New transit crisis arises
- Pamplin Media
- Portland Tribune - Opinion
First, the Oregon Health & Science University tram scandal and now the South Waterfront development transportation crisis concealed until now (Transit puzzle presents itself, May 5).
The article states: 'The success of the South Waterfront development district depends on the construction of a long-planned light-rail line that is not yet fully engineered or funded, according to city Commissioner Sam Adams. É '
'Streets in and out of the district will be overwhelmed by traffic without the line and other transportation alternatives, such as the Portland Streetcar.'
'É Local governments still will have to raise hundreds of millions of dollars to pay for the rest of it' (beyond money provided by the federal government) 'Ñ probably requiring voters to raise their property taxes.'
Adams 'predicts the final cost of the line will be 'very expensive.' '
I predict the final cost would be about $1 billion.
I also predict Portland taxpayers would reject a general obligation bond issue for the uneconomical Portland-Milwaukie light-rail project. So would Metro and TriMet voters, particularly in Washington County.
The article also reveals unacceptable travel restrictions: 'no more than 60 percent of all rush-hour trips can be made by one person in a single vehicle É at least 40 percent of all rush-hour trips must be made using alternative transportation.'
How would Portland police enforce the restrictions?
The Portland Tribune disclosures may discourage South Waterfront development. Who would buy or lease property subject to gridlock and travel restrictions?
Better, cheaper and more effective transit alternatives would be TriMet buses and new through streets, including access to Southwest Barbur Boulevard and Naito Parkway.
Take a page out of Denver's transit book
The South Waterfront's 'desperate need' for light rail is an opportunity to resolve another quandary: Is MAX on the transit mall the most effective route through downtown to the South Waterfront (Transit puzzle presents itself, May 5)?
I respect TriMet for its admirable achievements but believe Denver has a more effective transit mall system, and thus a more comprehensive transit methodology.
Denver runs a separate fleet of marvelous hybrid-electric buses every two minutes on its mile-long transit mall. Bus service that frequent makes a convenient transfer to and from light rail, which crosses the transit mall just like MAX.
Though TriMet insists transfers can discourage riders, a convenient transfer ensures that light-rail patrons can reach farther destinations with minimal delay. Denver's much greater economic activity along its 'car-free' transit mall is proof that transfers can be desirable and light rail there unnecessary.
With this sort of transit methodology in mind emphasizing transfers and frequent service, an effective, inexpensive light-rail route through downtown Portland is a half-mile extension on Southwest First Avenue (ending at Morrison or Yamhill streets), junction to the streetcar line on Harrison Street and termination at the South Waterfront. And, a Denver-style shuttle system could complement Portland's transit mall admirably.
Incidentally, Denver's marvelous shuttle buses are built in Denver.