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This page contains a single entry from the blog posted on January 10, 2013 8:44 AM. The previous post in this blog was Weather conditions deteriorating badly. The next post in this blog is It could have been much worse. Many more can be found on the main index page or by looking through the archives.

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Thursday, January 10, 2013

Tri-Met director admits his incompetence

"I had no idea that the problems were this extensive," Clark said Wednesday...

Then what the heck are you doing on the board? You have failed in your duties as a director, and ought to resign immediately. And take the rest of the know-nothings with you.

Comments (26)

Oh, of course, he had no idea, because that information never came near him. I'll bet it didn't, and he made absolutely sure that his eyes and ears were plugged with colon tissue to guarantee that. If he had his head any further up his own butt, he'd be a Klein bottle with legs.

Tex, Many of the "public board members" in the Portland area have that problem. Maybe we'd get board members with a higher level of competence if the pay structure were published more openly.

Looks like Trimet's drivers aren't the only ones who were asleep at the wheel.

How long will it take for the latest revelations of incompetence to become the impetus for another tax increase?

The problem starts with a disinterestesd governor, who appoints all 7 TM board members. He doesn't expect much, and board members deliver for him.

The only solution I can see is to gradually downsize the TM territory by making it easier for outlying communities such as Forest Grove, Estacada, Sherwood and West Linn to leave the TM district and set up their own transit agencies. The 6 cities that have already done this offer better service at much lower cost.

One little nit. Only interstate truckers are covered directly by federal rules. Intrastate truckers are covered by Oregon rules which incorporate most but not all USDOT regulations for motor carriers.

It would be relatively simple to eliminate the law that ODOT and other state agencies can't regulate transit agencies and districts and explicitly extend Oregon motor carrier rules to cover public transit drivers.

Clark is an habitual offender of common sense and fiscal responsibility.

In a recent board retreat he feigned surprise at discovering TriMet is essentially "bankrupt".

What next? Shock to discover the coming FY budget requires another round of deep cuts?

Or that PMLR has big problems in Clackamas County?

Or the next alarming shoe to drop,,,
that TriMet's MAX infrastructure/crossings maintenance staff has lost much of their skilled talent subjecting the public to additional danger from shoddy maintenance by poorly trained replacements?

Clark is in good company as all the rest are equally defective.
Same goes for every Metro councilor who are seen by some as
being better people to oversee TriMet. That's a hoot.

I can't imagine how either the TriMet board or Metro Council could be worse. They are like one big parasite with each of them hopelessly infected with the same tentacles of delusion, dysfunction and deceit.

Other than that they are all very nice devotees.

Qualifications for TriMet board members:
See no evil, hear no evil, speak no evil!

TriMet's board members are unpaid volunteers. I think the question should be phrased as "why did TriMet management think that the agency's safety and solvency issues were not important enough to bring to the board's attention?"

Steve Clark's chief qualificaionn o be a RiMe director seems o be tha he is in COrvallis 90% of he time, and when he is is at his claimed "residence" in Porland, he drives o Corvalis in his single occupant POV.

Nonny, did you break your "T" key?

"I piy he fool who broke my keyboard!"

Miser .

I ook me a minue to figure ou wha was was so funny.

All TriMet directors should be required to listen to the scanner feed for a couple of hours a week. You can do that much from Corvallis.

Every day you hear supervisors begging operators to take extra shifts. That's all it takes to know that this agency can barely operate, even with massive overtime.

Further, directors should live or work in the TriMet District, so they can ride their own system regularly. Too restrictive? Maybe, but the current scheme sure isn't working.

If he didn't know then those who should have been informing him should be dismissed for cause.
Even then he also should resign since the Trimet problems are not occuring in secret.

Directors of corporations have a duty to keep themselves informed. It is their personal duty and cannot be delegated. If you can't keep up with what's going on, you need to get off the board.

The way to get at these issues is through competent Board governance. You have a safety committee, an operations committee and a finance committee. You have the responsible officials for safety, operations and finance regularly report on a schedule to the Board on these areas in open session. You have an agency scorecard with metrics relating to each area and supporting trend data. And if something bad happens you find out if it is reflected or foreboded in the metrics and call management to task if it isn't. This really isn't very complicated.

Corporate board members need to keep a fairly heavy insurance policy to protect themselves should they do something dumb. I wonder if the Tri-Met board members have such a policy.

Every day you hear supervisors begging operators to take extra shifts. That's all it takes to know that this agency can barely operate, even with massive overtime.

What is the reason for this? The O claims it is "absenteeism," but what does that mean--people simply not showing up for scheduled shifts? Is this an organized work stoppage? I get that if you have a bus driver scheduled to work the 15 route from 8am to 4pm, and he gets sick, you've absolutely got to find someone else to take the route, but apparently most transit systems in the country have figured out a way to address this that does not dip so heavily into overtime.

I don't think there are chronic work slowdowns. There were a couple around ATU contract negotiation time, but I don't think this has been a regular problem.

That being said, daily absenteeism is high (Oregonian article said "more than 10 percent"), and there seemingly aren't sufficient consequences.

Still, TriMet would rather pay overtime than hire drivers, due to the high costs of benefits. It looks like they don't replace retirees at a sufficient rate to keep up.

Then they cut bus service again, thus reducing the shifts available. Lather, rinse, repeat... the bus operator assignment system is fundamentally broken.

I meant to add: TriMet doesn't ever fix the broken system, because the dysfunction helps them justify shrinkage of bus service, in favor of rail (or other waste).

Willful ignorance is enraging.

I confess I don't understand why the Governor of the State of Oregon is appointing TriMet board members for a system that operates solely in the Portland metropolitan area and into whatever part of two outlying counties it can extend routes into in order to tax more businesses.

But then I recalled that he had involved himself in brokering a special deal for a single Beaverton-based business and literally brags that only he has the power of life and death over a particular prison inmate.

Re. Clark and his bobble-headed statement: he said he had no idea that the problems were "this extensive." That suggests he knew there was a problem but apparently decided it wasn't serious enough to pay any further attention to.

When public officials come out with stuff like this I wonder how they prefer to be seen: Oblivious or careless. There's no PR upside.

The only solution I can see is to gradually downsize the TM territory by making it easier for outlying communities

Actually it should be easier for ANY member of the TriMet service area to remove themselves from TriMet.

Washington County could secede from TriMet, form a county-wide transit agency, and run it far, far, far better than TriMet ever could. Then Clackamas County, and then Gresham, Troutdale, Wood Village and Fairview would split off.

That would leave TriMet (which by that point would be reduced to MAX) and the City of Portland which would likely be forced to take on their bus service. Coupled with the immediate loss of $10 million in regional transit funds for their Streetcar, breaking up TriMet would be a huge win for the suburbs and a massive loss for Portland which is heavily dependent on government jobs that do not pay payroll tax.

Washington County, on the other hand, would be buying gold-plated limobuses every year with the massive windfall it would receive.

There is virtually no benefit to a single region-wide transit agency; very few riders actually ride all corners of the system. In metro areas like Seattle, San Francisco and Los Angeles, they all have multiple transit agencies (either per city or per county) and they all have far higher transit ridership than Portland does. In fact in Seattle and San Francisco, their rail systems are totally separate from the bus system to the point that fares are not valid for transfers between the two systems...but it's simply accepted that you pay more if you want to ride rail.

Good points, Erik. My reference to "outlying communities" was just a concession to the political realities of Salem, where the state legislature has historically done whatever the TM lobbyists wanted. If a critical mass of legislators had the necessary body parts to completely break up TriMet, I'd be for it.

the state legislature has historically done whatever the TM lobbyists wanted

I think a good question is why does TriMet have any lobbyists?

Right now I'm of the belief the State Capitol is a worthless being, especially considering it's only in session for, what, three months every two years? I would love to see a citizen's initative re-write ORS 267...or at a bare minimum a Constitutional Amendment requiring that any government body that has the power to enact and collect taxes must have a citizen-elected board. Either way would result in TriMet being forced to dump its political-appointee management.

Those who say that Metro can take over TriMet...Metro and TriMet are already sleeping in the same bed. Merging the two will not solve anything.

The Trimet 'board of directors' is hardly a governing body.
They are figure heads that give 'legitimacy' to whatever the general manager wants. They are truly 'sock puppets' without any real power.

They are a joke.

Mcfarlane has all the power and his rule is to find someone else to blame all of trimet problems on.

It's a rotten system and it was set up to make sure the public gets no say in it.

Typical Portland style governence, wash it in green and get a huge PR campaign which only provides info on the 'wonderfulness of it all'


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