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Sunday, October 24, 2010

It's for the seniors!

Comments (27)

It would help if Trimet put some money into helping low income people get to jobs. That alone would do more than anything else to reduce crime and the social problems that are seen in poor sections of the area.

Better yet just end Trimet's monopoly and let the people take care of themselves.Screw the rail projects.

Here's a report on TOD to dig into. I haven't found time to read it yet but it might be useful.

“Extending public transportation to a metropolitan neighborhood for the first time can, in some cases, raise rents and attract wealthier residents who would drive rather than ride the train.”

Alternate captions #2-A.
"Is that guy threatening us, honey?"
"Just relax and keep smiling. I'm packing more heat than Rambo right now."

I went to the Eastport Walmart yesterday, and there was a "Walmart Shuttle" parked outside the front doors. Maybe they can put TriMet out of business?

I can promise you that if Walmart ran TriMet and we even gave them a monopoly with a stipulated maximum of 1% profit (which they operate their stores on), that our fares would be less than now and we wouldn't have any payroll taxes and other taxes for their services.

Wow - lets keep hating TriMet and TriMet front line workers. **Great comments**

You all show your ignorance about what TriMet bus and rail operators go through every day. Have you listened to what is going on toward these drivers on their vehicles lately???? If not, you are probably NOT using public transit in the Portland area.

I am shocked to see somebody actually pointing out something POSITIVE about WalMart! Wow - you must hate TriMet very deeply... I pity you.

And about "it would help if TriMet helped low income people get jobs" - they do and they have many times - many bus drivers, supervisors and helpers are single mothers who were on welfare or had low paying jobs before they got a job as a bus driver. Or men and women who had lost their jobs in some other way and were struggling to get by. But TriMet does not advertise that fact, of course. I know of one driver who lived in his/her car when he/she was hired by TriMet - that person is one of our best drivers, never gets complaints, never gets into any problems of any kinds.

Is that good enough for you, Bluecollar Libertarian?

Many bus and rail operators are also highly educated men and women who could not find jobs in this area due to the poor economy in Oregon for the past decade.

But that's not good enough either, is it?


Bill your alternate captions gave me the biggest laugh of the day. Thank you.

sunnynw, sometimes you have to deal with facts and reality. And you are being very presumptive. Some of us don't hate Walmart or even TriMet, or individuals that work for them. We are discussing the costs of services relative to benefits, and consequences to social issues.

Some of my friends drive for TriMet, and they agree with some of the comments in regards to TriMet's too much dependence on light rail/ trolleys and the detriment to bus service. There is even groups like Portland Afoot and a bus rider organization questioning TriMet's agenda and their plus $220 Million deficit, not even counting there unfunded employee benefits $$Millions. We might even be on the same page.

I love trimet. I commute by bus more than I drive.

But what Trimet needs is a column in their normal budget labeled "reserves for new buses". That way they don't have to come ask for a special additional levy.

Same with the fire department and their fire trucks. "Reserves for new trucks" in their normal budget. It's really easy.

Trimet also spends too much money on trains which are less cost effective than buses and completely inflexible (i.e. a train just goes one place in a straight line forever. Buses can go wherever you send them.)

Buses are good, the fire department is good, libraries are good, the historical society is good. But a budget is a budget. You keep yours at home. Why can't Trimet keep theirs?

Well sunnynw I certainly don't hate Trimet's drivers or the front line people. But I do think management and the board has their heads where the sun doesn't shine.

So here ya go. If you live in NoPo and want to get to a job opportunity at the Rivergate Industrial Park, which is about 5 miles away, and where there are something like 80 companies you have limited opportunities and these times when the bus is at Marine dr and Ramsey: 5:28am,6:01am,6:33am,7:07am,7:43am,2:29pm,3:04pm,3:36pm,4:11pm,4:47pm,5:27pm.

Lots of these companies work swing and graveyard shifts so the people who might work at those hours are out of luck or need to find another form of transit.

Having been a supervisor for a company out there for a number of years I can tell you that the lack of adequate transit is a major problem and it means a lack of good paying job opportunities for what is primarily an African-American community. I have seen people I worked with get off work at 11 p.m. at night in the winter and ride bicycles home in the cold rain. Yet government employees in downtown Portland get their trip subsidized on a subsidized rail system. Not to mention Trimet did away with the Owl service some, or is that many years ago.

Basically we need to end Trimet's monopoly and open the market but the idea of openness is offensive to some people.

BTw sunnynw maybe they don't want to put a dent in poverty. I had a school teacher who worked for me part-time tell me we shouldn't educate everyone because we need some people to do the scut work. Hope your child wasn't in this class.

sunnynw: You all show your ignorance about what TriMet bus and rail operators go through every day. Have you listened to what is going on toward these drivers on their vehicles lately????
JK: Lets review what those poor bus & rail operators go through at payday. Looking at Trimet’s payroll (add 150% for average Trimet benefits), we find:

100 “Operator”(s) making between $70,000 and $101,000 ($175-250,000 with benefits)
100 “Operator”(s) making between $65,000 and $70,000
100 “Operator”(s) making between $63,000 and $65,000
100 “Operator”(s) making between $61,000 and $63,000
100 “Operator”(s) making between $59,000 and $61,000
100 “Operator”(s) making between $56,000 and $59,000
100 “Operator”(s) making between $53,000 and $56,000
100 “Operator”(s) making between $49,000 and $53,000
100 “Operator”(s) making between $40,000 and $49,000
100 “Operator”(s) making between $20,000 and $40,000

100 “Rail Operator”(s) making between $57,000 and $94,000

10 “Streetcar Operator”(s) making between $58,000 and $99,000

Source: Trimet 2008 payroll as received via public records request:


Just to compare, bus operators in Salem were topping out on a salary of just below $40K at that time.

But what Trimet needs is a column in their normal budget labeled "reserves for new buses". That way they don't have to come ask for a special additional levy.

They do - they have to account for depreciation of their assets like anyone else.

The problem was that a few years ago, TriMet decided to build a light rail line connecting Milwaukie with Vancouver. It was put to a public vote, and it was soundly defeated. But, wait, Portland residents overwhelmingly approved it! So, in an act of generosity, TriMet looked into its budget and found a bunch of cash there.

So, TriMet figured that it could use that cash for the local match, and voila - build Interstate MAX! After all, it was able to also dig into its "reserves" for the "public/private partnership" to create Airport MAX (you know, the one where Bechtel got an exclusive contract to build the line in exchange for development rights in what's now Cascade Station and all the vacant land around the MAX station near IKEA).

So what if bus riders have to do without new buses, it's not like they have any political clout. They're just poor bus riders who have jobs and can't stand up for themselves at TriMet's 9:00 AM board meetings.

So TriMet then continues onward with the Green Line and WES. Of course, we're approaching a recession that even the blind foresaw from three years in advance, but that was of no concern. And nevermind the hiring of an unproven company in Colorado, one who would be found to basically conduct a Ponzi scheme, and one that TriMet had to bail out. TriMet ended up paying the utility bills and the payroll of that company in its final days, and the cost of WES skyrocketed from $80 million to $161.7 million - the cost overruns fully paid for by TriMet. And never mind that it costs $6 million a year to run WES, which is equal to about $20 per person - some 700% more than a bus rider.

And let me not forget the Portland Streetcar, the one that's owned and operated by the City of Portland; yet TriMet pays $6 million of its operating costs. And much of the Streetcar is fare-free (like MAX is downtown, but not buses anymore) and those who want to buy a streetcar pass pay the discount price of $100 per year - far less than the $800+ cost of a TriMet annual pass, even if one just rides the bus around Forest Grove or Oregon City.

Now TriMet's supporters are playing the innocent game, that all that MAX money couldn't have been used for buses; that TriMet didn't spend any money on MAX construction; that it must be the benefits costs and nothing else...

TriMet had the money all along, and they're asking us to pay it again. Now people are starting to question: If this bond measure passes, it'll just affirm TriMet's use of general fund revenues towards MAX capital costs, instead of saving it up for future bus replacements and other necessary costs. Which means the next time TriMet needs to buy new buses (in just a couple years) TriMet will sing the same song-and-dance and beg voters, while its Board and its supporters attend a swanky grand opening gala for Vancouver MAX.

Great link Jim K!


I'm looking at Jim's link and it is unbelievable!

I gotta admit, that is really hard to defend.

I guess we know now why TRIMET is in deep doo doo!

As should be pretty obvious, its not just operator fringe benefits!

bluecollar libertarian, congratulations on reading all the way through the wikipedia page about ayn rand! you're now officially the smartest guy anywhere.

but i ask you, how would low-income people, who likely can't afford cars/insurance/gas, get to those new jobs?

Good questions Spikez, the them get CARS!

Research has shown that automobile ownership is an empowering tool that can have a significantly positive effect on employment, especially for the low-skilled and low-income population. Numerous policy studies have concluded that owning a vehicle is a viable solution to transportation barriers to employment for low-income people. For example, Kerri Sullivan of Portland State University examined the effects of car ownership on employment and wages for adults without a high school diploma in Portland. She found that “Car ownership improved the likelihood of being employed by 80 percent. The effect on average weekly wages was approximately $275, and the effect on weeks worked was approximately 8.5 weeks.”

Automobile ownership also has the potential to reduce the employment gap between whites and minorities. According to Steve Raphael and Michael Stoll of UC-Berkeley and UCLA respectively, “. . . empirical estimates indicate that raising minority car-ownership rate would eliminate 45% of the black-white employment rate differential and 17% of the comparable Latino-White differential.”

I had a good look at the Dukakis Center report that Bluecollar links to, and it struck me as something the powers-that-be in Portland really don't want you to know about, because it turns out that neighborhoods with light-rail like Max are even more likely to attract wealthy car owners than neighborhoods with other kinds of rail. Or neighborhoods without any rail. Check it out. And thanks, Bluecollar, for the link.

John, you just told me they should get cars without any way to do just that. Is it by providing loans to those who would otherwise not qualify so they can thrust their families into horrific debt?

I'm fairly certain a quick google of "2008 housing meltdown" can pretty quickly poke holes in your plan.

I think the car idea is great!
I can't wait for this to come to America:

al m gets it. "you can't build your way out of sprawl." just like you can't pave your way out of congestion. it's people, man. there's too many people.

see you on the bus, al.

Spikez writes “bluecollar libertarian, congratulations on reading all the way through the wikipedia page about ayn rand! you're now officially the smartest guy anywhere.
but i ask you, how would low-income people, who likely can't afford cars/insurance/gas, get to those new jobs?”

Spikez here’s you answer that I wrote in the post above; “Basically we need to end Trimet's monopoly and open the market but the idea of openness is offensive to some people.”

For your information I don’t read Rand and seldom use Wikipedia as a source.

What we need Spikez are jitneys, ride sharing cabs and anything else that works. Jane Jacobs wrote about this as I recall before her death. Been years since I read her so you might have to dig for her work.

May I suggest you start by reading the books “Curb Rights” published by the Brookings Inst. “Urban Transit” published by the Pacific Inst. “Contracting for Bus and Demand-Responsive Transit Services” published by the National Academy Press.

I also suggest the article “Whatever Happened to the Jitney” from the journal Traffic Quarterly and Mass Transit magazine has an article in the May/June 1997 issue on the system in Curitiba, Brazil. That should be in their archives.

Then there is a great little article in the Journal of Law and Economics about jitneys. In that one it is mentioned that in Feb. of 1915 there were some 548 jitneys in Seattle that provided transportation service to 49,000 people daily. I just can’t find my copy right now. All private an unsubsidized btw.

There are also some good articles on the transit systems in Stockholm, Sweden, Copenhagen, Denmark and Helsinki, Finland, all of which have been contracted out. Enjoy. It has been a pleasure. Glad I could be of help.

Spikez: John, you just told me they should get cars without any way to do just that. Is it by providing loans to those who would otherwise not qualify so they can thrust their families into horrific debt?
1. See cascade policy institute:

2. see:

Spikez: I'm fairly certain a quick google of "2008 housing meltdown" can pretty quickly poke holes in your plan.
JK: Show us how that is relevent.

Whenever people start that old "too many people," population-bomb nonsense, I'm always compelled to ask them:

If you want to reduce the population, why not lead by example?

Remember, it's still the sincerest form of self-criticism. Maybe you can get the state of Oregon to assist you.

I have a feeling most of these studies citied by this wheels to wealth studies weren't done in dense cities with transit.

I have a feeling most of these studies citied by this wheels to wealth studies weren't done in dense cities with transit.

One of them was conducted in Los Angeles, the densest urbanized area in the US and one of the top five cities in the US for public transit ridership.


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