Why Do Transit Officials Lie About Light Rail?


The transit agency for Vancouver (C-TRAN) is reconsidering its support for the Columbia River Crossing Project, which includes light rail to Vancouver. In a staff report prepared for this week’s C-TRAN board meeting, the following claims are made:

Light rail offers faster service (17 MPH) than bus rapid transit (14.5 MPH);
The extended Yellow MAX line will arrive in Vancouver every 7.5 minutes; and
Light rail will carry 6,100 people over the Columbia River during the peak period.
All of these answers are wrong.

C-TRAN express buses running from various points in Vancouver to Portland city center currently average 31-45 MPH (depending on the route) in the morning peak period. In the afternoon peak they average 20-30 MPH traveling northbound.

Current Yellow MAX line service is one train every 15 minutes, all day. There will be no peak-hour service to Vancouver at 7.5-minute intervals, because TriMet has reduced service by 14% in the past five years. The agency is broke.

Finally, the maximum one-way capacity of a two-car light rail train is approximately 274. Multiplying this times eight trains per hour in the peak direction is 2,192 riders, not 6,100.

The fact is, C-TRAN’s express bus service is far superior to the slow MAX, so why spend $930 million on a slow train to Vancouver? That’s the question that should be asked.

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

  • conservatively speaking

    Because transit officials have a propensity to emulate some golfers we know: “Behold the persona who riseth early in the morning and disturbeth the whole household. Mighty are the preparations. He goeth forth full of hope and when the day is spent, he returneth smelling of strong drink and the truth is not in him.” ~ Or something to that effect.

    Three relatively celebrated golfers spring immediately to mind: One who said he did not have sex with that woman, one who admitted sex with several women and wound up with a mashied noggin and current POTUS, admitting he knows nothing about the IRS and appeals for a mulligan attending Benghazi.

  • Bob Clark

    New York, Paris and Chicago have underground and over head subway systems which make some sense in these highly populated, dense urban centers and which were built over many decades. Light rail and street cars ala Portland’s version are not really all that worthwhile by comparison, and effectively act to clog economic activity, not to mention the actual movement of people and freight. Portland’s rail gift from the Federal Transit Authority is like getting a fruitcake, and Portland’s fruitcake like leaders want us to be excited about each new fruit cake the Federal transit Authority offers us (a “gift” bought with our own tax monies, no less. Geez, what’s not to like about this kook town governance).

    • T. Partee

      If Portland really needed or wanted light rail car transportation then Rose City Transit would still be in operation today.

      Such is not the case, instead an under performing bloated bureaucracy habit rail arily sucking taxpayers to the MAX, all that scat when free ranging busses and even electric trolly lines are more cost effective.

      OMG, what fools the Metro region and not making a cost effective budgetMet we $till put up with and pay faux tribute to.

      Folks, cutting off arbitrary money supply to ticky tacky PERS’s and governmentium Tom Foolery would bode well toward restoring sanity locally and throughout the Oregon country we used to cherish and thought could do no wrong.

    • .

      Recently, the lone Portland street car on the East side had a run-in with a truckin’ entity and the city saw what friggin’ bunch of insane transportation guffaw that was. Urf, urf!

  • chana cox

    Ideology trumps facts almost all the time. At least conservatives are aware that they need to guard themselves against ignoring the facts. I don’t know if we are inherently more virtuous in that respect. We are, however, constantly under attack and so we have had to learn to consider the facts. Trimet has successfully ignored the facts for decades.

    • guest

      Thank you, Chana, for speaking and affirming the truth.

    • 3H

      Really.. I don’t think Conservatives are any more aware of the facts than Liberals. I would think that significant Conservative resistance to global warming based solely upon ideology would give you pause.

      • guest

        Do you allow any credibility for Chuck Wiese’s analogy or simply slake big gulps of GoreAid without blinking?

        • 3H

          Chuck Weis is a metereologist, and not a climatologist. I give a lot more weight to the vast majority of climate scientists who accept global warming. You will find contrary voices in almost any field. The fact is, deniers shop around to bolster their already settled opinions.

          • guest

            So…they lie from the evidence gatherered?
            You sir, appear to be a Michael Mooroist and I suggest and the DA, present more culpable evidence than shill for what’s left of US!

          • 3H

            Truth hurst – I’d feel sorry for you if it wasn’t self-inflicted.

  • Granola girl

    One of the reasons I live here, is my right to drive whatever vehicle I choose, and whenever I choose to. The times I have ridden the choo choo to sporting events or the airport have been less than satisfying. Either the ticket dispensing piece of junk isn’t working, or there are scary, vocal individuals riding the train, with no law enforcement in sight. I don’t want any more of my family’s hard earned money spent on this fiasco. Ride the bus if you must or choose. Those that plan on riding the train can come up with the money themselves. I am DONE paying.

    • Lulz

      Lets put in toll roads so that those people who choose to drive all the time, can pay for their roads and upkeep. I’m tired of paying for people who have to drive everywhere. Why should I fork out good money for their addiction to the car?

      • tkulaga

        Lulz…Assuming you do not purchase motor fuel, how do you personally pay for roads and road maintenance?

      • Granola girl

        Luiz, I pay plenty at the pump in gas taxes and overall state and federal taxes. Back in the day we had to license our bikes, maybe we need to implement that again so bikes can start to pay for all the bike lanes, special traffic lanes, etc. What do you say? Oh, and I’m tired of paying for those too, but if I had a choice I would and do support the bike community.

  • 3H

    What was your source for the average travel time for C-Tran buses during peak hours?

  • conservatively

    D’oh the same reason that BHO utilizes to creep his presidency intact.

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