has a lucrative career ahead of him as a consultant/lobbyist for other cities' light rail projects and possibly as an expert witness in light rail related litigation and such. I wonder what his pension looks like. I'm sure it's eye-popping.

Forgot to say that is one of your best titles.

I think something big is up and Fred wants out before it hits!
Fred does not like to get his hands dirty so he maybe bailing for a reason.
Just a hunch.

After that Oregonian article, there's a great comment by "SP Red Electric" posted at 8:00 PM. Worth reading... what he said.

Fred's legacy with Tri-Met is best summed up with a parody of another annoying Australian: "Now, I'm gonna sneak up behind and jam my thumb up his butthole! This'll really piss him orf!"

I have dubbed it Wasteful Executive Spending. It Works!

Posted by SP Red Electric
March 17, 2010, 8:00PM at Oregonlive

Passadore gave Hansen "an A-plus."

An A-Plus? Really? Let's see:

1. Total dismantling of "Frequent Service" bus service, with all major bus routes operating at 17-20 minute headways during peak hours. (Most major transit systems consider "Frequent Service" to be 12 minutes or better.)

2. Operation of the oldest bus fleet of major transit systems, with one of the most unreliable, and least fuel efficient systems. Hansen has steadfastly refused to purchase hybrid-electric buses, despite their popularity with major transit systems such as New York's MTA, Los Angeles' MTA, and even Seattle's King County Metro. Hansen's shining achievement was the "NASCAR-inspired" electric cooling fan array, a system that few transit agencies have opted to purchase.

3. A total lack of investment in the bus system, bus stops - very few bus routes were started on Hansen's watch (the last major bus service upgrade occurred in 1998, and was planned by Hansen's predecessor). Hansen cut numerous bus routes and required bus riders to abandon TriMet, or forced multiple transfers onto pet light rail routes.

4. Failure to follow the annual Transit Investment Plan. Hansen failed to deliver on promised bus service upgrades, including new and more frequent routes in Clackamas, Forest Grove, Tigard and Tualatin.

5. During the fuel oil crisis of the mid-2000s, most transit agencies recorded double-digit ridership growth. TriMet, on the other hand, recorded virtually flat ridership - and a decline in bus ridership, for three consecutive years.

6. TriMet's fares went up from $1.35 to $2.30 in the ten years - a 60% increase. Inflation during the same time period? Less than 28%. TriMet's fares increased faster than most everything else.

7. Much of the growth in MAX came from huge park-and-ride lots and garages, not intermodal connections to/from local bus services. TOD has not taken off as it frequently promoted; numerous tracts of land near MAX stations remain undeveloped to this day. The Red Line was supposed to serve a huge mixed-use development at Cascade Station; we got another strip mall anchored by the Swedish Wal-Mart: IKEA. The Green Line has virtually ZERO TOD opportunities; neither does WES.

8. WES was a failure, plain and simple. You cannot blame the economy; it was a political porkbarrel project that even the most optimistic federal transit planners failed to approve of. Today, the cost of WES is seven times that of the dreaded, expensive to run bus that Hansen so frequently decries.

9. TriMet has one of the most archaic fare systems. WES and many MAX machines won't allow you to pay with cash; you can't use a credit/debit card on buses. Most major transit agencies have advanced stored value cards that are easily refillable and popular with even occasional riders; TriMet eschews them. To this day, there is still no accurate way to count ridership because the bus fare boxes can't even keep track of what kinds of fares were purchased, just the total of money stuffed inside it.

10. TriMet refuses to purchase high capacity buses, and match bus capacity with ridership. Buses (even in our horrible economy) continue to pass up willing riders because the buses are at crush load; while other transit systems have made investments in articulated or double-deck buses (which have proven to be extraordinarily popular with riders).

I could go on...but I'd sure like to know: What did Hansen do? He built a bunch of MAX lines (at the expense of bus service). He stuck his nose in Vancouver politics. He jetted off to exotic destinations on the taxpayer's dime. He earns more than every comparable transit General Manager, yet manages a much smaller operation and is largely a "hands-off" manager. He openly shows his disdain for the public and TriMet's riders. He was M.I.A. during every TriMet meltdown, allowing TriMet to all but shut down in poor weather - just as many Portlanders actually begged for TriMet to show them a better way to travel.

If Passadore feels Hansen deserves an A-Plus for his work...I should be a tenured Doctorate for just paying my fare 100% of the time, riding TriMet's busiest bus routes (thus requiring little if any subsidy from TriMet), rarely using Park & Ride lots... Maybe it's time for Passadore to retire as well, require that all Board Members be elected from the public, and turn TriMet into a customer-focused organization, not an organization designed to just provide cushy political jobs to insiders and donors to the Governor's race. When the DMV and the TSA provide better service...something is seriously wrong........

Sell the damn thing and let them make money the way the rest of us do.

SP Red Electric has hit the nail squarely on the head. Thanks Fred Hansen for all the damage you've done. Believe me, your name will be in Portland's history books....think about it.

On the news this evening Hansen said, when asked what he planned to do next, that he had never gone more than 11 days without being employed and that he wanted to stay active in local transportation infrastructure and sustainability. He quipped that he was a local, grew up in Portland and planned to stay here. Sounded like he was just waiting for the offers to roll in. If that's the case and that's his goal, one wonders why he bailed on his job at TriMet.

Sounded like he was just waiting for the offers to roll in. If that's the case and that's his goal, one wonders why he bailed on his job at TriMet.

Frankly, I don't believe there are many offers. At least not for transit management positions.

If Hansen was so popular - he could have been taken up for any number of much larger agencies (Seattle? SF Muni? LACMTA? NYC MTA?) and received a huge pay increase, and lots more perks than ever here in Portland.

The pro-TriMet folks like to cite how other cities see Portland as a model for transit growth. So how many cities are sending their folks here to Portland, then return home and actually replicate ANYTHING that Portland has done? The Streetcar Craze just has not taken off like the pro-Streetcar folks like to make it seem - I believe Tucson, AZ is the only city that has a Streetcar system in the works. There are all kinds of cities that have light rail; Portland is hardly the only one, or the "model" (in fact it was San Diego that revitalized light rail transport in America with the first new-build system in the late 1970s; and Boston and San Francisco rebuilt existing streetcar systems into light rail in the 1970s.) All Portland did was show that a smaller city could do it too, and Portland is no longer the smallest city with a light rail system; nor the largest. And nobody - I repeat, NOBODY - looks at Portland as a model of a bus system.

Hansen isn't even a career transit guy; he came from the Oregon DEQ and U.S. EPA before TriMet.

My guess: He'll rake in some lucrative "consulting" job (and how many posts are there here at about consultants?!!!!) to last out the last few years of his working career. Put in 10 hour weeks and make $200,000 a year. Frankly not a bad idea, but the accomplishments at TriMet have been so grossly overstated that it's akin to lying on a resume. And the Mayor of West Linn has enough problems in that department.


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