This page contains a single entry from the blog posted on June 20, 2005 2:05 PM. The previous post in this blog was Blah blah blog. The next post in this blog is Clarification. Many more can be found on the main index page or by looking through the archives.

E-mail, Feeds, 'n' Stuff

Monday, June 20, 2005

What Earl Blumenauer told Randy Gragg

I didn't miss the editorial in The O on Saturday about the Portland streetcar -- eighth wonder of the world, apparently. Sure, it's waste of money, and sure, you can get there faster on foot, but hey! It just won an award from some east coast design group, and that's more important than making financial sense. The streetcar is "snazzy." It has "sizzle." Everyone involved should be thanked. And the editorial quotes Earl Blumenauer, as told to Randy Gragg, on the all-important topic of who should take credit. Gag!

Looks to me like Randy wrote this one himself.

The award is for $50,000. The City of Portland general fund subsidy of the streetcar was $800,000 a year at last report -- and that was before the expansion to the Empty Retail Canyons at RiverPlace. Now the subsidy is more likely close to $1 million. And so even by the most generous estimates, the lovely award will pay the city's share of running the streetcar for 23 days. Snazzy.

The O cracks me up. When the city raises the rates on parking meters, it's front page news. I suspect that like many reporters, some of the folks at the O are too cheap to buy a legitimate parking space, and so they play feed-the-meter through much of the day. When the city ups the ante, they howl. But when the city blows its transportation dollars on colorful toys that do little more than sell junk condominiums, the front office at the O gushes with praise.

The streetcar looks good to tourists who don't know any better. Kind of like The Oregonian.

Comments (73)

Yes, perish the thought that a major US city would do something to appeal to tourists. What's the emoticon that signifies "eye-rolling similar to that shown by teenagers when dad starts talking about how good it used to be in his day, even with the walking back and forth to school in the snow while wearing no shoes"?

Portland Streetcar averages 7800 riders every weekday. Clearly a lot of non-tourists are realizing a benefit from the civic asset.

Chris Smith
Chair, Portland Streetcar Citizen's Advisory Committee

Thank you, Homer Williams.

7800 riders/day.

A train runs every 13 minutes for 7.5 hours every day and every (roughly) 17 minutes for another 10.5. That works out to roughly 72 trips/day. Give or take. It would probably take a tax attorney to check my math.

You spread those 7800 over the 72 trips, and you service 108.33 people per roundtrip. Maybe that's right, but it seems high. Curious how you people arrive at that number. It couldn't possibly be from the fare box.

Just out of curiosity, Jack, do you think the whole light rail thing is a big boondoggle too? After all, there is quite a bit of slow time in downtown Portland for it too.

The streetcar will make a lot more transit sense when it keeps on going south through the Macadam district and eventually to Lake Oswego. Perhaps also north someday into the Northwest Industrial District.

But I can already see the blogposts now. More serving elite westside neighborhoods such as Dunthorpe and Lake Oswego to the disadvantage of blighted eastside neighborhoods such as Eastmoreland, Alameda, Irvington, Sellwood, Hawthorne, Mt. Tabor, Alberta ...


Trains from the suburbs to the city make some sense to me -- especially since they're on a dedicated right of way and they make good time during rush hour. In contrast, an electric trolley from one set of awful condo towers to another, running on city streets through downtown, stopping for all the red lights, is dumb. And having taxpayers throughout the city pay for it -- including people who live five miles and a river away from the nearest stop -- is nothing short of an outrage. Even Tri-Met stops its tax a couple of miles from the nearest bus line.

OK, let's just pile up the BS.

With such shiny streetcars convention business would soar if we only had convention center hotel.

When the streetcars are extended to South
Waterfront, to hook up with the Tram, biotech venture capital and jobs will rush here from all over the country.

When the light rail transit mall and more rail lines are in, shoppers will rush downtown, business will pick up and congestion will be relieved.

A couple billion later a wham! A World Class City!

Come on follks get to shovelin.

And don't worry about all those petty budget things like schools, jails, libraries, parks, police and fire.

I can assure you I'm not Homer Williams. We've even been seen in the same room at the same time :-)

Every quarter we actually hire counters (you may have seen them in the orange vests) who keep track of people boarding.

100+ riders per round trip is not hard, consider that many people are on for only a portion of the trip (e.g., I ride from NW 23rd to downtown, someone else gets on downtown and off at RiverPlace, etc.).

Empire of Shinola. History won't be kind to you guys.

You don't need to get to 100+ riders a day. The math from Chris NoLastName suggests that the streetcar only runs "7.5 hours" a day.

That, of course, is wild-ass off. From PortlandStreetcar.org:

5:30am to 11:30pm Mon thru Thu
5:30am to 11:45am Friday
7:15am to 11:45am Saturday
7:15am to 10:30pm Sunday

Jack, without the "junk condominiums" that are serviced by the streetcar (or at least are filled by people who like to look at it while they drive by)... where would you suggest we house all those people?

Keep in mind that we're talking about one big organic economy here. Less infill development = more sprawl into farm/forest-land. More sprawl = more traffic, more pollution, less Oregon-ness.

This is a great illustration of why Portland is Portland. The average person in this city has been told the Streetcar and Max are wonderful -- by his politicians and his newspaper. And they never question it. In fact, the Streetcar should be judged like anything else is judged -- does it work and at what cost? In that sense, the Streetcar is a miserable failure. You could make the same case about Max. My goodness, folks -- for what we're paying for these things and what we're getting back, they simply don't work! We have mass transit that stops for red lights! It's supposed to be RAPID transit, not a speed bump! And seriously, if we had leaders here instead of followers (take a poll, Potter, before you think about an issue) more Portlanders would understand this.

PS -- and by the way, those ridership numbers are laughable... i've been stuck in traffic behind those big snails and they're NEVER crowded. By the way, what's the subsidy on those big whales now? Six bucks a rider, something like that?

I'm sure, lifelong Portlander, that you rue the day that child-molester Goldschmidt didn't built the glorious Mt. Hood freeway and used the money for MAX instead.


"...didn't built the glorious Mt. Hood freeway and used the money for MAX instead."

I would have preferred widening the Sunset Highway.

The last name is Snethen. If you click on the link, it goes right to my blog. I mean diary.

Please re-read the post, Kari. It accounts for all 18 hours/day the streetcar operates on weekdays. For 7.5 hours/day (9:30am to 5pm) the streetcar runs every 13 minutes. For another 10.5 hours/day (5:30am to 9:30am and 5pm to 11:30pm) it runs every 14-20 minutes (which is how I came up with the 17 minute compromise). All information is direct from the portlandstreetcar.org website. Any wild-ass errors may be attributed to the good folks who published the frequency table.

Jack, without the "junk condominiums" that are serviced by the streetcar (or at least are filled by people who like to look at it while they drive by)... where would you suggest we house all those people?


The whole idea of the trains running everywhere I guess is OK. The most galling issue is how they charge everyone for these things even though they serve the select few. Since these are in effect tax breaks, what about the rest of us sheeple that pay for these tax breaks?

If the people who want Metropolis and everyone to own 2 bedroom apartments so bad begin to actually pay for these swindles instead of legislating everyone to pay, then I'll give them some credibility.

PS - I thought the BlueOregon guy told all of us financial conservatives to stay off his BlueOregon site. Are things that slow/doctrinaire over there now he has to come over here?

The streetcars are a joke. Many people hop on them instead of walking a few blocks. At the great cost this is hardly worth it. Rides don't mean anything. It's the rides when the roads are crowded that count.
Take how much revenue comes in each day and divide that by the cost of a ride.

The 2000 census, the last one taken, showed only 7700 riders usuing all of MAX to go to work.
The loonies around here think our inefficient transit system has helped reduced global warming.

Nice religion.
---"one big organic economy here. Less infill development = more sprawl into farm/forest-land. More sprawl = more traffic, more pollution, less Oregon-ness."---

Infill is beyond ludicrous.
Roberty Liberty uses a power point showing our infilled UGB and nearly all of it is grey with development. Sidewalks, roofs and asphalt. Where most of us live. That is not good news but to Robert it shows how little was developed outside the UGB. So his message is that we must continue to slash, dig and densify inside the UGB (where we all live) so that less development happens where rural people live.
What a pack of nonsense.
Next you'll preaching what a success Orenco Station, The Round In Beaverton and all the Transit Oriented developments are.
And we can just ask Metro if it is so.

"Sprawl into farm and forest land"
It's not all farm and forest. And there is abundant land for looser density and better spaces for people.

The foolery with the sprawl speak is there is no shortage.

Back to the streetcars. What are they for?
Postcards? Some people like them? Is that it?
What about is the overall function worth the cost?

There is nothing else we can spend the money on?

Is that the problem? Kari and company have no imaginaton and can't think of anything else to spend the money on or just worry if the money isn't wasted on streetcars and light rail it will be spent on somehting they don't like?

Kari just spit it out.
Are you Ok with the PDC, Tram, South Waterfront, 11 Urban Renewal districts siphoning taxes from hundreds of city acres of property and the Convention Center Hotel?
For that matter how about b!x too.
Between you and b!x you seem like a defender duet for all things status quo around here. What's your motivation?

"defenders of the status quo"

That's funny Steve, you seem to be the one most afraid of the changes...and the one most willing to cling to outdated thinking about limitless resources and how the American hypertrophic sprawl development cash machine (and the resource wars to support it) can go on indefinitely.

We can argue about which set of subsidies is worse: suburban sprawl or urban condos and streetcars. These subsidies are spread across all levels of government, from local to federal. But you'll have to rethink your status as a change agent in the face of these four points:

The suburban sprawl subsidies are much bigger and take more of your tax dollars.
The suburban sprawl subsidies require a greater investment and future commitment of resources from all political, military, and economic levels of our government.
The suburban sprawl subsidies are screwing the middle class of this country and lowering the standard of living for the future.
The suburban sprawl subsidies leave no future for our nation in an era of more expensive, more contested, and potentially more disrupted oil supplies.

You can bitch about the share of your overall tax dollar that goes to waste in Portland, and you should, because corruption anywhere is still corruption. But only once you stop "extending the hockey stick" straight out into the future on the magical everlasting growth chart, and start recognizing that the future is not going to be "more of the same" as the past 50 +/- years in which your existence has fallen, will you have license to start tagging people as defenders of the status quo.

"Woof," I have banned you for a while -- not so much for what you have said to Steve here (he can take it; in fact I think he likes it), but for the personal insults you have hurled at me on another post. Criticism of my positions is welcome; personal attacks are not.

Thanks for the suburban sprawl lesson.
Too bad it is nonsense.
The opponents of growth have spewed that garbage all day long for decades.
For some reason people like you, who have bought into it hook line and sinker, get a rise out of
repeating the elementary lecture as if someone hasn't heard it.

The "sprawl" is continuing around here but you are too sleepy to notice. It's urban sprawl.
Cramming more and more into the suburbs, in chaos style, under false pretenses with an obsession that overcrowding is the way to go.
Always the oil bit, fantasies about getting rid of the automobile and no track record of anything but failure.
The biggest lie is if the taxpayer pays part of the retarded "smart growth" development, (TOD's, Orenco Station, The Round, Villebois, South Waterfront) the world is greener, car trips are fewer, pollution is less, livability is higher.

Sorry pal that is ballony.

Orenco is an urban auto-oriented rat race, The Round is just sucking up more tax dollars while becoming the same, South Waterfront will be worse that imaginable as it begins a huge irreversible commitment of public money and Villebois will be swell as it siphons away many millions from Wilsonvilles basic services budgets for 20 years.

There is no shortage of land. There's a shortage of revenue. Most development, suburban or otherwise, has to pay for everything and fees on top.

For some reason the "smart growthers" think the public should pay big time for their land speculating play time and when it doesn't pan out repeat the story telling, as you did and move on to doing more.
I don't know who you think you were informing but the story you tell is fiction.

More fiction story is that our toy trains stimulate economic development.
That's why the Rockwood Urban Renewal is needed to "do something about the blight along the Eastside MAX. You know the eastside MAX. The first line. The one TriMet and Metro claim spawned billons in development.
Oh the story tellers.

And of course the ol'accusation that "I'm afraid of change".
All part of the irrational fear and ignorance book. Written by the we're smarter than you club.

You know, Steve, if your suburban sprawl model of Utopia is so wonderful, why don't you vacate the Portland Asphalt Jungle and go live in one of the countless other American cities that follows your disastrous prescriptions? Atlanta? Houston? Denver? Los Angeles? Phoenix? the "Metroplex"?

I don't see you scurrying out of this rathole of a city quite yet, eh?

Here's some criticism of your positions, Jack:

Your flippant little "California" comment ignores the basic fact that the U.S. Constitution seems to incorporate something called a "right to travel," which includes a right to move from one state to another. One of those "fundamental rights," it seems.

"But just don't build any more houses," you say. I'm sure that would suit you just fine, as people would still continue to move here and the value of your existing house would skyrocket. What a perfect setup; no Californians and I get rich too!

But someday your and my children will want to buy a house in this wonderful town, and then the chickens will come home to roost. Or your kids' teacher won't be able to afford a house here and will have to commute from Centralia every day (don't laugh: Bay Area teachers now live in Modesto or Stockton).

And, if I'm not mistaken, you were once a Californian too, if only a University student. Aren't you glad Tom McCall couldn't enforce his "don't move here" rhetoric back then?

Steve Schopp,
The idea that "suburban sprawl is nonsense" can be disproved by a quick plane ride down the coast, to L.A. I'm not sure what it would take to figure that out for you. Maybe a second plan ride to Atlanta?

Gordo and Jud you are being juvenile at best.

I have been all over the place including this region over the past 30 years. If you think the infilling has preserved something you are ill.

Your distorted thinking that there are no nice places to live and raise families in any of the named locations shows you are just plain ignorant.

Yes, the Portland region has indeed been creating an asphalt and concrete jungle. In fact if you read anything you would know that our planners use none other than LA as their model.

There are fabulous places to live in every one of the places you sight. Affordable, clean, green family freindly and economically sustainable.

The biggest problem in each of those areas, you so easily condemn, is the very overcrowding which you wrongly want repeated here.

It's insane, period.

Metro and your thinking have been screwing up this region and turning it into the same rat race mess you condemn elsewhere.

And as a juvelnile would your response to those who call you out on it is "move somewhere else"?

I would much rather shove it down yout throat, figuratively speaking of course, and drive you and yours out of the "planning" business.

Frankly you really suck at it.

My two cents. Having lived in LA, I like it much better here. The city is has a plan, at least. LA is a continuous row of basically nothing. And man, that nothing stretches forever.

On the streetcar, I find Kari's comment interesting. Kari, do you posit that the Pearl wouldn't have happened without the streetcar?

"Having lived in LA, I like it much better here"
That's sort of a duh thing but,
if one were to move from felony flats in SE Portland to Santa Monica, or Malibu, out San Barnadino way or any nicer areas of the LA area they would certainly say the same thing. Wouldn't they?

Speaking as someone who lives in a rural area outside the UGB, I'm heartily in favor of its rigid enforcement. Helps us hayseeds out here minimize the effect of Portland creep...and Portland creeps. Aint no roadside folks holding "God Bless" signs out here.

On a practical level, however, about the only things the UGB accomplishes are increasing density exponentially and rapidly inflating prices for real estate, which will only serve to drive more families out of the city. But maybe a child-less city is Portland's ultimate goal.

Saw the future of Portland real estate last weekend in Seattle, where the ramshackle, falling apart (literally), firetrap of a house across the street from my brother just sold -- for $425K. Gonna take another $100K to make it inhabitable, I'd say. And it ain't all that nice a neighborhood.

Jack: "And having taxpayers throughout the city pay for it -- including people who live five miles and a river away from the nearest stop -- is nothing short of an outrage. Even Tri-Met stops its tax a couple of miles from the nearest bus line."

Steve: "The most galling issue is how they charge everyone for these things even though they serve the select few."

There are several valid points, on all sides, but is it fair to argue that people who don't use the service don't have to pay for the service. Is that how we fund pools, parks, libraries, etc?

Portlanders used to fund pools and parks, but now those funds all go to the library so they may continue their open-ended, no ID required loan program. A program which I assume will become more popular as word continues to spread.

Steve, there have been books written about why your model of city-building is disastrous: Jud and I don't have to repeat them. We are incredulous that, despite the voluminous and mountainous amount of data and information indicating that Portland has a better way of doing things that most other American cities, you refuse to face facts, citing instead to detractors of New Urbanism who are nothing but the equivalent of the rogue scientists claiming that global warming isn't occurring in the face of mountainous scientific evidence to the contrary.

About the street car rider data- when the city was gathering numbers to put the Max line through North Portland, the data gatherers DOUBLED the ridership numbers because they "assumed" that everyone would be making a return trip that same day. So if you were downtown all day, shopping, errands wrok etc and jumped on and off transit a few times, you could be conceivably considered for a bunch of round trips.

And let us not forget that any of the people who live in tax abated partments are NOT paying for the streetcar at all, along with everything else that burden shifts to the regular folks who actually have to pay taxes on their properties.

This whole big scam started with the Pearl and continues on. The more people who move into the tax abated units- the bigger the unpaid tax burden that is NOT paid into the General Fund. To make up the difference, our schools pools libraires and so on take the hits. And they call that "Urban Renewal"?

You think our local officials waste taxpayer money, check out this amusing "House Resolution" from Idaho: http://www3.state.id.us/oasis/HCR029.html

It actually made my day to find this while doing legitimate research at work about 5 minutes ago.

JS - When we fund libraries, pools, etc. those are available for all to use. When you build a tram from PSU to the Pearl, even though available to all, they only really benefit the Pearl condo owner.

Gordo - As far as New Urbanism, the only symptom I can see is increasing population density. If this is the target goal, OK. I don't really think stacking people on top of one another is a great idea. I have been to big cities in Europe and usually this kind of density only de-humanizes people much as tenements once did and still do in some ghettos.

If people wish to have a few sqft between them and a neighbor, please respect that desire. I mean is Soylent Green next?

Any comparison of Los Angeles (population 3,694,820, metro: 17,545,623) to Portland (population 529,121, metro: 2,016,357) is just plain silly. No relevant comparison can be made between the two.

What we're really talking about here is social engineering. Transit Oriented Developments look good on paper, but fail to work in reality. America has built itself on the automobile and suburban housing. People like their cars and the privacy a house provides. Any attempt by the imperial government to change our fully engrained behavior is futile.

It is my experience -- after being here for 50 years -- that people who say things like, "Portland has a better way of doing things" have never been anywhere else. Or have a very big vested interest in the status quo. Wake up, people. Travel. Open your eyes and take stock. There are PLENTY of other ways to do things and many of them are better than what we have here right now -- or are you one who preaches the gospel of Max and the transit mall yet never risks life and limb after dark on them?

As someone who has traveled quite a bit, I think Portland does it the right way.

Justin - Portland DID it the right way. The relatively new lunacy of Vera/Potter is the wrong way.

If anyone has seen the PBS documentary series "Cadillac Desert" about William Mullholland's "vision" for Los Angeles and environs and the L.A. Water Bureau commandering the Owen's River and the resultant speculative development (true story behind the film. "Chinatown"), he or she might note some striking similarities between Mulholland's vision for LA centered around water nearly a century ago and the Goldscmidt clique's vision for Portland centered around transit. Until a crisis(the collapse of the San Francisquito Dam producing death and destruction), people in LA (with the help of editorialists at the LA Times) thought of Mulholland as some kind of miracle maker. (Except the Owens' Valley farmers who were bilked out of their water rights and, subsequently, their land and livelihoods, to make the "miracle" happen). I would have less trouble with Neo Urbanism Portland-style if there had been more discussion of land use and tax impacts and generally intellectually honest discussion of alternatives. REAL planning, that is. The whole thing has been way too doctrinaire and packaged to sell to out of staters. Meanwhile, ordinary citizens have been hurt in ways I would have had trouble imagining before I represented some of them and started paying attention; the Good Old Boys and carpetbaggers tend to look at the old timers as something that is there to exploit, and lawyers who have the gall to think they deserve representation are looked upon as I imagine lawyers who may have tried to represent the Owen's Valley farmers would have been viewed: Contrarian "vision" hating, trouble-maker lovers who deserve to be run out of town on a rail. But it is now clear that the Mulholland crowd was running a land syndicate to profit themselves. What I found most interesting about the Cadillac Desert film on Mulholland is the role of the Los Angeles Times in holding up the "vison". One of the commentators makes a statement to the effect that the paper was holding up as heroes people who turned out to be crooks. I don't think many of the people at the O are doing that same thing willingly, but they sit on stories important to the public, it seems to me, to protect their friends, publishing them only when the pressure gets too intense. If they can easily "ill the messenger", that is a preferred course of action, preferred to embarassing a friend with truth in the public interest. And I don't know how history can possibly look kindly on that.

Steve said: "JS - When we fund libraries, pools, etc. those are available for all to use. When you build a tram from PSU to the Pearl, even though available to all, they only really benefit the Pearl condo owner."

I think I understand what you're getting at, but the line you've drawn isn't nearly clear enough. How do you define benefit?

Doesn't a public pool or park benefit the people who live next to it to a greater extent than it benefits the rest of the city? Even though the entire city, technically, has access to said pool or park?

Don't get me wrong, I'm all for pools and parks. But the fact that you have to pay for a project that won't directly benefit you doesn't necessarily mean the project is bad or unfair.

I guess my point is: there must be other criteria involved to determine what projects are good or fair. How about we explore those?

If all the parks were built next to Homer Williams's condos, I think that would be unfair.

JS sai, "...there must be other criteria involved to determine what projects are good or fair."

There aren't, Steve has it right. Subsidized street-cars aren't fair. Neither is the Pearl District's nearly tax-free housing.

Compare the cost of: a city park, a city pool and the street-car. The first two are a lot cheaper and benefit more people. The street-car is a shakedown.

Its not so much a shakedown as it is a bait-and-switch. It started with (in my opinion) the legitimate premise of connecting cheap NW housing to PSU and a hospital to downtown seniors and section 8 housing (benfitting the pearl along the way). Now its running by every overpriced-underperforming condo project in Portland (and the 1-odd mile of expenses added no revenue since the extra mile is in fareless square. I guess those $4-800,000 waterfront condo-owning PSU students need free transportation too).

I'm still a fan of urban rail in any variety and while the cost per mile is high the benefits per mile of rail increase with economies of scale. However, there is no honesty in the planning of the mass transit projects and most smell like handouts (with, in my opinion, the exception of Interstate Max). Is there any legitimate reason why the Streetcar isn't owned/operated by Tri-Met other than its easier to manipulate the planning with a city-run operation?

Scott-in-Japan said: "Compare the cost of: a city park, a city pool and the street-car. The first two are a lot cheaper and benefit more people. The street-car is a shakedown."

Scott, that may be the case, but I haven't seen the data supporting your claim.

Portland Park & Rec has a $67 million budget. The streetcar cost $800,000-$1 million, right? The PPR report is 37 pages so I didn't read it word for word, but I didn't see anything about the price to maintain a single park or pool.

Personally, I would prefer increased funding for parks rather than streetcars, but I'll at least acknowledge that others might feel differently.

So...again...the fact that you have to pay for a project that won't directly benefit you doesn't necessarily mean the project is bad or unfair. So how do you define "benefit" to balance the equation in your favor. What criteria are you using when you say: "Subsidized street-cars aren't fair"?

Wait a minute. $1 million a year is just the City of Portland general fund subsidy. The stretcar budget is much, much larger:

The Portland Streetcar maintenance facility, which is located at 1516 NW Northrup (under I-405) houses the staff of Portland Streetcar. Staff includes: 14 Operators, 3 Superintendents and 2 Maintenance Technicians from TriMet, a Manager and Assistant Manager of Maintenance, Manager of Operations and Safety from the City of Portland.

Completing the staff is a Project Manager from the City and Executive Director and Manager of Community Relations from Shiels Obletz Johnsen.

At the risk of interrupting all these opinions with some facts, the Streetcar operations budget is close to $3M annually. The City pays 1/3 of that, Trimet 2/3. Trimet does this on the basis that if Streetcar was not present, they would have to provide more bus service to areas that it serves (principally the Pearl and West End).

Also, to those who say the Streetcar is either slow, or empty, the major factor determining Streetcar headways is the time it takes to load and unload passengers. So you can either say it's slow (because it's full) or you can say it's empty, in which case it would be faster!

The truth is much closer to the former. Because of increased ridership, both the City and Trimet have agreed to increase the operating budget to bring headways down from 14 minutes, to about 13 since the opening of the RiverPlace extension. They will drop again when the Gibbs extension opens. The Streetcar organization remains committed to the original goal of 10 minute headways.

Does the $3MM count the streetcar personnel that Tri-Met and the city have on "permanent loan"?

Chris - "...Also, to those who say the Streetcar is either slow, or empty..."

After using the street-car for a couple years - trust me - it's both, more often than not.

A street-car every 13 minutes is the 'improvement'? A 10-minute walk along the tracks can get you well to your destination before the street-car even arrives at your starting point.

Put the boots on folks.
"The streetcars cost $3 million per year"???????????????

That's new urbanism math.
Here's how it works.
Don't include the cost of many millions to build it, don't include the cost of money, don't include the value of the real property dedicated to it, don't include planning and don't add any of the City or TriMet management costs.

Then run around telling everyone what a great thing it is and how Portland is doing things right.
That's new urbanism.
It's the classic snow job perfected at City planning, the PDC and Metro.

"New Urbanism", and ALL of the webing about it, is nothing but perpetual conceptualization for nit wit car haters, zero population growth kooks, and global warming fanatics. And the debate about Global warming is whether or not it has been proven that man is causing it.

The TOD (transit oriented development) program is a scam used to cram more people into less area by spending millions of tax dollars while concocting numbers showing new transit riders to justify it.

All in all the entire approach is as phony as it gets.
In reality it is a remedy that is far worse than the problem.
But if you don't keep track of the money, bottom line and net detriments success can be by decree.

Urban Renewal is their cash cow. So moved from legitimate Urban Renewal directed at genuine blight that Wilsonville simply wrote an Urban Renewal check for the $1 million astroturf at the local high school. Just like that. Nifty turf but is that Urban Renewal?
And if that is the fast and loose nature of Urban Renewal why doesn't the PDC start cutting checks for the PPS?
Wouldn't that be the New Urbanist thing to do?

Of course what Steve doesn't tell us is that the entire road system we have is based upon a huge government subsidy, from the federal tax money used to build the interstates to the annual cost of street maintenance and repair. The gas tax and tolls, according to the Brookings Institution (http://www.brook.edu/es/urban/publications/wachstransportation.htm) pays only about one-third of national road construction and maintenance costs annually. Where do you think the rest comes from? It's called a SUBSIDY, Steve Schopp.

Most everyone drives (by choice)and most everyone pays taxes of ALL kinds.
Your rediculous use of car hating planner babble
is nothing but absurdity.
Your planning cabal is dishonest and detrimental to livability, the economy, families the environment and the sustainablity of them all.


Yes, the operating budget includes the cost of Trimet personnel used by Streetcar operations (all the drivers for example are Trimet employees).

And I was not discounting the capital costs of builidng the system, I was simply talking about the operating budget. By the time we complete the extension to Gibbs, we will have spent about $100M to build the infrastructure.

To the comment about the value of the land committed, I would remind readers that we share existing public right-of-way with cars, buses and trucks. Only in a very few places are the tracks not in public right-of-way.

What's lost in the roads vs. rails spat is that, yes, roads are government subsidized. But people actually want better roads, whereas rails have been forced upon us, typically by people who think the streetcar line goes directly to Utopia.

Well... the streetcar does go by Powells. Powells gets my bid for Portland's Utopia.

I do appreciate the comments by Chris Smith. This end of the pool is pretty hazardous and he has been a stand-up guy in this discussion.

Historically, better roads have been forced on us. Portland used to have bazillion trolly lines connecting all over the place and there was no such thing as the interstate.

Also, most people drive by choice because of the lack of alternatives and because of other economic choices and restraints people make. I have a hard time believing that people sit in gridlock for hours a day becuase like it. I'm sure if you asked, many people would choose the "Chauffeured by a Portland Police Officer driven vehicle to work" alternative if it were available to them.

Portland used to have bazillion trolly lines connecting all over the place and there was no such thing as the interstate.

If trolly lines are so good why did Portland pave over a "bazillion" of them?

The reason is that the vast majority of people prefer the autonomy of their cars to riding on trains.

Public transit needs can be addressed with busses. They are cheaper to operate and offer infinitely more planning flexibility (just change the routes when demand requires it).

The thing that makes trolleys or LRT work is getting dedicated rights-of-way that allow them to continue to move when cars are held up by lights or congestion. The downtown-to-Nob-Hill trolley isn't effective because it uses street rights-of-way and has to obey traffic lights. LRT to Gresham and Hillsboro works because for more than half of its route, it's not sharing streets with cars and doesn't get held up by congestion.

As far as Jack's "flippant little 'California' comment," the roots run deep. I'm reading a wonderful little book called Fool's Hill, about a kid growing up in Port Orford (published by OSU Press, which remarkably publishes a lot of very good books) and an early comment in this funny book is:

"Grandfather Frank, by the way, was known to hate Californians. He didn't want them buying property in Oregon."

This would be the 1930's. All that has become the most quintessential and/or the worst in America -- depending on your point of view -- springs from and disseminates out of California.

Could not resist the addition to the thread.

Isaac ---"LRT to Gresham and Hillsboro works because for more than half of its route, it's not sharing streets with cars and doesn't get held up by congestion."----

Our light rail doesn't "work", it worsens congestion, does not reduce pollution, costs too much, serves too few, and as proven on the eastside for 20 years, stimulates no development.

Rockwood Urban Renewal is being pushed, in part, to "deal with the blight along the MAX line"

Most hypocritical for the car haters, it has not reduced car trips one iota.

If you say so, Steve. It must be true.

There is a key difference between Streetcar and LRT. Streetcar is intended to be a 'local circulator' serving short trips in dense areas. LRT is a 'backbone service' intended for longer (e.g., commuting) trips. One of the reasons folks are sometimes frustrated with LRT downtown is that between Rose Quarter and Goose Hollow, it real functions a lot more like a Streetcar. That's why many folks would like to put Max underground in the Central City with further spaced stops.

Just what the downtown crime problem needs -- subways!

Or a monorail like Seattle
Their $2 billion mono is looking to be more like $11 billion and it still has the coolaid people pushing it too.

Chris Smith,

What's a headway?

If trolly lines are so good why did Portland pave over a "bazillion" of them?

If you ride the trolleys (or cable cars) that still exist, you’ll know why. They were slow, bumpy, and uncomfortable. At the time, most cities were making huge expenditures in improving the roads and improving the rails wasn’t a priority when cheaper, more comfortable buses were available.

Again, people make economic choices based on their constraints regarding their modes of transportation. The American preference for cars is a direct result that our cities were built at a time where cars, gas, and land were relatively cheap. American cities could be built with much lower population densities than other cities in the world that developed much earlier. Cars are the preferred mode of transportation because our cities were designed around their use and no other mode of transportation can serve low density housing as well.

We are now living at a time where we are bearing the consequences for these choices. Higher density housing is back and land, gas, and roads are congested. I remember being stuck in a traffic jam in Tokyo in 1994 at 3 a.m. I was told this was normal Tokyo traffic. That’s the extreme example of where the car will take you. Economic studies report that new capacity adds to congestion as more people use the roads to make trips. You cannot build enough roads to ease congestion.

The idea for Max is to get people to drive to it to use it since it can’t pass by enough houses to be ‘hop-on and ride.’ The idea for the streetcar is to serve the parts of Portland that developed before the car and are higher density and new high density housing. My preference is to serve existing high density housing corridors like SE Hawthorne over South Waterfront, but as we’ve all seen, money talks in this town.

The problem with and why we have MAX and streetcars is there is no genuine planning for them. The "ideas" are fully interlaced with the real world. There is simply a push to have more of them based on vague notions that they must be good or on concepts which remain concepts.
It all has become a bit of a circle circus as well with rail not working unless high densities exist along them. So the push for higher density becomes additionally justified by our "decision" to have rail. We chaoticcly spend all this money on rail so we need to promote higher densities to make it work. Of course this thinking is as ludicrous as the rail itself. The push for higher density has become equally chaotic.
Calling it planning is an insult to the concept of planning.

"The "ideas" are NOT fully interlaced with the real world

Headway is the spacing between vehicles, i.e., if you are standing along the alignment at a given point, how often a Streetcar will go by. Currently we're between 12 and 13 minutes at peak periods. The goal for the system was originally and contiues to be 10 minutes. To achieve that we need to have enough vehicles and the operating funds to pay to drive them :-)

There's pretty good research in the literature that once you get down to 10 minutes, people stop worrying about schedules and ridership goes way up.

Earlier comments point out that our "rapid" transit stops at red lights. Can't wait to see how Tri-Met deals with new North-South line trains on the Transit Mall and how they'll interact with the current East-West lines. The intersections at, say, 5th and Morrison or 6th and Yamhill ought to produce some fun. Auto drivers will have to get used to it.

Posted by Steve: Rockwood Urban Renewal is being pushed, in part, to "deal with the blight along the MAX line"

The Rockwood Urban Renewal District is in place for alot more then just the area near the old Fred Meyer building. That area has been in decline for years and MAX has nothing to do with its decline.

Posted by Steve: Our light rail doesn't "work", it worsens congestion, does not reduce pollution, costs too much, serves too few, and as proven on the eastside for 20 years, stimulates no development.

The cost issue can be debated but all transportation options have costs. All of your other points I would disagree with. Have you been to Gresham Station, Central Station, and Cleveland? There is alot of new development all along the east route because of light rail.

Ray said,----"There is alot of new development all along the east route because of light rail."----
That's the snow job. Light rail had nothing to do with Gresham Station development other than the schmeme to pretend it did. In fact when I visited there a couple times I noticed the sites next to it had yet to be developed. Shoppers are there because they drive their cars there.
Quit dreaming.
The blight along Eastside MAX swelled after MAX went in. Where have YOU been.

I don't care if you disagree with ME or not. Your are onthe wrong side of reality which should concern you. Knowing that TriMet and Metro have been lying to you for years should piss you off.

Instead you just echo the lies.

Clicky Web Analytics