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This page contains a single entry from the blog posted on December 14, 2011 6:46 AM. The previous post in this blog was Occupy Portland game wears on. The next post in this blog is Money for nothing. Many more can be found on the main index page or by looking through the archives.

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Wednesday, December 14, 2011

At least it's a *local* rathole

Here's a twist on the story of the financial abyss known as the Milwaukie MAX project: Oregon Iron Works, the local streetcar manufacturer, has reportedly been named a finalist in the competition to become a subcontractor of the Swiss outfit that's got the contract to build the light rail cars. That would certainly help the forces pushing the Mystery Train boondoggle to sell it as a local "jobs" program.

But it would be a whole lot better for the future of this region if the billion-dollars-plus about to be blown on the thing were spent on something more important and useful. We could think of a hundred better uses for that kind of dough.

And given Tri-Met's terrible track record in buying trains, both the Swiss contractor and any of its subcontractors need to be approached with extreme caution. Getting a Tri-Met rail contract these days is not particularly a good omen.

Comments (9)

If I remember correctly the steel for the rails came to us from the U.S. territory China. I was just looking around to confirm and hit Wikipedia, here's the list of future projects we are going to have shoved in the darker portions of our body.

TriMet has indicated that additional extensions have been studied or discussed with Metro and cities in the region.[32][33] These proposed extensions include:

* Line via Barbur Blvd.
* Line via Powell/Foster Blvd.
* Line to Damascus & Boring
* Extension from Milwaukie and/or Clackamas Town Center to Oregon City

I hope you aren't counting the PDX-to-LO Streetcar. We citizens have yet to vote on this boondoggle. This one ain't gonna happen.

The subsidiary, United, has never delivered a finished product.

Trains and bikes, full speed ahead! Damn the people and to hell with the local economy! The right people will just move here and displace the ingrates anyways!

Welcome to Portland!

Max is correct - United Streetcar has not a single, finished product to show for its how many years in business? It isn't as though they had to design something from the ground up (i.e. Boeing 787, Airbus A380) - they licensed the design, the blueprints - everything, from Inkeon.

Remember the last time TriMet bought from an untested, unproven vendor? TriMet was forced to bail out Colorado Railcar, send TriMet employees to Colorado to run the company and make sure the bills and payroll were made - AT THE SAME TIME TRIMET WAS CUTTING LOCAL BUS SERVICES IN ORDER TO PAY FOR THE BAILOUT!!!

Remember the time before that? TriMet, back in 1980-1981, bought a bunch of articulated buses from a company called Ikarus Bus, a Hungarian concern. They in turn contracted out the U.S. assembly of the buses to a company called Crown Coach - a then well respected manufacturer of school buses (that often had service lives of 40, 50 years!!) Thus, the Crown-Ikarus Articulated Bus. Remember how many problems TriMet had with those buses? They constantly broke down; the wheelchair lifts had to be removed... The fiasco that resulted ended up with Crown Coach - again, previously a VERY well respected business - going out of business.

So, since when was TriMet a venture capital firm designed to shore up new ventures? I don't recall that being part of TriMet's mission. TriMet's job is to move people.

There needs to be a stop to the madness.

The Portland-Milwaukie Light Rail Budget has $90 million in it for light rail cars.

But all of the Portland, TriMet & Metro supporters do not care how much anything costs or how much of the public does not want what they are forcing upon our communities.

They are a bunch of conniving and dishonest totalitarians hell bent on imposing their fanaticism upon the public. They conspire to prohibit public votes, enact new fees and rig every commission and committee with clones.

And when the public attempts to intervene with public votes they band together and try to crush them.

Clackamas County, Lake Oswego and Milwaukie have been saying NO for years and now it is becoming torches and pitchforks time with new initiatives to stop these despicable imposers.

When were they "declared" a finalist for a PMLR subcontract?

Today's article would have you believe that they just found out.

Odd since they were the largest donor to defeat the Clackamas citizens UR measure which threatened the primary funding source for Clackamas' contribution to PMLR.

They made a $10k donation to support the Clack Commissioners' decoy measure almost 3 months ago.

https://secure.sos.state.or.us/orestar/gotoPublicTransactionDetail.do?tranRsn=1078137

Same sort of thing happened with the Sellwood Bridge fee vote. An out of state contractor put up $25k to support the bridge fee campaign.

https://secure.sos.state.or.us/orestar/gotoPublicTransactionDetail.do?tranRsn=1028714

But they weren't awarded the contract until months later.

http://www.sellwoodbridge.org/?e=66

The local press routinely ignores blatant pay-to-play connections. Every once in a while Nigel will sniff around but he's mostly interested in Portland (and WW has a soft spot for light rail anyway).

The Portland-Milwaukie Light Rail Budget has $90 million in it for light rail cars.

At $425,000 a pop, TriMet could use the $90 million and purchase 210 brand new 40' buses. That would be sufficient to replace all remaining 1400, 1600, 1700, 1800 and 1900 series buses (built prior to 1995, least efficient, least reliable, high floor, no air conditioning), and possibly even the first 2000 series buses.

At $550,000 a pop, TriMet could instead buy 160 hybrid-electric buses - less fuel economy, lower pollution and lower maintenance expense, but identical capacity to the above vehicles. Higher reliability would allow for the reduction in TriMet's contingency fleet, and lower fuel burn would result in operational savings that could be used to increase service hours (keep the buses on the road longer).

At $600,000 a pop, TriMet could purchase 150 articulated buses - while fewer in quantity, each bus would have 40% higher capacity than the older buses. These would also be low-floor buses with A/C and all of the other benefits of a new, technologically current vehicle. Fewer buses with greater capacity could mean reducing service on some routes to 20 minute headways (instead of 15-18 minutes), lowering both fuel and labor expense, while maintaining equal capacity or in some cases increasing capacity.)

At $750,000 a pop, TriMet could purchase 120 articulated, hybrid-electric buses. Best of all worlds.

At $1M a pop, TriMet could purchase 90 Bus Rapid Transit, articulated, hybrid-electric buses (like Eugene's EmX buses). This would be sufficient to equip a half dozen new BRT routes along T.V. Highway, Barbur, McLoughlin, Powell, Division and 82nd Avenue. (Two routes entirely within Multnomah County, two routes that connect Multnomah and Clackamas Counties, one route that connects Multnomah and Washington County, and one route entirely within Washington County.)

AND...the $90 million is still a capital expense - not an operating expense, as TriMet claims that bus replacements are.

Unless I'm mistaken, this falls in line with Portland's Climate Action Plan which city council members and county commissioners committed the residents of Portland and Multnomah County to without their approval. I do not believe Clackamas County signed on to it, though I suppose they could at any time without warning.


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