New TriMet Lines Expand Liabilities

By Laura Lewis

TriMet has doubled its transit police force from 29 to 58 officers during the past two and a half years. Despite these security increases, light rail continues to attract crime. The newly opened Green Line to Clackamas Town Center has experienced a 32% increase in reported crime and a 56% increase in calls for police service since the light rail opened in 2009. The addition of police forces will cost an added $140,000 per year per officer, or a total of $43 million for 58 officers over the next 5 years, adding to TriMet’s current $27 million budget shortfall.

Despite the security risks that accompany new rail lines, TriMet continues to build. Last week the TriMet Board unanimously approved allocating $108 million for the Milwaukie Light Rail project, a seven-mile extension that ultimately will cost $1.4 billion. In addition to the financial liability this plan will bring, the project likely will result in unintended security consequences for Milwaukie residents, due to the crime light rail attracts.

In 2007 the Oregon legislature appropriated $250 million in lottery-backed bonds for Milwaukie light rail, most of which hasn’t yet been spent. The legislature should reauthorize those dollars for other purposes and cancel any more light rail expansion.


Laura Lewis is a research associate at Cascade Policy Institute, Oregon’s free market public policy research organization.

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Posted by at 06:00 | Posted in Measure 37 | 18 Comments |Email This Post Email This Post |Print This Post Print This Post
  • valley p

    “The newly opened Green Line to Clackamas Town Center has experienced a 32% increase in reported crime and a 56% increase in calls for police service since the light rail opened in 2009. ”

    Assuming the crime rate on the Green line was zero before it opened, then an increase in crime would be expected after it opened and riders began using it no?

    Where there are people there is crime. Is there any evidence that there is more crime on light rail lines than elsewhere in the metro area with similar numbers of people?

    • Duh?

      You’re a retard!

    • jim karlock

      Dean, quit being such an idiot –
      That crime increase was in the Clackamas Town Center area. Other areas of Clackamas county DID NOT have a crime increase. Some stores reported massive crime increases from the criminal transport toy train.

  • Grace

    “Despite the security risks that accompany new rail lines, TriMet continues to build” The article makes a rather unbelievable point which I will call an instance of conservatism at its most outrageous: eliminate new infrastructure and civic projects because of risk of an increase in crime or some other “unintended consequence”. New rail projects will also increase the risk of accidents involving trains because there will be, well, more of them. New highway projects also increase risks of accidents and crimes (more linear area for people to exceed the speed limit). Building new homes increases the risk of fire and arson. Starting new business increases the risks of – well, lots of things. Better to just keep things as they are!

  • Anonymous

    vp dean and grace, bozos both.
    Dean, there was crime in the green line area before and it went up. The rest of the county experienced crime reduction for each of the 5 last years.
    One main CTC store alone saw arrests go from 64 to 132.
    Grace,
    You’re a silly liberal. Only you said no infrastructure should be built simply because of added risk.
    Then you dispense with your own crap instead of addressing the real issue.
    The crime issue doesn’t stand alone and is demonstrative of the bigger fallacy MAX is.
    The current attempt to use Urban Renewal to deal with crime and blight along the 25 year eastside MAX is also a lesson.
    A lesson that MAX does not bring about what is repeatedly claimed.
    Instead it brings crime, blight, obstruction, slashing of bus service, weakening of TriMet and the perpetual spending of millions more in pursuit of the mixed use utopia that never arrives.

    The massive McLoughlin Area Plan that Clackamas County is attempting to adopt in order to finance their $30 million share of the unfunded Milwaukie Light rail is an obscene example of government mission creep, misappropriation and public deceit.

    It’s not funded.

    Even TriMet’s own $40 milion share will be borroewed against future operating revenue.

    The Clackamas County Sheriff and Clackamas County Fire Distrcit Chief both commented at that last TriMet Board meeting in opposition to the financing for MLR.
    With the use of Tax Increment Financing the new MAX line will increase crime while diminishing both their budgets over decades.

    The MAX infrastructure itself is a blight and obstrcution on the community.

    All told the project is FAIL from every angle and would never get voter approval.

    Only through the schemes by unethical public offificials and their activists is this boondoggle proceeding.

    And it is being paid for by borrowing against operating revenue for every basic service in sight.
    Including education as millions in public school funding will be diverted to pay the debt.

    Liberals like dean and grace contribute to covering up the egregious nature of the projects and their cost.

  • Anonymous

    Juts like their dishonest movement to extend rail transit the planning regime has been running a ponzi scheme that the deans have been helping to perpetrate.

    http://en.wikipedia.org/w/index.php?title=File:TIF_graph.pdf&page=1

    Dean will lie about anything and everything because their movement requires activism that promotes more of the same at any and all costs.

    Milwaukie Light Rail with the related the SoWa expansion and McLoughlin Area Plan is the story of corrupted Oregon.

    These people engaged in these schemes to take tuition money for spending on a OHSU/SoWa sham, stealing basic services money for Urban Renewal schemes, diverting needed lottery for boondoggles are the problem makers for Oregon. The reckless spending and public deceit gets worse every year.

    Now as our worst economy in decades continues to stagnate or worsen these diabolical people refuse to adjust and apply the greater prudence it demands.

    And while they move forward with reckless abandon they themselves are insulated against adverse effects or consequences.

    Fred Hansen just entered a lavish TriMet retirement where he and his family will live large while Fred never gets blamed for anything.

    Including the $50 million per year unfunded, off books, benefits liability (now $900 million) that TriMet is not paying a dime towards.

    That’s some kind of management Fred got rewarded for.

  • Jan C

    Doesn’t anyone think it is absurd that tri-met pays $140,000 for security officers?

    • Laura Lewis

      The cost per officer of security ($140,000/year) and the apparent link between light rail and crime is indeed cause for concern. Light rail has LESS ridership than buses but creates a greater security issue requiring more transit officer response on the light rail system than on the bus system. Last year the Bus Transit Center at Clackamas reported only 29 police calls for service, compared with 156 calls for the MAX platform. I talked to a TriMet bus driver this morning that has driven buses for more than 20 years and has never seen a security problem on the bus system. Rapid transit can be implemented for as little as $100,000 per mile in construction cost, while Milwaukie LRT will be $194 million per mile, PLUS the added security costs. The purpose of my Quickpoint was not to oppose all new transit service, but to educate efficient decision-making about light rail expansion. Rather than expanding a security and financial liability, TriMet should consider expanding bus service–a safer and more cost-efficient alternative.

      • valley p

        “Last year the Bus Transit Center at Clackamas reported only 29 police calls for service, compared with 156 calls for the MAX platform. I talked to a TriMet bus driver this morning that has driven buses for more than 20 years and has never seen a security problem on the bus system. ”

        OK…but how much additional ridership is there in Clackamas now? If it is 5 times higher, then one would expect 5 times more calls right? As for no security problems on buses, give me a break. There have been assaults, knifings, muggings, you name it. And to boot a bus ran over 3 people recently.Plus there was the bus driver who beat up the cyclist, the one who raped a retarded gal, and so forth. Are buses statistically lower crime or safer than light rail? I doubt it. Its hardly a Norman Rockwell scene on the buses.

        In your efforts to bash light rail, try to not romanticize the lowly bus. Transit is what it is, primarily a way for people who either can’t drive, or can’t afford to drive, or refuse to drive, or live on a convenient commute route, to move themselves around the metro area. Where there are poor people there will be crime. Its a fact of life. Come to think of it, where there are rich people there is also crime, but of a sneakier and much more expensive sort (hello Bernie Madoff , Enron, and BP).

        Complain away. Portland is committed to rail transit, for good or ill, and continues to elect politicians at all levels who favor it. Over 40 American cities have rail systems now, including sprawl utopias like Atalanta, Dallas, Houston, Phoenix, and Salt Lake City. American cities are belatedly growing up. There is no escape for you other than deep into the countryside.

        • jim karlock

          You support bus service and love light rail.

          But are too uniformed to realize that light rail takes away from bus service because it is so expensive.

          Thanks
          JK

          • valley p

            “But are too uniformed to realize that light rail takes away from bus service because it is so expensive.”

            Not operationally Jim. Light rail moves a lot more people at lower operational cost than buses.

          • jim karlock

            Then how come Trimet told the feds that the bus costs $0.94 per passenger-mile while the toy train costs $1.11? (this is operating cost + annual capital costs – REAL cash expenses that have to actually be paid.)
            see: http://www.portlandfacts.com/top10bus.html

            Of course automobiles cost around $0.25 including right of way.
            see:

            PS: you could learn a lot by looking at real data from PortlandFactrs instead of fantasy from the Green idiots that you frequent.

            Thanks
            JK

          • valley p

            “Then how come Trimet told the feds that the bus costs $0.94 per passenger-mile while the toy train costs $1.11?”

            I don’t know what Trimet told the feds. But federal data from around the nation shows LRT per mile per passenger/mile costs are 10-70% cheaper operationally than buses in most cities. Maybe Trimet light rail is less efficient than Dallas.

            “Of course automobiles cost around $0.25 including right of way.”

            25 cents per what? Per mile per passenger? Owning and operating a vehicle costs far more than 25 cents per mile driven. Look at any business reimbursement rate for personal vehicle use.Its probably above 50 cents a mile.

            “the Green idiots that you frequent.”

            I frequent here. Does that make you a green idiot?

          • jim karlock

            *Dean Apostle:* (quoting JK) “Then how come Trimet told the feds that the bus costs $0.94 per passenger-mile while the toy train costs $1.11?”

            I don’t know what Trimet told the feds.
            *JK:* Exactly what I stated. You can check it for yourself at http://204.68.195.57/ntdprogram/data.htm (select RY 2007 Database (Self-extracting xls) or the easier to use http://ti.org/NTD07sum.xls You will find instructions for use at http://www.portlandfacts.com/top10bus.html

            *Dean Apostle:* But federal data from around the nation shows LRT per mile per passenger/mile costs are 10-70% cheaper operationally than buses in most cities.
            *JK:* Lets see your Federal data source for this claim. (No lies from the Sierra Klub etc.)

            Note that the real cost of light rail (and bus) includes capital costs too, so you cannot just forget those. And you cannot look just at light rail because light rain cannot exist without feeder buses, so you should look at overall system costs. You will find these for the 10 biggest tranist agencies at the above link.

            *Dean Apostle:* (quoting jk)”Of course automobiles cost around $0.25 including right of way.”

            25 cents per what? Per mile per passenger?
            *JK:* Yes, that is what was being discuessed.

            *Dean Apostle:* Owning and operating a vehicle costs far more than 25 cents per mile driven.
            *JK:* NO. Check real facts, not the green idiots.

            *Dean Apostle:* Look at any business reimbursement rate for personal vehicle use.Its probably above 50 cents a mile.
            *JK:* That does not affect the real average USA wide cost of driving a car. Perhaps you are thinking of the IRS number? It is based on the AAA number which is based on theaverage (upscale) AAA member and assumes an average car age of 2 ½ years, while the real USA average car age is about 9 years. This makes a big difference in depreciation expense, insurance, interest and in some states, registration fees. If you spent some time with credible sites like DebunkingPortland, you would know this. You would also know it is true (unlike the green idiot sites) because you can usually click back to original data sources. For instance you will find a detailed breakdown of the AAA method and how to use the SAME method to calculate the cost of more representative cars at http://www.portlandfacts.com/aaa_method.htm

            You will also find direct Federal data used to calculate car cost at http://www.portlandfacts.com/transit/cost-cars-transit-details%282005%29.htm
            (Sorry, but you have to be able to do grade school arithmetic, so the average greenie may have trouble here.)

            *Dean Apostle:* (quoting jk)”the Green idiots that you frequent.”

            I frequent here. Does that make you a green idiot?
            *JK:* No, it’s the things you say here. Like in your post that I am now responding to.

            Thanks
            JK

  • Anonymous

    “TriMet should consider expanding bus service–a safer and more cost-efficient alternative. ”

    And our planning regime should stop trying to spur the development MAX was supposed to spur simply by being built.

  • Anonymous

    valley p

    Why does a stupid jerk like you never address the misappropriation, the unfunded debts at TriMet, the cost, source of revenue or the lack of benefit from these boondoggles?
    All you do is play your dumbaxx lefty games.

    Even to the asinine point of others are doing it too so it must be OK.

    The green line was a lousy idea and now regrets a have already surfaced among supporters because too much of the line is isolated by the freeway and commercial development along 82.

    Nice planning.

    But it’s lousy planning with every line.

    A jerk like you ignores it all.

    • valley p

      I love you too.

    • jim karlock

      Don’t forget that other spectacular Trimet success – WES.

      Thanks
      JK

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