Monday, December 7, 2009

Transit Beer Recap

On Saturday, Dec 5, we had a Transit Beer Conference. Adron, Max, Jason Barbur, Jason McHuff and myself were all in attendance. It was a good evening of conversation and debate about TriMet, WES, Transit Trackers, Streetcars, planning errors, and more. Heres a summary of what we talked about:

//Max discussed his Schedules, TransitQ, for the Palm. His shows scheduled times for ALL bus stops, not just timepoints as a regular schedule would.
//Leaving the child on a MAX Platform, what would we do? Jason discussed how his group briefed on what do if they got separated, everyone had a plan of action.
//Fred Australia trip, NO ONE knows what went on there, Jason was denied attendance to the presentation.
//BRT in Australia runs on dedicated tire tracks.
//How is it TriMet spend Taxpayer money, when the taxpayers have no say? We, The Taxpayers of Portland OWN TriMet! If the People do not give this money thru taxes to TriMet, TriMet cannot operate.
//Briefly looked at the Metro Orange Line BRT Line
//Streetcars do not need fancy stops, Like MUNI in San Francisco
//BRT Does not need fancy stops to work, Like LA Metro, Simply using 60' buses and a regular bus stop, our example did not even have a shelter. This could work for the 72 line.
//Placement for bike racks on light rail cars. Is the middle of the car, or by the door best? Maybe more than one hook per slot.
//We compared a few fares between other agencies. The Zone system in Portland needs to go.
//We looked at the TriMet interactive map, you can track buses on this map.
//The demise of Frequent Service, despite TriMet trying to change the definition, we feel Frequent Service exists only on one line.
//Jason Barbur discussed what the TriMet Riders union is. They meet at the Chit-Chat Cafe on Wednesdays at 6pm, anyone is welcome.
//TriMet could run a much better transit system if management ran it better, the right people are not in the right positions.
//We briefly discussed the unions "No Confidence in Fred" reasons. We agree with many of the points. LIFT Costs too much to operate as a whole.
//Bus Costs $ 94.73 MAX $264.75 WES $ 1029.35 /per operating hour
//We discussed WES in great length. TriMet made a poor move in purchasing new DMU cars versus leasing equipment, or purchasing used cars in the first place. Also TriMet can not use any other cars because of the raised platforms.
//All should have ceased instead of bailing out Colorado Railcar and explored other options that would saved money.
//TriMet should have built regular platforms, similar to MAX Platforms, to be more versatile with other equipment.
//We discussed Banta Possibly Leaving.
//Line 72 has not lost any riders to the Green Line. The Green Line does not cater to line 72 customers.
//The CRC is dumb, poorly thought out, and costs too much.
//Why didn't TriMet study running MAX over the I-205 bridge from Parkrose to Vancouver, where more of Vancouver population is, and could use it?
//Merge TriMet and Metro to create something along the lines of Portlands version of Sound Transit. ST creates and plans roads and freeways in way to benefit transit, and it works. ST Projects are voted on, ST was created as a result of a vote. Also, most ST ballot measures involving taxes and spending are approved by voters.
//All of TriMets projects should be voted on by the very people that provide them the money to spend, the taxpayers.
//All of Freds activities should be public, after we are paying to run the place.
//Possible commuter rail via the O&E line through Sellwood, Lake Oswego, Sherwood, and possibly connecting to the current WES line to serve Salem.
//Amtrak, most West Coast routes are owned by the state in which the operate in, Amtrak just operates it, in many cases, Amtrak does not own the equipment.
//TriMet should focus on running the current system efficiently, and to a higher standard before taking on more, such as the Milwaulkie Light Rail.
//TriMet should be spending more of the stimulus money in way to directly benefit customers. Many believe the idea to not purchase new buses was a big mistake. Possibly using the funds to implement a SmartCard system to simplify fare collection. A Customer on a 105 degree bus could care lees about a new bus wash. Many of the projects were unjustified, and did not save or create a large amount of jobs.
//Why TriMet hiring a Twitter person would be beneficial. Currently Alerts are hardly ever posted in a timely fashion, they have been working on it for months now. Twitter would create a better Customer relationship with TriMet.

Thats what I seem to remember, if you were there, and I forgot anything, let me know. If you have anything you would like to add, or debate, feel free to comment! It was a good meet, I hope to get together again.


Al M said...

Gawd, I'm sorry I missed it!

Max said...

Thanks for having us over; I had a lot of fun. Hopefully next time I'll be able to stay the whole time.

J said...

Fred's Australia trip details not accessible to the public? That's not right. Maybe get the media involved, that seems to make TriMet transparent.

Erik H. said...

"Possible commuter rail line via the O&E line..."

Just a heads up, there's no such thing as "O&E" (Are you talking the Oregon Electric?) Regardless the route described, Sellwood-Lake Oswego-Sherwood is a former Southern Pacific route, not Oregon Electric. (In Tualatin, the OE - now WES - passes underneath the SP route with no physical interchange there.)

That said, it sounds like it was a good Transit Beer. Sorry I couldn't make it.

Dave S said...

Wish I could have been there too!

punkrawker4783 said...

My error on the line ownership, I was trying to write up a summary from 4 hours of talks with no notes. There is an interchange a bit North of Tualatin (more in Tigard) to bring the two together, and south leg would have to be built making it a wye.

Jason McHuff said...

Well, that's what you get Dave for decamping to the Seattle area. :)

But my comments:
*I'd wonder whether the SF-style streetcar stops which are in the middle of the street and not accessible could be built today.

*At least last year (I think), TriMet did promote going to see holiday light displays. But it's true that just putting a link to the page on Twitter wouldn't be interactive.

*TriMet can and does post alerts on their Web site at the same time they are sent to bus operators, and has had the ability to do so for maybe a decade now. I brought up the idea of forwarding them to Twitter and pointed out the many users saying they would like it, but was told that they tried it once and it took a day for the thing to show up.

*I believe the idea on spending money on the bus wash, etc is that so they don't have to get money from other sources to do them--money which possibly could be spent on operations

*BRT probably works best when there's more than just a sign, and it's argued that LA's Rapid lines aren't true BRT since they don't have bus lanes and can still get stuck in traffic

*I'd wonder what the cost per hour of WES would be if it instead used a big engine for just a car or two.

*Back in the 80's, there was a study done on merging Metro and TriMet and it was found to be problematic for a number of legal and financial reasons (I have a newspaper article if anyone wants it). However, it might work if the agencies were kept separate but the Metro Council became (also) the TriMet Board of Directors. Though an issue is that the boundaries of the two districts aren't the same--Estacada and Kelso are served by TriMet but aren't a part of Metro and Wilsonville (including Charbonneau) isn't served by TriMet bus is part of Metro.