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Thursday, January 13, 2011

Tri-Met makes major discovery

When you trash the bus system, fewer people take the bus. Brilliant, guys!

Comments (15)

Setting up the death of the bus system. Just lining up the dominoes.

"Death spiral."

Am I missing something. Doesn't the report indicate a 2.6% overall INCREASE in ridership on TriMet, over the same period in 2009? I know they are a big media target these days, and you can debate the bus vs light rail issue with good purpose, but an increase in ridership is an increase in ridership. Got to take the good with the bad or vice versa, depending on you point of view.

I knew WES would be lousy, and yet I still can't believe how low ridership is. 5900 rides per WEEK?! Yikes. But it's up 10%!

The only problem as I see it is they will use this information as an excuse to build more Max lines and trash the buses even further. Someone will claim people want more light rail based on this

You see the Bus half empty, they see the Max half full.

What is truly hillarious with the WES number is that that is 5900 rides a week. Tihats Sibgle, one direction rides.

Remember that WES is a commuter line. One rider goes both directions each day. One way rider approach zero as an upper linit.

Follow the math:

5900 single rides a week divided by 2 equals 2950 round trip commuter rides a week.

2950 round trip commuter rides per week divided by 5 days per week equals 590 round trip commuter rides per day.

WES provides service fir less than 600 commuters a day.

At a capitol cost of what....?

At a daily operating cost of what....?


What an amazing, fiscal bleeding payroll tax supported operation.

Any wonder there is no money to operate the bus system?

Maybe this is why they are trying to outlaw kids riding on a bike or in a trailer, this way more people will ride the bus, brilliant!


Heaven forbid that parents who drag their toddlers around in little bike trailers, and large front baskets or hanging on the back with little or no restraints or protection than a flimsy helmet in all kinds of weather have ANY restrictions placed on them or question their parenting skills but you better make sure if you transport them by car you have them belted in the age/size appropriate child seat or you'll have the CSD coming down on you for child endangerment.

WES provides service fir less than 600 commuters a day.

And that number, despite TriMet's use of percentages, has not significantly changed. 3% of bus riders is a whopping big number compared to 12% of WES riders. But TriMet focuses on the percentage to claim that MAX/WES ridership is growing at a larger "rate" than bus ridership declines.

At a capitol cost of what....?

The "official" capital cost is $161.7 million; that does not include the cost of the backup Budd RDC cars or the Tualatin quiet zone project, or the cost of the Wilsonville layover facility (the one million dollar break room and restroom located just south of the WES platform).

At a daily operating cost of what....?

The range has been between $18 and well into the $30s.

According to the November 2010 Monthly Performance Report, a boarding ride on WES cost $15.76; the year to date cost (taking all months within the fiscal year) is $20.39.

The bus system average is $3.48.

WES cost TriMet $106,380 to operate in the month of November. That is the cost of three trains, three sets of crews (Engineer and Conductor each), fuel for three diesel engines per train, Portland & Western Railroad contract services (track maintenance, dispatching) and overhead, and TriMet overhead (station maintenance, cost of the Commuter Rail Manager, WES dedicated mechanics).

Oh, you know what? I used the wrong numbers...I used "weekly" boardings...so the actual cost is not $106,380...multiply that by four.

So about $420,000.

With an "honor system" boarding system you can take all those numbers with a big grain of salt anyway. Tri Met has been playing loose and fast with those numbers since forever. And being able to fudge the numbers is the main reason they retain the honor system.

Erik H. -

Eight trips a day in each direction, 16 trips a day total.

590 round riders a day, divided by 16 trips per day yields average load of 37 riders per trip.

Capacity per trip per train ___?

I believe TriMet has closed bus routes in the past year with higher average loads.



Each WES train has 74 seats and space for two wheelchairs. (There is one trailer car that can be towed behind a power car, this car has an additional 80 seats plus two wheelchair spaces.) However, in three train operation, two of the trains must be single-cars, and frequently TriMet runs all three trains in single-car mode.

There are four stations in which a passenger can board the train (five stations total) per direction. Theoretically, if there is 100% turnover at each station (not realistic) a WES train could have a maximum of 304 boarding rides per trip (single car train).

But we don't even need to resort to hypothetical, creative accounting tricks. There's 74 seats. On average, a WES train boards 37 riders total among all four stops in which someone can board the train. If all 37 riders are on the train at one time, you have a 50% load factor. But it's known that people do get on and off the train along the route; many folks ride the train between Beaverton and Tigard as the train is much better than the seriously overcrowded 76/78 buses. That leaves the trip to Tualatin very empty; and to Wilsonville even more so.

Unfortunately while trains are often cited as transit examples that are scalable, WES can't scale down any smaller. It's already a very low capacity train as far as trains go. Sounder, the commuter rail service between Tacoma, Seattle and Everett, frequently runs eight and nine car, double-deck coach trains, between Seattle and Tacoma. If passenger counts are too light, drop off a car or two. Can't do that with WES.

Even buses are somewhat scalable, if you have the right fleet. (Unfortunately, TriMet has all but standardized on nothing but 40' buses; there are a few 30' buses out there on certain routes.) TriMet refuses to buy articulated buses, so "scaling up" means adding another bus - and the accompanying fuel and labor costs. That is one benefit of rail, but the design of WES limits it to two car trains (just as MAX can't run more than two cars either.)

So far...there is no need to scale up WES. I did ride WES one time when it was crowded with standees - it was the day, in early 2010, when the afternoon snow caught TriMet off guard and nearly every bus was pulled off the road. It was the only way to get from Portland (MAX to Beaverton) to Tigard. But every other time I've ridden WES (none of which were for an actual commuting purpose, they were all to take my son for a "train ride") you could have two aisles to yourself, each time.

Was at a mtg where TriMet's finance director talked about proposed projects in the future (this was 5 or 6 years ago, way before the economy tanked) and she discussed future projects. Land use planners at the meeting asked where the money would come from. She said, "We don't have it now but it will be there when we need it." BTW the buses are filthy now, they never used to be this gross. TriMet has been grossly negligent in its fiduciary duty, forecasting and ability to predict future events or in practicing any practical forethought whatsoever. Neil's better than Fred, but he has such a big hole to dig out of...

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