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Thursday, February 16, 2012

The O on Tri-Met: "All is well"

Rah rah, siss boom bah, here's how Portland's newspaper "covers" its dying transit system. The headline writers over there must start drinking at breakfast. "With WES leading the way" -- yes, one of the biggest transit flops in history is certainly a fitting image for Tri-Met these days. The subsidy per boarding ride on that thing is $15. But hey, they make it up in volume.

Comments (11)

They'd never start drinking at breakfast. Freebasing Preparation H, though...

Joe Rose of the O is excited because WES daily ridership is up to 1620 "boardings" (or 810 actual riders). But the official TM forecast for opening year (2009)ridership was 2400 boardings.

The monthly operations losses are being subsidized by both Wilsonville and Washington County. One would expect that sooner or later, taxpayers in those jurisdictions will demand a stop to the bleeding, which will transfer the losses back to TriMet's balance sheet.

There is no way this is going to end well.

That headline actually made me laugh "leading the way", right. I thought that the WES subsidy was $17/passenger (plus the WASHCO "contributions". Free wifi, though....

Wait - I went thru the TriMet report:

+$6,231,193 System Costs
+$5,874,938 Operating Costs
- $386,003 Revenue
$11,720,128 Total
370,800 Boarding Rides
$31.607 Subsidy per Boarding Ride

Even if I include Originating Rides (are they included in the boarding number?) then add 289,980/yr or

$11,720,128 Total
660,780 Boarding+Orig Rides
$17.736 / Passenger susbsidy

But Jack, haven't you heard?


But the Subsidy is coming down. It started in 2009 at almost $18/boarding and now it's under $14. Still, that does seem quite expensive.

"But the Subsidy is coming down. It started in 2009 at almost $18/boarding"

Did you see my 2011 calculations from TriMet's own numbers, Mr MacFarla ... erm, Dale?

I'm have a hard time seeing how $17.36 is close to $14.

Thanks for the work there, Steve - I thought I had that $17 figure in my head for a reason...just didn't realize it was still so close to the $18 from a couple of years ago.

Yeesh! I'd say shut it down now - but then we still have to refund all the "free" fed money they put into that pig.

The O (nion) on mass transfixed:

News in Brief - Charlize Theron Hired To Ride Struggling Cleveland Light Rail System Monday Through Friday, February 15, 2012 | ISSUE 48•07

CLEVELAND—As part of an ongoing effort to rejuvenate its public transportation system, ... $32 million deal hiring Academy Award–winning actress Charlize Theron to ride the city's light-rail lines eight hours a day, Monday through Friday. "Each work week, Ms. Theron will bring the glitz and glamour of a Hollywood movie premiere right to Cleveland's own RTA Rapid Transit trains," spokesperson Ted Reardon said ....
I'd ride.

My son takes the WES to Wilsonville for his job, but the joke is that while he live just a few feet from a TriMet bus line, there isn't one that will get him to the train at the time he needs. And even that bus service is scheduled to be cut more. And he'll ride less, and so forth. Any fool can see how this story turns out. Idiots all.

Joe Rose of the O is excited because WES daily ridership is up to 1620 "boardings" (or 810 actual riders). But the official TM forecast for opening year (2009)ridership was 2400 boardings.

I have a problem when opinion columists and bloggers get to present their opinion as "news" and even do so occassionally on the front page of The Oregonian.

I miss when The O actually broke how TriMet was bailing out Colorado Railcar because they were on the verge of failing with TriMet's cars still on the factory floor...TriMet actually sent a manager to Colorado to run the company for a few months, paying the bills and such, until TriMet's cars (and two other cars - one for the Alaska Railroad and one for South Florida RTA) could be completed to a point that they could be shipped out of the factory, thus allowing Colorado Railcar to finally die.

The O didn't count that Union Pacific was able to steal $24 million from Washington County, because the WES planners sort of forgot who owned the railroad. Washington County and TriMet was forced to fly over represenatives to Omaha, Nebraska, to buy up six miles of the railroad for $24 million...never mind that the entire 133 mile Coos Bay Branch was purchased for around $15 million last year (and Union Pacific actually DONATED part of the railroad to the Oregon International Port of Coos Bay.)

I also find it peculiar that TriMet gladly reports WES and MAX Green Line ridership to show how great they are...but why not any other line? No, all the bus lines are grouped together because it's convenient to say how expensive the bus lines operate - when, TriMet's least subsidized line is actually a bus line. And multiple bus lines perform just as well as MAX do financially...but TriMet likes that some bus lines are money drains, and so it makes the entire bus system look bad.

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