Fareless Squares not to blame


I'm having trouble making the connection between a savage assault at a MAX station in Gresham and TriMet's reaction of restricting downtown Portland's Fareless Square to the daytime (TriMet rethinks Fareless Square, Nov. 30).

If there's a 'road rage' incident on Oregon Highway 217 in Washington County, should we react by installing tollbooths somewhere else?

During my lifetime, I've heard about far more crimes being committed by people who fled in automobiles than by people using transit. Only the lowest and dimmest of criminals rely on transit. The fact that they can't afford a car suggests that they're not very good at their trade.

Restricting or ending Fareless Square will have no effect on criminals, unless you believe that criminals get off the train at the Oregon Convention Center or at Portland State University.

Instead, this change will promote more automobile usage and will deter more people from visiting downtown, which actually will worsen the problems we claim to be addressing.

I myself was attacked last year by a similar 'gang' of deranged teenagers, punched from behind on a busy downtown street, in broad daylight. Of the numerous presumably law-abiding witnesses, not one called for the police.

The attacker was too clean to be homeless, and judging from his intoxication, he was not broke, either.

Many people who are annoyed by the homeless and the poor are trying to make a connection that doesn't exist. The people who reside in Old Town hotels or sleep in downtown doorways will be affected by the end of Fareless Square, but they are not at all the people who are committing serious crimes.

Having to share a train with people who consume far fewer resources can be unpleasant: Who wants to realize that most of us are gluttons?

Transit and bicycling oddly have become common scapegoats for people irritated by a wide variety of changes under way in the Portland metro area.

Angry about gentrification? Blame it on the bicyclists moving into the neighborhood. Pissed about traffic congestion? It's because of TriMet, not shortsighted development.

M. Wayne Larimer

Southwest Portland

Smooth traffic pitted against crime control

In light of recent attacks on MAX riders at platforms, it seems that new stations should not be designed like the Banfield stations, that is, isolated and inaccessible (Proposed MAX stop troubles local leader, Dec. 4).

Yet planned Interstate 205 stations at Southeast Division Street and Holgate Boulevard will be down in a gully next to the freeway, far below street level. The Powell Boulevard station is well above the street, and several hundred feet away from Powell.

Now there are concerns about the Milwaukie line stations.

In many cases, these awkward designs are built to avoid a level crossing of the street, which would stop traffic as trains entered and left stations.

All the affected players - TriMet, the Oregon Department of Transportation, the city of Portland's Office of Transportation and Metro - should consider whether this elimination of intermittent grade crossings is worth the problematic station designs and the security problems that now are becoming so apparent at these isolated stations.

Doug Klotz

Southeast Portland