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Sunday, October 16, 2011

Taking a stab at safety

We rode the MAX train out toward Gresham the other day. Just a couple of stops, but that was more than enough. The train was packed, and there were a lot of hostile vibes being thrown around by the passengers. Letting people on and off the train, and holding the doors open, were real issues for some of those on board. Several unfriendly comments were passed within our earshot. There was a definite feeling of lawlessness about the whole thing. Worse than on the New York subway, really, because at least in New York there are a few unwritten rules and an occasional transit cop. In Portland, there don't seem to be any of either.

We were glad to get off that train, and have no desire to get on it again. And we're not at all surprised to read about this incident this morning.

Comments (30)

Good lord Jack, what were you thinking? You're very, very lucky to have gotten off in one piece. I won't even *drive* through that neighborhood without a weapon.

The transit promoters just think you're being squeamish, Jacko. "Portland is a very safe city," they'll remind you.

The street urchins aren't a factor in Tri-Met or CoP's mind until you're laying there on the platform with your brains oozing out and the "kids" are listening to your I-Pod.

Fear not: once they do capture them, they're in for 5 years of community corrections. And that's AT LEAST one voicemail per month.

How dare you speak the truth to the choir. MAX and WES have only survived with a huge subsidy. To become safe, Trimet needs a gestapo type presence, or just be completely free to all. Hopefully a larger group of citizen passengers would discourage bad behavior.
My personal car insurance costs are fixed yearly. Paying an additional $5.00 to ride Trimet has not been my personal choice when safety and inconvenience factor in. I find it easier to eliminate trips to downtown Portland. I hope the door kicks me enough to stay outside the need for Trimet transport. PS: Don't selected workers get free Trimet passes? Keep ridership high. Put a bird on it.

Taking a stab at safety

I am afraid coming down the pike citizens will be asked or feel the need to do patrolling. In normal times, might be more reasonable to do so, but with gang and drug activity, citizen patrols may not be as safe as years ago.

Why should citizens who pay more taxes than ever have to volunteer their time and be put at risk when budgets are cut?

Stop shoveling the money into unnecessary projects and get professional public safety officers into the neighborhoods!

Not surprised at all - infrequent fare inspections and a lack of validation mechanisms make the Max a express shuttle for all kinds of scumbags. My personal Waterloo with the Max came when a crowd of "creatives" got on the train with 3 very loud, aggressive pit bulls that were yapping and snarling the whole way through. I'll pay the high parking costs at a garage/Blazer game any day of the week rather than deal with the lunacy on the Max.

Jack: when is the last time you rode the subway? It's been about 35 years for me, this is back when the graffiti was still present and the lights would go off and on (a surreal experience to say the least) and the transit cops had that skillful way of twirling a billy club over and over again... perhaps that's what we need on Max?

Jeez, Jack, aren't you from New York? I might suggest not only staying off the train, but avoid anything north of Alberta or East of 82nd. That's where the scary people live...

Did you even READ the article? Tri-Met says incidents like this HARDLY EVER happen, that the time and place of the stabbing had NOTHING TO DO WITH IT and that most incidents on Tri-Met are MINOR. Even this one hasn't turned out yet to be fatal, for heaven's sake. So there's nothing to worry about. Get a grip. (And a weapon, I guess.)

I've never understood why the transit cops/fare inspectors wait at stations and just check fares.

They NEVER ride the trains anymore, they used too, especially the Wakenhut security guards.

Now you never see any sort of security on MAX, who knows why.


The biggest of boondoggles, the WES, (which makes Trimet headlines each month with their wonderful ridership increases from this month a year ago, is actually REALLY SAFE, because they have conductors on there to monitor the behavior and they will throw you off at the next station if you act weird.

What we are really seeing here is the institutionalization and depersonalization of mass transit in the Portland region.

My personal feeling is that it is one of the worst things that could have happened to Portland and its surrounding communities.

You might enjoy this little VIDEO I made while riding the system with Portland Transports Bob Richardson back in 2008.

Granted I went a little overboard with the music but I was trying to make a point, which is the same point Jack is making here!

I don't mind helping patrol ...
But will Trimet let me patrol my way ?

Al M---For some reason, I watched all six minutes of your video. Is there some way I can get my six minutes back?

Sorry Ron!
No refunds!
(I didn't say it was a good movie did I?)

I was actually thinking about the neighborhoods
surrounded by the light rail problems that are needing help
as well as on the train or at the stops.

Hey Ron, there is a PART 2!

Maybe you'll like that one better!


No, thanks Al. I'll wait for the Acamdemy Awards to come out first.

you never see any sort of security on MAX, who knows why

Too hazardous.

Maybe nobody's paying attention to MAX security or ticketing but the checkers on the streetcar have apparently decided to take their job seriously with all those desperate tourists and Pearl District denizens at large in downtown! There were two inspectors on the streetcar this afternoon questioning tourists with their clipboards when they've previously only been seen during the week at rush hour.

I continue to think that it's insanely stupid to have a downtown streetcar loop that is half free and half pay to ride . . . and a "fareless square" that includes Lloyd Center but doesn't include NW 21st or 23rd. This is only going to get more confusing with the eastside streetcar, the Milwaukie streetcar to nowhere and the Lake Oswego "developers' delight" streetcars all go on line with (I assume) mandatory pay to ride.

And yesterday I actually ran into a Tri-Met bus driver who hadn't seen a streetcar ticket before and didn't know whether he was supposed to accept it or not (he did). Even HE wondered why it was 10 cents less than the bus fare and for a shorter period of transfer time.

I just arrived back from a week in NYC visiting family. I rode the subway up to the GW Bridge, down to Brooklyn, up and down Lexington, and various other places as well. I never felt threatened and 99% of passengers were reasonably well-behaved. I attribute this to (1) no free rides; and (2) a stronger, more historic transit culture where crazy behavior is not as tolerated as it is in Portland.

Point #1 above is critical. It keeps a lot of trouble-makers and low-lifes off the system so that space is reserved for actual riders. TriMet's whole "free-rail zone" for the downtown and Lloyd district has created a culture of lawlessness that permeates the entire system.

Without turnstiles, which weren't part of Earl Bluemnauer's peyote visions, it's hopeless.

Who needs security when we can have THIS!

I learned this trick in LA. When you go on public trans dress like a thug and wear huge earphones. No one messes with you then. Hoodie and black stocking cap will do it. I just keep it hanging by the door.

The O's Mr Smith updated his report last evening (10:12PM), after Jo's comment, which provides appropriate advice:

"TriMet plans to increase its security presence and step up transit patrols on MAX light-rail trains after a stabbing early Sunday morning, the third such incident this year."

But, if the "security presence" is increased, then costumed riders might be mistaken for the thugs whose disguises they wear.

There are so many unanticipated and ignored consequences of rapid, forced behavioral change that simple survival demands unusual creativity along with adaptability.

This paragraph from Gardiner Menefree's O-Live link is curious:

After two years of double-digit declines, MAX-related crime was again on the rise according to a report released in March. The light-rail system serves 100 million riders a year and had 471 reported crimes in 2010.


That would mean, on average, that every man, woman and child living in the areas served by TriMet is riding MAX at least once a week.
2 million folks multiplied by 52 weeks. Is the math correct here?

Or is Mr. Smith simply swallowing whole the agency's mass transit propaganda?

"A 100 Million Riders a Year", It is a TriMet counting trick.

"Riders" is the number of trips taken. Remember most people have to take a trip back from whence they came, so that counts as 2 riders for TriMet. But some die coming and going.

And don't forget that some people get off and on to do errands, make appointments and such, so they would be adding to the "Rider" count. Less than half the 100 Million would be a more accurate count of the number that most people read into what "Rider" means. Another example of SPIN, that the O touched on in the Sunday paper.

On second thought, maybe the Oregonian's mast should include "All The Spin Fit to Print".

Well at least we aren't living on the Southern border, where all Hell has broke loose. Apparently the press down there has been told to zip it or find themselves lying in a gutter. And the police are only busting the decent folk for parking tickets.

I'll give us another year or two...

And don't forget that riding MAX downtown is free, so a lot of folks use MAX as a shuttle and will ride it multiple times if just for a short one or two stop hop...whereas, to do the same thing on a bus sets up back over $2.00 each boarding.

Why is it the same people with'when guns are outlawed, only outlaws will have guns' stickers on their bumpers the same people who blame a train for equally bad behavior?

It sounds like a harrowing ride - I'm happy to hear that you made it to your destination safely. Be careful out there!

It's amazing, Jack - I read through all ~28 comments, and not a one was the usual "you miserable hating elitist, how dare you look down your nose at your poor benighted fellow creatures" dreck that one hears from the downtown chattering-class types whenever anyone dares to complain about the unsavory environment on MAX trains.

I ride MAX three times per week (on the west side, admittedly), and it's always been a "bad neighborhood on wheels."

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