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This page contains a single entry from the blog posted on October 1, 2010 1:45 PM. The previous post in this blog was Posting under a pseudonym?. The next post in this blog is Have a great weekend. Many more can be found on the main index page or by looking through the archives.

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Friday, October 1, 2010

Consultants gone wild

Here's another crazy consulting contract, and the dollar amount is open-ended: The City of Portland and Tri-Met are going to hire some expert to recommend a fare structure and collection system for the utterly pointless eastside streetcar. Gosh, don't the city and Tri-Met already pay staff people who should be able to figure that one out? You can almost smell some big shot's cousin who needs work.

Comments (15)

Sounds like something else into which the Auditor's Office should look but most likely won't?

how about a big guy named Vito in a nice suit and dark glasses , saying 'pay the fare or else'
[hey I will apply for the job...]

Well, somebody's got to figure out how much they're not going to bother to collect.

Shouldn't be very complicated, since no one's going to ride the thing.

Why would you expect a Transit Agency to understand how to charge for transit?

If every ride was free, these expensive consultant fees wouldn't be necessary.
Ditto with the fare collection equipment and inspectors. Ridership would go up and the price of meth would go down.

It's what we call a win/win.

We already have free food, free clothing, and free healthcare. Don't you think we have a right to free transit? Sidewalks are free. Bike lanes are free. Cars drive on the roads for free. Why aren't the buses free? Because rich folk don't ride the buses: that's why.

I'm willing to bet my 401(k) that Rick Gustafson will have something to do with the winning bid ...

Garage..."Windbag" Gustafson is definitely at the heart of all things Streetcar and is greasing the skids somewhere. Stay tuned. His name WILL be associated with this. But he drives a hybrid and occasionally rides his bike...so, "it's all good".

Mayor Modesty:

Don't you think we have a right to free transit? Sidewalks are free. Bike lanes are free. Cars drive on the roads for free. Why aren't the buses free? Because rich folk don't ride the buses: that's why.


Bob T:

Well, no.

Car owners pay indirectly for using the roads, and pay quite a bit. The Feds and state governments profit more from the sale of each gallon of gas than the oil companies do. These governments have quite a bit of money from auto drivers' wallets.

And if transit is mainly used by the poor and other worker bees, then more areas they need to go to would be served. Quite a few well-off people with their nice downtown jobs are getting poor folk to subsidize their commutes, on routes that won't be cut. Transfer of wealth upwards.

Bob Tiernan
Portland

What's wrong with charging the same fare that a bus rider on the #6 bus on M.L.K. between the Goodwill store and the Convention Center currently pays?

Erik H. -

Whats wrong with charging the same as the bus?

Well, obviously you don't understand. If so sane and simple an approach were utilized, then there could be no multimillion dollar consultant contract given to favored folks who have recently left the employ of TriMet and or BPS who are our buddies and whom we wish to shower with tax payer dollars in the hopes that when the chickens come home here to roost at TriMet and BPS our budies will bail us out with private sector jobs.

You just don't get it. Logic and sense have no place in TriMet or BPS thinking.

Bob Tiernan,

In 1998, WW offered this graf, buried in a longish assessment of now-former mayor Vera Katz:

"On the less successful side, it appears her proposal to make all Tri-Met rides free to everyone is headed for a ditch. The committee she created to study fareless transit isn't enthusiastic about the idea. As committee member George Passadore says, there's little evidence free transit will get people out of cars, and it may raise security concerns. There's also the problem of how to compensate Tri-Met for the $37 million it would lose annually in fares."
http://wweek.com/html/leada121698.html

WW attributed her failure to achieve free transit to the "transportation mafia:"

"...Katz has been tough on those who hold the transportation purse strings. She publicly excoriated legislators for failing to increase the state's gas tax--comparing them at one point to impotent pandas--and she remains one of the few politicians willing to butt heads with the Tri-Met and Metro honchos she calls the 'transportation mafia.'"

And who are the "transportation mafia?"

WW offered a longish description in 2007, which provided this clue:

“'They call it the "transportation mafia,"' says Portland City Commissioner Erik Sten, who counts himself a streetcar supporter. The term, Sten says, is meant endearingly. 'I think there’s some jealousy in other circles because they’re so effective.'

And 'Earl is the godfather for sure,' Sten says."
http://wweek.com/editorial/3345/9589/

Since Mr Sten, during his sinecure as city commissioner, exhibited no hint of comprehending what might pass in normal discourse for "effective" (sorry to remind you of the Water Bureau's computer system and free citywide wifi), we are left to wonder about this group led by the "somewhat misanthropic" Earl Blumenauer and transportation committee chair Peter DeFazio. They are surely spendthrifts and they are surely not populists. Even Katz, the developers' pawn, butted heads with them, if we are to believe the durable local weekly.

Returning to the 1998 WW piece, perhaps it is time to re-evaluate the apparently fruitless course advised by Katz's committee. Has fared transit gotten people out of cars and diminished security concerns? Has "the $37 million [Tri-Met] would lose annually in fares" become somewhat trivial compared to what Tri-Met is losing by charging exhorbitant fares and severely reducing service?

The entire fare system should be time-based and not "zone based", "fareless square-based" or confinagled separately for bus, streetcar and max. As others have said - and said well - it's not brain surgery and certainly doesn't require a consultant.

By using a time-based ticket, all sorts of problems could be avoided and the entire process would be far more transparent for riders and drivers.

It works in other cities; why not here?

Interesting background, Gardiner. Thanks.

The only people who would pay for this are conventioneers going from the convention center to the west side and back. So fares will have to be pretty high to compensate for all the other people who are not riding it

Note that they're figuring out the "how the heck does this thing pay for itself" long after the tracks are in the ground. Who could ever have thought of this question before work started?

Gardiner Menefree:

Returning to the 1998 WW piece, perhaps it is time to re-evaluate the apparently fruitless course advised by Katz's committee. Has fared transit gotten people out of cars and diminished security concerns? Has "the $37 million [Tri-Met] would lose annually in fares" become somewhat trivial compared to what Tri-Met is losing by charging exhorbitant fares and severely reducing service?

Bob T:

So far as I can tell, fares are hardly "exhorbitant", and yes, even a free system will pull very few new riders out of their cars.

The reason is probably because the problem isn't the price, but the extra time needed to commute by mass transit. If more people didn't mind the extra hour out of their day, they wouldn't mind the price of of a monthly pass month after month.

As for the free rides in the systen (Fareless Square), the rides they generate are hardly what an expensive mass transit system is needed for -- taking downtown office people to lunch 12 blocks aways instead of two blocks, or from their brown-bag lunch, and more kids with their skateboards or just on the way to the mall or some place to "hang out". This is what Tri-Met likes about Fareless Square -- ridership numbers get padded a good deal.
But again, there are only so many working people who'll want to use transit even if the price was free.

Bob Tiernan
Portland

Why don't they just use the same system used for the westside streetcar? Or maybe that hasn't worked?


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