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Monday, March 5, 2012

Late and over budget

The Portland eastside streetcar can't seem to get up and running.

Comments (15)

It only looks that way at the moment because the latest creative "surprise!" source of revenue robbing hasn't yet been revealed.

" At issue is the propulsion system within the streetcars. "

Is that what the rest of us would call connecting the electric motor to the drive wheels ?

Or are they developing some star trek kind of plasma ion deep space warp factor 7 rocket thruster for streetcars now?

Time to start the Oregon Iron Works death watch:

The Portland City Council on Wednesday will be asked to spend nearly $350,000 more for engineering work tied to production of streetcars made by Clackamas-based Oregon Iron Works' United Streetcar.

A few commenters over at the O are complaining that no one should be concerned about these cost overruns, or CoP having design, copyright, intellectual ownership of the streetcars, and not United Streetcar-thus future payback; all justifying the $1.35 Million extra costs. They're also saying that it creates jobs, so that is justification for Portland taxpayers to be in the streetcar business.

First, who says they have intellectual ownership, and how much? Besides, think of all the examples of CoP failures of Agreements/Contracts, like PGE Park, the Water Bureau Computer fiasco, and SoWhat that has 9 Agreements and less than 1/2 of it has been honored. When has Portland ever enforced these Agreements without the taxpayers being on the loser end?

Secondly, United Streetcar is in Clackamas Co. Why should Portland taxpayers be paying to create a few jobs there and not support our city businesses, of course un-selectively?

It's the WES all over again!

In the comments it says "The city, meanwhile, wants to license the design to other cities to recoup its costs."

Now we know what job Pedi Sam has lined up!

"It's the WES all over again!"

NO - It's the tram all over again. Give us a liar's number to keep us asleep and then pop the real number when, horrors, it's too late to stop.

This entire pack is liars.

Vote NO on every bond.

I'm going to settle the argument of two of the last three comments:

WES: Final cost 200% of budget, several months late, ridership estimates well overstated, TriMet had to bail out the manufacturer of the car so that they would remain in business just long enough to deliver the cars.

Tram: Final cost 400% of budget, months late, promised that it would result in much investment and benefit to the region, none of which materialized.

The Streetcar is the trifecta of Portland Transportation Planning. At least Walt Disney's transportation system succeeds at transporting tens of thousands of people each day, makes a profit, and attracts ridership. Even if the monorails and the steam locomotives are just there for a coolness factor, they are more successful than anything Portland has built.

And the rails look pretty crooked too!

I posted this a few days ago, but am going to again to make a point because I think it's even more relevant here...

Leftist, progressive Salon had an article a few days ago discussing how much smarter BRT looks compared to the billions being thrown away in the US on light rail and streetcars...


Portland getting into the Streecar manufacturing business is against the City Charter. It is past time, but not too late to make a legal challenge.

What's really amusing is that they're plugging along on PMLR, though commuters in Oregon City are opting for Amtrak (and it's apparently cheaper than Tri-Met!).


Anderson is part of a small but growing group of Clackamas County commuters spurning the region's transit agency in favor of Amtrak for daily trips in and out of the city.

What's really amusing is that they're plugging along on PMLR, though commuters in Oregon City are opting for Amtrak

That story is so freakin' spun like there's massive growth in ridership out of Oregon City, when in fact that huge percentage growth amounted to - one new rider. Yes, you read that right. ONE PERSON!

What's really sickening is that Oregon found some $40 million or so in "savings" that they felt obligated to buy two shiny new Talgo trains. The problem is that the trains, south of Portland, average 90 riders per train - enough to fill up two of the train's nine coaches. The new trains will have eleven coaches.

Now, I understand the whole "we need jobs" crap. Except that not ONE job will be created - in OREGON.

There will be jobs created in Wisconsin (the factory that will be opened - and then shuttered - for these cars.)

There will be jobs created in Seattle (where the trains will be maintained)

And the trains will spend drastically more time in Washington State, than in Oregon.

But Oregon blew $40 million on these trains...for which Oregon could have saved money by eliminating the trains outright, buying a small fleet of motorcoaches at $500K a pop, and running them on an hourly schedule between Portland and Eugene. Assuming that with all the station stops and so on that it takes six hours to complete a round-trip, you'd need six buses, plus a few to spare...so let's say ten buses. That's...ten...times half a million...$5 million.

I still have $35 million left to spend. With that Oregon could have a statewide transportation network. Instead we bought two trains for Washington State.

" At issue is the propulsion system within the streetcars. "

Um, wheels inserted into slot/tracks. Over head wires connected, turn on the power; problem solved. I'm sure it's not quite that easy, but it sure looks to be. Dig/build your tracks, get your overhead wires strung properly. Make sure the top mast on the car hits and stays within those overhead wires and it looks like a go. Sheesh.

I should add, I remember I used the Streetcar for a brief while during my PSU year, right after the Streetcar opened. And I distinctly remember the thing repeatedly getting stuck on SW 11th Ave near Taylor St. It'd just sit there for 10 minutes on the hill (really more of a slight incline). It looked like the thing ran out of juice--I'd call that a propulsion problem. And we've spent how many millions on this thing?

Inner Portland is slowly becoming a theme park with lame rides.

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