Friday, January 29, 2010

Fred Hansen life is such a secret, while STs CEO is forefront

We here in Portland haven't a clue what our GM of our transit agency TriMet is doing! He goes on taxpayer funded trips to Australia and Copenhagen, and gives NO report to the public, the taxpayers, the very people who cut him a paycheck. He proposes changes that the Board willingly passes without a problem. The Board is NOT taking the riders concerns to heart, only Fred Hansens. Also TriMet has made it a difficult and costly process to obtain Board Meeting information unless you attend.

In Seattle, Sound Transits CEO Joni Earl publishes, and if you wish you can subscribe to have it sent to your email box, a weekly update known as the CEO Corner. Here Joni informs the public whats going on in Sound Transit land, everything from what occurred at the Board Meetings, to Financial Details on where money is going, to project updates. She also publishes the photo of the week in her notes, a photo from somewhere on the system usually about projects in progress. Take a look, also have a look at the Board of Directors page, where you can view archived videos, sign up for meeting materials to be sent to your inbox, meeting details and more.

Once again Sound Transit is showing that nothing is impossible, taking "Accountability to the public" seriously! They even have been using Twitter and Facebook for service update, alerts, and changes for close to a year now. TriMet is full of excuses and overpaid bureaucrats, while Sound Transit just to the north, is a model for transit. I know this is the second time I have praised ST over TriMet, but after a discussion with a fellow blogger about TriMets Board Meetings and the GM never being in the public eye, this shows it can be done, and its just excuses. Just my opinion.

Service Changes all around

A Large percentage of west coast agencies are making reductions and fare increases as the recession plugs on, contrary to economists beliefs. In California, All State funds for transit are gone, in California and Washington lowered sales tax revenue from less spending is a factor. In Oregon, money is relied upon payroll taxes, tied directly to jobs. Heres a short run down of some agencies that have made some changes recently, or are making big changes in the coming weeks:

Community Transit, Everett Wa, (Snohomish County) has proposed dumping Sunday service and a fare increase...."temporarily".

King County Metro, Seattle Wa, has huge changes, including the elimination of Route 194 & direct service to SeaTac Airport, and a list of route changes.

Sound Transit, Seattle Wa, has some minor changes to bus service, and no changes to Sounder or Link service.

Pierce Transit, Tacoma Wa has many changes to its lines, mainly trip and route changes from low ridership.

TriMet, Portland Or, will be proposing some more cuts next month to take effect this spring, I will post them when they become available.

AC Transit, Oakland Ca, has plans to streamline service, or known as changing routes and discontinuing service.

SF Muni, San Francisco Ca has made proposals to chop more service, and raise some pass prices.

SamTrans, San Mateo Ca is raising fares one year later after the last increase.

OCTA, Orange, Ca (Orange County) has big plans for route reductions and eliminations.

San Diego MTS, San Diego, Ca will make huge reductions to mainly Sunday service, with some Saturday and weekday mid-day reductions.

Valley Metro, Phoneix Az has also recently made changes that included reductions in service.

This was some of the major changes being made, many other agencies are adding, tweeking, or shifting service around without many reductions or fare changes.

On a final positive note, Intercity Transit in Olympia Washington was awarded the APTA Best Mid-Sized Transit Agency last year.

Monday, January 25, 2010

TriMet Drivers Al & Jason chat about recent events

And alot of what they talk about is valid! Media blowing things out of proportion, Management & Spokepersons speaking against the very force that keeps them employed. I agree with it all!

Thursday, January 21, 2010

A Roll on basket with bags of cans neatly stacked rides free with paying Adult!

On a 56 bus.

Well, at least it doesn't say "Consistently"

or reliably.........ironic its on a bus, isn't it?

Did an operator leave someone behind?

Perhaps a passenger on the way to their Anger Management Meeting?

On a Type 4 car too!

Monday, January 18, 2010

Sound Transit one step better than TriMet?

Nothing better that comparing agencies in the same region. Sound Transit has released some info recently that shows they at least can appear like they know whats going on.

Joni Earl, CEO of Sound Transit has passed on a raise of her already 23.6% lower salary at 195,467, than Fred Hansen, GM of TriMet, who makes about 256,000. The cost of living difference is about 21% more in Seattle than Portland, meaning these salaries should be swapped.

Sound Transit has also posted their list of milestones they hope to complete in 2010. They include installing a Layover Track at Everett, Ordering 40 new buses, Ordering more Sounder Equipment, Finalizing the long awaited Tukwila Station Plans, Adding additional Bicycle parking at stations, reducing Fuel consumption by 5%, and Light rail plans that are on track. Ironically, the Sound Transit board approved the purchase of 24 of the 40 new buses on Jan 14th with New Flyer. TriMet still lags on purchasing buses, and refused to do so with at least some of the stimulus money, which mainly went to behind the scenes projects that passengers could care less about. Keep in mind King County Metro has already ordered 93 new hybrid buses that are supposed to begin arriving this year.

These are 2 of the biggest things circling TriMet that is lowering the public acceptance, Portland riders are tired of poor, deteriorating bus equipment and service, while the General Manager is making a wage that is WAY above average, for a below average job being performed. I have always compared Seattle to Portland, as much as Fred wants to toot his horn on being the most fuel efficient and greenest system in the country, Seattle now has 275 Hybrid Buses in service, 15 on hand being tested, and over 200 Hybrids currently on order (not including remaining contract options yet to be exercised) & Seattle runs 159 electric trolley buses over 14 routes. Sounds a bit greener to me. I know I should stop pointing out TriMet failures, but every time another agencies steps up to the plate, we can't help but notice TriMet passing on upgrades and new bus orders. Sound Transit has set a goal to be more fuel efficient, on top of working that way already today! Lessons can be learned from our neighbors to the north, but Fred needs a pay cut or a visit to the unemployment office to get that thru his head!

Friday, January 15, 2010

Bantas Departure for the best?

Today is Steve Bantas Last day! A Video found on Als Blog, has Steve talking about his accomplishments at TriMet. He was here for 30 months, not even 3 years.

He claims hes done a lot, brought in commuter rail, brought in the Green Line, brought in new buses, built a Transit Mall and taught drivers how to drive on it. He has worked with a "Talented" team, He says its important that Fred holds himself accountable than anyone else. The Board is proud, and it a compliment that other agencies come after him.

So lets take a look at his "accomplishments".

"Brought in Commuter Rail" - aka, WES. After TriMet Bailed out the Railcar company for more than $5 Million, They opened on Feb 2nd 2009. The system broke down for a week in Feb shortly after it opened, Spurred anger from Tualatin Residents for horn noise, Broke down in May, TWICE in October, Then spends ANOTHER $150k for back up cars! During all this, TriMet continues to be at the center of attention of how much this is costing Taxpayers!

"Brought in the Green Line" - As the Green Line came online, TriMet deeply cut bus lines. Each NEW MAX train costs 3.5 Million dollars!!!! 3.5 X 22 = $77 million, not including the cost of putting in the line. The entire project cost $575 million. The line has had more than a half a dozen disruptions since opening in September, 4 were in the last 30 days alone! Signal problems, mechanical problems and more! Yet Bus service continues to suffer.

"Brought in the New Transit Mall & Trained 1600 how to use it" - This was in line with the MAX Growth. Spend more money to train bus operators to maneuver an already confusing street, including breaking laws autos are not allowed to do, like crossing the double white line.

"Bought New Buses" - if he was here 3 years, that makes it early 2007, in which since then only 40 buses have been purchased. In the 5 years before that, TriMet took delivery of over 100 new buses! So I don't give him much credit for this!

"He Has worked with a Talented team" - Really?? I would think talent would have foreseen and stopped the ongoing WES Spending venture. Talent would have found ways to sacrifice so bus service wasn't cut as deep. I understand some cuts would have been unavoidable, but bus cuts went way ahead of MAX cuts. Talent would have worked better to find ways to make the system perform its function as best it can, providing transit services, not entertaining Australia visits, Copenhagen visits, 2 or more spokespersons and the over paid GM.

I have said this once before, but if agencies come knocking for good talent, and they are not knocking for Fred in over 10 years, time to can him! hello!!!!!

I don't know how he did in day to day operations (no one wants to comment on it), but in his "accomplishments" have done nothing but bog down the agency, I hope Phoenix sees this coming. I hope the new Director, whomever it will be, will make changes for the people, I mean whoever was before Steve did it with buses.

Wednesday, January 13, 2010

TriMets MAX Delays clogging my Inbox

In the last 30 days, there have been 6 MAX Disruptions, and only 1 Bus problem. So thats a Net disruption of 5, MAX.

Lets have a look, shall we?

12/15, Yellow Line, Vehicle blocking tracks
12/18, Green Line, Mechanical Problems @ Lents
12/23, All Lines, Mechanical Problems @Hollywood
12/29, All Lines (+Buses), Surprise Snow Storm
1/7, Yellow/Green, Steel Bridge Signal Problems
1/13, Yellow/Green, Steel Bridge Signal Problems

There have been a handful of Steel Bridge Signal interruptions since the Green Line opened for business. Whats interesting is, despite Signal problems, The Blue and Red Line seem to keep moving. So maybe this is a question of the quality of work in adding the signals to the existing system? Well, this only further proves, improve the current system, first and formost buses, before expanding anymore light rail lines! In the mean time, keep the delays coming, I am getting good at rolling my eyes.

Tuesday, January 12, 2010

Improperly parked planes get parking tickets!

Another great feat!

Read the story here.

What happens if you Oversleep

On Your Way Home! This was too funny....right here in the Northwest.

Sunday, January 10, 2010

Improv Everywhere's No Pants Ride in Portland

Well, I was hoping to find more, but I did find some.

Community Transit threatens Sunday Service

Snohomish Counties own Community Transit has proposed to end Sunday service on all of its lines, including the new Swift BRT line and an increase to fares. Community Transit serves majors cities Lynnwood, Everett, and Edmonds north of Seattle and a handful of surrounding communities.

Heres 2 videos made by Community Transit in regards to the proposed cuts:

Details about the proposed changes and how you can comment are here.

Poll Results - how well do you think steve banta did at his job with trimet?

Here it is, 13 votes with 30% on "Poor", and 23% on "Not Bad" Now I would like to know why you voted the way you did.

Please Comment on what your opinion of his work was, you don't have to indicate how you voted, but just a short blurb of what he did good and/or bad

2 (15%)
Not Bad
3 (23%)
Some Good, Some Bad
2 (15%)
Meh, So-So
2 (15%)
4 (30%)

Friday, January 1, 2010

Over the Holidays

I have been out and about. Some events have happened, and some changes I noticed.

I went to Seattle and purchased my last (System) Day Pass as we know it. The tickets changed. The far left was the original pass/ticket, the middle is the Puget Day Pass (no longer available), the last is a Timed upgrade ticket. So now when you buy a one-way ticket this is what you get. You can still purchase a day pass, but it is only valid on the system of whoms TVM you got it from. For example, The Day Pass pictured was for LINK, meaning I can have Day Pass privileges on LINK only, it can not be used on the bus or Sounder.

TriMet and their damn ticket machines. At what point are they going to realize these machines suck, and stop buying them! At Powell, Holgate and Clackamas TC, ALL the ticket machines had this message this day! Cash only. San Diego & Seattle have nice functioning machines, You never hear about their problems in the Media.

I feel honored! New Flyer has posted a story about Community Transit launching Swift BRT Service. They have included a video of the opening events on their website, which was mine. Theres no higher compliment in my opinion.

Last two things I want to touch on, The Oregonians attack on TriMet employees Health Care, but first the little snow storm a few days ago. Man the finger pointing flew! The city blames the residents, TriMet blames the weatherman, The people blame the city and TriMet. This is an issue of accountability. Everyone should be prepared for anything. Where do I point he finger? It certainly isn't the weatherman! TriMet should have made a better judgement call, but failed to do so, stranding many. When poor weather presents itself, more rely on Public Transit, what good is it if it is not getting anywhere. The City should have the deicing/snow crews ready anytime the temps are low, dry or not. Sure, some of this was the people, who thought they should dive in their cars and try to get home. I am sure this was yet another lesson not learned.

The Oregonian published many stories and editorials in regards to TriMets Union Employees Health benefits. A Letter to the Editor says things are not always what they seem. The Health Care Needs to be put in with everything else the employees receive, such as wages, time off and other benefits, which creates the "Total benefit package" and compare that. Transit agencies have been scrutinized more than ever this year, I think we need to take a closer look at what management is doing, and why everything is screwed up to begin with. The employees do what their told by the managers, so it always falls back on them. If its screwed up, blame management. And why isn't Fred being held to a higher standard? Where is he, what is he doing, how much money is he spending? I think THAT is what the media needs to focus on.

Finally, Just a few days left on the Steve Banta poll on the right, If you are familiar with his work, please vote on the job you think he did with TriMet.

Probably the best New Years show for 2010

Sydney, Australia