Monday, July 14, 2014
Where Government Propaganada Always Makes Total Failure Look Like A Glowing Success: Public Transportation In Portland Oregon
Portland, Oregon's Planned"Alternative" Transportation System: Is it a Success or a Failure? Lex Loeb Contributor Network . The City of Portland embarked on a planning program to develop public transportation system that was supposed to reduce reliance on the private automobile. The planning process tilted in the direction of alternative innovation almost at the same time that the city's bus system became a publicly owned service corporation known as TRIMET. TRIMET almost immediately embarked on a propaganda campaign celebrating the need for public transportation as opposed to being called something else like a bus system. Later on the city and TRIMET found they could divert a large amount of federal highway and state road grant funding to public transit. The famous Mt Hood highway never got built because the funding was diverted to the First Bus mall downtown and later to the Max light rail system. The public was sold the idea that these public transit improvements would get people out of their cars and help reduce commuter traffic especially at rush hour. The light rail trains are essentially suburban commuter trains that run at road grade level though the center of the city on expensive fixed in place road bed tracks. The evidence shows that the Max Light rail system actually has not resulted in less downtown gridlock traffic but more since the trains have the right of way and because they cause the removal of road space for cars that becomes dedicated only to the light rail. Studies have been done showing that the Light rail system pretty much did not prevent more highway traffic and even worse is that automobile traffic jams now happen at unexpected new hours at mid day. TRIMET and the City of Portland have essentially taken buses off the street and funneled existing regular bus riders onto the Max Light rail system thus it becomes difficult to say that ridership being up on the Max is not really the same traffic that used to be born by the bus system. Numbers that look up may not really be up for the reasons stated. The continued expansion of the Light rail system goes on. One of the most useful Max light rail system lines goes to the Portland International Airport. The Airport is closer to the center of the city than in other urban areas and should be well utilized. On inspection it seems to be running empty trains a lot of the time to and from the airport! The same poor utilization can be observed at O'Hara Airport in Chicago where mass transit trains link the airport to downtown Chicago. The reason why it appears that the utilization rate is so low for the Portland Airport trains is that TRIMET could not funnel bus lines into the system the way it did elsewhere on the line. The New big box store mall including the Ikea store may have improved some use for the line but it really does not seem noticeable yet. The Ikea customer tends to come by automobile and evidence is a full parking lot much of the time and empty trains. Still the city and TRIMET boast about how successful the system is and they run a massive never ending propaganda campaign to pump up what seems to be artificial reality. Another observation that has to be made is how the first bus mall running in downtown Portland with extra wide sidewalks for pedestrians built at excessive cost and having state of the art hardware installed including special bus shelters that had video monitors to show bus arrivals and departures all ended up in the land fill. The bus mall was replaced with a new bus mall, light rail mall with less pedestrian friendly sidewalks and more automobile parking on the street level. The expensive granite curbs of the first bus mall and brick sidewalks were almost completely scrapped. The great planners created two diesel alleys in that plowed though downtown Portland and when they failed to work the TRIMET and the City turned them into a "fare-less square" to encourage ridership where it must have been lacking before. If something as expensive as the bus malls had to be removed in less than 40 years of use it might be possible to call it a failure and a failure of public planning and a failure of policy and just a general waste of money. The bus malls had been famous for articulated busses and it seems they got scrapped too. The scrap metal benefited dealers sending it all to China. In the real world of government planning one is not supposed to call an obvious failure a failure. There is supposed to be a better euphemism. Who knows what that is? When government fails it really is a success in disguise. At least this disaster took over 25 years and not just a few days as per what happened after Katrina. The new remake of the bus malls now looks like the same long term disaster, if wasting money is a disaster. This time the Max light rail trains weave from one lane at the curb to the other and the city allows cars to park on the sides and buses are also allowed to run on the same malls streets. Maybe the articulated buses survive! The planning will be remarkable if it does not result in some of the worst gridlock ever in Portland. Most major cities on earth , including Seattle, put in subways to prevent what seems to be inevitable in Portland--a street level traffic nightmare. Instead the city is boring a giant sewer line that probably will not work to keep sewage out of the river when the river reaches flood stage. Tunneling might better have been used to put the light rails on their own segregated pathways. In Portland, the Automobile is considered to be the enemy. The Mayor sites some study that says that artificially restricting parking for cars makes it easier to park. The city artificially restrict parking and then goes into the parking business with the same cartel attitude of OPEC in pricing parking spaces. After the light rail system came the old fashioned Eastern European 19th century technology trolley system with expensive fixed tracks in the street pavements. The city and state legislators and state representatives have even invested public money in fostering trolley manufacturing or just assembly of parts from Eastern Europe. The trolleys run ever so slowly that a fast walker can stay ahead of them. Of course the city boasts how great a success they are. Again they are funneling riders from bus system onto them and claiming that they are helping to save the earth too! They do back up automobile traffic worse than busses do. The city likes to plow more of these fixed system at considerable cost though more areas of central downtown and as they do they assess the cost of building it to local land owners. A lot of the land owners are all gaga over the trolleys and think they are a great investment but the city is wasting a considerable amount of money. The city could have learned from cities like San Francisco that retained trolley system by having trolleys that run on Pneumatic tires which simply means the fixed tracks that proved to have a shorter life span than the road for the automobile. The benefits of having trolley buses is that they can run on battery power off the electric overhead wires and they can run on virtually all streets without the expensive in the road bed old fashioned steel tracks. The city of Portland is clueless. For every mile of in the road bed old fashioned trolleys they put in they could get ten or more miles of electric trolley bus line access. The reason for the in line track trolleys must be a combination of Romanticism and a love of the good old days of communist eastern Europe? The flexibility of having trolley buses on pneumatic rubber tires would seem obvious. Maybe the city feels that the point of building a system is to reward the people who import the steel tracks and set the concrete into the street pavements instead of a more cost effective design that immediately covers more of the city at the same expense? There is no euphemism for failure by TRIMET and Portland city planning other than the word "great success." The city wants to do nothing but expand a really silly system that probably is worse planned obsolescence than Ralph Nader accused General Motors of since this system failed once and is likely to fail again. A previous Mayor proclaimed that the automobile was going to die and we would all live happily ever after with the wonderful innovations in public planning alternative transportation she believed in. She made parking downtown impossible until the city eventually realized it was a horrible mistake and then allowed the opposite to happen for a while. This mayor who made parking impossible eventually proved to be one of the usual hypocrites as she had a black gas guzzling limousine parked on a special place up on the pedestrian bus mall sidewalk right out in front of city hall so she should get a nice fast car ride back home after working at her city hall mayor's office. It was one more sign of the great success of the TRIMET system. The limousine was not even a TRIMET limousine! Not only did the City of Portland get an non functioning Eastern European transportation system it got East Berlin hypocrisy too. And then came the bicycle lanes...The bicycle hype is never ending in Portland. Bicycles are the greatest innovation in transportation since the Chariot. Bike paths are in all the wrong places pitting cars and buses with the unprotected bike riders. There may even be bike lanes on the new TRIMET max bus malls to add to the complexity of the theory of cloaca Steinberg/ Philip Johnson roadbeds. It is a mess of unnecessary complexity. Bike riders are a tiny percentage of commuters compared to the cars with big vocal organizations getting special favors from city Hall. Recently the city found out that their mayor was riding to big box stores in the suburbs in a big GMC truck --equivalent to the most ungreen of cars the super size SUV. OK it was not a Hummer! Why is the guy so much against the automobile actually driving one and not using a bicycle or even a tricycle? By definition Portland has the best most innovative alternative anti-automotive transportation in the USA and it bills itself as the most European of American cities. The cost is astronomical and the subsidies for the system are never ending and seem to far exceed subsidies to the automobile where every gallon of gas used is taxed for road maintenance and improvement much of it going to public transit which does not actually reduce automobile traffic. Again there is a euphemism for public planning failure in Portland and it is called "success." .