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TRANSIT: Light rail is a waste of money

Letter by Gene Hardin, Graham on May 20, 2011 at 1:08 pm with 5 Comments »
May 20, 2011 1:08 pm

A study this month by the Cascade Policy Institute questioned whether pricey mass transit options in Portland, Ore., are really being used by the public. The city has been a leader in securing funding for various forms of passenger rail and trolley systems. It wanted to verify the claim that the TriMet transit system was able to move more passengers than a standard bus line.

Transportation planners at Metro, TriMet and Oregon’s Department of Transportation routinely make multibillion-dollar decisions based on computer models or simply their own personal beliefs. The field research shows that continued use of the phrase “high-capacity transit” by local planners to describe the regional rail program is “Orwellian.”

According to the study, “Light rail is actually a low-capacity system, and the streetcar is simply irrelevant. TriMet’s buses carry two-thirds of all regional transit trips on a daily basis, and that’s the service that should be recognized as high-capacity transit. Unfortunately, bus service is being sacrificed by TriMet in order to build costly new rail lines that carry relatively few people.”

Read the full study. We can save billions before its to late to correct flawed programs.

Leave a comment Comments → 5
  1. Cascade Policy Institute “believe(s) that human happiness, prosperity and social harmony require a limited government that upholds property rights and leaves individuals free to pursue their dreams.”

    http://cascadepolicy.org/

    “At least one Cascade Policy Institute critic points out that the particular formulations of “individual liberty, personal responsibility, and economic opportunity” promoted by the institute are similar or identical to agendas commonly favored among large business interests and wealthy individuals. Also noted is the apparent irony of how notions like “free markets and limited government,” as promoted by organizations like Cascade Policy Institute, often translate into support for “billions in pork-ridden expenditure, insurance mandates, heavy-handed central planning initiatives, property seizures…, metastatic bureaucracy at local, state and federal levels and massive expansions in law enforcement.]

    http://www.sourcewatch.org/index.php?title=Cascade_Policy_Institute

    Oregon: Study Finds Light Rail System Rarely Used
    “The researchers did so by attending five special events where use of mass transit would make the most sense, including the final playoff game for the Portland Trail Blazers.”

    “The field research shows that continued use of the phrase ‘high-capacity transit’ by local planners to describe the regional rail program is Orwellian,”

    http://thenewspaper.com/news/34/3482.asp

  2. harleyrider1 says:

    Fact: Read the e-mails or maybe have the Tribune request them under the Freedom of Information Act, of our state transportation people over the past 20-years.

    They often have said they need to “force” people into buses and trains as the incentive is low; the time saving is nil; and often the existing infrastructure is antiquated by the time its put in service.

    Suggestions to “force mass transportation” has ranged from increasing gas taxes, paying a tax per mile driven, and not building any new highways.

    It’s in writing.

  3. show me the proof!

  4. alindasue says:

    harleyrider1 said, “They often have said they need to “force” people into buses and trains as the incentive is low; the time saving is nil; and often the existing infrastructure is antiquated by the time its put in service.

    Suggestions to “force mass transportation” has ranged from increasing gas taxes, paying a tax per mile driven, and not building any new highways.”

    Having been on the busses and other mass transportation in the area (and not by force), I can tell you that there are an awful lot of people who obviously don’t need high incentive to ride because they are riding – and not by force. Rarely have I ever been on a bus or train that was not at least half full when I boarded it. Those few times it was less than half full, it was because I was getting on at the very beginning or end of the run.

    However, given the amount of land that’s already taken up by highways – and the added costs of maintaining them – I do think the “not building any new highways” suggestion to be a good one. While such measures may not be needed to “force” people to ride public transportation, they do make perfect sense from a land management and future budget standpoint.

  5. commoncents says:

    eventually this region will wish they had the foresight to implement a high capacity rail system (light and heavy) to carry the commuters. It will never get any cheaper to do it than right now. The problem is people keep looking for current ridership to justify the costs….

    That being said…they simply have to make it faster. You can’t make a train system that runs slower than traffic and expect anyone to ride it.

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