TriMet’s Edifice Complex

CascadeNewLogoBy John A. Charles, Jr.

Recently TriMet announced that after two years of planning for an expensive new “bus rapid transit” line from Gresham to Portland, the new service would actually take 8-11 minutes longer than current buses.

Over in Southwest Portland, TriMet is planning a $2 billion light rail line to Bridgeport Village near Tualatin, a suburban shopping mall.

Agency planners are fascinated with shiny new objects, but most riders don’t benefit. For example, between 2000 and 2015, TriMet opened five new rail lines, but the total vehicle-miles of daily transit service actually dropped by 5%.

It’s time to admit that TriMet’s basic business model is becoming obsolete. The agency is a sluggish monopoly that takes years to bring new service to market, while customers live in a smartphone world where they have millions of choices and same-day delivery.

In particular, the coming era of driverless vehicles will create entirely new businesses that will free riders from the tyranny of fixed-route transit service. Legacy systems such as TriMet will be stuck with a vast network of aging infrastructure that will be too expensive to maintain.

We don’t need another light rail line to Bridgeport, or a bus rapid transit line to Gresham. What we need is new vision of mobility in Portland.

John A. Charles, Jr. is President and CEO of Cascade Policy Institute, Oregon’s free market public policy research organization.

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Posted by at 05:00 | Posted in Metro, Portland, Public Transportation, Transportation, TriMet | Tagged , , , | 5 Comments |Email This Post Email This Post |Print This Post Print This Post
  • Bob Clark

    The convenience of driving one’s auto (almost fully financed by the one driving it) is simply so popular the roads are crowded. But unlike most every business, do those running the roads (government bureaucracies like FTA, ODOT, PBOT, Metro) try to meet the popular demands of its customers. Ah, this would be a big NO.

    Instead the federal government backed by its money printing presses feeds these local government agencies with the addiction of public works projects like light [capacity, time consuming] light rail. Most times of the day you can observe these trains, and they are almost like ghost trains (except for a few hours on some of the lines).

    The customer pleads for more road capacity (say real time traffic signals adjusting signal to actual vehicle flow demands), but it gets instead:

    Ghost trains, billion dollars down the drain. Metro is your no go…ghost train…billion dollar here and there down the drain.

    • Amen Brothers and Sisters

      As one wag reconciled: “Try Making a Budget”…they cannot.

      Hello, TriMet has morphed into governmentium gone wild… better ID’d as senile d.

      Them, along with Metro, another oligarchy-anomaly, has Oregon swinging off a low branch of a fidelity-tree like in a spaghetti western.

      I say, Pat Hingle them on their morass and send Clint Eastwood out to corral them and fork ’em off Porltandia’s trident. .

  • thevillageidiot

    putting Bob’s comment more briefly, There is no public transportation nearly as efficient in delivering service as private ones. the public transit uses the force of government to extort money from the population to use to their own purpose with little or no public input. those most in favor (other than the public transport execs and gov officials) are those who want “free” transport. The rest of us are expected to support the free stuff. I guess that is where “Free market” comes from. Not!

  • WorthKnowing

    Metro and TriMet are too busy spinning up lie after lie to take any pause for the truth. If they had any integrity at all they would abandon both the Eastside BRT and the SWC boondoggles.
    They would also admit their entire approach of Centers & Corridors, TODs and 20 Minute Neighborhoods are failing to achieve the necessary objectives to make the strategies preferable and worthwhile.

    Instead they continue to heap up more propaganda and plot for more of the same failure.

    • Conservatively Speaking

      Saint that the truth, brother. Amen.

      Connie Kosuda: You with US or still out meandering in a Democrat but knott demcratic field?

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