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This page contains a single entry from the blog posted on January 8, 2013 7:26 PM. The previous post in this blog was Neighbors chase creeps. The next post in this blog is Portland Polite: Learn to love it. Many more can be found on the main index page or by looking through the archives.

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Tuesday, January 8, 2013

Neil McFarlane should resign

The Tri-Met chief executive obviously is a capital projects man, and not an operations man. Portland's transit agency is horribly insolvent, and so the capital projects are going to end soon. And now that that it's been outed as a menace to riders, pedestrians, and motorists alike -- exposed by the dowdy old Oregonian, no less -- McFarlane needs to step down.

The agency board, which from all appearances is a bunch of political hacks, should probably join him. It's time to put some people in charge who (a) can manage crises, (b) can turn around an organization that's careening toward bankruptcy, and (c) walk the talk on safety. Tri-Met has become a dangerous embarrassment, on more levels than one. Shame on the governors who, with their brain-dead appointments, have allowed the many intractable problems to fester.

Another possibility would be a statewide initiative to replace the appointed Tri-Met board with an elected board. That would shake things up, and it's hard to picture any shakeup making matters worse than they already are.

Comments (26)

Elected TriMeT Board?

Be careful what you wish for.

While recen Clackistan rebellion activity is hearening, remember hat MultCo and PDX are where the votes are, and looking at recent election results in PDX and MultCo, I have no confidence that a TriMet election would put any more competent people into TriMet Board positions than a Metro, or MultCo, or PDX election.

Indeed, given the cast of characters elected to Mero, MultCo and PDX, the results may be worse than with gubernatorial appointments.

Carl Hosticka, anyone?

As I say, it can't get worse. There's no assurance that it would get better. But I think it would. Just having discussion of the Tri-Met disaster in the voter's pamphlet every year or two would have a salutary effect.

I seem to recall that Metro already has authority to take over Tri-Met whenever it wants, replacing the appointed Tri-Met board with governance by the elected Metro board.

----Among other things, a hiring freeze and a 10 percent absenteeism rate have created more opportunities to rack up overtime. -----

10%??? maybe Trimet should hire some consultants for team building and coaching.

An elected TriMet board would be good, provided it isn't a gerrymandered boundary like Metro (where, IIRC, all but one Councilor has a part of Portland city limits within their district).

Better yet would be breaking up and dissolving TriMet, and letting the counties take over public transit.

As for Metro (and possibly an elected TriMet Board) - since the City of Portland only accounts for 1/3rd of the metro area's population, its residents should only receive one-third of the representation on either Board - and Board Members/Councilors either represent within Portland, or entirely outside Portland, but not straddling the city line.

I think there are more safety rules in place in some third world countries than in Portlandia?
This is beyond outrageous!

If the bobble heads at Metro take over TriMet, Metro will be assuming all the debt, and possibly be required to pay it off immediately. Expect a slew of immediate and new taxes if they do. It would be far better to let the transit agency go bankrupt since nobody in the Portland area bureaucracy is about to make it come even close to being financially self-sustainable. .

Can the US Dept of Transportation step in and at least require basic safety standards for operators?

Riders can. The board members' homes would make great places for picket lines.

BoJack: McFarlane needs to step down. The agency board, which from all appearances is a bunch of political hacks, should probably join him.

TOJ: Should it happen? Certainly, and five minutes ago.
Will it happen? Don't make me laugh.

Then it's time for picket lines. Seriously.

Open the market to private businesses.

The dowdy paper with the creative, harmoney-ious spelling no less!

"The Oregon Business Plan summit in December showcased the highest level of harmoney between business leaders and state government since the annual event was launched in 2003."

http://www.oregonlive.com/opinion/index.ssf/2013/01/improve_oregons_business_clima.html

The board members' homes would make great places for picket lines.

There are also gala events "insiders" go to. It may be time for people to say enough is enough and make visible or put the spotlight so to speak on who those are who are responsible for the downward spiral of our community.

Trimet + Metro = PORK FAT.

Cut it to the bone and let the free market compete for transportation solutions. But...don't hold your breath waiting for that to happen in your lifetime. Pork fat unions are strong with our tax dollars.

Eric H. -

IIRC, the current appointed TriMeT Board members represent "Districts", and I think all bu one "district"has a huge chunk of PDX and MultCo within the "district".

Whenever someone says, "It can't get any worse," I just shake my head.

It always can get worse.

How could Tri-Met get worse than bankrupt, dangerous, and rudderless?

McFarlane's response is appalling. Why would anyone trust TriMet's audit?

And good work Mr. Rose.

I once tried Tri-Met. Believe me, it was trying; took me nearly two hours to get the ten miles to my business in Goose Hollow. Never again. I pay the wasteful tax but can't use Tri-Met. And Nonny, will you please, please fix your t!

Looks like another example of the tail doing the wagging. I quit riding TriMet years ago after riding it to commute for over 20 years. High fares, slow buses, unreliable trains, rude drivers, semi-unemployable "fare inspectors" and filthy, unsafe vehicles. And now when I drive across town everyday I watch out for a bus because they appear to be the worse drivers on the road. Maybe we can disband the menace and start from scratch?

Ah...how I long for the good old days of Rose City Transit.

The problem with privatization is that it doesn't actually fix any problem. Look at the Washington state liquor situation as a good example.

Will private operators somehow enhance safety when it eats into their profits? No. Drivers will probably be forced to work longer because their pay will be immediately cut (that is, even if the drivers agree to work for the new operator; otherwise we'll have to face the question of hundreds of newly trained operators who barely have their CDL and don't have years of driving experience.) The private operator will still have benefits obligations, unless they decide to go to nearly 100% part-time work (i.e. Fred Meyer, Walmart, Target strategy) - and then how many current drivers would stay on with that?

Will the current operator actually maintain up to date vehicles and insure they will be well maintained? Many private companies run their vehicles into the ground...I remember one charter bus company in the Portland metro area, a very popular and well-utilized company, that literally had an ancient fleet of buses until they got bought out by a much larger company (which ended in up bankruptcy)...even to this day they operate some fairly old vehicles.

And Rose City Transit...they were all but bankrupt. May have provided good service, but they would not have lasted much longer...the city was threatening to revoke their franchise.

The problem with TriMet is not that it's a public agency; it's that there is no legitimate oversight of the agency. The GM and the Board are only looking after their personal interests...that is why for the last 15 years TriMet has only been concerned with building light rail. The original light rail line opened in 1986...the next one in 1998. Then 2001 (Red Line), 2003 (Yellow Line), Portland Streetcar in phases over several years...Green Line and WES in 2009...

In this town, Neil will get a $35,000 performance bonus and a Gubernatorial appointment to a board of directors that comes with a nice paycheck.

Not to mention a few free vakays at some vendor's beach house during the summer.

Ironic that on the front page of today's (1/9/13) Oregonian above the fold, "...many bus operators work up to 22 hours in a 24 hour period...".

While BELOW the fold, "The bus driver involved in a deadly crash in Eastern Oregon was on duty 'well beyond' the federal limit of 70 hours in eight days."

But of course GOVERNMENT buses are never subject to the same rules PRIVATE buses are.

Hi Dan: You're correct. Metro can simply take over Tri-Met at any time, as a matter of metropolitan concern. It won't be privatized or made more efficient in any way. Keep Portland-Metro-Oregon Weird!


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