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Sunday, December 19, 2010

Lies, lies, and more lies

Those dirty, no good streetcar weasels. Didn't ya know? The streetcar made the Pearl. Oh yeah, and it's a cash cow:

Portland's streetcar system attracts about 12,000 daily riders at an average ticket cost of $1.47. Its creators credit it with $3.5 billion in surrounding development, including shops, restaurants and 10,000 new housing units.
Too funny. Yeah, go for it, America! It's the linchpin.

Comments (36)

The 10,000 housing units may actually be the truth. Problem is, many of them are in distressed sale or foreclosure.

And 10,000 biotech jobs ...

It is worth the read especially if one lives in Pearl. The owner of the Metrovino at NW 11th and NW Northup - Streetcar on the way to NW 23rd - implies that the Streetcar brings business to the restaurant. Unbelievable hype bordering on prevarication.


The big lie, once again. The truth is, the Pearl District rejuvenation was well under way for years before the streetcar was even built.

Some of the numbers may be hyped, but the fact remains that the Pearl and the Street Car work together creating a strong viable urban neighborhood. It has vacancies, lower housing prices like the other Portland neighborhood. The Pearl will grow, adjust and continue to be a vital link in Portland's future growth. Other communities that are fortunate to have either the street car and or Light rail will do the same. Cities with urban cores need a mass transit system, Mass transit can effect a cities growth pattern substantially if planned correctly. Portland is very fortunate to have such a system.

Is the $1.47 per ride actually collected or attributed? That comes to $4.4 million for Monday-Friday or 6.4 million for 7 day operation. Can't believe the fare collection is that high? Must be piggy backing off tri-met transfers. Double counted phony money. If you park in a city parking garage, you are paying for streecars. That is one reason the rates go up and the coverage expands. Eventually you will pay to park on Broadway and Weidler.

Michael, do you believe that the streetcar is the impetus for whatever you believe is the outcome for the Pearl?

Is the $320 Million in urban renewal dollars, $78 Million in TOD's, $24 Million in Historical tax benefits, $38 Million in PDC administration fees for the Pearl URA, over $60 Million in grants, over $45 Million redirected from Metro, County, other CoP Bureaus, are all these and more just slight frosting on the cake for why you think the Pearl is successful.

If you think it is, then why did we spend over $600 Million (not including the debt service which will make it all total over $1 Billion) on all these give-a-ways when all we needed was a trolley?

The real factor in why the Pearl area changed and "flourished" were the zoning changes and all the appurtenances. If you change my light industrial zoned property to CX or some much higher commercial zoning, I'll gladly give you a Pearl. And you won't have to wait 25 to 40 years to get the increased property tax benefits (if you're lucky) because I'd do it without Urban Renewal.

Hmmm... you might've thought for that pic in front of Metrovino they would've used a picture of a streetcar that had more than a couple of riders on it.

How long has the Pearl been a heavily subsidized project? 10 years? 15? How long has its URA "distressed" status been extended to again? Another 10 years, 20 years, 30? I can't even keep track of it.

Most of us who've lived here longer than the average turnover know that like the rest of the Hollywood false front crap around here it only appears successful because it's a subsidized project. And its "success" has nothing to do with the streetcar which has only been there a few years.

A streetcar is Mass Transit? I could see "public transit" but Mass? I suppose the public loo is Mass Toilet?

Michael is simply parroting the brochure speak used to justify the massive spending and to promote more of the same. Anything but admit it is all a ruse and enormous misappropriation of tax revenue.

He'll get all crossed up if he applies reality on his mental road to echoing the "Portland is very fortunate to have such a system" nonsense.

He'd be hard pressed to describe exactly what that or anything he said actually means.

"Some of the numbers may be hyped"

Some? Which ones? How many is some? Are the most important ones hyped? What is it he is admitting?

"the Pearl and the Street Car work together"

work together? How are they working together? If the streetcar vanished tomorrow it would not even be noticed by 90% of the people there.
It's not even highly visible presence. The momentary passing of a streetcar with long stretches of time with nothing is not a worthwhile contribution to anything.

"creating a strong viable urban neighborhood"

How's that. The neighborhood exists and operates without any input from the streetcar nearly all of the time.

One can stand anywhere in the Pearl and rarely see any Streetcar doing anything.

The role of the Streetcar is so over hyped that it's unethical.

It doesn't matter if the Pearl grows or not if the market doesn't push it and sustain it.
Your calling it "vital" is a red flag warning that more tax subsidies must be spent to promote it.

What other communities are "fortunate to have either the street car and or Light rail".
Beaverton? Gresham? It's the same story only worse. Countless millions in tax dollars following the rail line trying to cram in development model planners and politicians had claimed the rail would itself trigger.
The transit oriented development itself if a fraud leaving inadequate parking and a rat race for all.

This approach does not simply equate to "Cities with urban cores need a mass transit system".

Portland's mass transit system is the essence of madness evidenced by
the Green Line built in the wrong location,
Airport MAX having auto oriented BIG BOX strip Mall built at it's once envisioned ped/bike/transit oriented mini city,
the North Interstate MAX where ugly infrastructure ruined a boulevard,
Rockwood where 20 years of crime and blight was the MAX lesson learned,
and now the conniving politicians having to force forward more of it at enormous cost and widespread opposition.

Yet Michael says it's all been "planned correctly"
& "Portland is very fortunate to have such a system"

Muni bonds are no good! In 12 months there will be yet another finnancial crisis when the states,counties, and cities are totally broke.

Yep, the streetcar caused the new parking lot at the local church.

And it cause several new buildings at Portland State.

How do we know? Because these are on the official list of developments credited to the streetcar.

If we credit things this way, we should also credit it with all the family wage industrial jobs lost and replaced by minimum wage jobs at trendy eateries that clutter our sidewalks.


"Its creators credit it with $3.5 billion in surrounding development, including shops, restaurants and 10,000 new housing units."

Of all the endless supply of bullsh*t shoveled at us from the city, metro, pdc and others, this boldfaced nonsense is by far the most infuriating to me. Just a flat-out lie.

There is a tireless push to bring in this stuff to other cities now, too. The endless greed of Homer and his ilk is not satisfied by the rape of PDX...I'm guessing that they like to think of your quaint backwater as the urban planning laboratory, where ideas are tested and refined prior to their implementation elsewhere.

I live in my home town of Austin again, and thanks to this wonderful blog, can now spot the planner BS instantly. It's everywhere now. Same faces, same buzzwords. They even fly out folks from the local government to Portland, to listen to one presentation of lies after the next.

I'd like to think that some of that good old' libertarian skepticism might hinder their efforts here, but I'd be fooling myself. This city is wholly owned and run by huge, crooked developers now. Only a matter of time before the replicate the Pearl and SoWhat, totally destroying the character of the city and bankrupting the place. It's been underway for quite some time, as a matter of fact. Very sad.

Is that Charlie Hales behind the curtain?

Again - We get so freakin' excited about streetcars. Earl and Sam, when you going to get that aroused about schools and infrastructure?

It'd be a lot better investment.

Never were there restaraunts before streetcars. Why all the Jersye Diners are track side. Enough said.

Yeah, Rockwood and outer Burnside street are such great places to live because of Max. Not. And the Round and SoWhat only need more bones tied around them to get some love.

I think the $1.47 includes the payroll taxes confiscated from Metro wide businesses, and transferred to the city of Portland for its various knicknacks and ornaments. Just think of how Washington and Clackamas county folks get hosed in the Portland (milwaukee) light rail project. Downtown Portland gets a totally new bridge for bicyclists, no cars allowed. Yeah life is just peachie with Portland Metro's governance. Ignore those increasing financial solvency issues inflicting TriMet.

pdxmick: Is the $1.47 per ride actually collected or attributed? That comes to $4.4 million for Monday-Friday or 6.4 million for 7 day operation. Can't believe the fare collection is that high? Must be piggy backing off tri-met transfers.

The $1.47 is revenues collected, which is really a foolish statement because it doesn't mean anything at all - at least by itself.

Yes, Streetcar does accept TriMet transfers, which is why the $1.47 is lower than any valid Streetcar fare - if someone pays $2.05 for a TriMet ticket but rides both the Streetcar and a bus, the fare attributed to each mode of transport will be less (since there was only one fare paid.) It also should be noted that a considerable portion of the Streetcar route is within the "Free Rail Zone" (what used to be Fareless Square, but TriMet decided to require fares onboard buses as a way to combat the fare evasion and drug dealing problems occurring at the Lloyd Center MAX station) and thus fares collected will be pretty low. However, the $100 annual Streetcar+Tram pass would be counted as revenue towards the Streetcar (while a similar bus rider would be forced to shell out nearly $800 for the same privilege.)

What really matters is the operations cost and the subsidy. If the Streetcar was profitable while MAX/bus was not, that would be something to celebrate. But that's not the case. In fact it's largely hush-hush that the Streetcar costs more to operate than the average TriMet bus. It's also largely hush-hush that the City of Portland which owns the Streetcar doesn't really care about fare enforcement - in fact the City won't pay for TriMet fare inspectors, and so the Fare Inspectors don't ride the Streetcar. And it's also hush-hush that TriMet, the regional transit system, subsidizes the Streetcar to the tune of over $6 million - that means that residents of Forest Grove, Cornelius, Hillsboro, Aloha, Beaverton, Tigard, Tualatin, Durham, Sherwood, Rivergrove, Lake Oswego, West Linn, Oregon City, Clackamas, Johnson City, Happy Valley, Maywood Park, Wood Village, Fairview, Troutdale, Gresham, and Boring - all are paying $6 million a year to fund the City of Portland's Streetcar, while sacrificing their own local transit services to pay for the City of Portland's folly. (Source: http://www.trimet.org/pdfs/publications/FY11-Adopted-Budget-Summary.pdf, page 17)

Unfortunately, the Streetcar financial numbers are hard to obtain because of the way Portland Streetcar is organized - the Streetcar is owned by a non-profit organization that is owned by the City of Portland and buried within PBOT, but much of the operational funding comes from TriMet and parking revenues, while capital funding comes from the City and Metro and TriMet.

It would be nice if TriMet followed the lead of Sound Transit to the north, who was nice enough to break out operations cost specifically for its streetcar line, Tacoma Link (although up there they call it "light rail" and not "streetcar", it operates more like a streetcar and uses the same vehicles as the Portland Streetcar and Seattle Streetcar.) It's 1.6 mile long streetcar from Tacoma Dome to the Theater District is expected to carry 973,915 riders in FY2010, and has a budget of $7,138,526 - or $7.33 per boarding ride. (The Tacoma Link does not charge any fare to ride, so there is no offsetting revenue.)

It is hard to see how the Portland Streetcar, which uses TriMet Operators (who get paid far more than the Sound Transit employees), has a significantly lower cost structure than Sound Transit. But since TriMet, Metro and the City of Portland want to push rail - they will cloud the actual numbers and make the financials appear the way TriMet wants them to. For years under Fred Hansen's leadership, TriMet refused to post any financial data on their website - one had to dig through the Secretary of State's website to get a past year's annual report, but good luck on current/future budgets. Fortunately Neil McFarlane has changed that...but the reports themselves are a mess.

Amtrak, for all of its wonderous in mismanagement, actually took the time to publicize its' "Route Performance System" in which the railroads' costs are apportioned out to each individual route. (Many Amtrak supporters hate that, because they claim that Amtrak is twisting the numbers to make the long distance trains appear to cost a lot...which they do!) TriMet needs to do the same - and stop forcing bus riders to subsidize costs which are solely light rail related - i.e. borrowing costs, capital costs, operations/maintenance of many of the light rail park-and-ride and transit center facilities, and so on. TriMet should not be charging depreciation expense on a bus that is older than 12 years old as it is already fully depreciated (and that's where you get the problem with TriMet having money to blow on light rail local matches, but then complaining it has no money to replace buses!)

Does the streetcar receive any federal subsidies? If so and fraudulent or deliberated obfuscated data is involved in acquiring it isn't any of this a misuse of federal funds?

I ran into Charlie at a meeting some years ago. He was telling these folks how GM and others ruined the streetcars in America.

Problem is he left out the history about the Congress passing the Public Utilities Holding Company Act of 1935 which really put the knife in the streetcar business.

I love it when people twist things to suit their own ends.

as someone who rides the streetcar about twice a month, i've NEVER paid for a ticket. EVER. And I've been riding the streetcar for years and years. to be honest, I have NEVER seen a tri-met person looking for tickets.

As a former business owner in Portland for 22 years; I would LOVE to have a conversation with this Dorsett idiot and ask her how she would feel about paying out $600-1100.00 every year for the "priviledge" of paying for a Portland and TriMet system too lame to even bother to collect fares on their streetcar and light rail lines. I would also LOVE to have a factual explaination what "benefit" my business received from this streetcar - which was at least a mile or more away from my business.

I ran into Charlie at a meeting some years ago. He was telling these folks how GM and others ruined the streetcars in America.

Was that around the time Who Framed Roger Rabbit came out?

No GW it was about four years ago.

Portland's lame PR efforts reminded me of Hans Christian Andersen's tale about the emperor's new clothes.

!2,000 daily riders my A.S.S.

oh right as if!!!! Over here in deep pockets Lake Oswego our slippery weasel of a Mayor is trying to RAM a streetcar down highway 43....which translates to us eventually losing our bus service...and that'll get us back into our cars...if we can afford a car after the Mayor spends $450 million for the streetcar.
It's absolutely moronic.

But don't streetcars remind you of those happy days of yesteryear when even city life moved at a slower pace, when the air was filled with the clip-clop sound of horses hooves, a newsboy on the corner shouting 'Extra! Extra, read all about it!', when cops in peaked caps made their rounds on foot and knew people by name, when every kid looked like Alfafa or Darla, when lovely ladies strolled down the promenade with parasols?

Or if you prefer, how about a happy European city in 1936?

I ran into Charlie at a meeting some years ago. He was telling these folks how GM and others ruined the streetcars in America.

Ask Charlie what streetcars were ruined by GM. (He'll probably tell you about the Los Angeles Red Cars.)

Then ask Charlie what the Red Cars were. (He'll probably tell you it was the Los Angeles streetcar system, which is incorrect - the streetcars were the Yellow Cars.)

Then ask Charlie how GM shut down the Red Cars. (Doesn't matter what his answer is, because it's wrong: National City Lines, the transit holding company which was owned by GM, never owned the Pacific Electric, which operated the Red Cars. The remaining routes of the Pacific Electric were taken over, and then shut down, by the Metropolitan Transit Authority - a government agency.)

Ask Charlie when the Red Cars were shut down. (It was 1961. The Yellow Cars - the Los Angeles streetcar system - lasted until 1963.)

Ask Charlie about Portland's Streecars. Who owned them? (It wasn't National City Lines, or any company affiliated with NCL, or General Motors, etc.)

Ask Charlie when the last run of a Portland Streetcar was. (1950 - 11 years before the end of the Red Cars in Los Angeles.) Ask Charlie when the last run of an interurban was. (1958.)

And finally, ask Charlie about the federal court ruling against National City Lines. (He'll probably tell you that the court found NCL was wrong to kill off the trolleys, but he's wrong again. The case - U.S. versus National City Lines - had nothing to do with whether NCL was unlawfully killing off the trolley lines. The case had two points to ask: conspiracy to control the various transit companies (of which NCL was found not guilty), and conspiracy to monopolize the sale of buses to the NCL transit companies (NCL was found guilty of this as an anti-trust violation, as the NCL lines generally did not buy buses from other companies; the federal court fined NCL $5,000 - more of a symbolic fine than anything else.))

Ask Charlie what he thinks about the facts.

I see the PDC has 'assisted' another business in the Pearl to keep things at least appearing successful...


The hobbyist "railfans" used to like to make a big deal about this General Motors - National City Lines "conspiracy," to avoid the reality that their beloved trolleys were replaced because they were obsolete.

The hobbyist "railfans" used to like to make a big deal about this General Motors - National City Lines "conspiracy,"

Ironically, GM used to make a damn good locomotive.

Of course, GM spun off Electro-Motive Division when it was hemmoraging cash, and today EMD is a subsidiary of Caterpillar.

The people at Portland Streetcar Inc. make it difficult for citizens to get information, but last year they did grudgingly pass on the following info:

For FY 2008-09 the farebox revenue collected was $120,000, and operations costs were $5.42 million, so passengers paid for 2.2% of ops cost. The average fare per boarding is $.03.

Under a long-standing agreement with TriMet, TM picks up 2/3 of streetcar ops cost out of their payroll tax revenue.

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