You've maybe seen this already in GMN, but it bears a bit of reflection.
Turns out TriMet—which very publicly held out its hands last year to snatch millions from riders in fare hikes amid service shifts—very quietly decided at the same time to up the pay of its
top managers non-union administrative employees by $910,000, including bumps to top management.
That bombshell came from two stories posted yesterday—first by Portland Afoot and then by the Oregonian. The news is sparking reader accusations of disingenuousness and malfeasance at an agency that held up years of employee pay freezes to bolster its arguments last year while wrangling with a sizable a budget shortfall.
From the O's story:
[TriMet General Manager Neil] McFarlane said a 3 1/2-year pay freeze had contributed to rapid turnover in the executive and management ranks at a time when the transit agency is fighting for its life.
However, as TriMet held several months of public hearings on proposals to trim $12 million from its fiscal year 2013 budget last year, the pay raises didn't come up. Not once.
Indeed, the general manager praised the sacrifice of non-union workers "now in their fourth year" of a pay freeze.
Meanwhile, the agency used an opaque budget item labeled "contingencies" to fund raises for managers making around $111,000 or more.
TriMet, predictably, says the pay bumps were needed to retain talent. The knowledge of such top-flight administrators might come as cold comfort to TriMet users, who now pay up to $2.50 per ride, part of a rate hike that disproportionately affects low-income riders.
As mentioned briefly in GMN this morning, a 5-year-old girl was struck by a car last night when she wriggled out of an older boy's hand while crossing SE 136th
StreetAvenue—making her the fourth pedestrian hit and killed in Portland in 2013.
It's a sad story—KGW has a heartbreaking interview with the 13-year-old boy—and it's also gotten a little political.
The stretch of road where the girl was hit is notoriously lacking in sidewalks and crosswalks and other safety improvements. And although money for those fixes was previously set aside for the corridor, the city's street-maintenance backlog has Mayor Charlie Hales' transportation bureau looking to shift those funds ($1.2 million) to road paving. Update: To be clear, that project would have stopped just north of where the girl was hit.
It's not clear that, in this case, whether sidewalks would have prevented what happened. Maybe, if there were marked crosswalks, the two kids wouldn't have been crossing in the middle of the road. But the girl's mother told reporters she's long been concerned about the state of the roads. And mayoral candidate Jefferson Smith, who lost to Hales and lives east of 82nd Avenue, also has been calling attention to East Portland's years of neglect.
"We have to rethink our transportation priorities," he told KGW. "We have to prioritize safety over smoothness. I would take a little bumpier ride, for another kid to stay alive, and I think most Portlanders would too."
Hales' office today put out a statement reacting to the awfulness of Morgan Cook's death as much as to the criticism that followed it. Hales previously told BikePortland.org that the sidewalk funding shift came from the interim director he hired to run Transportation, Toby Widmer.
"I didn't craft that part of the proposal," he said, "but I'm not unhappy with it." Asked about the chances the sidewalk project cut would survive, Hales said, "I'd say it's about 50/50 that the cut will remain."
Hales' statement, and a list of car fatalities this year, is after the jump. You tell me if the reported criticism is fair or not.
Representative Jules Bailey—a longtime skeptic of the $3.4 billion Columbia River Crossing highway-bridge-and-rail project—joined several other lawmakers earlier this week in reversing their opposition and advancing a $450 million state financing plan to the Oregon Senate and, presumably, governor's desk.
That 45-11 vote enraged and saddened critics of the I-5 project who see the CRC as a financial and environmental boondoggle. And last night, at an Oregon League of Conservation Voters forum where Bailey was building support for a tough-to-pass state carbon tax, a few tried to drive home a point.
Activist Hart Noecker strode up to Bailey during a question-and-answer session and handed him a "Cars Rejuvenating Carbon" award for his "courageously increasing the carbon and car capacity" of the 10- to 12-lane CRC project—a behemoth that raises the serious possibility of making lousy air quality in North Portland even worse.
Bailey didn't seem so pleased... and neither did some of the people at the event, maybe because it was such an awkward moment. Only a couple of people clapped during the prank. And Bailey decided to leave the award behind.
Bailey, for the record, has written a lengthy explanation of his CRC vote. Reached for comment this morning, he defended his record on carbon and climate change and said he would have welcomed a discussion about the vote even after a somewhat amusing political prank (my words) that he described as a "sarcastic grandstanding maneuver."
"They were asked if they'd like to ask a question. They declined. I'm sad they passed up that opportunity," he says.
Bailey also says he stuck around after the event, along with Senator Jackie Dingfelder, who has yet to vote on the highway project.
"Everybody is entitled to their opinion," he says. "I wish they'd have taken the opportunity to talk to me. I was standing near them. They huddled near the bar with their beers... It was a tempest in a teapot. I'm not worried. It was a good event."
The Oregon House of Representatives has given a big thumbs-up to the Columbia River Crossing bridge, the proposed and intensely controversial new Interstate 5 bridge connecting Oregon to Washington.
Earlier today, lawmakers voted 45-11 to approve HB 2800, a bill that would allow the sale of $450 million in bonds (to be matched by the state of Washington) for the CRC. The highway project is meant to replace two very old I-5 bridges that, yes, won’t hold up in a major earthquake and really need to be replaced. But $450 million is only a fraction of the $3.4 billion the project is expected to need, and approving state funding probably won’t be the end of this story.
If you’ve followed the winding and sometimes dramatic tale of the CRC, you know the project has been plagued with many problems—including fights over how to fund the damn thing, over light rail, over how many lanes the bridge should have, whether the initial design was too ostentatious, and, my personal favorite, the possibility that the current design (which looks like it was rendered by a humorless Soviet), is not actually tall enough for commercial ships to pass under.
Which is perhaps why a statement put out by the Office of the House Speaker announcing the passage of HB 2800, doesn’t once mention the CRC by name. Instead it touts the bill, and the bridge it enables, as a way to “spur job growth.” Like consultants maybe?
The bill is expected to go to the Senate as soon as early next month.
Bringing up every city road to good or fair quality would cost something like $85 million a year for the next 10 years, about $75 million more than the Bureau of Transportation has recently been allotting. But instead of immediately seeking new revenue, Hales says he wants to cut in some other places first, never mind that much of PBOT's money is already spoken for.
So how much more money is Hales hoping to find? According to Jonathan Maus at BikePortland.org, who was covering PBOT's budget presentation today, it's not much: a little more than $7 million. That's about a tenth of what the auditor says it would take to get current, and not even all of that will go toward paving.
Here's the list of cuts Maus posted:
• $4.5 million from debt service on Sellwood Bridge bonds (this money was originally slated for the city's general fund, Hales is attempting to keep it all for PBOT);
• $1.2 million from a sidewalk project slated for SE 136th Ave;
• $950,000 from the Downtown Marketing Initiative program;
• $500,000 from the City's ADA curb ramp program.
Even this list won't be easy to swallow. Maus reported some immediate blowback at the meeting about the 136th Avenue sidewalk cuts. Taking money from the general fund could mean other cuts in other bureaus. Hales also told me yesterday, when asked point blank about the Portland Business Alliance-affiliated Downtown Marketing Initiative, that it was "on the table."
Of course, PBOT has tried and failed to make that cut before. Last year, when the bureau, under fired director Tom Miller, submitted a requested budget without that line item, the money was restored, plus some, by the time council and then-Mayor Sam Adams got through their annual budget exercise in making as many people happy as possible.
Hat tips to Blogtown reader Elijah who pointed us to this Qualcomm Mobile advertisement that's actually useful instead of annoying! Their bus shelter ads ask if the waiting riders are bored or in a hurry—and when the rider goes to the site... BINGO! Their much improved ride arrives, which could be a Lamborghini, a dog sled, or a mini-bus full of puppies. As Elijah so correctly put it, "Believe me when I tell you I would get into any vehicle that has a dozen puppies in it."
Washington state is in a dither over how to deal with now-legal recreational dope smokers driving around stoned out of their gourds—AS WELL THEY SHOULD BE. So in the name of "journalism"—let's stop and giggle about that for a moment... giggle. Giggle. Giggle.—Seattle's KIRO news asked three volunteers to get increasingly and completely baked and then drive around a closed course, accompanied by a cop. And the results may NOT surprise you! In fact, everything that you expect to happen does happen, and the drivers' ability to operate their vehicles safely disintegrates with every puff, puff, pass.
HOWEVER! I will admit that baked drivers are funnier than drunk drivers—as proven by test subject Addy, who runs her smart cute mouth during the entire demo, AND showed up to the test already high! Here's her extended cut, and you can watch the other participants here.
How's this for scare tactics. In starting up its budget process this morning, TriMet—currently locked in a bitter dispute with its operators union over rising benefits costs—dropped a financial bomb.
To keep from going broke, the agency is warning, it would need to slice out 63 weekday bus lines, and cut overall service by 70 percent, by 2025. Mostly rapid bus service would be left in place.
The news was presented at today's board meeting and picked up by the Oregonian. But it was first reported very early this morning by Portland Afoot, which got an early look at the slideshow TriMet presented to its directors.
According to reports, General Manager Neil McFarlane explicitly connected the doomsday service cuts to TriMet's difficulties with Amalgamated Transit Union 757 and made a plea for deeper concessions on health care and pension costs. An arbitrator has already allowed TriMet to raise its employees' share of health care cost, but the union has appealed that ruling to the Oregon Employment Relations Board—an agency seen by some (hi, Portland!) as pro-labor.
Joe Rose at the O has some good numbers. But you should read what Portland Afoot has to say—including some questions about the assumptions behind the numbers and, if you click over, some links to the ATU's views on all of this.
It’s not yet clear what assumptions lie behind those projections. General Manager Neil McFarlane said Wednesday that they include a 70% cut to administrative costs, but no further tax increases.
"Before anybody wants to invest more money in TriMet, we want to be able to demonstrate that we can invest that money dollar for dollar in restored service," McFarlane said. "We can’t demonstrate this yet."
McFarlane said restoring any lost transit service will be impossible unless union workers’ health care plan is reduced to the same benefit level as the management plan, with reduced medical coverage in retirement.
Even if that happens, he said, TriMet wouldn’t be able to improve service without new revenue. Nor could it devote any existing revenue to future rail lines after the Orange Line to Milwaukie.
"All we can hope for is the current service," McFarlane said.
There were a lot of ads for movies during the Super Bowl. And fine, I'm looking forward to Iron Man 3. I'm warily intrigued by World War Z and Oblivion, and I'll probably end up seeing Sam Raimi's Wizard of Oz thing against my better judgement, and—much to the palpable discomfort of everyone who has to share physical space with me—I'm
practically literally tumescent about Star Trek Into Darkness. But you know what movie leaves all of those in the fucking dust? Motherfucking Fast & Furious 6, motherfuckers. If Sunday's all-too-brief look at what's sure to be one of the finest films of all time frustrated you as much as it did me, behold: Here's a whole three minutes and 22 seconds of immaculately edited and scored Fast & Furious 6 hype, highlighting how former bitter enemies Vin Diesel and The Rock are about to TEAM UP to DRIVE SOME CARS and SAVE THE WORLD. Last night I was telling some people in the Mercury offices about how awesome F&F6 is going to be and one of them rolled his eyes and was all, "What, are there planes in this one?" FUCK YES THERE ARE PLANES YOU FUCKING IDIOT, WHY ARE YOU WASTING MY TIME, WHAT'S WRONG WITH YOUR EYES. And there are also trucks getting clotheslined and Gina Carano and beautiful ladies in short skirts dancing in slow motion and Vin Diesel growling "Ride or die" and important lessons about teamwork and family. Are you ready to live life in the fast lane? Because I am. There is no doubt about it.
Thanks to Mike Russell for making today worth living.
Charlie Hales this morning announced John "Toby" Widmer, the city's former maintenance bureau director, as his interim pick for the Bureau of Transportation—celebrating a city official who "came up through the ranks,” "understands that street maintenance is his first priority," and "could start up every piece of equipment in the maintenance yard and run it.”
But that's not the only thing that makes Widmer stand out: He's also a campaign donor. Campaign finance records show Widmer gave Hales hundreds of dollars toward his run for city hall, most recently with a $50 check last month. Update! That initial figure only looked at contributions under Toby Widmer—Widmer, using his given name, also cut an additional $600 check. And, as Toby, he gave $500 back in 2011. The actual total is $1,650.
It's a slightly sticky subplot for a personnel move that has the aura of a political housecleaning. Widmer will replace Tom Miller, former Mayor Sam Adams' ex-chief of staff, who took over the bureau in 2011 without the benefit of enduring a national job search. Hales campaigned on his desire to oust Miller, complaining about that lack of a national search, and made good on that promise as soon as he took office. (And let's not forget that Hales hasn't been a model citizen when it comes to enforcing standards for campaign contributions, before or after the election.
Hales' news release highlights the 61-year-old Widmer's deep ties to Portland and 28 years of experience before his retirement from the city in 2002, the same year Hales left politics for the private sector. The goal is to let Widmer run things for six months, while that national search plays out and Hales leads PBOT and the rest of the city through budget season.
Asked for a comment, Hales' spokesman, Dana Haynes, says he wasn't aware Widmer was also a donor and was checking with the office to see if anyone else knew about before he was hired. With the caveat that even if they did, it may not have been seen as an issue.
Another ex-city official whose name Hales has floated as a potential helper during budget season, ex-Parks Director Zari Santner, had given Hales $1,550. Of Hales' 14 city hall staffers, only one gave him money during the campaign. Ed McNamara, a policy director and affordable-housing developer making $84,656, gave Hales
Read Hales' full release below.
Behold the Amazon page for the Playmobil Security Check Point, which comes with an adorable metal detector, little plastic x-ray machine, two FAA agents, some luggage, and a highly suspicious "passenger." But don't miss the delightful reviews:
I was a little disappointed when I first bought this item, because the functionality is limited. My 5 year old son pointed out that the passenger's shoes cannot be removed. Then, we placed a deadly fingernail file underneath the passenger's scarf, and neither the detector doorway nor the security wand picked it up. My son said "that's the worst security ever!". But it turned out to be okay, because when the passenger got on the Playmobil B757 and tried to hijack it, she was mobbed by a couple of other heroic passengers, who only sustained minor injuries in the scuffle, which were treated at the Playmobil Hospital.
And (click to enlarge) this one:
A San Francisco supervisor wants to rename the city's airport in honor of civil rights leader Harvey Milk, a change supporters said would send a global message about the importance and struggles of gays and lesbians for equality. Supervisor David Campos will introduce legislation Tuesday that would place the proposal to rename San Francisco International Airport as Harvey Milk San Francisco International Airport before voters in November. To send the name change to voters, Campos needs the support of five other supervisors, and Monday he already had four co-sponsors.
I love this idea—and I can't wait to read the first story about someone's luggage being lost in "the bowels" of Harvey Milk.
Local bike-ped-transit news magazine Portland Afoot has dug into the numbers on TriMet's bus routes and determined which lines are the most and least reliable.
Here's the rundown of 2012 Portland bus rankings:
MOST FREQUENT: The 72-Killingsworth, with 218 trips, followed by the 4-Division, with 174 trips.
LEAST FREQUENT: SW Portland's 55-Hamilton has only four trips per weekday and the 18-Hillside has only five.
MOST RELIABLE: TriMet records how often buses "bunch" together on a route, arriving one right after the other, which means one bus is running late. Of the "frequent service" buses, the most on-time lines are the 57-TV Highway and the 75-Cesar Chavez.
LEAST RELIABLE: Of the frequent service buses, the most frequent are also the least on-time, with the 72 buses "bunching up" 28 percent of the time and the 4 line bunching up 26 percent of the time.
MOST CROWDED: The 35-Macadam takes the prize, for being "above capacity" on 11 percent of trips.
The Oregonian ran a hard-knuckle story this weekend exposing TriMet scheduling practices that allow overtime-hungry bus operators to work as many as 22 hours in a single day—and also joining concerns about that policy to crash reports and complaints from riders about drivers falling asleep at stoplights.
Everyone's rightly stirred up about it. But it's also worth pointing out the hoops TriMet made the reporter, Joe Rose, jump through in order to get the public records that served as the basis for his piece: Thousands of dollars in fees and stonewalling so intense the paper had to get the Multnomah County District Attorney's Office involved. The paper detailed the process in an editorial posted last night.
Over many months, Rose requested records pertaining to a runaway MAX train, and bus and rail operator work schedules. He met roadblocks by the transit agency, which argued the documents did not exist as he'd requested them—that they would need to be created and thus were not public documents available for the asking. So Rose and his editors capitulated and asked for the data as TriMet kept it. And TriMet's reply was another roadblock: to convert its data into PDF files, forcing a laborious process by Rose and his associates of "cut-and-paste" searching across some 8,000 pages. Oh, and The Oregonian would ultimately pay $500 for the privilege, pushing its total TriMet tab for records to about $2,400.
Significantly, the release of information pertaining to the runaway train required the intervention of the Multnomah County District Attorney's Office. Despite TriMet's initial confusing reports about whether a Yellow Line MAX train had even crashed—it did, into an abutment, with two passengers on board and withstanding $60,000 in damage owing to a sleeping driver—TriMet was forced to abandon its position of cloaking the event as a personnel matter under investigation. Then-District Attorney Michael Schrunk decided the public had a right to know about it, ordering compliance with The Oregonian's request, and noted in his May 3, 2012 report: "This was an extraordinary event with seemingly very little investigation."
Oregon public records law makes noises about transparency. But with loopholes allowing for "cost recovery" for complicated requests, the rules give agencies an easy and legal way to hold things back by making things more complicated than needed and, thus, too expensive for smaller operations and actual citizens to obtain.
It's good the daily in town still has the money to chase this kind of document dump and pay a lawyer for a court fight, if it came to that. We've had to do it before, too. But not everyone can, and don't think public officials in this state aren't well aware of that advantage.
Portland's Bureau of Transportation—enduring millions in mid-year budget cuts thanks, in part, to unreliable gas-tax revenues—has found a way to raise a bit more cash. Like they've done for the past few years, fines for parking violations will jump up starting February 7—led by a $15 increase in the fine for failing to pay a meter.
Cheryl Kuck, a PBOT spokeswoman, says the bureau is expecting the newly increased fines to raise an additional $700,000 a year. But it's not just about the money, she contends. It's also about making the fines ugly enough that more people people are persuaded not to skirt the law. No-meter violations have gone down, but not quite enough, she says. Other violations have actually increased since 2010.
"The number of violations," Kuck says, "hasn't dropped to a level we were content with."
The sale looks like it'll be investigated as a raw deal to stockholders, but if the sale goes through, it could mean big changes for Zipcar.
Carsharing is very popular in Portland, where about 15 percent of residents don't own a car. In fact, the first carsharing company in the country opened in Portland in 1998: a fleet of four Dodge Neons that founder David Brook dubbed "Carsharing Portland." That company was bought by Seattle-based Flexcar, which merged with Zipcar in 2007. In that way, Avis's acquisition of Zipcar is just the latest in a pattern of companies gobbling carsharing start-ups.
The Washington Post predicts the buy-out will spell doom for Zipcar. Writer Steven Pearlstein says, essentially, Avis's old-school corporate mindset will kill the creativity and adaptability that made Zipcar thrive. Pearlstein forsees Avis centralizing pickup points for cars, rather than having them spread conveniently all over the city; merging Zipcar's website with Avis's; and trying to annoyingly upsell customers on insurance and hotel deals.
On the other hand, change might be good for Zipcar. Their market dominance has been threatened recently by Mercedes Benz-owned Car2Go, which has a fleet of pint-size cars that, unlike Zipcars, don't have to be returned to the same spot after rental. Another company that lets people offer their own cars to share, Getaround, is also increasingly popular. With Avis' money behind it, Zipcar might be able to incorporate some of the best features of those companies or improve its own service.
Here is your handy guide to TrIMet holiday schedule changes during the next week.
Christmas Eve – Monday, Dec. 24
All trains and buses are on regular weekday schedules.
Christmas Day – Tuesday, Dec. 25
All buses and MAX trains operate on Sunday schedules. Watch out, because not all bus lines run on Sundays. WES will not be operating.
New Year’s Eve – Monday, Dec. 31
All buses, MAX trains and WES will be operating on regular weekday schedules. AFTER 8PM, TRIMET IS FREE!
Additionally, MAX Blue, Green and Yellow line trains will run until 3 am with service approximately every 35 minutes. MAX Red Line will not run late. However, after train service ends, shuttle buses will be available to take riders between Gateway Transit Center and PDX Airport, until about 3:30 am.
New Year’s Day – Tuesday, Jan. 1
All buses and MAX trains will run on Sunday schedules. WES will not be operating.
UPDATE: TriMet just sent out a press release about Buster with pics! Read it after the jump!
Something good! On the bus! It's a Christmas miracle, guys! In stark contrast to our "True Tales of TriMet Terror" feature from this summer, I was greeted by a tail-wagging bundle of cute when I got on the #14 this morning. Buster, a graying beagle with a jangly collar, came rip-roaring off the bus to do a bit of sniffing by my feet. (Apparently all dogs named Buster end up riding the bus at some point!) The bus driver, Chera Collings, started yelling, "Buster! Come here, Buster!" and we got him back on the bus. Apparently she saw him running across the freeway near SE 94th and Foster, stopped the bus, and saved him from being hit by traffic. He was shaking and scared, and she promptly put him on the bus and called the phone number on his dog tags. But his people weren't home. So li'l Buster was delighting all the TriMet bus riders as he cruised up and down the aisle, getting pets and nice words from a group of folks who normally aren't so full of smiles and endearments. One gal got on the bus at SE Division, was told Buster's story and promptly checked him for injuries, like cuts and scrapes, and she gave him a clean bill of health. Turns out she was a vet tech. A stop later, the bus driver's supervisor was waiting in a TriMet vehicle to take Buster
to headquarters where he would wait for his people to come get him home. He left with his tail wagging like a crazy dog.
So I think the moral of this story is that every TriMet route could really use a therapy pup. I haven't seen riders look that happy since it snowed earlier this week.
Hit the jump for the full story on how Buster got home.
The train dubbed "Eco Ride" works just like a coaster but without everybody putting their hands in the air like they just don't care. It's cranked up hill for the first station and then just cruises to the next one. Quick, painless, and if we're lucky, containing at least one barrel roll.
The Portland City Council today delivered on another of Mayor Sam Adams' squeeze-it-in-while-he-still-can priorities, approving a still-controversial plan for parking meters and parking permits in Northwest Portland that Adams has billed as an end to the neighborhood's "toxic" parking wars.
Today's vote was not, however, a unanimous vote—signaling that the fight over parking in Northwest might not be as solved as Adams and his supporters would suggest. Commissioner Nick Fish "respectfully," as he put it on the dais, simply voted "no." With Dan Saltzman out sick, that left Adams with a bare-minimum coalition including his ally, Randy Leonard, and a cagey Amanda Fritz who used her leverage as the third vote to wedge in some amendments that may, in fact, allow the next council to reopen the issue.
Fish's dissent, however, maybe especially for council watchers, was particularly notable. For one, it came without the lengthy conditionals and rhetoric that Fish normally appends to his votes, on either side of an issue. And the fact that he was the lone dissenter also was rare: Fish will usually work back-channels to shift a policy so he can find some way to justify getting onto the winning coalition.
I caught up with Fish at the end of a long day of meetings and asked him if he might care to elaborate a bit more. He did.
"I'm a realist," he said. "The mayor had his three votes. So all that was left was for me to state my objection." But without, he told me in as many words, publicly raining on the mayor's parade.
Commissioner Amanda Fritz, during today's marathon city council meeting, refused to bless a pilot project for a pedestrian-only “entertainment zone” in the neighborhood on an "emergency" basis that would have let cops and city transportation workers start in on it immediately.
The program, which we reported on way back in October, would close the blocks between NW 2nd and 4th Avenues from West Burnside to NW Everett to all vehicle traffic from 10pm to 3am every Friday and Saturday. And because this isn't Bourbon Street, public drinking would remain banned.
Cops and neighbors mostly like it, at least enough to try it out for 90 days, but Fritz wanted to wait to gather a bit more information and assurances that the freedom of a pedestrian zone won't make noise and other woes like hooliganism any worse.
"What I like about it is it's a proposal. It's a trial," Commander Bob Day of the Portland Police Bureau's Central Precinct said. "I'm not married to the idea. But you have to take risks once in a while."
Mayor Sam Adams said he expected removing cars would make cops more visible and, thus, make people "less boisterous." He also, seemingly invoking the specter of yesterday's shootings at Clackamas Town Center, expressed his disappointment that the plan wouldn't be in place for New Year's Ee.
"We have a lot of guns around right now," he said. "I don't want to mess around."
The interim between today's hearing and when the proposal was first aired did result in some changes. The cops had wanted the zone to start at 9 PM, but neighbors told them to change it to 10 or take a hike. Anyone of the area's disabled residents, or anyone who needs special care, will be able to have cars pick them up no matter the time. And cops will also be trained on noise control and will carry meters.
The final vote is next week.
Skip to 18:29 below, or have it start at 18:29 for you right here. (You're welcome.)
TriMet is adding extra trains and buses tomorrow to accommodate two big events happening right at the same time: The US women's soccer team versus Ireland match at Jeld-Wen field and Bruce Springsteen at the Rose Garden.
Both of these events are likely to cram TriMet, as people head to them right during rush hour, so TriMet is adding extra MAX trains to run after the Springsteen concert, plus running special bus service that will ferry people between downtown Portland and Jeld-Wen field. Here are the details on those buses:
• Before the match (from 5:30-7pm), catch buses across from MAX stations at Mall/SW 5th Ave and Galleria/SW 10th Ave.
•After the match, catch buses across from stadium’s main entrance on Morrison Street at 18th Ave. Riders will be dropped off at three MAX stations (Library/SW 9th Ave, Pioneer Square South and Mall/SW 4th Ave) to get to parking garages or connect with MAX Green or Yellow line trains.
A draft Portland Bureau of Transportation budget document obtained by the Mercury reveals several big revenue-raising measures the city will consider to shore up transportation funding as soon as possible. PBOT Director Tom Miller has pondered many ideas at public meetings on the bureau’s finances. But several plans have become serious enough that a specially convened PBOT task force of outside financial advisors has placed them atop a draft of a report expected to go before Portland City Council as soon as next month.
UPDATE 11/28: We just posted the draft document online here. Give it a read! /update
At the top of the list of possibilities is a street maintenance fee. This to-be-determined fee would be added to the monthly water and sewer bill of property owners and go into the transportation budget to fix the city's longstanding backlog of maintenance issues like its 60 miles of unpaved streets. Twenty-one cities and towns in Oregon already have a street maintenance fee and Portland's considered the idea several times, most recently at then-Commissioner Sam Adams' prodding in 2007.
Coupled with this would be a local gas tax, PBOT's draft suggests. Two Portland suburbs, Milwaukie and Tigard, already have gas taxes of two and three cents per gallon and PBOT suggests Portland introduce one as an "interim measure" while the city figures out better long-term funding sources. The draft of the document includes a note saying this idea may be struck out from the final recommendations, given that it's not a good long-term funding model.
The transportation bureau is facing a $4.5 million budget hole in part because its funding stream is unsustainable—built on one-time city money, federal grants, and the state gas tax. The PBOT draft budget memo succinctly spells out the problems with relying on the gas tax:
• It has been eroding in real value for decades.
• At every level of government, we lack political will to raise the gas tax to a rate that would meet today’s growing needs for transportation services.
• The nation’s policy interests in fuel economy will make the gas tax unreliable as a primary means of transportation funding in little more than a decade. This is exacerbated in Portland as more citizens choose fuel efficient vehicles and/or non-auto travel modes.
In the long run, the memo supposes, it's likely that the state will switch from a gas tax to a statewide tax based on vehicle miles driven. But meanwhile, the local gas tax and street maintenance fee could defray city cuts.
Another option floated in the memo, prepared by bureau head Tom Miller, include making the price of parking in Smart Park garages and downtown meters more market-based. Currently, the city only has market-based parking around Jeld-Wen field during Timbers' games—but there it's been very successful, tripling the daily city revenue per parking spot.
Sam Adams pushed hard for a local gas tax and street maintenance fee in 2008, but pulled the plug on his "Safe, Sound, and Green Streets" plan after oil company lobbyists vowed to refer it to voters and polling showed only 55 percent of Portlanders would support a monthly $4.54 fee.
The city seems to be mostly quietly adjusting to the most recent round of public transit budget cuts. Rider grumbling hasn't stopped the price of a TriMet ticket from jumping to $2.50 or brought free rail back to downtown.
Except in one neighborhood, where outcry over September's transit cuts is loud and clear and gathering steam. In NE Portland's Woodlawn neighborhood, the complaints will actually lead to change, with TriMet promising to repair the situation.
TriMet cut service on nine bus lines and reconfigured 15 others to save $1.1 million this year—$500,000 of that came from whacking the last 2.5 miles off the #8 bus line, which used to end at North Portland's Jubitz Truck Stop. Businesses and residents along NE Dekum in the Woodlawn neighborhood were mostly surprised to learn that the end of the line changed overnight, now dropping buses, drivers, and riders middle of Woodlawn's fledgling business district four blocks east of Martin Luther King Avenue.
Now, up to three buses at a time line up in front of Woodlawn Park and at peak times, six buses an hour circle the outdoor cafe at the Firehouse Restaurant.
For the past two months, neighbors have been meeting with TriMet to voice their complaints about the change. They're joined by TriMet drivers, whose union penned a forceful letter (pdf) in September saying the change has stressed out drivers.
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