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Wednesday, March 13, 2013

Breaking news: Nobody pays the Portland streetcar fare

And the city lied in its projections of fare revenue. Shocking!

Comments (25)

To be fair (no pun intended), the article states its possible the ridership projections could be off as well. Double shock.

People in the Pearl District **deserve** free transportation downtown.

2013 Mar 13 Wednesday 17:45 U (5:45 PM PT)

If anyone is attending the Lake Oswego Transportation Advisory Board this evening circa 6:00 PM please advise them of this article and link. Most of the members need to be reminded about "revenue and ridership projections" along with disclosing the names of the models used to develop said numbers. Oh by the way Carlotta Collette, Metro District 2 needs to be informed. Was revealed at a LO Council meeting Metro still intends to use the Willamette Shore Line as a streetcar line. I hope TriMet, Lake Oswego, and Metro reconsider prior to the formation of the Elk Rock rapids on the Willamette River at river mile 19.0 (county line north of LO) after a the collapse of Elk Rock Tunnel due to a subduction earthquake.

$1 per ticket to ride the streetcar cannot even begin to cover costs; it's a mere token. And it's no surprise that people are not paying (either due to confusion or on purpose) when there's nothing except the rare fare checker on board to prevent them from riding for free.

During rush hour it is physically impossible for anybody to work their way through a packed NS streetcar to check fares anyway. Riders who want to pay in cash can't even get to the ticket box.

Streetcar monitoring is a joke. I see people constantly bringing leashed dogs on the streetcar that are not wearing assistance tags or jacket when that's supposed to be a no-no on the bus, MAX or Streetcar unless the animal is confined to a crate or carrier. There's even a graphic on the buses to that effect. Within the last month, I even saw a guy get on with a ferret on his shoulder.

Street people constantly ride the Streetcar, using the disabled area for their carts and stuff and as with the bus, seem to get a free pass as a matter of course. I've actually seen fare inspectors pass them by while asking other riders if they have paid for a ticket. Maybe they think these folks are "students."

""The bureau had originally projected $1 million in annual fare box revenues which supported 11% of the $8.9 million operating budget," the PBOT budget analysis says. "Since the mid‐September 2012 go‐live, however, the fare box revenue are taking in about 55% of what had been expected by this time."

Just so I understand, not only are we collecting less than half the projections, fares are not even close to covering operating expenses? Read this, a $1 (if that is what it is) ticket needs to be about $10.50 to cover costs?

This is a pathetic bait and switch even by Portland standards. The EIS for the eastside streetcar predicted first-year operating costs of $3.78 million and farebox revenue of $1.06 million -- a 29% cost recovery ratio.

Now they announce that the first-year operating budget is actually $8.9 million and revenue might reach $550,000 for the year.

I warned the Council in 2009 that since farebox recovery had never exceeded 4% for the streetcar, the 29% number was a fantasy, but the fix was in. I think that was the last time I bothered to testify in Portland.

I'm a little surprised that the City hasn't assessed a special supplemental income tax from businesses on the streetcar line, based on a "prediction" that their sales are up because of their proximity to the miracle of mass transit.

Randomx wrote: People in the Pearl District **deserve** free transportation downtown.

You jest, but those fine folks had that very service for many years, when Fareless Square existed. Of course, it was the #17 bus -- grimy, undignified seats unworthy of their attention.

So what happens when its finally determined and admitted that the opearting costs of the street car are well in excess of the revenue that is generated and the city can no longer afford to operate? When does it get shut down and abandoned?

If they enforced a fare, you'd see no one on the worthless waste of money except the ocassional tourist.

The unsustainable snail rail streetcar is a good place for Charlie to make both budget and service cuts.

I ride the streetcar fairly regularly. I buy a monthly Trimet pass that covers my streetcar fare so even though I am riding legally I am paying no cash into the streetcar program.

The last time I saw a fare inspector on the streetcar, each of the 10 or so passengers had a valid fare, whether it was a transit pass, a bus transfer or a streetcar fare receipt.

This streetcar pushed by former Mayor Adams, now Director of the City Club (which speaks volumes about the objectivity of the City Club) is another City Hall fiasco. The stupid thing is slower than a normal person walking, and even slower if you count station waiting times. The stupid project added 1 and half percent for public art (via the City's surrogate art charity, the Regional Arts and Cultural Council, which also seeks to take in half of the $35 Arts tax). The art project for the streetcar cost $700k and sits at the east end of the Hawthorne bridge in the form of rusted shredded steel. This art project took out useful loops on and off the east end of the Hawthorne bridge connected to Grand avenue. Now folks have to make more abrupt 90 degree turns going to and from Grand avenue and Hawthorne Bridge.
You see folks taking it easy on the street car, and no wonder if its effectively a free ride.
Portland City Hall deserves to go down in financial flames big time, carrying its bond holders and pensioners down with it.
And Sam Adams and Randy Leonard should lose their PERS pension benefits, giving them only social security for their retirement as a form of claw back on lack of fiduciary responsibility.
P.S I calculated in an article I wrote the current guess as to the total cost of the light rail ride from the Expo center to downtown Vancouver as part of the Columbia River Crossing will cost something like $17 to $18 each way, all in costs. The rider might pay $2 to $3, but how brain dead are we to accept this kind of public money loss.

Between this news and the article about the 6 figure folks getting ridiculous pay raises at TriMet...who can honestly blame those wacky Clackistanis for wanting NOTHING to do with light rail/TeiMet?!?!?

I ride the streetcar fairly regularly. I buy a monthly Trimet pass that covers my streetcar fare so even though I am riding legally I am paying no cash into the streetcar program.

TriMet pays close to $10 million to fund the City of Portland Streetcar.

During rush hour it is physically impossible for anybody to work their way through a packed NS streetcar to check fares anyway. Riders who want to pay in cash can't even get to the ticket box.

There are ticket machines at all the stops, too.

Erik - I saw this response to the WW article on their website and hope the author doe not mind my quoting him here:

"Note that streetcar riders are being asked to pay only 11% of ops; TriMet riders pay 40% and subsidize fire-sale streetcar fares while their own services have been severely cut back." R. A. Fonts

More about Russia. I was "arrested" in St. Petersburg in 1996 for not paying bus fare, after the "fare inspector" heard me speaking English. But I had paid the fare and in fact had a pocketfull of tickets, as the only way to buy one was to buy a pack of 10 (for about 10 cents each, as I vaguely recall). I pulled out my stash of tickets, bought earlier that day, and the plain-clothed "fare inspector" (could have been a freelance hoodlum) mimed that I should have validated a ticket by using a wall-mounted hole puncher to punch a hole in it. I showed him that the ticket, made of low-quality cardboard, was so soft that the puncher would not penetrate its sogginess. He showed me how to fix that--by backing the ticket with a cardboard matchbook cover. I, of course, had no idea I should have done that.

In any event, as the bus approached the train station for my exit from the city, his threat was immediate payment of a fine by me or off to jail. The bus, and its other passengers, waited in the train station lot for my response. I just sat there for a couple of minutes. Then other bus riders started shouting something. Maybe, "just pay him so we can go." So I paid the massive fine and left the bus. By "massive," I mean about $5.00.

And, if that was their system, how would it work? Maybe they changed the die inside the hole puncher every day so that it punched a different shape of hole. Otherwise, just carry a ticket with a hole in it all the time.

A friend and I rode the streetcar to Cinema 21 to see "Alien Boy". We paid the fare, but I noticed lots of people got on the trolley - but none bought a ticket from the vending machine.Perhaps these folks were are Trimet ticket holders, because those are honored on the streetcar as well. Is this the reason the projections are short - Trimet ticket holders?

Frank, no, probably not TriMet ticket payers. Twice on the streetcar in the Pearl area and once up by Good Sam I asked riders to raise their hands if they paid for a ticket. Usually none or one.

Always good to start the day by bashing the streetcar, eh. You know I walk everywhere, and now and then ride the SC and Max. I am glad we have a functional vehicle system for those of us who want to help save our climate. And for all you who bitch about the SC cost, I ask you, what about the majority of the City Transp. Budget spent on your roads. I don't use them, should I Iog on here every week and complain about road costs, 'I say close um down, we don't need roads....' It takes an integrated city to make things work well, you use roads, I use the SC, can't we all get along, [and quit bitching]


Are you sure you don't use the roads? If you ride the bus and/or SC you are using the roads. If you buy groceries, you are using the roads. If you eat at a restaurant you are using the roads... (The examples could go on and on.)

I think that everyone uses the roads, some directly a lot indirectly. Only a small number of people use the SC.

reader: Yes, there are machines at the stops, but they don't take cash. The only way you can buy a ticket with coins or bills is to buy it ON the streetcar.

Yes, there are machines at the stops, but they don't take cash. The only way you can buy a ticket with coins or bills is to buy it ON the streetcar.

And as I found out last Saturday as one of the between three and six riders on the Eastside Streetcar loop, those machines do not take U.S. Mint issued dollar coins.

My eight-year old son rode for free.

And it was faster for me to walk from OMSI to my car at PSU across the Hawthorne Bridge than to take the Streetcar bac.

tda: That's great that you use transit. Say, we have this pretty huge network of buses but I see you conveniently overlook those. Why? Are you one of those that by personal choice refuses to ride the buses - buses, that have been around for decades upon decades?

And if you don't use the roads, consider this: Anything you have delivered, has to use those roads. That includes the construction materials to build your dwelling and workplace, the mail, UPS and FedEx trucks, your grocery delivery, and so on. Police, fire trucks and ambulances. And where do the powerlines, water lines, sewer lines and phone lines go? On public right-of-ways created by those streets.

Sure, you could argue that you don't use those streets - then let's see you post, for public consumption, a list of all access easements that you have, to cross other people's private property, so that you can leave your own property without using those streets. And I'd like to see your water well, your electric generation...how do you access the internet? Are you on some special wireless internet that doesn't require electricity nor any connection to the local telco or CATV network? And what do you do with your wastewater? And your garbage?

You don't use the streets...one of the most ridiculous comments posted anywhere.

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