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This page contains a single entry from the blog posted on April 28, 2010 3:15 PM. The previous post in this blog was One of the best. The next post in this blog is Genius in our midst. Many more can be found on the main index page or by looking through the archives.

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Wednesday, April 28, 2010

Tri-Met keeps it in the Network

As predicted here last night, the Tri-Met board of directors stayed quite local in their choice to replace outgoing CEO Fred "Crocodile" Hansen. The new guy is Neil McFarlane, who's been managing the troubled transit agency's capital projects for years. When last heard from, he was making $214,000 a year, including a "retention bonus," and now he'll get a nice raise.

In addition to MAX trains in every direction, McFarlane's portfolio includes heavy involvement in the WES line, which is one of the most spectacular failures in American mass transit history. For some reason that one was left out of the official press release this morning.

Years ago, McFarlane managed the construction of the Oregon Convention Center, which has also turned out to be a bust. At that point he was on the Metro payroll, and lately he has been serving on Metro's transportation "planning" committee.

Neil also represented TriMet in the unique public-private partnership with Bechtel Enterprises, which developed and constructed the Airport MAX extension.
In other words, Old Boy Network all the way. He's even named Neil! Makes it so much easier to keep everything straight in the meetings.

McFarlane has a master's degree in urban planning from UCLA, and he's got all the jargon down. He's involved with the "planning" folks at Portland State as part of their Otrec program. Apartment bunker developers, rejoice!

Meanwhile, Hansen's taking bold action in the wake of Saturday's killing of two pedestrians and injuring of several others by a wayward Tri-Met bus driver. Fred has sent out a memo! In it, he urges people to be more careful. Oh, and by the way, when a bus inexplicably runs five people over in a crosswalk, it's a "collision." Please make a note of the correct terminology.

Comments (22)

Great. Another light rail-focused TriMet CEO. See, light rail is good and all.. but what needs to be worked on is the bus infrastructure. And by "worked on" I don't mean cutting bus line times that have overflowing riderships (i.e. 15-Belmont and 20-Burnside for starters).

They're throwing the bus under the bus.

A Tri-Met employee told me this morning that the driver involved in the accident had tendered her resignation. She didn't know much more about the accident that we do.

Yup, memos have gone out to drivers including warnings about talking to riders while driving (probably not as distracting as what my bus driver was doing a couple of nights ago - discussing the speed/stopping distance in the accident with somebody on his cell phone while navigating rush hour traffic.

Yes, another Neil from the Network of Neils.

But I thought it was funny the quote from Good Ol Boy Bragdooooon, who was quoted as saying "They already had somebody in mind before the (hiring) process started."

He sounded pissed that he could not pull the strings or even have input into the selection. Waaahhh!

Is there any hope that McFarlane will see the reality of the economic condition of TriMet?

With the failure of WES, with cutting of bus service, the aging bus and even light rail system, the extraordinary employee unfunded retirement system, and the condition of all TriMet service having degenerated with drug, crime, hostile behavior, even pimping, is there any hope that TriMet will go back to its core services and ridership expectations?

For TriMet to now consider taking on Milwaukie Lightrail to the tune of $1.2 BILLION to serve a very low ridership, it is not good financial planning. Besides, all the local parties that are to contribute to the cost can't come up with the matching money. TriMet should think TrimMet.

It is amazing that the outgoing Director of Tri-Met Fred Hansen is telling his employees to be extra vigilant about operating 40 ton buses. Maybe if the agency would stop using just in time management procedures in the operation of their bus lines placing more emphasis on getting buses to their destinations on time rather than ignoring harmless pedestrians crossing the street maybe last weekends' tragedy could have been avoided. It seems to me that everyone in the metro area who is a pedestrian is fair game for Tri-Met bus drivers when they are constantly on the clock and the agency has to meet specific guidelines for meeting these Just In Time goals !! What is a few dead pedestrians when your buses are always running at peak efficiency !!

Rub-rub, here. Rub-rub, there. And a couple of la-dee-dahs. That's how we laugh the day away in the merry ol' land of Oz....

Jack, the accident has nothing to do with Trimet or Trimet bus drivers.

One bus driver apparently lost her mind, now all bus drivers are evil killers?

Et tu Jack?

Al, I'm glad to see that the drivers behave better than our police -- admitting a deadly mistake (or worse) when they see it.

But it remains to be seen (a) whether these deaths were an "accident," and (b) how much the deaths "have to do" with Tri-Met policies and practices.

Jack, TriMet says McFarlane's base salary will now be $215,000 annually. It's a 12 percent raise over his previous base, though 17 percent less than Hansen's.

Tom Krausse, could you explain "just in time" goals? I've never heard about them, but I'm interested.

A similar accident in Sellwood a few weeks ago -- a bus turning through a crosswalk -- sent one woman to the hospital a few weeks ago, but it didn't make the newspapers.

AL M - Uh, wait. The bus which mowed-down 5 people using a cross-walk, in full compliance with City and State law, according to witnesses, and that had TRI-MET emblazoned all over it, was, in fact, not a Tri-Met bus? The fact that this TRI-MET bus was also being operated by a TRI-MET employee bears no significance?

Yeah and no accusations of insanity have reached my ear. Turns out the TRI-MET driver operating a TRI-MET bus may have, in fact, been less than competent, fatigued due to working conditions, and improperly trained. All of which are, wait for it, within the control of TRI-MET policy.

So this unsupported assertion is provably false then:

"Jack, the accident has nothing to do with Trimet or Trimet bus drivers."

And since the TRI-MET oeperator's mental state has yet to be assessed, this then is false:
"One bus driver apparently lost her mind..."

As you've clearly implied this assertion is just asinine:
"...now all bus drivers are evil killers?"

Being a Tri-Met bus driver is easily one of the worst jobs in Portland. Horrible pay and working conditions and poorly maintained buses. Turns out Tri-Met is getting precisely what they pay for.

I will wait, hopeful, that this family OWNS Tri-Met a year from now!! I would also hope the driver might be sued as well.

It's so funny this little city some times. The Church of Green busily forcing us all onto bicycles so we won't have access to personal automobiles. I've gone them one further in that I use my bicycle to avoid EVER paying Tri-Met one, red, cent to ride one of their dilapidated, disease infested, 40 ton death machines!!

Nice rant VANCE.
A rant truly worthy of my respect indeed!
As far as the family "owning" Trimet, you better get out your ORS statutes.
Trimet has limited liability by law.
So you can forget about that.

However, maybe Sandi Day comes from a family of billionaires and was only driving for joy and entertainment, maybe the survivors can become hugely wealthy there.

Further information says that the driver was only doing a regular shift and not on overtime?

The incident is just plain bizarre???

Lot's of folks think 9/11 was an inside job, I'm starting to think this may be too, orchestrated by the Trimet haters to bring down the company. Either that or she had a TIA.

BTW Jack,
have you seen TRIMET'S MASTER PLAN
to take over the world?

Macfarland is the man for the job!

AL M - Alrighty then we'll chalk that up as a concession on your part. But don't let that stop you from continuing to make unsupported assertions. Oh wait, it didn't. Carry on.

Perspective is not something that many people want around on issues like this one.

But just for the hell of it some folks may want to review the HISTORY OF AMERICAN BUS ACCIDENTS just as a reminder that accidents actually do happen in other places besides Portland's TRIMET!
(be sure to read the entire 100 incidents)

Hey Vance, I was just visiting your blog!
You are a world class ranter!
A'IGHT DAWG!

This Tri-Met accident is unfortunate and almost surely the driver's fault (and Tri-Met's if she was under-trained, etc). That said, I'm a San Francisco resident and we have MUNI bus and light rail accidents quite frequently. Just last week there were two fatalities.

In a dense environment this kind of thing will happen. Let's not all start banning TRI-MET because the inevitable has occurred.

What's important is that the source of the issue is identified. If this driver was under-qualified, under-trained, overworked or underpaid then the matter needs to be addressed. In San Francisco the bus drivers are very well paid and one thing I've never heard about one of the (many) pedestrian accidents is that the driver was not qualified to be driving the bus. There is a Union and we take this seriously.

Driving a bus in the city is not a job for a fly-by-nighter. If bus drivers in Portland are underpaid accidents like this will happen and I don't think it's worth it.

Finally, I'm a pedestrian most of the time and if there's one thing I do, it is look both friggin' ways in traffic. How do 5 people not see a bus bearing down on them? Not HEAR a bus bearing down on them? It's unfortunate and the driver is clearly a majority responsible but it's ridiculous to think that these pedestrians were not in any way at fault when a slow-moving bus turned their way and failed to stop.

You have to look out for yourself. In any accident between a pedestrian and a vehicle, only the pedestrian can lose.


On another topic, anyone have a link to latest/complete WES ridership information? I keep seeing it thrown around as a "failure" here but no supporting evidence.

1. Hurrah for Trimet for not putting us through the 6 month National Search Process to bring in a new 7 figure manager who will leave within one year.
2. Trimet buses are way better than those in Los Angeles. However, the Trans-Millenio bus system in Bogota Colombia leaves them both for dead.
3. Remember, they changed the law to give Trimet busses the right of way over other vehicles at all times. I hope they didn't take this to include pedestrians. I watch those buses like a hawk...

A reliable source says the video shows the Bus did indeed "mow" them over.
They were half way in the crosswalk when it happened.
If this is true the bus driver is completely at fault.
Why or how could it happen?
Got me.

I have also been informed that my link to "trimet plans to take over the world" doesn't work unless you have access to the top secret site.

So I used my top secret access to decode it properly:

TRIMET PLANS TO TAKE OVER THE WORLD

On another topic, anyone have a link to latest/complete WES ridership information? I keep seeing it thrown around as a "failure" here but no supporting evidence.

The evidence is that the cost to operate that thing was known, that the service would only be very limited, that the company that made the thing was going bankrupt, and that it continues to plague this company and everybody else that uses Trimet.

When that monstrosity breaks down they pull buses right off the routes stranding other riders.

And what would our service cuts look like if we didn't have that albatross to deal with?

This company, like all the other long established arrogant transit districts, had no contingency plans at all for funding problems.

All of the above make it failure.

On another topic, anyone have a link to latest/complete WES ridership information? I keep seeing it thrown around as a "failure" here but no supporting evidence.

See here.

The ridership number counts boardings, not users. Divide by 2 to get the latter. You can also do some arithmetic to see just how expensive this mistake was. A local paper reported a couple of months ago that the per rider operating subsidy was on the order of $20.


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