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This page contains a single entry from the blog posted on December 8, 2011 8:46 AM. The previous post in this blog was Breaking news: Reality bites.. The next post in this blog is All that news that isn't happening. Many more can be found on the main index page or by looking through the archives.



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Thursday, December 8, 2011

East side streetcar goes Wapato

Now that Portland's east side streetcar tracks have almost all been laid, the spendthrifts at City Hall are noticing that, hey, um, guys? We don't have the money to operate this thing! Now they're killing off new parking meters on the central east side for a while -- purportedly because the businesses over there don't want them, but that can't be right, because when has that ever stopped them? In any event, something bad has happened in Condo Land. Something very bad.

The loss of more magic Ellis McCoy Dollars® leaves quite a hole in the operating budget for the streetcar. In essence, the whole east side extension is insolvent at this point. It's so bad that they might actually make the downtown streetcar riders pay a fare, abruptly upsetting many Pearlies and hipsters' legitimate expectations. This in the city of 200 planners. You'd laugh if it weren't so pitiful.

Of course, the same thing is happening with Tri-Met's Mystery Train to Nowhere. Earl the Pearl and the Goldschmidtters in Salem have come up with enough money and promises to get the ripping up of the land started, but by the time the Milwaukie MAX is ready to roll, Tri-Met may very well be in bankruptcy, trying to get out of its obscenely under-funded obligations to its retirees. And forget about operating funds, which are nowhere in sight -- even the basic construction funds aren't lined up, as the Clackistani rebels continue to block every attempt to tap their wallets for the thing.

But build we must -- and how about a streetcar to Lake Oswego, too? The politicians and bureaucrats with the irrational antipathy toward cars and buses never stop to think; they just go along as their real estate developer patrons, who know how well train tracks sell condos, dictate the program. It's so painful to watch.

Comments (28)

Keep ripping up land, planning, and spending money like there's no tomorrow. By the time any opposition gets up and ready to fight, we'll argue how much we've already invested toward the effort. How silly would it be to stop now? It's from an old playbook that may not work any longer.

Lower than expecte revenues....Doh!
I say fire these so called planners, obviously they are all incompetent.

Bernard has lost his mind.

There isn't a light rail line around that EVER attracted businesses. So where is the basis for his ludicrous claim?

“It’s (light rail’s) the catalyst that brings private business to make those investments,” Bernard said."

Like so many other things, he just made that up.

The other severe problem is the kinds of "investments"
Bernard and company are seeking to impose along with the light rail that is opposed by most.

The recent Park Avenue Station open house and McLouglin Area Plan work session resulted in an overwhelming rejection of the plans by residents of the McLoughlin corridor. It was humiliating for commissioners and planners while at times drawing laughter from citizens.

Even more revealing is how the November election went in this area. Precinct numbers in the area that would have been an UR district show that even the local voters preferred a county wide vote, passing 3-386 by 69%.
So all of the establishment's effort to thwart the citizen's initiative 3-386 couldn't even persuade local voters to prefer their rigged local vote measure.

So the bottom line is the public does not want light rail, does not want the plans it would impose and does not want millions more wasted on Portland's TriMet/Metro ideas for Clackamas County.

What they do want are some responsible and minor improvements to clean up the corridor along with increased public safety.

Unfortunately this can't happen because the 4 commissioners are incapable of learning or adapting to the public will. No matter how overwhelming their agenda is opposed. Instead they are again insulting the public with continued conniving to impose what is not wanted.
Pathetic excuses of "no other choice" and "TriMet will sue us" are being used in an attempt to push forward.

So now the Clackistani rebel's lawyer is preparing yet another citizen initiative to force a county wide voter approval for any involvement, approval, permitting or funding of rail transit in Clackamas County.
I wonder who is going to win this battle?

When the City Council had its required public hearing on the citywide streetcar plan in 2009, I told them that the "official" forecast in the EIS estimated that streetcar fares for the Eastside extension would pay for 28% of operating costs. However, fares had never paid for more 3% of operating costs, so the estimate might be a bit optimistic.

Of course they ignored that and any other criticism of the plan.

For years the city has been ripping motorists off by using parking revenues to pay off bonds, but now that cash cow is sort of milked out.

Once the Eastside line connects with the downtown line, they will have to start charging real fares. Not only is that going to upset the Pearl district freeloaders, it will make it difficult to continue defending the "free rail" zone that props up ridership numbers for light rail. The whole house of cards is collapsing on rail operating costs.

Sewer funds to the rescue!

Oh, wait...

Something tells me that the cost of the eastside streetcar and MLR (among others) are likely more than twice what they would be if these were purely private sector projects.

The 50% federal match has only served to create graft, corruption, and inflated costs and has given rise to plenty of fat cats: Stacy & Witbeck, David Evans, SOJ and Rick Gustafson (whose otherwise unemployable daugher is even on the Streetcar payroll). But after the dust clears and all of those no-bid piggies have eaten from the trough, the rest of us are left with completed infrastructure projects we can't even afford to operate, and when we manage to get them up and running...they provide ongoing losses for decades to come.

Eastside streetcar is the biggest heist yet (soon to be eclipsed by MLR). It is simply laughable to think that anybody on the west side has a need to come to the east side stretch of MLK and Grand...but the "no-bid pigs" are laughing all the way to the bank.

The answer is too obvious.
Kill PMLR and save $1 billion.
Including the saving of Portland's $30 million share backed in part by parking fees & UR. Instead of light rail they could run the streetcar over the new bridge, connecting the loop, still satisfy nearly every fantasy and avoid the inevitable fiscal madness the unwanted PMLR will cause.

Why is there not a single elected official or candidate making this pitch?

When recession hit, the city just plowed straight on with all sorts of plans, selling more bonds, taking on the debt that Jack documents up there on the left. While smarter jurisidictions were wising up to new realities, Portland has been Wiley Coyote out in mid-air pumping it's legs as fast as it can before looking down.

(I'm really curious about why they called off the parking meters on MLK and Grand. The city doesn't listen to businesses, particularly on transportation and parking issues, and there are hardly any residents along there. I'd love to know more about what was behind that decision.)

PD, and to add insult to injury, the construction is taking F O R E V E R.

There is amn error in the fouth line of the second paragraph of Jack's opening piece in this thread. The word "legitimate" has no place in any discussion of the Pearlies expectations that the rest of the city's taxpayers owe them a free ride.

Don't forget that the other half of the operating funds will come from TriMet. Where is TriMet getting the money? Are they killing off WES? Nope. Are they going to insist on fares for Streetcar riders? Nope. How about charging MAX Park & Ride users to pay for parking? Nope. They'll cut more bus trips/routes.

And not the ones that overlap the Streetcar (here's looking at you, 6-Martin Luther King) but routes in the suburbs.

Increasingly, as far as Portland, TriMet and Metro are concerned, the suburbs are just a tax collection district. Collect from the 'burbs (and inject a healthy stream of anti-suburban rhetoric as well, about how the 'burbs are full of fat, lazy people who drive from their home to their neighbor's home in their freakin' large SUV - even though Beaverton is full of young, fit women running around in their form fitting running tights compared to the folks in Portland that clearly haven't taken a bath in awhile and buy their clothes from the rack of clothes that were army surplus and then sent to a used clothing store, donated to Goodwill, put up on eBay and then donated again), cut services to the 'burbs and put that money in downtown Portland.

Said it before, will say it again. Metro and TriMet need to be disbanded. All major transportation projects need to have a public up or down vote. No more backroom deals, no more politicians playing Empire Builder. And there needs to be a greater divide between the three Metro counties - not closer. We already have a statewide transportation agency (ODOT); we don't need Metro and it's eighteen committees, boards, organizations - all designed to push light rail and streetcars at any and all cost.

The word "legitimate" has no place in any discussion of the Pearlies expectations that the rest of the city's taxpayers owe them a free ride.

The city had a fareless square for three decades or more. People had every right to expect it to continue. It was greatly restricted in a vain attempt to push more people onto the MAX train and streetcar, and now it is being terminated entirely because Goldschmidt lapdog Fred Hansen & Co. ran Tri-Met's finances into the ground.

I'm behind you 100% Erik. Where can I vote these entities out of existence?

If you go back far enough the plans for the east side street car were already in place in the form of a vague LID proposal in 1999. As soon as the street car was approved on the west side the developers quietly set the east side up as well.
There have so far been about 3 estimates for property owners on the east side, but we have yet to see the final bill. The last estimate was about 75% more than the original liers budget, and it still is not finished.
And has anyone but me noticed that the tracks look like a drunk person laid them out? They wobble and weave all over the place. I guess that is to make you get sick or believe you are truly riding around on a 100 year old conveyance.

The only use that I see for the East-side street car is to put all of these politicians and developer clowns into the cars and left us toss various vegetables at them (in a loving way).

The sad thing is that the decision makers are forgotten by the time the true extent of the financial damage becomes known. (PERS, WES, Streetcar,yada yada)

We should figure out a way to permanently memorialize the names of those folks who voted in favor so others know who to thank for the depth of the financial hole that's been dug.

Maybe put their names on a crawl next to something like your long term debt ticker.

The tracks seem to follow the road... I get to stare it down every time I ride the six on the right side of the us. MLK/grand/whatever is kind of lumpy and wobbley. One of the advantages of streetcar vs something like MAX is they don't need as badass a foundation as a real light rail and they are supposed to handle tight turns and stuff. I imagine if the buses feel fine this should too? You really only notice the wobbleyness when you stare it straight down and get to see a quarter mile of track compressed down to a few degrees of vision.

And has anyone but me noticed that the tracks look like a drunk person laid them out? They wobble and weave all over the place.

I noticed that as well, but since they're on the lower east-side, I assumed that the goal was to make the staggering winos feel more comfortable.

Eric H predicts that when the inevitable TM bus cuts come, they will be mostly in the 'burbs and not the #6 line.

Actually, I'm pretty sure the plan all along has been that once the eastside streetcar line opens, the #6 will terminate on the east side near the Convention Center, and downtown-bound riders will have to transfer to the Streetcar.

That was brought up at a City Council hearing a couple of years ago, and a few councilors professed great concern. But they already knew that the standard TM practice is for rail transit in Portland to cannibalize superior bus service in the same corridor, so as to jack up rail ridership. The fact that the forced transfers degrades service is of no concern.

John A. Charles Jr.,
I think we could have a very long list under the heading of "No Concern" to those making decisions for us.

Money for the "favored few" - and making sure that is achieved is the focus.

Spot on, Jack. It would be nice if there were a law that required them to use Wapato or sell it. We have so many unutilized public assets, but that won't keep them from buying more land or building more monuments.

On the bright side, I'm moving to Salmon Creek, WA at the end of the month. Bye, bye Weird. Bye, bye Income Tax.

Just checked back to one year ago and Jack's topics on the blog:

Wednesday, December 8, 2010
Tri-Met's Milwaukie MAX deal goes from stinky to stinkier

Not only did Tri-Met's delusional board of directors unanimously approve $722 million in new debt today for the Milwaukie light rail project, but they also abandoned all semblance of meaningful oversight by giving the transit agency's management carte blanche to buy up real estate for the project, no matter how high the price tag, without coming back to the board:......

Same day, another thread on Tri-Met:

Tri-Met board signing fiscal suicide pact today

Actually, I'm pretty sure the plan all along has been that once the eastside streetcar line opens, the #6 will terminate on the east side near the Convention Center, and downtown-bound riders will have to transfer to the Streetcar.

I'm sure that's true, but at the same time the added expense of running more streetcars/light rail without additional revenues is going to result in service cuts.

God forbid TriMet cut rail or anything associated with it, so it's going to come out of bus service - just like it has virtually each of the last several years.

When the Green Line and WES opened, did TriMet cut the 72 and 76 routes? No. They cut the 24 route - a rather successful route through Northeast Portland. They cut the Cedar Mills Shuttle, a one time promising success story in using "demand responsive transit" to serve riders door to door rather than along a fixed route. They cut routes/trips in Clackamas and Oregon City and West Linn.

And, TriMet eliminated "Frequent Service" on a variety of routes.

Today, the bus and streetcar already provides overlapping service in N.W. Portland. Why? If TriMet is forced by some backroom deal to subsidize the streetcar, then why is TriMet continuing to run a bus in that area? Why not cut the 15 route, and the portion of the 77 route in N.W. Portland? At least those residents will still have the streetcar...

Nolo, we all might be able to vote on rail transit here in Multnomah Co. after Clackamas Co. votes to require voting on any rail transit in their county. The time is coming. The initiative will be coming.

And then who knows what that might lead to. Just being able to vote will be like a throttle on Metro, TriMet, CoP, PDC.....

We, of the Clackistani, reject the basphemous dictates of the wicked and deceitful transit idolators of Multnomah County, and their Godless lackeys on the Clackamas County Commission. A curse be upon their moustaches.

While they control the roads, we are gaining strength every day in our mountain strongholds of Sandy, Brightwood, Zig Zag, and Government Camp.

Life is cold, and hard, in the mountains. But we find warmth, sustenance, and succor in the words of our prophet, put forth in "The Road to Serfdom."

We pause, five times a day, to face Vienna and pray that justice, common sense, and fiscal responsibilty be restored to the land and its people.

And, while he has passed into paradise, we are comforted by the recorded words and writings of the Grand Ayatollah W.F. Buckley Jr., May peace be upon him.

Bankruptcy to the infidels - "Hayeku Akhbar!"

The Trimet news story of the year was when the well qualified "Hakeem Olanrewaju" stepped down from his Board of Directors title after saying a (4) letter word in his opening statements of a meeting.

Not to worry, our Governor appointed Craig Prosser, a tried and true Tax & Spender to the position, now were saved.

All-electric buses are far more comfortable, more frequent, have more bus stops and therefore are more useful for commuters. Construction of Streetcar is not only very expensive but it also is not environmentally friendly. For example, to construct Lake Oswego to Portland Streetcar will require 10 million gallons of petroleum. The all-electric buses do not use any petroleum and are greener than Streetcar and light rail. The public does not want Streetcar because not only the cost is 50 times more, but the operating and maintenance cost is also higher than all-electric buses.
However, TriMet/Metro wants the Streetcar because they can then spend tax payers’ dollars and increase their bureaucracy. Managers can justify their bigger pay check when more people are working –even useless work.
Even after spending hundreds of millions dollars, it is cheaper and more environmentally friendly to dismantle the east side Streetcar.

.....even useless work.

Useless work -
Those two words made me think,
how advanced have we really become?


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