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Monday, February 23, 2009

WES = White Elephant Saga?

Things are sure off to a rocky start with Tri-Met's new westside 'burb trains. The horns are too loud and too frequent; one of the trains isn't working; and the outfit that built it has gone under, so for $7 million per train there's no warranty. What's next? Crime? Accident? Locusts?

Comments (22)

I live three blocks from the main rail line in Salem, four from the nearest crossing, and six from the Amtrak station. Yes, trains are loud... but you get used to it. [shrug]

Also, it just occurred to me that it would be very amusing to see a cost per rider comparison between WES and the linchpin. Anyone got one yet?

Which linchpin would that be? There have been so many.

If the guy was able to screw Big Tobacco out of $70 million and just $5 million out of Tri-Met, it sounds like we got off easy.

The agency contracted with Colorado Railcar in 2005, aware that the company was in financial peril. Agency executives said they also were aware that the company's owner, Tom Rader, had prior business troubles in the rail industry, including being forced to scrap a specialty train commissioned by cigarette maker Philip Morris. Philip Morris paid $70 million before stopping the project.

This is yet another con job in the model of SoWa, the Round and Cascade Station et al.

SO gag me,,
this $ 100 million "Urban Renewal" funded community is too far from the WES, so Wilsonville must provide shuttle service to connect their new commuter-oriented community to the commuter rail.


"As a transit friendly Oregon community, Villebois also offers residents easy access to Portland, Oregon’s WES Commuter Train. The Wilsonville WES Station is located a short walk or ride from the Village Center and includes 400 Park & Ride spaces and 48 bike locker spaces. Villebois residents now enjoy their commuter-oriented community, avoiding rush-hour traffic and traveling to their destination in a faster, more relaxed mode of transportation."

The rest of the WES story?

Believe it or not, our planners, Westside officials, Metro and TriMet all envision a
"lineal Urban Renewal district that borders the full length of the WES line and creates opportunity and urgency for economic renewal along both sides of the 14-mile route"

"The real magic isn't about getting cars off of 217 and I-5. That's simply the foundation of the concept. The larger benefit comes when the local cities, the region and the economy see the benefit of creating revitalized economic activity along the commuter rail line and the construction of housing developments, which typically locate along transit corridors".

The only economic activity these create is more government spending on lousy schemes that don't work out.

I live in Beaverton about 1/4 mile from the Beaverton TC, the darn thing blows its horn when leaving and arriving, and then there are three other streets/crossings within a 1/2 mile before it connects to the freight line to go out to Tigard. Its pretty annoying. Fortunately I have double-pane windows, so its not too bad. But there are dozens of apartments literally across a field from the Beaverton TC, maybe 500 feet away. I cant imagine what its like for them.

I also heard a radio commercial today for a new development out in Wilsonville or something..and one of the selling points was you could get on the WES to "have a night on the town in Portland". However, I think since WES only runs during rush hour on weekdays, thats a bit of a stretch.

It's all about the apartments. That's Fred Hansen's job.

The larger benefit comes when the local cities, the region and the economy see the benefit of creating revitalized economic activity along the commuter rail line and the construction of housing developments, which typically locate along transit corridors".

yeah, right. After it gets out of Beaverton, it shares a freight line through Tigard and Tualatin. I bet people will flock to a housing development with a freight line running through it.

What's next?

Despite a perfect economic storm that should boost use, actual ridership will fall way below projections.

Tri-Met will blame the housing collapse for cutting off Villebois before it had a chance to make WES sustainable.

Villebois is too far away from WES to make it walkable or convenient.

Not even TriMet and Metro's combined crack staff of 50 PR people can fix that.

No cars will be removed from 217 or I-5 and no economic activity will be created alond the line without millions in tax subsidies and the mixed use/high density mandate.

Lyle Lanley: Well, sir, there's nothing on earth
Like a genuine,
Bona fide,
What'd I say?
Ned Flanders: Monorail!
Lyle Lanley: What's it called?
Patty+Selma: Monorail!
Lyle Lanley: That's right! Monorail!
[crowd chants `Monorail' softly and rhythmically]
Miss Hoover: I hear those things are awfully loud...
Lyle Lanley: It glides as softly as a cloud.
Apu: Is there a chance the track could bend?
Lyle Lanley: Not on your life, my Hindu friend.
Barney: What about us brain-dead slobs?
Lyle Lanley: You'll be given cushy jobs.
Abe: Were you sent here by the devil?
Lyle Lanley: No, good sir, I'm on the level.
Wiggum: The ring came off my pudding can.
Lyle Lanley: Take my pen knife, my good man.
I swear it's Springfield's only choice...
Throw up your hands and raise your voice!
All: Monorail!
Lyle Lanley: What's it called?
All: Monorail!
Lyle Lanley: Once again...
All: Monorail!
Marge: But Main Street's still all cracked and broken...
Bart: Sorry, Mom, the mob has spoken!
All: Monorail!
[big finish]
Homer: Mono... D'oh!

I was close -- coyotes.

I wonder if that coyote had a valid transfer. I doubt any transit security would have asked to see it.

I testified against this pathetic BOONDOGLE at the joke of a Public Comment Hearing that TriMet and Metro spnsored In Tualatin sveral years ago. From the disinterested faces of the "decison makers" it was perfectly clear the hearing was little more than window dressing for their BOONDIGLE. Ever the Federal DOT had doubts about the "projected passenger counts". But they rammed the project through anyway.
Oh - and among the homeowners who complain about the train noise - virtually all of them were there long before TriMet had any such plans for this line.

The WES is another perfect example of "vapid transit", right up there with the Streetcar. First of all, who the heck is going to ride a slow train that runs infrequently from Beaverton to the north end of Wilsonville?

They would have been far better off spending the money widening Highway 217--that would actually remove congestion and benefit more people.

It was stupid enough from that outset, without the horn issue or the bankrupt manufacturer.

If they actually try to develop along it like they're planning, that will be a total disaster. I actually kind of like that end of Beaverton, Tigard and Tualatin, and I don't want to see them Fake New York it up like they did Orenco.

Honestly, I hope the other trains stop working, too. Maybe that will be the wake-up call Tri-Met and Metro need that they have their priorities completely wrong.

Every time I hear "Wes" I get a mental picture of Star Trek's Wesley Crusher, the laughable manchild wimp with pretensions of scientific brilliance.

Coincidence? I think not.

I meant the Silver Linchpin of the SoWhat Sky.

As for the homeowners being there before WES, that may be so. But it's a very safe bet that a majority of all residents within one quarter mile of those tracks moved in after the freight tracks were there. If a person moves near rail tracks expecting peace and quiet, well... maybe that's not such a great choice. [shrug]

Of course, it worked on the tannery in Sherwood a couple miles down the road. Some damnfool developer put a housing development across the street, and a few years later the tannery was driven out of business due to the pre-existing stink. And between those two, the same thing happened to a rendering plant a couple years later.

So... deal.

I wonder if that coyote had a valid transfer. I doubt any transit security would have asked to see it.

Now dont confuse TriMet "security" with Fare Inspectors. "Security" is there to protect TriMet property from vandalism, nothing else. Dont expect anything from those guys.

Unless there is an actual police officer on the train, you are on your own.

Alan: In regards to the homes already in Tualatin and Wilsonville before the WES was built; it should be noted that the actual number of freight trains using these tracks was very low and mostly during daytime hours. My own home was less than three blocks from the tracks and we rarely heard the trains at all in the four years we lived there.

Delays! Breakdowns! Coyotes!


Dave A: Then you were very lucky for a good long while. :-) There is now and has never been anything preventing the freight operator from running those rails 24x7, like they do in many other places*. Now the trains there are more frequent, but the new volume is operating only in the daytime**, and not at all on weekends. Enjoy it while it lasts.

[*: Such as downtown Salem, ferinstance.]
[**: For some values of daytime, anyway... I understand 05:20 doesn't seem like daytime to many.]

I'm still trying to think who thought this train was a good idea. i mean I seriously don't understand taking a train from Wilsonville that runs into Beaverton and then having to get on the Max as it winds through Beaverton to get downtown. Once you actually get downtown you have to wind through Goosehollow and the 20 other stops along the way before you're even in downtown. If you were going to make this effective it seems to me that you would want the commuter train to run from Wilsonville into downtown itself rather than heading the wrong direction in the first place.

Canucken: Same reason highway 217 and 205 exist: there's a fair bit of traffic around the periphery. Not everyone needs to get downtown.

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